Maintenance of Terrorists: Long-Term Effects for Pakistan – II
by Ramtanu Maitra on 14 Jul 2016 2 Comments

Terrorists: To “Bleed India” and Some Other Pakistan-friendly Nations


Much is known about the terrorist groups tasked by Pakistani authorities “to liberate fellow Muslims” in the Indian part of Jammu and Kashmir. These groups are well-trained and well-knit. Nonetheless, like all terrorists they have shown their willingness from time to time to warm their hands in the fires lit within the country by other Islamist extremists who want to change Pakistan from a sovereign nation-state to become part of an Islamic Caliphate.


The most powerful of the groups that organize and carry out terrorist actions within India is the Lashkar-e-Toiba (LeT). When LeT was banned in Pakistan in 2002, its political arm, Jamaat-ud-Dawa (JuD), took over the group’s activities. Following the attack on Mumbai in November 2008, where JuD (aka LeT) played a major role, the United Nations Security Council identified it as an LeT front. Islamabad has banned media coverage of JuD. However, these formal actions have not changed the reality: JuD, aka LeT, functions freely within Pakistan and remains a beneficiary of the Pakistani authorities’ largesse.


The second most prolific Kashmir-focused terrorist group nurtured in Pakistan is the Hizb-ul-Mujahideen (HM). Established in September 1989 and headquartered at Muzzaffarabad in Pakistan-occupied Kashmir (PoK), HM is allegedly one of the largest terrorist outfits, with a cadre base that is drawn from indigenous and foreign sources. Ostensibly, HM stands for the integration of J&K with Pakistan. Since its inception, the group has also campaigned for the Islamization of Kashmir (South Asia Terrorism Portal: India - Terrorist, insurgent and extremist groups: Jammu & Kashmir:


The third most important terrorist group, from Islamabad’s point of view, is the Jaish-e-Muhammad (JeM). JeM is a relatively new terrorist outfit, compared to other major groups active in J&K. Like LeT, JeM is an organization formed, controlled and manned by Pakistan. The outfit was launched by Maulana Masood Azhar in Karachi on January 31, 2000, when he was released from an Indian jail in the terrorists-for-hostages swap of December 31, 1999, following the hijacking of Indian Airlines Flight IC 814. JeM was held responsible for the December 13, 2001, terrorist attack on the Indian Parliament in New Delhi. JeM is also reported to have links with Sunni terrorist outfits operating in Pakistan, such as the Sipah-e-Sahaba Pakistan (SSP) and Lashkar-e-Jhangvi (LeJ).


Another Pakistan-based terrorist group, Harkat-ul-Mujahideen (HuM), was formed in 1985 to fight the Soviet troops in Afghanistan under the name Harkat-ul-Jihad-al-Islami (HuJI). In 1989, as the Soviets withdrew from Afghanistan, HUJI splintered and, with Pakistani intelligence’s blessings, a new terrorist outfit, Harkat-ul-Ansar (HuA), was born to carry out terrorist operations in the Indian part of Jammu and Kashmir. Later, when the United States banned the HuA, it turned itself into the HuM (


In addition to these big four, there are many other terrorist outfits operating within the Indian part of Jammu and Kashmir, albeit less effectively and securing fewer “goodies” from Islamabad.


Many observers, including some Pakistani journalists, have pointed out that although not all could manage to survive being exposed, these terrorist groups move around freely within Pakistan because many of their sympathizers wear a uniform. Consider the case of Captain Khurram Ashiq and his elder brother Major Haroon Ashiq.


Exposed by Saleem Shahzad - whose body was later fished out of a canal, allegedly dumped there by some disgruntled ISI assassin - both of these officers were working on behalf of al-Qaeda. Because of his Salafi background, Khurram was shaped into a warrior by LeT. He wrote to Saleem Shahzad about his brother, too. “Major Haroon Ashiq hung up his boots right after 9/11. On his release from service, he joined LeT. One of my unit officers Major Abdul Rahman also followed suit. I joined the outfit soon after, without caring for the consequences” (Inside Al Qaeda and the Taliban: Beyond Bin Laden and 9/1: Saleem Shahzad: Pluto Press 2011:  p. 83).


In his book, Shahzad also noted that while on a U.N. mission in Sierra Leone, Khurram clearly demonstrated his Islamic radicalization: “Khurram built a mosque and a madrassah in Sierra Leone, despite the opposition of his commander, Brigadier Ahmad Shuja Pasha, later chief of the ISI” (p. 85). Both brothers had joined the LeT, but had soon ‘realized’ that the LeT was just an extension of Pakistan’s armed forces” (p. 86).


It is accepted widely, if not universally, within Pakistan, that the adoption of terrorism to “unshackle” fellow Muslims residing in the Indian part of Jammu and Kashmir is a mission worth pursuing. But many Pakistani citizens do not like other terrorists who have set up their bases within Pakistan, possibly because these groups disrupt their daily lives. Some of these terrorists use Pakistani soil to launch attacks against foreign regimes friendly to Pakistan - for instance, China.


A major benefactor of Islamabad, with its eyes focused on getting to the Arabian Sea and Persian Gulf through Pakistan, China is also a victim of Pakistan-based terrorists who disturb its western province of Xinjiang. The Xinjiang Uighur Autonomous Region of China, contiguous with Pakistan’s Northern Areas and having historical, cultural and trade links with the country, is an extremely important area in the context of Sino-Pak relations. Ethnic Uighurs who belong to the East Turkestan Islamic Movement (ETIM), a terrorist group, have set up their camps within Pakistan at a location that provides them access to Xinjiang.


In the wake of a major terrorist attack in the Xinjiang city of Kashgar that killed 197 people and left about 1,700 others injured in 2009, China began expressing its concerns. In 2011 Chinese authorities invited then-ISI chief Lt. Gen. Ahmed Shuja Pasha to Beijing and told him the militants menacing Xinjiang had allegedly been trained in Pakistan’s tribal areas. Months later, in an April 5, 2012, statement, the Chinese Ministry of Public Security published a list of six terrorists identified as “core members” of the ETIM - Nurmemet Memetmin, Abdulkyum Kurban, Paruh Tursun, Tursunjan Ebibla, Nurmemet Raxit and Mamat Imin Nurmamat, all Uighurs - and asked Pakistan to hand them over.

The ministry’s statement stopped short of stating directly their links to terror camps in Pakistan. According to the Chinese list, Nurmemet Memetmin, who was described as the “commander of the ETIM,” had been sentenced to 10 years in prison in a “South Asian country,” but escaped in 2006 and had been planning new attacks against China, including the late July 2009 attacks on civilians in Kashgar (“China concerned about Uyghur rebels operating in Pakistan”: Zia Ur Rehman: The Friday Times: June 08-13 2012).


As The Friday Times also points out: “Experts on militancy confirm the presence of militants of the ETIM in Pakistan’s North and South Waziristan regions where several other foreign and international militant groups, such as al-Qaeda, Islamic Jihad Union (IJU), the Islamic Movement of Uzbekistan (IMU), the Islamic Army of Great Britain and Ittehad-e-Jihad Islami also operate. ‘There are dozens of Central Asian militants living in the tribal region,’ said a militant associated with Hafiz Gul Bahadur. ‘But it is very difficult for us to distinguish between the Uzbeks, Tajiks and Uighurs because of similar facial features.’”


Hafiz Gul Bahadur, supreme commander of the North Waziristani Taliban, known for hosting foreign militants, mainly al-Qaeda and other Arab groups, as well as Maulana Jalaluddin Haqqani of the cross-border Haqqani network, was allegedly killed by a U.S.-directed drone attack in December 2014.


It is to be noted that neither the ISI nor the TTP are directly responsible for the violence in Xinjiang. However, TTP is responsible for aiding the Uighur terrorists in Xinjiang in the tribal areas. ETIM initially got its support in Afghanistan, but as the war on terror expanded into Pakistan, given the porous Afghan-Pakistan border, certain ETIM militants crossed into Pakistani tribal areas with the help of the TTP. It is a difficult border to control; and, as a result, ETIM has been able to generate support from the Pakistani tribal areas, Afghanistan and some countries in Central Asia, as well as Turkey.


(To be continued…)

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