Lahore intensification

Trying to understand why terrorists are attacking Lahore

As Pakistan’s internal jihadi civil war intensifies, it is important to note that the groups targeting Pakistani cities—specifically the Pakistani army and law-enforcement agencies—are not the same ones as those that the Pakistani military establishment uses to attack India.

It is highly likely that the perpetrators of this week’s attacks on Lahore are terrorists belonging to the Lashkar-e-Jhangvi/Sipah-e-Sahaba or those connected to the Karachi Deobandi groups. They are against the Pakistani army’s collaboration with the United States, duplicitous though that collaboration might be. Their recent attacks might have been provoked by the killing of Qari Zafar, one of the leaders of this faction, in a drone attack earlier this month. Similarly, the yesterday’s targeting of a Sipah-e-Sahaba leader in Karachi was likely an operation carried out by ISI in retaliation.

These groups are different from the Lashkar-e-Taiba, the group that the ISI uses to attack India.

Related Post: Is a fratricidal war between the two sets of jihadi groups in the offing? Or, as Marvin Weinbaum testifies, are the two groups one Deobandi, one Ahl-e-Hadith, coming together?

18 thoughts on “Lahore intensification”

  1. what makes you exclude taliban from the suspects list? why cudn’t Sipahi-e-sahiba be targeted by govt becos they are doing Taliban’s bidding?

    i think Obama/Pakistan deal of throwing India out of Afghanistan in exchange for greater co-operation from Pakistan in hunting taliban is working.

  2. Balaji

    The SSP/LEJ are aligned with ‘Taliban’ (capital T) and al-Qaeda. TTP capacity is concentrated in tribal regions and NWFP, and they almost certainly rely on their partners in Pakistani cities to carry out attacks. Blaming the attack on the ‘taliban’ or even ‘Taliban’ does not sufficiently bring out the dynamic of the conflict.

    I do not know of any Obama/Pakistan “deal” to throw India out of Afghanistan.

  3. I do not know of any Obama/Pakistan “deal” to throw India out of Afghanistan.

    Nitin, there is an NYT article today that says that Obama is ready to talk to the Taliban after completing military operations in Kandahar.

    Its kind of strange but i always thought that once you vanquish your rival, the only thing that needs ” to be talked about” are the terms of surrender – but even before the biggest US operation on the Taliban stranglehold in a decade, Obama is talking about talking to the Taliban.

    Either he is super cocky about the US chances in Kandahar or he has a certain plan in mind. Hmmmm.

  4. @Balaji,
    I share your suspicions – Karzai recently again reminded that while India may be a friend, Pakistan is a brother to Afghanistan – in fact, he said that they were “conjoined twins”.

    He further clarified that he did not want Aghanistan to be a proxy for a US-Iran cold war either. Iam quoting this from the Hindu a couple of days back…

    All this tells us that Karzai has already been told that he needs to make nice with Pakistan as he is not going to have US military support to back him by the time his current Presidential term expires.

    Just so that he is not going to be swallowed up whole by the Pakistani Python, he is trying to get some help from Iran as well.

    I think we are seeing a pattern here and it most definitely involves a US withdrawal from the region – and all the players are scrambling to take advantage/protect themselves

  5. With their Vatican sized embassies and bases I don’t think US is withdrawing anytime! NYTimes can say whatever tripe it wants to (to keep the “masses” mollified?). But it is action and policy that count.

    And even if the US withdraws it’s not a bad thing for India per se. For one thing it’s munna would no longer get the aid money (for Global War on Terror, what a bloody joke when India has been suffering from cross border terrorism for decades) and weapons and equipments to fight the Taleban Air Force and Navy that would be used against IAF and IN.

  6. @Arvi
    But it is action and policy that count.
    It’s the actions of the US that leave much to be desired. Besides unless you are claiming that the NYT is outright lying/making things up, you cannot sweep this report under the rug – btw, what about this is “tripe” ?

    After the US withdraws it is not going to completely ignore the region – something it did at the end of the Cold war and some thing which came back to hurt it very significantly.

    It is very very possible that Pakistan will keep the gravy train running by promising the US that they will keep the Afghans in line and make sure that no terrorism directed towards the US would be allowed from AfPak territory. What other option does the US have other than to trust them ?

    Besides the US would not mind the status quo that existed pre 9/11 as long as the fanatics are not allowed to plot anti American attacks from inside AFPak

    As to your point about weapons that the US has given Pakistan, i dont share your hopes about the US “taking them back” when they leave – they were given to Pakistan for a reason – and to take that back would be highly unlikely, given that the US needs Paki help to exit AfPak in a face saving manner.

    In short i am quite pessimistic about India’s position in the region in the short and long term – and have no confidence that the US really wants to reign in Pakistan when it comes to terrorism against India

  7. Nobody is asking US to take them back. Atleast if they don’t give new and better weapons that is good enough!

    If they are not gonna “ignore” the region that means THEY ARE NOT WITHDRAWING, let us not play with words here like NYT does! In any case you seem to assume that US will happily outsource this whole effort to Paks (despite the fact that numerous articles have appeared now including in NYT that talk about Pak playing double game) and dole out whatever money Pak asks for. Yeah right, that’s how they bece a superpower, didn’t they?

  8. @ NS

    “Besides the US would not mind the status quo that existed pre 9/11 as long as the fanatics are not allowed to plot anti American attacks from inside AFPak”

    This is contradictory. In logic this is what we would call “internally inconsistent” statement. IOW it is nonsense. No offense.

  9. “Besides the US would not mind the status quo that existed pre 9/11 as long as the fanatics are not allowed to plot anti American attacks from inside AFPak”

    This is contradictory. In logic this is what we would call “internally inconsistent” statement. IOW it is nonsense. No offense.

    @Arvi,
    No it is not – your reading comprehension is poor – no offense. I was careful enough to add the caveat that these fanatics dont use the territory to plan and plot attacks on the US. You have to learn to be a little more patient while reading sentences. Again, no offense.

    The US gives a damn about terrorists who attack India- they are mostly bothered about attacks on their own country. They dont want Afghanistan to be an open staging ground for all terrorists to plot against the US. At this point, they would gladly settle for that.

    At the same time, the US cannot FORCE Afghanistan to be something that it can never be – a stable region that is somewhat democratic and completely non hostile to the US. Not as long as Pakistan;s military exists in its present form.

    They have been here for a decade and have pretty much nothing to show for it. Drone attacks that kill a few terrorists are nothing more than a highly advanced whack – a- mole strategy. So how long are they going to be in Afghanistan? How many moles are they going to whack at ? What is their strategy 5 years from now, 10 to 15 years from now ?

    In the last 10 years they have shown to be unwilling/incapable to get to the heart of the matter – breaking up the alliance between the Paki Military and its jihadi allies. There are several reasons for that and ir deserves another thread in itself.

    At this point they are willing to give up on Afghanistan as long as Pakistan keeps these terrorists in check , from attacking the US – i.e. they can go around carrying their terrorist activities in India, Chechenya, Islamic cause du jour AS LONG AS they dont bother the US. Kapeesh ?

    Why else would Obama want to “talk” to the “moderate” Taliban ? Does it even make sense to use the words moderate and Taliban together…. if ever there was an oxymoron..

  10. My point is precisely that. That if the US outsources things to Pak and leaves Afg then there won’t be any guarantee that there wouldn’t be another BIG ONE in the US. The conditions that led to 911 will again materialize (both in Afg and Pak) once the US “leaves” or “withdraws” or whatever the heck it is.

    Anyways I think we are going around in circles. You obviously didn’t get my point.

  11. In any case you seem to assume that US will happily outsource this whole effort to Paks (despite the fact that numerous articles have appeared now including in NYT that talk about Pak playing double game) and dole out whatever money Pak asks for. Yeah right, that’s how they bece a superpower, didn’t they?

    @Arvi,
    It is not about “happily” or “sadly” outsourcing to Pakistan… its about being realistic/pragmatic.

    The US is a declining superpower with very little chance of establishing a stable and peaceful Afghanistan without Pakistan’s help. If you havent noticed, they have been doling money to Pakistan to the tune of tens of billions of dollars inspite of the Paki military’s known perfidy. It is not because they dont know whats going on – they dont know of any other good option – they are in a 30 year Cold War with iran – their relations with Russia are crappy to put it mildly and they openly refuse the hand of the only country that can help them in the region without double crossing them at every turn – In short, they have no one to depend on but Pakistan.

    Pakistan afterall had created the Taliban and established “peace” in Afghanistan until 9/11 happened – so the American gambit now seems to be bribing Pakistan into bringing back the status quo before 9/11 without making AfPak an open staging ground for terrorism planning against the US homeland.

    As a part of this strategy the Obama Admn has tried to accomodate Pakistan’s interests right from the get go – they tried to appoint Holbrooke as a mediator on Kashmir and it was because of Indian Govt’s strong objections this move was pre-empted. In effect the US had agreed to Pakistan;s positon that peace in Afghanistan required concessions from India on Kashmir – there is no other way to read it.

    In return Pakistan has been asked to go after the Taliban that refuses to play ball with the US – this ofcourse has been rather difficult for Pakistan as we can all see – how ever even in this bad situation the Paks are trying to make the best of it – they are now getting some advanced weaponry from the US in the name of “fighting terror” – the US is more than glad to oblige them.. they are desperate for what ever crumbs Pakistan is throwing at them.

    From India’s vantage point all this is kind of hard to digest. But I think MMS has finally woken up to what is about to happen in AfPak.

  12. Anyways I think we are going around in circles. You obviously didn’t get my point.

    Nope, i understand where you are trying to get at – i.e. the conditions for another 9/11 will be created some time after the US leaves – but you make the flawed assumption that the US has INFINITE capacities to maintain its current position in Afpak – well, it does not.

    They have been here for almost 10 years and have a tottering Afghan Govt which would not exist but for US support – how long are they going to be here supporting a useless and a corrupt Govt ? The Afghan Army and Police are not ready to stand up for themselves – and its not clear if they ever will be.

    Obama on becoming President made it a point to quash any notion of nation building in Afghanistan – neither he nor the US public has the stomach for a long drawn out operation, after being nine years in the region and through a very very costly war in Iraq. It seems that Indians FAIL to understand this.

    So Obama calculates – what is the fastest way to get out of this quagmire.? If he can bribe the Pakis to back him on his plans, would that work out ? Besides if a similar attack to 9/11 happened in the US again and it was traced back to Pakistan, they will be bombed back to the Stone Ages this time. The Pakis know this as well.

    Therefore Pakistan has an incentive not to let this happen – in return for its “help” it will be suitably “rewarded.” Also Pakistan has EVERY incentive to make sure that the US leaves the region. In return, they have to keep a tight leash on Kabul – and make sure that another 9/11 doesnt happen. That would blow up Pakistan in smokes literally.

    The big problem for Pakistan now is this -can they keep the Frankenstein that they unleashed in check ?

  13. @ NS

    “Besides if a similar attack to 9/11 happened in the US again and it was traced back to Pakistan, they will be bombed back to the Stone Ages this time”

    Bah empty posturing! And where will US get the RESOURCES to do that? Anyways OBL and Mullah Omar hide in plain sight in Pak! WTH is the US doing? Also KSM the man in charge of operations for 911 was a Pakistani. And what did the US do to Pak then?

    “The big problem for Pakistan now is this -can they keep the Frankenstein that they unleashed in check ?”

    And still u think US is naive enough to leave these yahoos under the “control” of Pak whatever the heck that means?

    Lots of contradictions in ur posts the above being jus two.

    Bottomline u think US is gonna withdraw in 2011 or 2012 from Afg and make Pak “control” Afg while they leave (as reward?)! I don’t. While there mite be some reduction in forces to appease the public, they are not gonna pack up and leave. We will agree to disagree here.

    Meanwhile found this interesting video of Congressman Ackerman’s remarks about LeT

    http://m.youtube.com/index?desktop_uri=%2F&gl=US#/watch?v=rg0syQbersc&client=mv-google

    Agreed he is jus a member of Hpuse. But atleast some people in foreign policy circles are understanding the gravity of the problem and that something needs to be done!

  14. We simply must have, we need, some significant Pashtun presence in whatever formation we are supporting in Afghanistan. We need this grouping *to reflect the reality that Pashtuns are or nearly are a majority in Af* (not my words). I havent seen any posts on this line from the Acorn , at least not recently.

    Worst case, if all the Pashtun describe themselves as some kind of Taliban, we will still need to find some “good” Taliban among them and get them round- much as I dislike this, this seems to be the realistic thing to do. We need to really plan for the coming US exit, and parroting “there are no good Taliban” (I used to do that, but game’s changing now) and leaving them all in play for Pakistan will not help us in the coming days.

    Thanks,
    Jai

  15. Cong. Ackermann’s testimony:

    “Now. Today and everyday going forward. We’re not doing it, and we’re not effectively leading a global effort to do it. And we’re going to regret this mistake. We’re going to regret it bitterly.”

    @NS is correct that the USA plans to leave the LeT intact and in control of the Pakistani army — is it any wonder that the USA is protecting the LeT terrorist David Coleman Headley.

    @Arvi, India and the USA have officially divereged on the war on terror, though you will not think so if you continue to read official pronouncements from both sides.

    The US, by refusing to take down LeT, has exposed its hand of buckling to the Pakistani Army in a very specific and deliberate way meant to harm Indian citizens.

    Based on Mr. ackermann’s testimony, the American rule-of-thumb is “Pakistan will be allowed to retain terrorism as a state policy against India, and it is official US policy to support Pakistan’s use of terrorism as a state policy”.

    The USA remains in the region to allow the L-e-T to flourish and create terrorism in Central Asia, China, and India — there is no other explanation for sanctioning Pakistan’s use of terrorism as state policy.

  16. Sri B. Raman, in his blog, also explains that the Pakistani Army may merge all the anti-Pakistani army groups (like TTP etc.) to join in under one umbrella with the L-e-T and focus on creating terror in India. This would require the L-e-T to be operational and able to assimilate other terrorist groups under its wing, in order to remove pressure on the Pakistani army. This is apparently being done so that the supply lines through Pakistan can stay open. Is it just me, or does anyone else see something wrong with this continued insistence on providing moral, material, and diplomatic support to one of the core entities responsible for global terrorism today under the pretense of doing it all in “self interest”? It is readily apparent that the USA does not see any value in cooperating with CAR states (and thus Russia) and Af-Pak’s asian neighbours who are most vulnerable to terrorism emanating from Pakistan under the guiding hand of the PAkistani Army.

  17. Bottomline u think US is gonna withdraw in 2011 or 2012 from Afg and make Pak “control” Afg while they leave (as reward?)! I don’t. While there mite be some reduction in forces to appease the public, they are not gonna pack up and leave. We will agree to disagree here.

    @Arvi,
    In another thread i was addressng one of your comments and i said the same thng – i will repeat it, but I will gladly eat crow if my opinion on US staying/leaving AfPak is wrong. So, as you said lets agree to disagree.

  18. is it any wonder that the USA is protecting the LeT terrorist David Coleman Headley.

    I have to say that the plea bargain in Headley’s case shows that America has zero interest in taking on the LET – it is an insult that this scum has not been waterboarded in Gitmo and sentenced to death – instead he is being treated by the FBI as a common criminal.

    Beyond disgusting. The next time a terror attack happens on the US homeland and the accused is caught in India, I hope that India gives him a life sentence after a f***ing Plea bargain.

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