Masters and savage beasts of Lashkar
By MV Kamath
Storming The World Stage: The Story of Lashkar-e-Taiba; Stephen Tankel; Hachette India; Pp 352, Rs 550.00
Pakistan, it is obvious, is a sick country. It was born in hatred, has grown in hatred and will surely die breathing hatred. Hatred of India and hatred of Hindus. It has nursed many terrorist groups and leading among them, surely, is Lashkar-e-Taiba which means ‘Army of the Pure’. Right from the start, the author of this revealing book portrays the L-e-T’s basic character. Writes Tankel: “The group was generally agreed to be Pakistan’s most powerful proxy against India. (Its) priorities and approach were and are heavily influenced by Pakistan’s rivalry with India” and “a jihad against India to liberate Muslim land deemed to be under Hindu occupation”.
The L-e-T obviously forgets that there was an India long before Islam came into existence. So, writes Tankel “Lashkari jihad was not limited to liberating Kashmir, which helps to explain why the group began establishing networks to execute or support terrorist attacks against India as early as 1992. Once Kashmir was liberated, it could serve as a base of operations to reconquer India and restore Muslim rule in the Indian sub-continent”. As Tankel sees it, the L-e-T’s aim is not just to “conquer” India but to establish the Caliphate in South Asia.
There are many mad men in Pakistan’s ruling establishment – many surely are aware of what Gen. Zia had in mind – and it would be blatant folly to ignore such Pakistani hopes. One presumes that Delhi is quite cognizant of the prevailing mindset among Pakistan’s ruling classes. Prodding awareness in Delhi may not have been in the author’s mind, but to read this book is to realise what one has to face in Pakistan. Supporting the L-e-T is the Pakistan Army’s Inter Services lntelligence (ISI) which, additionally had set up the Hizb-ul-Mujhideen (HM) – the Party of Holy Warriors – and pumped a great amount of support to it for militancy in “Indian-administered Kashmir”. Just as worse, as members of the HM “foreign militants often arrived (in Kashmir) unannounced at peoples’ homes and demanded shelter, extorted money and manpower for the insurgency and made a practice of violently taking over mosques to preach their ideology”.
The book provides unchallengeable information on the atrocities committed by the Lashkar. Thus, in 2001 it “executed a massacre of Hindus in Doda” – something that the media probably did not care to cover. To help the L-e-T, the Students Islamic Movement of India (SIMI) also got into the picture. Financial aid from Saudi Arabia was always forthcoming. Says Tankel : “During a raid of a Lashkar operative’s house in Mumbai in 2009, investigators discovered 37,000 Saudi riyals which apparently were sent from Saudi Arabia via a hawala network”. Indian Muslims recruited by the Lashkar were sent to the Gulf and from there began their journey to training camps Pakistan or Pakistan-occupied Kashmir. These traitors have seldom been identified. Our dear secularists may not be willing to admit, but Tankel reports that “the Gujarat riots mobilised a section of India’s Muslim population already prone to radicalisation…” The book details in full how the Mumbai attack in 2008 was organised, how, again, in March 2005 Lashkar launched its first major offensive in “Indian-administered” Kashmir, Tankel says that “one member very close to the (Lashkar) leadership asserted that the ISI cannot stop its support because Lashkar has the ability to inflict the biggest losses on India”. And he adds: “It is not at all certain that Lashkar could be stopped from launching an attack to upset relations with India, should they begin to improve.”
Indian secularists refuse to believe that even now the Ghazni Mohammads and the Ghori Mohammad are alive and kicking in Pakistan, just waiting to attack India. Tankel says that the Pakistan Army “has used pan-Islamic sentiment as pretext for projecting power beyond Pakistan’s borders”. It must be the under-statement of the year. Pakistan’s hatred of India is all there to see. And, says Tankel the L-e-T has “no compunction about using fear and coercion to garner support, savagely punishing those who worked against it”. if anything, this book is a warning to Delhi. Any overture for peace from Pakistan must be taken with a liberal pinch of salt. How can India ever trust a country which both ideologically and financially supports jihadists and their vicious designs? Tankel says that what he has written “is not reflective of (Pakistan’s) people who have been held captive to forces beyond their control for much of the country’s short history”. Some excuse, that. Even captives can revolt but one sees no such signs in Pakistan.
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