Former Pakistani strongman Pervez Musharraf’s declaration that he was always a fan of the Lashkar-e-Taiba, the terrorist lapdog of the Inter-Services Intelligence, is perhaps a desperate last-ditch effort by a has-been dictator to regain some credibility and power. “I’m the biggest supporter of Lashkar-e-Taiba and I know the LeT and JuD people like me,” Musharraf, exiled in Dubai after he was charged with treason by a Pakistani court, told a television channel Tuesday.
“Yes, I have met him (LeT founder Hafiz Saeed) even recently … I have always been in favour of action in Kashmir, and I’ve always been in their favour, that in Kashmir we must pressure the Indian Army and this (LeT) is the biggest force.”
The timing of this remark is significant, as it comes days after Saeed was released from house arrest by a Pakistani court. It also comes at a time when the strains between the military-mosque nexus and the government are starting to show. Saeed’s release came days before the military’s decision to appease hardliners who had blockaded the highway between the capital Islamabad and Rawalpindi, which houses the military’s GHQ—for over 22 days. Following a Sunday meeting between PM Shahid Abbasi and Army chief Qamar Bajwa, the government caved in and accepted the resignation of law minister Zahid Hamid, one of the protestors’ key demands.
These incidents have further strengthened the hands of Pakistan’s radical elements, and point to a clear army-jihadi nexus. Perhaps Musharraf sees an opportunity to cosy up to the outfit he once banned as president in January 2002, after the LeT and JeM were implicated in the attack on India’s Parliament in late 2001. (He now blames India and the US for the ban). What is even more alarming is the justification this man—who once boasted of promoting “enlightened moderation”—offers for now aligning with the zealots. “It is the requirement of the day, you must do everything in light of the reality of Pakistan.” Surely Pakistan deserves better?