Tackling terrorism (in Indo-Pak) - Saudi Arabnews editorial


Oct 8, 2009
Editorial: Tackling terrorism

ISI must back Islamabad on talks with India and launch a crackdown on LeT

India and Pakistan are talking again officially. The interior ministers from both countries met ahead of yesterday's South Asian Association for Regional Cooperation (SAARC) conference in Islamabad. Little was said after the meeting between India's Home Minister P. Chidambaram and his Pakistani counterpart Rehman Malik save that they had agreed to further discussions.

Both sides noted however that the talks had taken place in an atmosphere of "goodwill." This at least is a start. It will however require a great deal more than goodwill for these two nuclear-armed nations to reach the durable and stable relations that have eluded them since partition in 1947.

Both are however united by having to face the ogre of terrorism, which has dealt each serious blows. However, while Pakistan is largely occupied fighting the Taleban, the threat to India is related to Kashmir. Lashkar-e-Taiba (LeT) which has been behind many terror attacks on India, most recently the November 2008 Mumbai atrocities, is dedicated to the ouster of New Delhi's forces from Indian controlled Kashmir. Once supported by Islamabad as part of its claim to all of Kashmir, the organization is now officially banned in Pakistan.

Seven suspected LeT members alleged to have been behind the Mumbai attacks are currently awaiting trial in the Pakistan courts. The Indians are angry however that the acknowledged founder of the terrorist movement, Hafiz Saeed was released by the Pakistani authorities because they had insufficient evidence to prosecute him. Instead Saeed, who now runs an Islamist charity, Jamaat-ud-Dawa has since been under house arrest.

It is important that the rule of law prevail in the fight against terrorists, who are dedicated to its overthrow. Nevertheless, the Indians are right to argue that the Pakistan's police and intelligence services should be trying harder. It has to be that they know a great deal about LeT from the days when they were providing it with covert support in its rebellion in Kashmir. It is equally true that Pakistan's main intelligence agency the ISI knows a great deal about the Afghan Taleban from the days when, with US encouragement, it was supporting the Mujahideen insurgency against Soviet occupation.

The discouraging suspicion that the ISI remains a law unto itself, despite the return of democratic politics to Pakistan, no doubt makes the Indians leery of assurances from Pakistani politicians that they are doing all they can to break the back of LeT insurgency. Yet a large part of the wide front of issues on which the two countries must build rapprochement and trust lies within the intelligence sphere.

Turning around the long-standing rivalry between the Indian and Pakistani intelligence communities will be no small matter. Nevertheless, if they can agree on the limited agenda of LeT and work together successfully to blunt and finally break this particular source of terror, then maybe they will have established a productive working relationship for other challenges.

The key is surely that the ISI buys fully into Islamabad's renewed dialogue with New Delhi and leads a successful crackdown on LeT.

Latest Replies

Global Defence

New threads