Terror designs of Pakistan
Recent developments show that Pakistan, despite the rhetoric of peace and cooperation, is still engaged in keeping its terror network operational and targeted at India
It's becoming increasingly clear that Pakistan is now making extra efforts to shift its focus on Kashmir after having miserably failed to tackle its internal problems. This move is not altogether surprising as it had attempted similar misadventures to strike terror at the heart of Kashmir especially after the abrogation of Article 370. In such terror assaults, Pakistani ISI had notoriously used the Jaish-e-Mohammad (JeM) to unleash fear but it has not succeeded. In such spate of cross border terror acts, the most recent one was on November 19 at Nagrota when four JeM terrorists, dispatched from across the border, were killed by the Indian security forces. A large number of sophisticated firearms and ammunition were recovered.
More significantly, the GPS and the phones recovered from the slain terrorists revealed that the November 19 failed terror attack was masterminded by the ISI, aided by JeM chief Masood Azhar's younger brother, Mufti Rauf Asghar and another JeM accomplice, Qari Zarar. These are startling developments even after FATF imposing stricter conditions on Pakistan to control terror and not refusing to let it off the hook of the existing grey list in the FATF. Kashmir remains on the top terror agenda and reliable intelligence sources seem sanguine that Pakistan is trying to do something glaringly conspicuous on the occasion of 26/11 to repeat the grim reminder of the Mumbai attacks that happened 12 years ago. The gravity of the Nagrota encounter and disclosures by the security agencies led Prime Minister Modi to take stock of the prevailing security scenario (November 20), especially before November 26.
One successful encounter as in the recent days should not make the agencies complacent. Special vigil is called for, particularly for the coming weeks on and around 26/11. In this context, Kashmir merits more attention. In a separate development, not directly linked to terror attacks in Kashmir, Pakistan suffered a major setback when France refused to accede to Pakistan's request for upgrading its French-built Mirage fighter jets as part of the Air Defence System. In its outright rejection of Pakistani pleas to update its submarines of Agosta 90 B class. The French snub doesn't stop here. France has recently cautioned Qatar not to use Pakistani origin technicians to work with the French planes as they in all likelihood will leak the sensitive information to the Pakistani Air Force. This is an indication of the huge trust deficit between Pakistan and France. Their bilateral ties have nosedived in recent times after Prime Minister Imran Khan stepped up his blistering attacks against French President Emmanuel Macron in the aftermath of France taking strong measures against Islamic terrorists responsible for beheading a teacher and killing French nationals in the wake of Charlie Hebdo caricatures. In this vitiated atmosphere, Pakistan is surely at the receiving end and no Erdogan or his likes can do anything to help repair the ties or reduce the trust deficit. In this context, it's imperative to state that earlier, German Chancellor, Angela Merkel had spurned Pakistani requests for upgrading submarines. With France joining in to reject any plea for up-gradation of military hardware especially Pakistan Air Force or Navy, geostrategic experts feel more western countries will follow suit trying to ensure that Pakistan armed forces are unable to add muscle to its already rich military machine abused very injudiciously for cross border terror designs in India and Afghanistan.
Meanwhile, in another separate development, FATF has vehemently opposed the latest Pakistani moves of PTI decision under Prime Minister Imran Khan for an Amnesty scheme for those who are in possession by Pakistan nationals of unaccounted foreign currency. In a bizarre move, thought to be the brainchild of State Bank of Pakistan Governor, Reza Baqir, Pakistani nationals will not be asked for the source of bringing US dollars. They could be issued with documents from the Central Directorate of National Savings (CDNS).
FATF and other anti-money laundering professional agencies do not rule out misuse of black money for furthering terror which is already under probe by watchdogs like FATF. Under these circumstances, Pakistan terror architecture seems to be alive and kicking with India being the principal target.
The writer is a retired IPS officer, a security analyst and a former National Security Advisor to the Prime Minister of Mauritius. Views expressed are personal