Sanctions on Pakistan

On June 22, 2015, the Afghan Parliament was attacked by Jihadi extremists while it was in session. According to Haseeb Sediqi, a spokesman for the National Directorate of Security, Afghanistan’s intelligence agency, preliminary investigations revealed that Bilal, an ISI officer, had helped the Haqqani Network’s operational commander Maulvi Sherin to plan the attack. 
In a meeting of the United Nations Sanctions Committee on June 23, 2015, India’s efforts to have Pakistan censured for having released Zakiur Rehman Lakhvi, the mastermind of the 26/11 terror strikes in Mumbai, were blocked by China on the specious grounds that India had not provided sufficient information. Lakhvi is under trial in Pakistan for planning the Mumbai strikes.
While China showed that its friendship with Pakistan is indeed “higher than the mountains, deeper than the oceans, stronger than steel and sweeter than honey”, as the leaders of the two countries have often averred, China appears to have forgotten that it is itself a victim of terrorist activity that has its roots on Pakistani soil. Only a day after this gross error of judgement, 18 Uighur policemen were killed in Xinjiang, China’s restive north-western province. The East Turkestan Islamic Movement (ETIM), that receives weapons and equipment from Pakistan-based terrorist organisations, has been blamed for the killings. 
Two weeks ago, the US State Department said in its annual report on terrorism that Pakistan has not taken any action against the anti-India Lashkar-e-Taiba (LeT), which continues to "operate, train, rally, propagandise and fundraise" despite having been banned. Other terrorist organisations like the Jaish-e-Mohammad (JeM), Harkat-ul-Jihad Al-Islami (HuJI) and the Lashkar-e-Jhangvi (LeJ) are other limbs of the ISI that are active across Pakistan’s borders. The Afghan Taliban, including the Haqqani Network, are still being provided safe haven in Pakistan even as the army battles terrorist organisations that threaten Pakistan’s integrity like the Tehrik-e-Taliban Pakistan (TTP) and the Tehreek-e-Nafaz-e-Shariat-e-Mohammadi (TNSM).
Pakistan’s ISI has for long been directing trans-Durand Line hit-and-run strike operations from safe havens on Pakistani territory against targets in Afghanistan. Mullah Omar’s Quetta Shoora, the Paktia-based Haqqani Network and the Hizb-e-Islami, founded by Gulbuddin Hekmatyar, all operate out of bases inside Pakistan. In the past, Pakistani clerics sought to "legitimise" Pakistan’s support for the Taliban insurgency. Ulema Council chairman Tahir Ashrafi justified suicide attacks in Afghanistan, saying these were permitted under Islam as long as US forces were present. 
General Sher Mohammad Karimi, Chief of Staff of the Afghan army, said during an interview with the BBC some time ago, that the war with the Taliban could be wrapped up in weeks if Pakistan so wished. Hanif Atmar, the Afghan NSA, has identified threats from five types of terror networks — the Afghan Taliban, the Pakistani Taliban and the Lashkar-e-Taiba, the al-Qaeda, the Islamic State or “Daesh” and Chinese groups like the ETIM. The Afghan National Security Council (NSC) has called for Pakistan’s ISI to be blacklisted. 
Indian assets in Afghanistan have been repeatedly targeted by Pakistan’s so-called ‘strategic assets’. The Indian Embassy in Kabul was attacked by ISI-sponsored extremists in 2008 and 2009; the Indian consulate at Herat was targeted in 2014. The ISI continues to sponsor terrorist strikes in Jammu and Kashmir and other parts of India. While there have been no large-scale attacks in the recent past like those at Mumbai on November 26, 2008, a large number of smaller incidents have occurred fairly regularly. 
In J&K infiltration along the LoC has been increasing and there have been more incidents of violence in the last two years than in previous years. Wireless intercepts and the interrogation of arrested Jihadi extremists reveal direct linkages with ISI handlers based in POK and Pakistan. The ISI provides funding, weapons, training and intelligence support to the infiltrating groups. The Pakistan army helps them to cross the LoC by providing covering fire. The Pakistan government continues to claim that it provides only ‘diplomatic, political and moral’ support to Kashmiri ‘freedom fighters’.
Through a process of slow motion implosion, Pakistan is gradually becoming a failed state. Its integrity has never before been threatened the way it is under threat now due to internal instability, radical extremism, creeping Talibanisation, fissiparous tendencies, Sunni-Shia sectarian violence, political dissonance and a sliding economy. While the army faces an almost full-blown insurgency in Balochistan, there are subterranean tensions in Sind and Gilgit-Baltistan as well. Yet, despite the risk of disintegration due to internal strife, the Pakistan army and the ISI continue to sponsor terrorist strikes in Afghanistan and India.
It emerges clearly from the Pakistan army and the ISI’s proclivity to run with the hare and hunt with the hounds that the country has consciously opted to become the epicentre of Islamist fundamentalist terrorism despite itself being in the throes of disintegration. The international community must censure Pakistan in the strictest possible terms and give the government six months’ time to stop all activities aimed at destabilising its neighbours. Failing satisfactory progress, UN-approved economic, military and travel-related sanctions should be imposed on Pakistan.
Also, countries supplying weapons and defence equipment to Pakistan must stop doing so, especially surplus military equipment that is being gifted, for example by the US. There have also been reports of the proposed sale of Mi-35 attack helicopters by Russia. Military aid strengthens the Pakistan army and gives it greater confidence to dominate Pakistan’s polity. It also enables the army to drive Pakistan’s foreign and security policies, denying the elected civilian government its legitimate right to guide policy. 
The time has come for the international community to stop mollycoddling the Pakistan army on the grounds that it must be supported in order to ensure that its nuclear weapons do not fall into Jihadi hands. This is a bogey that has been perpetuated very successfully by the Pakistan army to enable it to continue to call the shots in Pakistan. The ‘deep state’ and its strategic assets must be gradually dismantled.
The writer is former Director, Centre for Land Warfare Studies (CLAWS), New Delhi.