Pakistan’s denouncing of killing of a Kashmiri militant from the banned Hizbul Mujahideen group is an “indisputable” evidence of its support to terrorist outfits, US lawmakers have been told.
“Just this weekend, the Indians killed a Kashmiri terrorist who is a member of Hezbollah’s Mujahideen. This is a nasty terrorist organisation. And Pakistan, did they welcome this killing? No,” said Bill Roggio, senior editor of the Long War Journal Foundation for Defense of Democracies.
“In fact, they denounced it and referred to him as a Kashmiri separatist. This is an individual who recruits online for holy war and is recruiting youth and poisoning the youth to conduct terrorist attack,” Roggio told lawmakers during a Congressional hearing on Tuesday. “The evidence (of Pakistani support to terrorist groups) is indisputable,” Roggio said in response to a question.
Noting that this is not just an issue with Pakistan and Kashmiri, Roggio said the Kashmiri terrorist groups that have been aided by the Pakistani state base themselves in Afghanistan.
“I could list groups, Lashkar-e-Taiba, Harkat-ul- Mujahideen, who the State Department said as recently as 2014 is running training camps inside Afghanistan. These groups are attacking and killing US soldiers. I haven’t even touched on groups like the Taliban, Haqqani network, or the Mullah Nazir group. These are just small groups,” Roggio noted.
Pakistan, he alleged were playing a fantastic shell game. “They have this narrative called good Taliban versus bad Taliban. The good Taliban is any group that the Pakistani likes. And those are groups that don’t attack the Pakistani state. These are groups that carry out Pakistan’s foreign policy. Haqqani network, Afghan Taliban, Mullah Nazir group,” he said.
“Then, even in the Pakistan press, they’re referred to this, groups like Lashkar-e-Taiba, Hezbollah Mujahideen, Harkat-ul- Mujahideen. They’re considered, quote, unquote, good Taliban, as well,” Roggio added. “And the bad Taliban, they’re the ones that fight the Pakistani state. They’re the ones being targeted in the Shawal Valley in north Waziristan. When the Pakistanis go after these groups, they pretend that they’re going after the Haqqani network or the Mullah Nazir group or the Afghan Taliban, but they’re not,” Roggio told lawmakers.
The Pakistanis haven’t named a single high, mid-level or low-level leader killed in one of these operations because they haven’t killed any of them. They haven’t captured any of them. All these are selectively targeting in the interest of the Pakistani state, he asserted.
Pakistan is not going to change its calculus, Roggio said. “These groups that they support, they’re doing this because they feel it’s their best chance in countering India. That’s why they support them,” Roggio said. “I also believe there’s an ideological aspect within large elements within the military and intelligence services, as well, and this has been reported on. So you have this confluence of, it helps their policy in India, as well as they get the ideological radical jihadist support, as well,” he added.
Hizbul Mujahideen commander Burhan Wani was killed in an operation in with Indian security forces in Kashmir last week. Pakistan Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif has convened a special Cabinet meeting in Lahore on Friday to discuss the “deteriorating situation” in the violence-hit Kashmir and chalk out “future course of action” on the issue.
India had asked Pakistan to refrain from interfering in its internal affairs after Sharif issued a statement expressing “shock” at the killing of Burhan. “We have to change our calculus if Pakistan won’t change theirs. I believe all funding should stop. We should put a brake on this situation until we can really get a handle on it. Money is fungible,” Roggio said.
“If we’re funding Pakistani education, they could fund Pakistani militants with the money they’re saving. We have to consider sanctions. We have to consider the possibility of state sponsorship of terrorism,” Roggio said.