Harbouring jihadis in our midst

The arrest of Faisal Shahzad after an attempted car bomb attack in Times Square has landed Pakistan in hot water. On the one hand, US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton is warning us of dire consequences if there is a successful attack in the US in future that can be traced back to Pakistan and on the other, General Petraeus keeps praising us for our anti-terror efforts. This ‘good cop, bad cop’ routine being enacted by the US is not fooling anyone. We know that the US means business; thus it is time to introspect.

After Shahzad’s arrest, the American authorities carried out raids in Boston, Massachusetts, New York and New Jersey. They have arrested two Pakistani men suspected of providing money to Shahzad in connection with the Times Square bombing. It seems as if Shahzad was not a ‘lone wolf’ after all and there were others working with him from within the US and outside. US Attorney General Eric Holder said that the American authorities believe the Pakistani Taliban were behind this failed attack and the US is working on the investigations with the Pakistani authorities. Holder vowed that the US “will use every available resource to make sure that anyone found responsible – whether they be in the US or overseas – is held accountable”. Meanwhile, another Pakistani man, Rehnab Khan, has been arrested in Chile at the US Embassy after traces of explosives were found on his hands, cell phone, bag and documentation. Whether Mr Khan is guilty or not cannot be ascertained at the moment, but there is an urgent need to find out why terrorists of all sorts in every nook and corner of the world are either Pakistanis or of Pakistani origin.

Most of the would-be (or could-have-been) terrorists are young, educated men. This new phenomenon needs to be explored to find out how various terrorist networks are able to zero in on these young men. Are these men sleeper cells, working for al Qaeda or for the Taliban? Successive regimes in Pakistan have aided and abetted terrorist networks as part of our foreign policy, consequently making this country a paradise for such elements. Now that we have become victims of terrorism ourselves, this policy has been reversed. It will definitely take time in rooting out these networks from our soil despite Pakistan turning over a new leaf.

At a time when we should be taking concrete steps to eliminate the terror threat, there is no sane explanation why the government and the military harbour an unnecessarily nationalistic sentiment about North Waziristan. Apparently, President Zardari, Prime Minister Gilani and General Kayani have decided that Pakistan would not succumb to US pressure to launch an offensive in North Waziristan. It comes as a surprise that we keep on taking ‘foreign dictation’ in most matters but when it comes to North Waziristan’s ‘terror central’, our government and military go on the defensive. By not taking on North Waziristan, we are endangering the whole world. For the sake of the future endgame in Afghanistan, saving the Haqqani network at the cost of world peace (and its fallout on Pakistan) is folly of the highest order. We must acknowledge the global embryonic outreach of the terrorist networks. Apart from cracking down on the Haqqani network and all the militants it is harbouring, Pakistan needs to make its anti-terror laws stricter. Those accused of killing a senior military office and a deadly attack on an army bus were acquitted by a court the other day. If we keep releasing terrorists and allow them to roam free like this, what will become of us? Food for thought.

(my editorial in Daily Times)


Sadia said…
Anti-terror laws need to implemented across the board regardless of any previous “strategic alliances”. The out-reach of terrorist organizations must not be undermined and it is pertinent to counter their propaganda or else individuals who have no formal links with terrorist outfits may take upon the cause of holy war under the influence of the maligned propaganda.

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