Decades of failure by Pakistan to hold its spy wing -- the Inter-Services Intelligence (ISI) -- terror complicity to account have soiled Pakistan's reputation, undermined its security and left the country teetering on the edge of financial and security failure, the Washington Examiner said in an opinion piece.
When foreign officials and diplomats confront Pakistan about its double-dealing with terrorist groups, "Pakistani authorities often act indignant". Thousands of Pakistani troops and civilians have died in Pakistan's own war against terror. "That fact does not, however, exculpate Pakistani authorities for their complicity with terror," Michael Rubin, a contributor to the Washington Examiner's Beltway Confidential blog, said in the write-up.
Many countries seek to sponsor Islamist radicals in order to achieve policy goals beyond their borders only to suffer blowback. Saudi Arabia, for example, funded radicalism for decades, including in Pakistan, only ceasing terror financing when the Saudi monarchy started suffering blowback from those it once indulged.
Years before the outbreak of civil war in Syria, President Bashar Assad allowed jihadis to use his territory as an underground railroad into neighbouring Iraq. Likewise, Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan cultivated and facilitated Islamist groups in Syria only to suffer blowback into Turkey.
Pakistani authorities may want to dismiss Indian intelligence reports that place him in Pakistan's capital because they consider India their enemy, but decades of Pakistani double-dealing has left much of the world believing India to be more credible and Pakistan's word unreliable, said Rubin, who is also a resident scholar at the American Enterprise Institute and a former Pentagon official, in the opinion published in Washington Examiner on Wednesday.
To substantiate his opinion, Rubin further cited the example of Ehsanullah Ehsan, the former spokesman of Tehreek-i-Taliban Pakistan (TTP), a group backed by the ISI and responsible for one of the bloodiest terrorist attacks on Pakistani soil.
Ehsan "escaped" from a maximum-security prison in February 2020, three years after his arrest. While the terrorist is claimed to have fled to Turkey, evidence suggests that he instead remained in Pakistan under the protection of ISI.
Ordinary Pakistanis whose near and dear ones were killed in the 2014 TTP attack on the Army Public School in Peshawar, have filed a petition before the Peshawar High Court, seeking to hold several officials including the ISI director general and the army chief of staff in contempt for their roles in facilitating Ehsan's escape.
Late last week, however, the court dismissed the petition, "On the question regarding facilitation and providing opportunity to the said terrorist to make good his escape, it is stated at the bar that respondents are employing all means to arrest the said terrorist whenever they find any clue about him and there is no role of the respondents in the escape of the said terrorist," the court ruled.
"When such is the position of the case, we see no reasons to continue with the contempt petition," it added.
Rubin said the ISI authorities may believe they are protecting an asset, but, with so many victims of Ehsan living not only outside Pakistan but inside the country as well, the mystery of how Pakistan's most wanted man escaped from Pakistan's highest security prison and how he went untried, lives on.
"Nor will Pakistan's leaders, the ISI, or the online trolls and bots they employ be able to deflect Pakistani nationalist indignation about Ehsan, for the blood he traded upon was that of Pakistani school children," Rubin said.
"The Ehsan case affirms that Pakistani authorities, including its judiciary, are either incompetent, complicit, or both. Either way, the most senior heads in the Pakistani government and Inter-Services Intelligence should roll," he added. (ANI)