Dexter Filkins takes Islamabad to task in the New Yorker:
The Pakistani Dystopia
By Dexter Filkins
Imagine a country that is embroiled in a long and bloody conflict with its neighbor, and each time its democratically elected Prime Minister tries to reach out and make peace, his own army launches an attack to make sure the peace doesn’t take hold. You might think you were trapped inside a dystopian movie. Unless, of course, you’ve been to Pakistan, where this happens all the time.
This week, Pakistani officials said they had detained Masood Azhar, the leader of Jaish-e-Mohammed, a militant group, for his alleged role in overseeing the attack on an Indian airbase in the city of Pathankot earlier this month. The attack left seven Indians dead [more here on the effect on Indo-Pak relations]. Jaish-e-Mohammed is one of several Pakistani militant groups whose members routinely cross into India and carry out attacks there, for the ostensible purpose of prying loose Jammu and Kashmir, India’s only Muslim-majority state.
Azhar’s detention is almost certainly a farce, staged to placate foreign leaders. If the past is any guide, Azhar, who has been detained many times before, will soon be free and able to carry out more attacks. This is the way it has worked in Pakistan for years…
I’m not the first person to notice that Pakistani militants regularly try to sabotage peaceful relations between their country and India. Aparna Pande, at the Hudson Institute, has put together a chronology of these attacks.
But the important point is who backs, trains, tolerates and supports those militants: the Pakistani military and, most particularly, its spy service, known as the Inter-Services Intelligence, or the I.S.I. [More here.]
For decades, the Pakistani military has backed insurgent groups whose express aim is to cross into India and fight. (The I.S.I. has also done this in Afghanistan, helping to create and sustain the Taliban.) The ostensible aim of these militant groups, and of the I.S.I., is to bleed India into ceding control over Kashmir. This has never been more than a fantasy, but it keeps the country of Pakistan focussed on something other than its intractable domestic problems, and it justifies the military’s bloated budgets.
That the I.S.I. plays godfather to groups like Jaish-e-Mohammed, which appears to have carried out the Pathankot attack, and Lashkar-e-Toiba, which launched the operation in Mumbai—the assault on the Indian Parliament appears to have been a joint operation of the two—is beyond doubt. It has been chronicled in great detail by the Pakistani journalist Ahmad Rashid, the former Pakistani ambassador to the United States Husain Haqqani, and the former C.I.A. and N.S.C. analyst Bruce Riedel. Indeed, in the attacks on Mumbai and the Parliament, there was evidence that I.S.I. officials had provided direct support…
When Pakistani officials announced this week that they had detained Azhar on suspicion of involvement in the Pathankot attack, it raised the obvious question: How did they know where he was?
What is most remarkable is that the pattern never changes. The Pakistani military keeps backing militant groups, like Jaish-e-Mohammed, that keep pushing the subcontinent to the brink of war, and that keep undermining Pakistan’s fledgling democratic institutions.
Since 9/11, according to congressional reports, U.S. taxpayers have given Pakistan at least eighteen billion dollars, much of it to the military. Last year alone, the U.S. gave Pakistan $1.5 billion dollars. Isn’t it about time we asked ourselves whether this is a good idea?
One might well ask. Earlier a view of both sides’ covert activities:
Some very scary background:
Then some background for the Paks’ existential fears:
Moreover Indian hands themselves are not particularly clean: