India has always been cautious about Pakistan’s resolve to fight terror. This is because for every step Islamabad takes forward it moves two steps back — and so far that has worked to its advantage. A report in Tuesday’s Hindustan Times exposes this duplicity of Pakistan when it comes to acting against terror groups, especially outfits working against India. Following the Peshawar school attack on December 16, Islamabad was under immense pressure from its own citizens to crack down on terror groups. On December 31, its National Counter-Terrorism Authority (NCTA), an internal counter-terrorism intelligence agency, updated the list of banned militant groups from 60 to 72 — the new list included the Jamaat-ud-Dawa (JuD) and the Haqqani network. This was good news for India as the JuD is headed by Hafiz Saeed, who is accused of spearheading the 26/11 Mumbai attacks, and the Haqqani network is believed to have carried out the July 7, 2008 bombing of the Indian embassy in Kabul.
The NCTA’s updated list was published days before US secretary of state John Kerry’s visit to Islamabad and it was stealthily removed some time after Mr Kerry left. The hope that Pakistan was finally acting against terror was quashed when Islamabad clarified that the JuD was not banned. Pakistan’s ‘ban’ on the JuD was to fall in line with the UN Security Council Resolution 1267 — a 1999 resolution establishing a sanctions regime on individuals and groups associated with al-Qaida. The JuD and Saeed are on this list. This ‘ban’ seemed to have worked in Pakistan’s favour as it is no longer on the international list of blacklisted countries for not combating money laundering and financing terrorism.
Pakistan’s perfidy, in the way it has dealt with the JuD, casts doubts on Islamabad’s intent to act against terror groups targeting India. While the Narendra Modi government is calibrating its steps towards breaking the ice with our western neighbour, it is doubtful if this earnestness is reciprocated. Cherry picking terror groups will not help Pakistan and internal unrest will spill over to neighbouring countries, most importantly into Afghanistan. Unrest in the region is bad news for world nations, especially India and the US. The US — which passed a $532 million aid to Pakistan in early January — should not look the other way while its ally on the ‘war on terror’ is running with the hare and hunting with the hounds.