Live up to commitment to battle terror: Pakistani editorial

December 12th, 2008 - 1:17 pm ICT by IANS  

Islamabad, Dec 12 (IANS) Pakistan must live up to its commitment to stamping out terror groups operating from the country, an editorial of a leading English daily of the country said Friday, even as another said “mixed signals continue to emanate from Islamabad” on the issue.“The leadership must now live up to its commitment to battle terrorists with determination,” The News said in an editorial a day after the UN Security Council declared the Jamat-ud-Dawah, a front of the banned Lashkar-e-Taiba (LeT), and four of its leaders as global terrorists.

The UN action came in the wake of the Mumbai terror attacks that killed over 170 people and which India has blamed on the LeT.

The Pakistani government “must carry out investigations necessary to be able to put its own case before the world, and honestly state it is ready to act against those involved in extremist activity”, the editorial said, adding: “The fact is that there have been doubts about this commitment for too long.”

Noting that “doubts have repeatedly been raised about the activities of certain militant outfits that continue to operate, sometimes covertly”, in Pakistan and in Pakistan-administered Kashmir, The News said: “It is impossible to believe our security apparatus is not aware of this.

“We must ask ourselves whether, from the point of view of national security, it is worth allowing these groups to remain intact - or whether, for our sake and not India’s, they need to be acted against once and for all,” the editorial headlined “Mounting Pressure” said.

The JuD leaders who were declared terrorists by the Security Council are Hafiz Muhammad Saeed, Zakiur Rehman Lakhvi, Haji Muhammad Ashraf, and Mohmoud Mohammad Ahmed Bahaziq. Except for Bahaziq, an Indian-born Saudi national, the other three are Pakistani nationals.

India says Saeed is the mastermind of the Mumbai attacks. While Lakhvi is the chief of operations LeT, Ashraf is the chief of finances of the organisation, which the UN declared a terror outfit in 2002.

The editorial also noted that the US army commander for Iraq and Afghanistan General David Petraeus had warned that the eventual fallout from the Mumbai attack for Pakistan could be worse than that from 9/11.

“Pakistan’s government is caught in a perilous situation,” The News said, adding: “If it concedes too little, it angers New Delhi and Washington, which is standing by India even while playing the role of chief mediator.

“If too much is done, the government risks still fiercer attack at home, where it has already been blamed for failing to stand up to India.

“The challenge for Pakistan is to find a way out. It must navigate cautiously and wisely, without seeming to cave in too much under the relentless pressure,” The News maintained.

According to Dawn, “this time there must be no repeat of those half-hearted measures against militants” as had happened in 2002, when then president Pervez Musharraf had banned the LeT.

“If Hafiz Saeed and his men are involved in the Mumbai attacks, they must be arrested and prosecuted. The Lashkar and its offshoots must be shut down - as must other groups that preach mayhem.

“Unfortunately, mixed signals continue to emanate from Islamabad,” Dawn said.

Noting that the government had “unambiguously” come out against terrorism, the editorial said the raid on a Jamaat-ud-Dawah complex near Muzaffarabad and the detention of Lakhvi “indicate some cautious steps” were being taken against militants.

At the same time, Saeed “has been defending himself and his group on news channels, demonstrating an unexpected degree of freedom for someone who has essentially been declared a terrorist by the UN.

“Reading the tea leaves to discern Islamabad’s intentions is a difficult exercise at the best of times. However, a pragmatic approach by the international community, especially India and the US, can help nudge Pakistan to stamp out terrorism,” Dawn maintained.

In this context, it noted that two issues stood out: Kashmir and India’s growing interest in Afghanistan.

“Reassure Pakistan that its interests will be protected in these two areas and work towards easing tensions there, and Pakistan may be in a much better position to at least squelch terrorism on its soil,” Dawn said.

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