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With jihad topmost on their minds

Wilson John is his book The Caliphate’s Soldiers focuses on three major issues: the ideology of the LeT, Pakistan military’s liaisons with LeT, and the funding which is at the core of its existence in Pakistan and its growing strength there and abroad, writes Vikram Sood.

books Updated: Jan 13, 2012 17:44 IST

The Caliphate’s Soldiers

Wilson John

Amaryllis

Rs. 550 pp 295

On February 5, 2011, the day Pakistan commemorates annually as Kashmir day, Hafiz Saeed and his followers from Lashkar-e-Taiba (LeT) offered to recruit and train a million jihadis to ‘free’ Kashmir. Later in the year, in December, the LeT and other extremist organisations met up in Lahore to commemorate the Difa-e-Pakistan day, where the main point of discussion revolved around hatred, injustice to Islam and the need to defeat the United States, Israel and India. It was a show of force by the Jamaat-ut-Dawa (terror outfits belonging to the same cradle), which threatened the US, NATO and India with jihad (with special reference to violent jihad in Kashmir) that was obligated upon all Muslims.

What is important is not that these rallies were allowed to be held but whether they took place because the government was unable to prevent them from being held or unwilling to do so. Wilson John is his book The Caliphate’s Soldiers focuses on three major issues: the ideology of the LeT, Pakistan military’s liaisons with LeT, and the funding which is at the core of its existence in Pakistan and its growing strength there and abroad.

John also discusses the David Headley case in the book, which is based on openly published material as the author did not get to visit Pakistan. A product of meticulous research, it has been banned in Pakistan. Truth apparently hurts.

Jihad, in the LeT lexicon, is never-ending. Their ideology is about hatred, and not puritan Islam. Pakistan provides them a platform and an official sanction to preach that hatred. Their anthem, of 22 stanzas, begins with “Jihad jaari rahega ta qayamat, Jihad hargiz nahi rukega” (jihad will continue till the Day of Judgement, jihad, will never stop).

The chapters on Military Liaisons, The Business of Jihad and Global Mission are particularly interesting. The last mentioned has been the result of the first two. Pakistan’s spy agency, the ISI, found the LeT to be useful foot soldiers, both as a vanguard and as a lethal diversion. A massive organisation, it collected funds, which was an important enabler. If the LeT has a wide reach today, it is thanks to the determined stance of the organisation, the willingness of the people to contribute to the cause and the support extended by the authorities. As an unending threat to Indian interests, the LeT remains very lethal.

Those of us who feel that good intentions and sops will achieve normal relations with Pakistan need to remember that the political government there has no control over the LeT-ISI nexus. Anyone who wishes to understand how close this nexus is with the Pakistan military would do well to read this book. The LeT is now so huge, its tentacles so widespread and deep that the Pakistani claim that they too are victims of terrorism, sounds hollow. Pakistan is a victim of Pakistani terrorism of the Taliban variety, not of LeT which is its asset. Pakistan is a victim of terrorism made in Pakistan. India is a victim of Pakistani terrorism. Any attempt to solve the problem of terrorism in India with Pakistani co-operation is a non-starter unless there is a visible change of heart. That claim too India would need to verify and trust, not trust and then verify.