Tuesday, December 02, 2008


clipped from: www.newyorker.com

Lashkar-e-Taiba, the Pakistan-based Islamist organization.
Lashkar has a known “maritime” capability

Late in 2005 earthquake Pakistani government opened the region to journalists
I was particularly interested in looking up Lashkar
I made several visits to facilities run by its charity, called “Jamat-ud-Dawa
In Muzuffarabad, the capital of Pakistani Kashmir, Jamat had brought in a mobile surgical unit staffed by long-bearded doctors from Karachi and Lahore—very impressive young men, fluent in English, who offered a reminder that unlike, say, the Taliban, Lashkar draws some very talented people from urban professions.

(With its hospitals, universities, and social-service wings, Lashkar is akin to Hezbollah or Hamas; it is a three dimensional political and social movement with an armed wing, not merely a terrorist or paramilitary outfit.)

Lashkar ferried supplies to remote villages isolated on the far side of the churning Neelum River

Lashkar knows what it must do to protect the Pakistan government from being exposed in the violent operations that Lashkar runs in Kashmir and elsewhere. For example, some of its younger volunteers wanted to join the fight with the Taliban in Western Pakistan and Afghanistan, my interlocutor said, and so Jamat had evolved an internal H.R. policy by which these young men would turn in their Jamat identity cards and go West “on their own time,” much as think tanks allow policy scholars to take leaves of absence to advise political campaigns

what the United States should insist the government of Pakistan do about Jamat and Lashkar

it’s a difficult question—comparable to the difficult question of managing Hezbollah’s place in the fragile Lebanese political system.

Pakistan’s policy of banning Lashkar and tolerating Jamat has helpfully reinforced Lashkar’s tendency toward nonviolent social work and proseltyzing.

In the long run, this work is a threat to the secular character of Pakistan, but it is certainly preferable to revolutionary violence and upheaval right now.

On the other hand, there is little doubt that the Army and I.S.I. continue to use Jamat’s legitimate front as a vehicle for prosecution of a long-running “double game” with the United States, in which Pakistan pledges fealty to American counterterrorism goals while at the same time facilitating guerrilla violence against India, particularly over the strategic territory of Kashmir, which Pakistan regards as vital to its national interests.

Lashkar is a big organization with multiple arms leadership is undoubtedly divided over how much risk to take in pursuit of violent operations in India,

If the boys in Mumbai had support from Lashkar, did the group’s leader, Hafez Saeed, who runs Jamat, know of the plan?

that this was a rogue operation of some sort, or a strategy cooked up by elements of Lashkar and groups such as the Pakistani Taliban or even Al Qaeda (perhaps conducted, too, with support from rogue elements of the Paksitan security forces)—that would be an even more complicated equation.

if it turned out that Lashkar conceived the Mumbai attacks as a way to pull Pakistani Army units and attention away from the Afghan border and into defense positions in the east, to protect the country from the possibility of military retaliation by India.

a civilian-led Pakistan government and Army command that may have little control over the very same Islamist groups that it purposefully built up
endorsed by Saeed and aided by elements of the Army,

then the Pakistan government will have no choice but to at least make a show of closing down Jamat and arresting Saeed.\

The U.S. can
  • provide transparent information about the investigation and where the facts lead
  • it can indict individuals and groups that can be established as culpable for the Mumbai
  • it can emphasize in public that the United States seeks the end of all Pakistani support for terrorist groups, no matter whether they are operating in Afghanistan, Kashmir, or Mumbai.

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