Posted by New Delhi Times Bureau
A report by the US Treasury Department in Washington blames unidentified elements in Pakistan as major sources of terrorist financing. A British government report also found evidence of such funding via donations from Pakistan and Afghanistan to terrorist groups in Syria. Terrorist financing also became the focus of discussions at a White House mid-November meeting between US security officials and Pakistani Army Chief Gen Raheel Sharif. ”Terrorist Financing Risk Assessment, 2015″ report found the Haqqani Network generating funds from a wide range of sources in Pakistan and Afghanistan including businesses, smuggling, extortion, and kidnapping for ransom.
The Lashkar-e-Taiba receives funds from within Pakistan, through charitable front organisations like Jamaat-ud-Dawa (JUD) and Falah-i-Insaniyat Foundation (FIF) and additional funds from commercial ventures and private donations during Ramazan and sale of animal hides during the Eid-ul-Azha.
Faisal Shahzad, who tried to blow New York’s Times Square, received funds from a TTP supporter in Pakistan. Saifullah Anjum Ranjha-a Pakistani national- pleaded guilty in US to laundering money and financing terror through international drug trafficking and international smuggling of counterfeit cigarettes and weapons. Another Pakistani is accused of manufacturing heroin in clandestine laboratories along the Afghan border and leading one of the largest heroin trafficking organisations in the world. He used to send the drug to more than 20 countries, including the United States. ‘Proceeds from his heroin trafficking were then used to support high-level members of the Taliban in furtherance of their insurgency in Afghanistan’- revealed the report.
In Pakistan the donations for ‘charity’ are usually diverted, drugs are sold, and legitimate-looking store fronts are used to collect funds, as small businesses are forced to pay protection money. Haqqani network operates in Afghanistan with Pakistan’s complicity. The group is involved in opium trade in Afghanistan as opium money directly funds warlords and escalates militancy. Such material evidences notwithstanding, Pakistan government has resorted to habitual denial. In spite of knowing the truth it refuses to accept, as intention is not honest. Unfortunately, there seems to be no change in its policy on terror as it still refuses to learn from past mistakes. When will Pakistan shun terror and start living as humans? Time is now ripe for a fundamental change in Pak society.
It is never too late for Pakistan to change its policy for the better.The earlier it is done, the better. Stifling terror financing should be made a part of National Action Plan. Investments in secular education and making normal education compulsory for Madrasas could reverse the current trend of indoctrination leading to religious fundamentalism. Audit of Madrass funds- Lal Masjid in particular- must be made mandatory. Strict implementation of the Anti-Terrorism Act (1997)- especially of Section 11EEEE- for suspected involvement in terror financing and embezzlement of funds will do wonders.
Pakistan is a country where making a fake id, a fake passport, fake documentation, or opening account in any bank is damn easy. Currently many tools are available to track terror funds; what is required is the strong will to implement. Strengthening the IT and surveillance infrastructure, as well as stringent enforcement of law to intercept and interpret data are needed. Corrupt politicians also provide moral and financial support to terrorists. The main financiers of terror feel emboldened when leaders of known US-designated terrorist organisations are roaming free and taking out rallies. The government’s capacity and intention to fight terror has lost its credibility. Pakistan must seriously introspect on the direction it wants its society to move. Once Pakistan government stops playing the double game and ceases to support terrorists, relationship with neighbours-India, Afghanistan and Iran- will definitely improve.
Lashkar-e-Toiba flays Pakistan PM for promising action against it
By Charles Farwell –
November 3, 2015
US President Barack Obama and Pakistan’s prime minister issued a joint call for the Taliban to return to peace talks with the Afghan government, as the pair stressed the positives of a troubled alliance Thursday.
Obama and Sharif underlined that improvement in Pakistan- India bilateral relations would “greatly enhance” prospects for lasting peace, stability, and prosperity in the region, according to the statement.
They discussed Pakistan’s resolve to take effective action against United Nations-designated terrorist individuals and entities, including Lashkar-e-Taiba (LeT) and its affiliates.
From Lalit K Jha Washington, October 23 (PTI) The United States has made it clear to Pakistan that it must take action against all terror groups without discriminating and also firmly ruled out any role for itself in Indo-Pak peace process unless both the countries jointly ask for it. While the joint statement notes “mutual concerns of terrorism”, it says both sides should work out ways of addressing these and all other outstanding issues, including Kashmir, through bilateral dialogue.
Obama was also briefed about the progress Pakistan has been making on the economic front, with positive indicators, duly acknowledged by global rating agencies.
In response to another question, Shultz said, “the President deeply values his relationship with Prime Minister (Narendra) Modi; that the United States and India have worked together very closely”.
She said the money will help build more than a dozen schools, rehabilitate hundreds of facilities, and provide training and scholarships to help Pakistani girls “fulfill their promise” to become the next generation of doctors, teachers, and entrepreneurs.
Pakistan insists smaller tactical nuclear weapons would deter a sudden attack by India, which is also a nuclear power, but Washington worries they may further destabilize an already volatile region because their smaller size makes them more tempting to use in a conventional war. “We believe that that’s best addressed through continued dialogue between the two countries”, he said.
Talks between India and Pakistan have been a major point of confrontation, being called off at various levels over what India claims is Pakistan’s insistence on dragging in Kashmir.
Answering a query on sale of advanced fighter jets to Pakistan, he said India’s reservation to supply of such was well known.
He said that terrorism comes naturally to mind when talking about Pakistan and the joint statement, issued by the Pakistan foreign office after Sharif met US President Barack Obama in Washington, devotes considerable space to that particular issue.
The Nuclear Crisis Nobody Mentions
The trouble is, Pakistan may become a failing state. We can’t know this for certain. The fact, however, that the possibility can be raised gives pause. A failing state with over a hundred nuclear weapons, building more as fast as it can, miniaturizing new weapons, and having perpetually hostile relations with its neighbor, India, also a nuclear power, presents risks far beyond regional security.
How, for example, should the world respond to a state that proliferates nuclear weapons but denies doing so and that might not even be able to control its proliferation? As a count of its nuclear arsenal edges toward several hundred, and as it increasingly deploys tactical nuclear weapons near its border, Pakistan’s government faces extraordinary challenges of command and control.
Hypothetically, suppose that during a future crisis with India a failing Pakistani government delegates control over tactical nuclear weapons to dozens of forward commanders. Suppose further one or two weapons are ‘lost.’ Conceivably, nobody we consider to be in authority would know what had happened, or would admit knowing. If later on a terrorist group obtained such a weapon they would attempt to detonate it. A smallish nuclear artillery shell, for example, could be sailed up the Thames to London on a yacht.
The point is, if Pakistan starts to ‘lose’ nuclear weapons the world has no ready response. And if a ‘loss’ produced a catastrophic event it is reasonable to think that the world would not wait for a second event before forcibly removing the threat. To be blunt, that is the war on Iran that hawks keep talking about, except much worse.
What are the odds? We can make a not unreasonable guess in terms of orders of magnitude. Over the middle term is the chance of Pakistan failing one in ten, one in a hundred, or one in a thousand? One in a thousand seems too low. One in ten (perhaps) too high. One in a hundred also seems low but among our choices it’s the best fit. Furthermore, we can assume a failing state with nuclear weapons would lose a few. But the probability regarding how many doesn’t change our order of magnitude approximation.
We routinely like to insure homes, businesses and property against damage from events with less than one in a hundred chance of happening. Surely we should do something similar about the potential danger of a nuclear weapon in the hands of terrorists.
After Pakistan’s first test detonations in 1998 the smart thing would have been to make nuclear arms control on the subcontinent a priority. That that never happened reflects badly on American leadership. Despite occasional alarms sounded by experts at the upper reaches of the national security establishment–Rolf Mowatt-Larrsen, for example, says “there is a greater possibility of a nuclear meltdown in Pakistan than anywhere else in the world”–American officials vacillate between fear of a nasty scrap and hope that the problem will just disappear.
Rationalizations for doing nothing hold sway. Washington reflexively defers to Riyadh, Pakistan’s chief ally. From the outset the Saudis, as a matter of religious zeal, have been keen for Pakistan to develop an “Islamic bomb.” And since 1991 Washington has been greatly preoccupied by the war in Afghanistan–too often finding itself at the mercy of Islamabad for assistance combating insurgents. Domestically, what purport to be well-intended incentives of arms shipments in practice create political blowback from American corporations hungry for billions in sales. The result is, leaning hard on Pakistan seems insane even if it makes perfect sense.
Nevertheless, it remains mysterious that so few in or out of government worry about the risks. It’s not as if the deployment of tactical nuclear weapons brings previously unknown tensions to the surface. In the 1980s, for example, the U.S. stationing of Pershing II missiles in Germany was perceived to be so destabilizing that it led to the Reagan-Gorbachev summit in Reykjavik and thereafter to the Intermediate Nuclear Forces (INF) treaty. To this day the great powers find theater nuclear weapons a highly vexatious diplomatic issue. Nor are problems of command and control unfamiliar–as recently as 2007 six nuclear-tipped cruise missiles effectively went missing for a day and a half from Minot Air Force Base. The Secretary of the Air Force then resigned and a group of senior officers were disciplined. Hopes, therefore, that a substantial enlargement of Pakistan’s tactical nuclear capabilities might not increase instability has little foundation in experience or common sense.
Since the early 1990s–for more than two decades–hawks have been talking up a war against Iran. Meanwhile, barely a word is said about Pakistan. The difference may be due partly to Israel’s outsized influence. But it feels like something else is going on.
To hazard a more intuitive guess, bluster over Iran comes cheap whereas disarming Pakistan is the real deal. And if negotiations didn’t work does America go to war over the potential threat? A war that devastates Pakistan could be the result. Yet without diplomacy the very same war, the one the establishment doesn’t expect, could be the one we can’t avoid. Maybe it isn’t so surprising after all that we don’t talk about the stuff of nightmares.
It’s never too late for diplomacy but it’s imprudent to cut it so close.
By Yelena Biberman January 6 at 8:30 AM
The Peshawar school massacre has sparked unprecedented societal and political mobilization against terrorism in Pakistan. From televised debates to private conversations, there is now an unmistakable demand for policy reorientation toward domestic sources of insecurity. However, three big questions remain: Is India still the main enemy? Is Tehrik-e Taliban Pakistan (TTP), the perpetrator of the deadliest terrorist attack in Pakistan’s history, the only domestic militant group threatening Pakistani security? What will replace TTP in the unstable tribal region bordering Afghanistan?
For more than three generations, Pakistan’s security policy and the dominant national narrative have positioned India as the primary and existential threat to Pakistan. The two countries fought four wars (in 1947, 1965, 1971 and 1999), with the last in the shadow of nuclear missiles. Pakistan’s army built up its capacity in response to India’s military power at the expense of the country’s economic development. The very idea of Pakistan is tied to the perception that India is a dangerous place for Muslims.
The Peshawar massacre offers India and Pakistan an opportunity to recast their relationship. Following the attack, Indian schools across the country and the parliament observed silence for the victims, and Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi reached out in a 12-minute phone conversation to his Pakistani counterpart Nawaz Sharif. Nevertheless, many Pakistanis remain skeptical about the recently elected Hindu nationalist leader. They cite periodic confrontations along the Line of Control, which separates Pakistan- and India-controlled parts of Kashmir. Modi’s cancelation of August talks between the two countries’ foreign secretaries, in response to a meeting between Pakistan’s envoy in New Delhi and Kashmiri separatist leaders, also made a strong impression. Reimagining Islamist militants, and not Hindu nationalist-controlled India, as the chief threat to Pakistan after nearly 70 years of animosity between the two states is a tough sell.
Pakistan also has had a special connection to the Taliban. The latter has ostensibly allowed the former to maintain “strategic depth” in Afghanistan against India during the 1990s, after the United States withdrew from the region. The strategic depth doctrine hinges on the calculation that, in case of an enemy offensive, Pakistani military commanders would have space to withdraw, regroup and respond. After the United States invaded Afghanistan in 2001, Pakistan’s intelligence agency (ISI) secretly sheltered and provided logistical support to the (Afghan) Taliban. Some of the local Pakistani Pashtun tribesmen, who spent years in the company and service of the Taliban or al-Qaeda, became radicalized. In 2007, following the Pakistani forces’ bold Lal Masjid confrontation with the Islamists, the latter joined forces under the TTP banner. The TTP’s stated goal is to oppose the NATO forces in Afghanistan and wage a defensive jihad against the Pakistani forces. However, the TTP’s active involvement in organized crime (e.g. bank robberies, kidnapping for ransom and smuggling) makes it more a criminal than an insurgent outfit. Destroying the TTP will require not only a military, but also a law enforcement solution. In addition to its involvement in organized crime, the TTP has made large investments in Karachi-based businesses.
The TTP represents the blowback effect from Pakistan’s “proxy-fication” of the Taliban. However, it is unlikely that the lesson from the Taliban will be applied to the no less powerful Kashmir-oriented militant outfits. Organizations such as Lashkar-e-Taiba and Jaish-e-Mohammed are still largely viewed as the “good” jihadis. This is because, as one insider explained, they have not yet done anything against the Pakistani state. They are oriented against India. Lashkar-e-Taiba is responsible for the 2008 Mumbai terrorist attacks, which were no less traumatic for India as was the Peshawar massacre for Pakistan. Lashkar’s sprawling compound is near Lahore, Pakistan’s cultural capital. Pakistanis often cite the United States’ extensive use of proxies. However, unlike the United States, Pakistan has employed proxies either inside or dangerously close to the country’s borders. Playing with fire so close to one’s home is far more hazardous than in someone else’s neighborhood. Or, as Hillary Clinton put it, “you can’t keep snakes in your backyard and expect them only to bite your neighbors.” Significant gains over domestic terrorist organizations will require a more comprehensive and sober approach, one that applies to proxies the same realpolitik foresight usually reserved for other countries.
Finally, there is the question of what will replace the TTP in the tribal areas bordering Afghanistan. The Federally Administered Tribal Areas (FATA) have been by and large neglected since the British colonial period. The current military crackdown on the TTP needs to be complemented with long-overdue “state-building” measures. If Pakistan does not significantly invest in the governance and economic development of the region, grievances will continue to deepen and multiply. The region will then serve as an even more fertile ground for terrorist organizations.
Behind this unprecedented gesture, however, darker forces were planning a different sort of event. A squad of heavily armed terrorists attacked the Indian consulate in Herat, Afghanistan, right on the eve of the inauguration. They planned to take Indian diplomats hostage and then execute them as Modi was took office. Fortunately the Indian security guards at the consulate killed all the attackers.
The U.S. State Department publicly blamed Lashkar-e-Tayyiba, the group which attacked Mumbai in 2008. LeT is very close to the Pakistani military’s Inter Services Intelligence Directorate or ISI. LeT would not have taken such a highly provocative action without at least some advance nod from the Pakistani spies in the ISI and the generals who command them. LeT’s leader, Hafeez Saeed, lives openly in Pakistan, frequently appears on television denouncing the United States, and is the darling of the ISI.
If there is another LeT attack like the one in Mumbai or the one in Herat, it will provoke the most serious crisis in years between India and Pakistan, and the more that can be done by the United States and other to prevent such a disaster the better. But it won’t be easy.
On Wednesday, to complicate the situation further, Al Qaeda released a new videotape of its leader Ayman Zawahiri announcing the creation of a an al Qaeda franchise in India. Zawahiri made the tape in his hideout in Pakistan, no doubt, and many Indians suspect the ISI is helping to protect him. Zawahiri has longstanding links to LeT and to Saeed. The 55-minute video is Zawahiri’s first this year and threatens jihadist attacks across India.
The domestic politics of Pakistan are central to this drama, and to this threat.
The United States should also consider a unilateral step if another attack occurs, threatening to place Pakistan on the State Department list of states sponsoring terrorism.
One of the goals of the Herat operation was to discredit Sharif, who has no control over the ISI or the Pakistani army. Since he was elected in his own landslide victory last year, the army has become increasingly unhappy with Sharif. They are very upset that he has put the former army dictator Pervez Musharraf on trial for treason and did not just let him leave the country quietly. Musharraf ousted Sharif in a coup in 1999, and while the army doesn’t care that much for Musharraf, it does not like the judicial system holding a general accountable for coups. For them that sets a bad precedent.
The army also was unhappy with Sharif’s reluctance to take on Pakistan’s own militant extremists, the Pakistan Taliban. Sharif wanted to talk to the Taliban, the army for once wanted to fight. Sharif ultimately gave in.
Meanwhile, violence has surged along the line of control in Kashmir, the province disputed by India and Pakistan since 1947 and the cause of several wars. This week the Indian army discovered a tunnel built under the line to infiltrate terrorists into Kashmir. Routine diplomatic talks between India and Pakistan have been suspended because Modi called them off when Pakistani diplomats met with Kashmiri leaders, a practice previously tolerated by New Delhi. Sharif had been urging deescalating the Indo-Pakistan rivalry and cutting back on the arms race, positions the army hardliners find threatening.
Sharif has been under siege—literally—in his office in Islamabad for the last couple of weeks, surrounded by an angry mob led by Pakistan’s famous photogenic cricket star and politician Imran Khan. Allied with a Canadian-Pakistani Islamic preacher, Khan has called for Sharif to resign. His movement has little nationwide popular support and there have been no demonstrations in other Pakistani cities backing his call, but it has kept Sharif preoccupied for weeks. Khan’s critics say he is being manipulated by the ISI to try to bring down Sharif or at least to neuter him. The army and the ISI were effective in neutering Sharif’s predecessor Asif Zardari. In fact that was a key goal achieved by the Mumbai attack in 2008. They want to neutralize Sharif by any means possible.
In short, the Pakistani army and its ISI spies are once again playing with fire—with India, the LeT and Kashmir—in order to secure domestic gains against their civilian leaders. Sharif is a weak prime minister today, just as he was the last two times he held that position in the 1990s, but he is the elected leader of the country. He should be allowed to finish his time in office.
The US should step up intelligence cooperation with India to prevent and deter attacks such as the ones in Mumbai and Herat. Even if a terrorist action cannot be foiled, the more information exchanged about Pakistani ISI involvement with LeT, the more likely the US will have credibility with New Delhi if a crisis does occur.
The United States should also consider a unilateral step if another attack occurs, threatening to place Pakistan on the State Department list of states sponsoring terrorism. America would treat Pakistan as a pariah like North Korea. It certainly meets the criteria and has for decades. The first Bush administration seriously considered this measure in 1992, although such a step obviously would have immense consequences for U.S.-Pakistan relations.
A more limited option would be to target specific sanctions against individual Pakistani officials involved in supporting terrorism, like members of ISI’s “S” branch that handles liaison with LeT, the Haqqani network and others. A targeted sanctions move against specific Pakistani military officials would send a strong deterrent message to the Pakistani army and could be a warning shot before putting Pakistan on the list of terror patrons.
Finally there should be contingency planning between Washington and New Delhi about managing a future Indo-Pakistan crisis like the Mumbai crisis. This would be intended to create dialogue, not creat a platform to gang up on Pakistan. But in any case it would be prudent to plan for the worst.