Pakistan – will the noose tighten?

The second red corner notice issued by Interpol to JeM chief Masood Azhar may not make have made any difference to military controlled Pakistan but it certainly is a slap against the recent Chinese move of using her veto at the UN for branding Azhar Masood terrorist. That China did this despite an earlier arrest warrant against Azhar Masood through an Interpol Red Corner Notice for alleged involvement for attacks on India’s Parliament and the J&K Assembly indicates how much low the Chinese are prepared to stoop. While red corner notices were issued against Azhar and his brother Abdul Rauf Asgar and two more JeM members Kashif Jaan and Shahid Latif, for allegedly conspiring and planning the Pathankot air base attack in January this year. Ironically, Latif was arrested in 1994 in a drugs case in Jammu but was released in 2010 during the erstwhile UPA regime and sent back to Pakistan. An earlier arrest warrant by Interpol is also pending against Azhar’s brother, Abdul Rauf Asgar in connection with the 1999 hijacking case of IC-814.

In April this year, a NIA special court had issued arrest warrants against Azhar, Asgar, Jaan and Latif. Pakistan did not reply to the evidence provided by India, including during visit by the Pakistani SIT to India. Hence based on request by NIA, MEA has sent a second Letter Rogatory to Pakistan containing fresh evidences pointing to the involvement of the JeM and Pakistan in the Pathankot attack, asking Pakistan to conduct searches at the residences of the four terrorists, their handlers and in connection with the credit card holder, who made payments for the JeM websites. India has also asked Pakistan to allow the NIA team to visit the country to conduct investigation, collect evidences and record statements in the Pathankot attack. Of course, expecting Pakistan to take any action despite overwhelming evidence appears out of the question – you simple don’t kill snakes from the hatchery you have nurtured so diligently past decades.

Rana Sanaullah, Law Minister of Pakistan’s state of Punjab recently nailed the truth by making a categorical statement to BBC by saying, That government cannot take legal action against militant groups like Jamaat-ud-Dawah (JuD) and Jaish-e-Mohammad (JeM) as the “state itself remained involved” with them. More interestingly when asked why legal action has never been taken against anti-India groups in the province which were close to the “establishment”, Sanaullah replied, “By pro-establishment groups if you mean JuD and JeM, then let me tell you that they have been declared proscribed organizations and they can no longer carry out any activity in the province.” The implications are clear; JuD and JeM cannot undertake their activities in Punjab Province – but they can carry out anti-India activities from elsewhere. Little wonder, this conforms to news of these organizations being relocated within Pakistan, while Masood Azhar was observed in area of Fort Abbas along the IB with India.

An interesting development was the 12 May 2016 editorial in New York Times urging the US government to ‘put the squeeze on Pakistan’ for continuing to play a double game in its dealings with the US and Afghanistan, saying, “Nearly 15 years after 9/11, the war in Afghanistan is raging and Pakistan deserves much of the blame”, pointing out the US$ 33 million “immense” aid already given by US to Pakistan for fighting terrorism in the region. The editorial went on to add that Pakistan holds the key to the only ‘long-term’ solution to the Afghan war: negotiations with certain factions of the Taliban, namely the Haqqani network which is believed to be close to certain elements in the Pakistani establishment. However, the question is whether the US administration and the CIA will be able to get out from the time wrap and acknowledge they have been backing the wrong horse all these years. One can only hope that wisdom will finally dawn.

Even now the F-16 deal has not been scrapped fully – only Pakistan asked to pay for them. That Pakistan doesn’t have the finances and is reportedly considering buying used F-16s from Jordan is a separate issue. The NYT editorial points out that the solution to the Afghan instability lies with Pakistan, who continue to stoke instability through Haqqanis who are close to the Pakistani establishment. The editorial recommends that the US needs to be able to maintain a dialogue and help Pakistan keep the nuclear weapons out of the hands of extremists. Significantly, Hussain Haqqani, former Pakistani envoy to US and Sri Lanka recently stated that Pakistani nukes are in ISI hands. Perhaps he wasn’t unaware Najam Sethi had written as far back in 2012, “ISI has walked into GHQ and seized command and control of armed forces.”

The NYT editorial ended with the advice that the US government must find a way to convince Pakistan to stop fueling the war in Afghanistan – there is no mention of Pakistan’s proxy war on India. It was amusing to note Pakistan’s foreign ministry statement and resolution of Pakistani Parliament that Jamaat-e-Islami chief Motiur Rahman Nizami hanged by Bangladesh recently for his deeds in 1971 (masterminding killings of intellectuals, murders of 462 civilians and rapes) was upholding the Constitution and Laws of Pakistan. Significantly, Pakistan had no Constitution in 1971, her Constitution was abrogated in 1969 by General Yahya Khan and next one promulgated by Zulfikar Ali Bhutto in 1973. Besides, Pakistan Penal Code of 1860, in vogue during 1971, did not allow killings, torture people and rape. But then, mother of terrorism (Pakistan) must side with her jaundiced siblings.

Hopefully, the US is waking up to Pakistan’s deception. Pakistan considers India her sworn enemy. While America is still toying about friendship with Pakistan, latter has lost or is fast losing credibility in countries like Afghanistan, Iran, UAE, Bangladesh and even Sri Lanka. That China will gobble up Pakistan completely in the name of friendship is something Pakistan will discover after it is too late. But the noose certainly appears to be tightening for Pakistan.

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