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Fanning the flames of terrorism - The Observer

Dina Nath Mishra ()
11 September 1997

Title: Fanning the flames of terrorism
Author: Dina Nath Mishra
Publication: The Observer
Date: September 11, 1997

'Meanwhile, ISI activities in Afghanistan are also of growing importance to
Pakistan's ability to deter and contain India through the escalation of
Islamist terrorism and subversion. It has been a cornerstone of
Islamabad's strategic design that it would be next to impossible for an
India preoccupied with domestic instability and terrorism to launch a war
against Pakistan or even react to major provocations. Islamabad is
convinced that a spate of ISI-sponsored terrorism and subversion along to
Indo-Pak border - from Kashmir to the Punjab - will make the swift
launching of a surprise attack by India virtually impossible. Moreover, Mrs
Bhutto's Islamabad considered the escalation of Islamist terrorism into
Central Asia and even the People's Republic of China's Xinjing province the
most expedient instrument to ensure Pakistan enduring centrality in an
evolving regional strategic dynamics in which Pakistan would have otherwise
been marginalised if not outrightly ignored'.

The above quotations are from the latest internal document of US House of
Representatives, Washington, produced by Task Force on Terrorism and
Unconventional Warfare, headed by Yossef Bodansky. The 6,000-word document
dealt with the subject "Pakistan's continued sponsorship of Islamist
terrorism". It is amazing that US has the ultimate understanding of
regional strategic dynamics which work as a compulsive propelling force in
sponsoring the Islamic terrorism. India has suffered terrorism exported by
Pakistan not only into Punjab, J&K and North-East, but also in simultaneous
blasts at more than a dozen places in Mumbai, killing more than 300 people
and injuring thousands. Pakistan had said it had nothing to do with that.

Now, on September 3, UNI carried a news item: "Mr Ghulam Ishaq Khan, before
stepping down as the President of Pakistan in July 1993, had furiously
rebuked then Prime Minister Nawaz Sharief for involvement of the
Inter-Services Intelligence (ISI) in the Mumbai bomb blasts in March that
year, according to an Urdu book recently released. When Mr Sharief tried
to deny it, Mr Ishaq Khan insisted: 'Mr Prime Minister, don't try to
convince me. The ISI is behind these blasts and I have got proof. If the
United States declares us as a terrorist State, you will be responsible for
that,' says Mr Muneer Ahmed in his latest work Will Pakistan Break Up. The
author states that Mr Ishaq Khan told Mr Sharief that a green signal for
these blasts was given by ISI chief Lt General Javed Nasir. He also said
he had the proof to show how the Memon brothers were kept in Karachi as
government guests, and how they were brought to Pakistan and then
transported to Tuba."

The US document mentioned above gives larger perspective of trans-border
export of terrorism from Pakistan. The document says the key strategic
requirement motivating Islamabad's drive is the need to divert the Central
Asian oil -and gas eastwards away from Russia and the West. Therefore,
given the grand strategic importance of these energy supplies, Islamabad
must be in full control over the Afghan segment of the pipeline. Hence,
Pakistan is committed not only to the continued support to the Taliban, but
to ultimately impose a long term political solution in Afghanistan, thus
ensuring Islamabad's dominance. According to the analysis of the document,
Islamabad has always been anxious to secure a docile Pushtun-dominated
government in Kabul.

A Pakistani-dominated Afghanistan would then constitute a forward strategic
depth on Pakistan's western flank. Meanwhile, Islamabad is eager to open
trade routes to, as well as the natural gas pipeline from, Central Asia.
Presently, the most important national project for Pakistan is the
construction of the pipeline from the Central Asian Republics, skirting
around Iran and via Afghanistan and Pakistan, to an oil and gas exporting
terminal on the shores of the Indian Ocean. The unstable Taliban which
doesn't have a discernible governing structure cannot be trusted to provide
long term control for the strategic pipeline and road system across
Afghanistan.

The document contains enormous amount of information about the involvement
of Nawaz Sharief government in ongoing Afghan war. By the early spring of
1997, Brigadier Ashkraf Afridi and a large. support staff were fully
entrenched in Kabul ... The Pakistanis not only exhausted the stockpiles of
the military depots in Peshawar, traditionally earmarked for operations in
Afghanistan, but began drawing large quantities of weapons and ammunition
from the country's strategic reserves stored in Rawalpindi ... ISI
operatives brought with them large quantities of money which they and the
local senior commanders dispensed in order to "enhance" the loyalty of
locally-based Mujahedin forces ... All together, between 2,500 and 3,000
Pakistani volunteers reinforced the Taliban in the first phase alone. More
important was the growing presence of "Pakistani ex-servicemen" serving as
advisers and equipment maintenance crews. The death in a helicopter crash
in the Taliban-held area of a number of Pakistani officers still on active
service, including a brother of General Aslam Beg, the former Pakistani
army chief, testifies to the extent of Islamabad's direct involvement ...
Mohammad Mohaquq, General Dostam's deputy, reported that more than 5,000
Pakistani troops, as well as a large number of fresh Taliban forces,
arrived in Kabul in preparation for the attack on the opposition forces.

The new regime in Pakistan headed by Nawaz Sharief gives the impression to
US, Iran and China that the activities of ISI, Pak-sponsored terrorism and
even the Taliban's warfare were the creation of the Banazir Bhutto
administration. Senior Pakistani officials gave guarantee to US that
Islamabad would stop any involvement in Islamic terrorism.

They also ensured that the new government would not tolerate them on
Pakistani soil. They had even given the word that sponsorship of terrorism
across the border and subversion, specially in Kashmir and Afghanistan,
would end. When 'Pakistan President Farooq Leghari visited China, he
repeated to his host that a dozen Uyghur Islamic activists studying in
Pakistan have been extradited to People's Republic of China and the
impression was created that Pakistan would no more tolerate these
fundamentalists.

US on its part was satisfied with the new government's promises that there
would be drastic changes. Pakistan would concentrate on economic recovery
and industrial development. The two pre-conditions of success of this
urgent task are reduction of tension with India through bilateral
negotiations and improvement of relations with US.

Pakistan can be expected to threaten escalation of tension to a major war,
including raising the nuclear option, in case India or other countries
moved to suppress Islamic terrorism.


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