In a report published by Brussels-based International Crisis Group (ICG), a non-profit NGO that carries out field research on violent conflict and advances policy direction to prevent, mitigate or resolve conflict says that the Pakistan port city of Karachi is a hub of anti-India jihadist groups and criminals who often enjoy the support of the Pakistani army.
The report in its analysis of the major terrorist organisations like Lashkar-e-Taiba, its parent organisation Jamaat-ud-Dawa, Maulana Masood Azhar led Jaish-e-Mohammad and anti-Shia group Lashkar-e-Jhangvi have “umbilical links with Karachi’s large, well-resourced madrassas”. Even the anti-India outfits like the Lashkar-e-Tayyaba/Jamaat-ud-Dawa (LeT/JD) and Jaish-e-Mohammed continue to operate madrasas and charity fronts with scant reaction from the Rangers or police.
It comes at a time when the Pakistani government had kept Maulana Masood Azhar, head of Jaish-e-Mohammad in house arrest due to mounting pressure from Western governments and India.
“Any time Pakistan-India or Kashmir tensions flare, these groups mobilise in the heart of the city…You can’t treat (LeT and Jaish-e-Mohammed) as your friends in one part of the country and your enemies elsewhere,” a senior police official told ICG.
The report titled “Pakistan: Stoking the fire in Karachi” refers to the conflict and sporadic terrorist attacks that have moulded the entire region as a pressure cooker which could anytime burst into a big bang. It also says that the tensions are escalating fast, and failure to defuse the impending ethno-political crisis and rein in criminal and jihadist networks threatens to sink Pakistan’s most important economic centre further into conflict.
The tensions between India and Pakistan are already high as both sides are stubborn on their own stand. However, the reasons cited for the miserable condition of Karachi are demographic differences, governance vacuum, and the challenge to address population density and urban growth.
A police officer from Karachi, as quoted by ICG, said, “We tend to look at law and order challenges in isolation; we can’t. We have to also look at (them) in the context of our foreign policy choices”.
Meanwhile, Islamabad’s failure to decrement the funding of jihadist groups like the Lashkar-e-Taiba and Jaish-e-Muhammad and state sponsored terrorism will be on the tables at a five-day meeting of the Financial Action Task Force (FATF) in Paris on February 19.