NEW DELHI: The outlook of the Pakistan deep state towards its long-held objective of weakening India has not changed, with proscribed terror groups backed by GHQ, Rawalpindi, and Pakistan’s intelligence agency, ISI, being still active, even as they lie low to avoid global attention.
Indian and Western officials studying present and future threats from Pakistan-based terror groups, such as Lashkar-e-Tayyaba (LeT) and Jaish-e-Mohammed (JeM), say they have credible reasons to believe that both these groups are still as impactful, if not more so, as they were before they came under intense watch from Washington, which is currently more focused on enhancing its coordinated efforts with Islamabad to tackle Al-Qaeda and its allies.
These officials attribute the lack of any “big” or “significant” activity from the Lashkar and Jaish against India to the domestic situation in Pakistan, where every organisation—from the Army to the political class—is currently dealing with internal tussles. The failing economy has also led to anti-India goals being put on the back burner for now.
“It is not a complex puzzle as to why Masood Azhar and Hafiz Saeed are not coming out in public or giving speeches. The relevant offices, in India and in other countries, know where they are and what they are doing. Having said that, they are still a potent group and they don’t need more than two-three weeks’ time to prepare their followers for a terror assault by crossing into India,” an official with an anti-terror body told The Sunday Guardian.
“The politicians and the generals right now are dealing with multiple issues, including the massive economic crisis in Pakistan and its catastrophic widespread consequences, an increasingly hostile Taliban, and the threat of Tehreek-e-Taliban Pakistan (TTP). It is due to this domestic situation that the GHQ Rawalpindi-controlled deep state has gone silent. That does not mean that terror financing is not happening, that terror camps have been permanently uprooted, or recruitments have stopped. Intelligence, satellite images and similar proof exist of the Lashkar and Jaish carrying out their assigned work as earlier. The only difference is that they are doing it silently,” a top official with a security agency told The Sunday Guardian on the backdrop of Pakistan’s Prime Minister Shehbaz Sharif’s interview in Dubai seeking “serious and sincere talks” with Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi to normalise ties.
“Unless and until we get proof that terror groups and cells are being chased and shut down, there is no point in moving towards talks only to realise that the same talks will then be derailed by a terror strike planned from across the border. Sharif is saying what the world needs to hear so that Pakistan continues to get financial assistance and aid doesn’t stop,” said another official with a government department tasked with coordinating ties with neighbouring countries. Sources in the Afghanistan-Pakistan region told The Sunday Guardian that both Lashkar and Jaish operatives are moving around without any restrictions and training classes imparting religious indoctrination and physical exercises are going on openly.