Every terror attack in the past two decades and more has followed a routine—grief, condemnation and anger. The wave of condemnation which followed the terror attack in Kashmir on Thursday—over 48 countries have expressed condolences—is welcome and strengthens India’s case. The danger lies in interpreting the perfunctory as profound, the superficial as substantial. Yes, the UN Secretary General condemned the attack. But has the UN Security Council delivered on its resolve to counter terrorism? Since 1999, the UN Security Council has passed 27 resolutions against terrorism and the net result is visible across the world.
On September 28, 2001, after 9/11, the UN Security Council adopted Resolution No. 1373 to take “all necessary steps” against terrorists and terrorist organisations. Within 20 days, a committee empowered by the UNSC put terrorists and terrorist organisations on the UNSC sanctions list. Six of them were based in Pakistan. Among them was Jaish-e-Mohammed, designated as QDe.019 on the list. In 2016, the Executive Directorate of the Counterterrorism Committee in the United Nations released the“Global survey of the implementation of Security Council resolution 1373 (2001) by Member States”. There is not a single reference across the 123-page survey to the systematic violation of the sanctions by terror outfits who operate with impunity out of Pakistan, simply stepping in and out of acronyms aided and abetted by the military establishment.
On Friday, the US government condemned the “heinous” terror attack and called on Pakistan to “end immediately the support and safe haven provided to terrorist groups operating on its soil.” In July 2017, the US government condemned the terror attack on pilgrims on their way to Amarnath. In June 2016, when US President Donald Trump hosted Prime Minister Narendra Modi, the US government called on Pakistan “to expeditiously bring to justice the perpetrators of the 26/11 Mumbai, Pathankot, and other cross-border terrorist attacks perpetrated by Pakistan-based groups.” In January 2018, the US government threatened to cut aid and conveyed to Pakistan “specific and concrete steps” that it should take to “eliminate terror networks from its soil without any distinction”. The US government has called on Pakistan to do this for nearly two decades. And Pakistan has consistently bypassed it—neither geopolitical cajoling nor financial coercion has delivered.
There is much anger about China’s opposition to imposition of UNSC sanctions on Masood Azhar, the head of Bahawalpur-based JeM. There is no disputing China using Pakistan and terror groups as the cat’s paw to curb India’s rise in the world. Equally, the imposition of sanctions is but a statement of the obvious. The question is whether this will debilitate the activities of Jaish and Azhar. The fact is the funding of terror groups in Pakistan is crowdsourced. Last August it was discovered that terror outfits in Pakistan receive in donation the hides of sacrificed animals—apparently they could fetch as much as Rs 500 crore. And then there is the example of Hafiz Saeed of LeT who, like Azhar, continues to operate without any hurdles, sanctions or no sanctions.
It is no secret, and certainly not for the United States, which found Osama bin Laden living a privileged life a few metres from the homes of army brass in Abbottabad, that the military establishment and the intelligence arm ISI in Pakistan run a global back officer for terror across the world. Some of the world’s most wanted terrorists, including Khalid Sheikh Mohammed, Abu Zubaydah, Yasser Jazeeri, Abu Faraj Al Libbi, Ramzi bin Al Shibh, and Umar Patek were all captured in Pakistan. The planners and perpetrators of the worst terror attacks, from the 1993 serial blasts in Mumbai to the 26/11 attack, are all privileged guests of the Pakistani military-intelligence establishment.
In February 2019, the UN Security Council’s Consolidated List of terror groups reveals the width and depth of Pakistan’s involvement in fostering and funding terror groups. Pakistan is currently home to terrorists with operations in multiple theatres of war. The last known location of some of the most wanted terrorists in the world as per the UN Security Council is Pakistan.
The list includes almost the entire top brass of the Taliban government, including Abdul Ahmad Turk, deputy defence minister of Taliban, Abdul Aziz, and virtually the entire clan of the Haqqani network. Others suspected to be in Pakistan include Egyptians Abd Allah, Zaki Ahmed and Ayman Al Zawahiri, operational leader of Egyptian Islamic Jihad, Al Qaeda member Fazeel-A-Tul, Abd Al Rahman of Mosul in Iraq, known to be involved first with Al Qaeda and later ISIL, Abo Ghaith from Kuwait, Ayub Bashir of the Islamic Movement of Uzbekistan, Emrah Erdogan of Turkey, associated with Al Qaeda and Al Shabab in Somalia, and Abdul Haq of Xinjiang, leader of the Eastern Turkestan Islamic Movement; the list is long.
India has witnessed the phenomenon of terrorism of the non-state actor kind since Independence. India’s target should not just be the instruments but the instrumentality of terror as state policy. The durability of Pak perfidy rests on organised global hypocrisy. India’s quest should be to dismantle it for a lasting solution.
Author of Aadhaar: A Biometric History of India’s 12 Digit Revolution, and Accidental India