Dec 18 2014
Pakistani politicians too fan terrorist violence in India
In our public discourse on terrorism from territory under Pakistan's control, there has been a tendency to hold the military establishment as being solely responsible for the rise of terrorist outfits in Pakistan, as though the country's political parties are devoid of any responsibility for the burgeoning of radical Islamic groups in the country. The Deobandi-oriented Jamiat Ulema e Islam (JUI) headed by Maulana Fazlur Rehman has backed the Taliban in Afghanistan, Harkat ul Mujahideen in J&K and Jaish e Mohammed, responsible for the hijacking of IC 814 and the December 2001 attack on our Parliament. Pakistan Government assistance to the Taliban was organised by Benazir Bhutto's Interior Minister, Gen Nasrullah Babbar, when Maulana Fazlur Rahman was her political ally. Jamat e Islami, a perennial ISI favourite since the days of General Zia, backs Hizbul Mujahideen in Jammu and Kashmir.
It is in this context that the role of Nawaz Sharif in the promotion of terrorism across Pakistan's borders with India and Afghanistan has to be analysed. While the Sharif family may have lived in Punjab (initially in Amritsar and thereafter in Lahore and Raiwind), their roots are really in Kashmir. Mian Mohammed Sharif (Nawaz's father) hailed from Anantnag and his mother from Pulwama. Sharif has a far more hardline position on J&K than many other politicians. Despite the obvious futility of seeking international mediation and a UN role in Jammu and Kashmir, Sharif is obsessed with creating conditions to keep international attention focused on Jammu and Kashmir, even if this involves promoting terrorist violence across India.
Sharif started his political career in the 1980s with patronage from the Islamist-oriented President Zia ul Haq. He was elected for his first term as Prime Minster, heading a group of Islamic parties, stitched together by then Army Chief, Gen Aslam Beg. His Islamist inclinations towards Afghanistan became evident when, in 1992, he became the only foreign Head of Government to visit Afghanistan, then ruled by a motley group of radical "mujahideen," put together by the ISI. More importantly, Sharif appointed a bearded fundamentalist, Lt. Gen Javed Nasir, who was a member of Tablighi Jamat, then backed by Mian Mohammed Sharif, as head of the ISI. There is substantial evidence that it was General Nasir, backed by Sharif, using the services of Dawood Ibrahim, who masterminded the 1993 Mumbai bomb blasts in which 250 Indians perished,
Equally ominous are the links of the Sharif family with an obscurantist “Ahle Hadees” fundamentalist, Hafiz Mohammed Saeed, who was an asset for the ISI during its Afghan jihad in the 1980s. When Sharif returned to power in 1997, he accorded formal diplomatic recognition to the Taliban led by Mullah Omar. He ordered Governor of Punjab Shahid Hamid and his Information Minister Mushahid Hussain to call on Hafiz Saeed. Lashkar e Taiba thereafter replaced Harkat ul Mujahideen, backed by Benazir, as the primary instrument of Pakistan-sponsored terrorism in J&K and elsewhere in India. Sharif also moved to strengthen residual ties with “Khalistanis” worldwide with the appointment of Gen Javed Nasir as the head of a so-called “Pakistan Gurudwara Prabandhak Committee”. Barely hours after the conclusion of Prime Minister Vajpayee’s visit to Lahore, “Khalistan” banners and slogans came up in gurudwaras across Pakistan to incite Sikh pilgrims, then on pilgrimage. An Indian diplomat witnessing this was beaten up.