Pakistan’s military-jihadi complex remains unaffected by the latest ‘crackdown’
It would be one thing if Pakistan’s ‘crackdown’ on its jihadi groups was sincere and thoroughgoing. But it’s not. It is as much a temporary, cosmetic and unsatisfactory exercise as the ones under General Musharraf five years ago (see this archived post). The leaders and operatives of the Lashkar-e-Taiba/Jamaat-ud-Dawa and Jaish-e-Mohammed will be ‘released’ once the heat is off and the dust settles. Pakistani officials are saying as much, actually. Unless India produces evidence, the jihadi leaders will be let off from “preventive custody”. The United Jihad Council, a clique of jihadi outfits led by Syed Salahuddin and focussed on Kashmir ‘disappeared’ by the simple expedient of taking down its signboards.
Perhaps this is as much as the Asif Ali Zardari and his government can do. Yet it won’t do. If the civilian government cannot take meaningful action to cleanse Pakistan of the military-jihadi axis that is directed against India, then the genuineness of its own sincerity is of little consequence.
There is much to say for the assessment that there are deeper, structural reasons why Pakistan’s governments will not take decisive action against the jihadi infrastructure. And it is Pakistan’s nuclear arsenal that protects Osama bin Laden and Hafiz Mohammed Saeed right down to the jihadi foot soldier. In other words, Pakistan’s nuclear weapons not only deter India from militarily attacking Pakistan, but, more importantly, deter any country from targeting the military-jihadi complex. Where does this leave us? Pakistan’s nuclear weapons must be made irrelevant if the global war against Islamist terrorism is to be won. They used to call it the Islamic bomb. It certainly has become the Islamists’ bomb.