C. CHRISTINE FAIR
Pakistan continues to burnish its credentials as a state sponsor of terrorism abroad and as a repressive, murderous environment for dissidents at home. It is a well-known fact that Pakistan’s military and intelligence agencies provide a full suite of state support to a deadly menagerie of militant groups proscribed by the United Nations, the United States, and others. Pakistan’s military and intelligence agencies fete terrorist organizations such as Lashkar-e-Taiba/Jamaat-ud-Dawa, Jaish-e-Mohammad, the Afghan Taliban, and the Haqqani Network, among numerous other groups with state protection as well as financial, diplomatic, political, and military assistance. The leaders of these groups are free to assemble and address large groups, under the protection of security forces. They are free to disseminate their views on a variety of social media without any restraint. They appear on Pakistan’s various television shows as popular “talking heads.” While Pakistan disingenuously claims it is waging a war on terrorists with its National Action Plan (known more appropriately as “NAP”) for purposes of receiving assistance from the United State and other partners, Pakistan is waging a real war on its critics at home and abroad. The United States needs to hold this state accountable. It should apply sanctions, deny security assistance payments, and limit the provision of military equipment and training to those that are narrowly suited for internal security operations while offering Islamabad no advantages in its incessant warmongering towards India.
War on Civil Society
Pakistani civil society has borne the brunt of the state’s predations for decades. Since 2005, ethnic dissidents have renewed their insurgency in the western province of Balochistan, following the rape of a Baloch doctor by a military man, which the army tried to cover up. While the rape triggered the current phase of the insurgency, the people of Balochistan have also been disquieted by Pakistan’s efforts to make the province ripe for Chinese exploitation under the guise of the Chinese-Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC). Since 2005, the Pakistani state has waged a conventional war against the Baloch and has disappeared, tortured, and murdered Baloch ethnics who oppose the state’s policies. Pakistan claims that these Baloch activists are terrorists who enjoy support from India. While some of the Baloch dissidents do engage in terrorism (i.e. targeting Punjabi teachers and other civilians), Pakistan has not marshalled convincing evidence for its claim that India is behind the unrest in the province. (Pakistan claims that it captured an Indian spy in Balochistan in March 2016. Indian intelligence claim that the former naval officer — turned businessman — was abducted from Iran and that he was not actually a spy.)