Aren’t we already a ‘state sponsor of terrorism’?

Published: September 5, 2012

The TTP, of course, needs no introduction. It has made a name for itself by attacking security installations and executing Shia Muslims. PHOTO: AFP

Last week, major media outlets reported that the Obama administration was considering designating the Haqqani network a “terrorist organisation”. The New York Times, meanwhile, pointed out that the United States was considering the decision’s impact on its relationship with Pakistan.

The article added that “such a move would seem to bring Pakistan a step closer to being designated as a state sponsor of terrorism”.

Let’s address the issue of Pakistan being declared a “state sponsor of terrorism”.

On the list of terrorist organisations available on the US State Department’s website are familiar names like Lashkar-e-Jhangvi (LeJ), Lashkar-e-Taiba (LeT), Jaish-e-Mohammad, Harkatul Mujahideen, Jundallah and Tehreek-e-Taliban Pakistan (TTP). Most of these groups have also been declared banned organisations in Pakistan. However, people like Hafiz Saeed (founder of the LeT and considered to be the mastermind of the 26/11 Mumbai attacks) and Malik Ishaq (founder of the LeJ) have been repeatedly taken into custody and released by Pakistani courts.

The TTP, of course, needs no introduction. It has made a name for itself by attacking security installations and executing Shia Muslims. So, how can we still be considered a civilised state as opposed to one that “sponsors terrorism”, if we are home to these organisations? The official designation for the Haqqani network will not change anything. Patriots may point out that being home to the cream of terrorist organisations in the world does not mean that we’re state sponsors of terror.

However, that argument is hard to make when the Lahore High Court releases extremists and the Pakistan Army needs all kinds of persuasion from national and international entities to launch an offensive against fundamentalist camps. Our security agencies have themselves admitted that they are in contact with the Haqqanis but carefully added that they are in no way supporting them.

The Haqqanis have been credited with well-executed attacks in Afghanistan in recent years, and they will have a say in the so-called ‘endgame’ in Afghanistan, unless the US manages to obliterate every last Haqqani through drone strikes.

The designation is supposed to make it difficult for the group to gather funds but since these organisations are principally funded by wealthy monarchs in the Middle East and by desperate families whose loved ones they kidnap for ransom, it would all amount to a publicity stunt at best.

Read more by Ali here.


Ali Mehdi

A sub-editor for the Karachi pages at The Express Tribune.

The views expressed by the writer and the reader comments do not necessarily reflect the views and policies of The Express Tribune.