The leaders of Brazil, Russia, India, China and South Africa (BRICS) are meeting at a summit in the Chinese city of Xiamen. The joint declaration passed by the leaders leaves Pakistan with a dire call for introspection. The para 48 of the declaration states:
We, in this regard, express concern on the security situation in the region and violence caused by the Taliban, ISIL/DAISH, Al-Qaida and its affiliates including Eastern Turkistan Islamic Movement, Islamic Movement of Uzbekistan, the Haqqani network, Lashkar-e-Taiba, Jaish-e-Mohammad, TTP and Hizb ut-Tahrir.
So, Why Should Pakistan be Concerned?
Well for starters two of the named groups i.e. Lashkar-e-Taiba and Jaish-e-Mohammad are indigenous terror outfits that were formed in Pakistan and are headed by Hafiz Saeed and Molana Azhar Masood. Whereas the Haqqani Network is an Afghan insurgent group that has long been accused of carrying out attacks on NATO forces in Afghanistan. Pakistan has long been accused of facilitating the Haqqani Network and there have been multiple strikes on the leaders of Haqqani Network in North Wazirstan region of Pakistan.
The Islamic Movement of Uzbekistan (IMU) allegedly also has a strong base in Pakistan and has taken responsibility for attacks on Pakistani soil including the attack on Karachi Airport. The leader of IMU, Tahir Yuldash was killed in a drone strike in South Waziristan in 2009 and his successor Usman Adil was killed in a drone strike in 2012.
Al-Qaeda, TTP and ISIL too have multiple networks in Pakistan and a large number of their operatives have been killed or captured in Pakistan including Osama bin Laden, the head of Al-Qaeda.
The Eastern Turkistan Islamic Movement (ESTIM) is a group founded by militant Uighurs, members of the Turkic-speaking ethnic majority in northwest China’s Xinjiang province. Interestingly enough the leader of ESTIM was killed by Pakistani Armed forces in 2003 in a counter terrorism operation. As the Chinese forces have stepped up the crack down in Xinjiang province many militants have sought refuge in the tribal areas of Pakistan.
So, in nutshell all five organizations listed in the BRICS declaration allegedly have a strong footing in Pakistan even though on papers all these outfits are banned in the country. The BRICS countries make plain their belief that leaders of these outfits are still at large in Pakistan and there is a deep suspicion that there are elements within Pakistan’s establishment which support and harbor these organizations.
BRICS Comes on the Heels of Trump’s Afghan Policy
The pressure on Pakistan seems to be mounting as the BRICS declaration comes a week after the announcement of President Trump’s new Afghanistan policy. While Pakistan may have been hearing the “Do More” mantra for over a decade now but this is by far the strongest veiled threat by a U.S President as he did not try to mince his words at all:
We can no longer be silent about Pakistan’s safe havens for terrorist organizations, the Taliban, and other groups that pose a threat to the region and beyond.Pakistan has much to gain from partnering with our effort in Afghanistan. It has much to lose by continuing to harbor terrorists
Pakistan itself is hard-hit by terrorism; why then are we being victimized?
Many in Pakistan feel betrayed as our role of a front-line state against global terror is being constantly questioned. There can be no two opinions about Pakistan being a victim of terror having lost thousands of innocent lives.
However, we direly need to revisit our foreign policy and introspect upon the blunders of the past. While severing ties with these outfits is not easy but a paradigm shift is needed at all levels where first we address this as a problem and then take corrective measures or else we are geared up for international isolation.