What New Delhi must do to tackle terrorism
It isn’t often that one hears Pakistan’s other neighbours levelling similar accusations about cross-border terrorism at the same time as India, but that is what happened over the past few weeks as both Iran and Afghanistan accused Pakistan of harbouring terrorist groups on its soil. A day before a Jaish-e-Mohammed suicide bomber killed 40 Indian troops at Pulwama in Jammu and Kashmir on February 14, the Pakistan-based Jaish-al-Adl claimed a suicide attack that killed 27 members of Iran’s Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps. Subsequently, Afghanistan’s defence minister accused Jaish-e-Mohammed of working with the Taliban to target one of the country’s largest military bases in March, an attack that killed 26 troops.
The accusations show that India is no longer alone in being targeted in a brazen manner by heavily armed terror groups based on Pakistani soil. They also come at a time when the US has consistently increased pressure on Pakistan to crack down on terrorists sheltering in its territory and the Financial Action Task Force has taken Islamabad to task for failing to cut off terror financing. When Pakistan’s political leadership talk about their country’s hard-earned gains against terror groups through military operations over the past few years, they often fail to note that these gains have been made against organisations within the country that were challenging the State’s writ, and not against groups such as Jaish-e-Mohammed and Lashkar-e-Taiba that have been used by the military as proxies to target nations such as India and Afghanistan.
This is why Afghan politicians such as former spy chief Amrullah Saleh describe the entire terrorist infrastructure operating from Pakistan as a “virulent arm” of the Inter-Services Intelligence. The time is now right for India to explore ways to work more closely with Pakistan’s neighbours to ensure that terror groups can no longer find safe haven on Pakistani soil to carry out attacks that have the potential to destabilise the entire region.