The current crisis between Pakistan and the United States centers on one key little-discussed issue: Will Islamabad disarm its most formidable Islamist group Lashkar-e-Taiba (LET) which staged the 2008 attack on Mumbai and now openly threatens to carry its jihad to America?
The two Pakistanis shot by CIA contractor Raymond Davis on January 27, 2011, were agents of Islamabad’s powerful Intelligence Bureau (IB), the domestic spy agency that works closely with the Inter-Services Intelligence Directorate (ISI). The IB agents were monitoring Davis’s activities as he attempted to spy on LET, and the IB agents were in turn being monitored by the spy agencies of two neighboring countries, India and Afghanistan, who have definite information that Davis’s two victims were IB operatives and have shared it with me.
Pakistan’s demand for the removal of three hundred thirty-five CIA and Special Forces personnel will no doubt lead to a negotiated compromise. But the U.S. should use all of its leverage—including its $1 billion annual subsidies to Pakistan’s armed forces—to push for strong action against LET.
Seven Pakistanis accused of involvement in the Mumbai attack have been jailed in Pakistan for the past two years. All are members of LET. Under pressure from Islamist groups in Pakistan, the Pakistani government has filed no formal charges and has set no trial date.
India claims to have evidence implicating LET obtained from tapes of cell phone calls between LET operatives in Pakistan and the attackers in Mumbai and from the confession of Ajmal Kasab, the only suspect captured alive. India has given most of its evidence to Pakistan, but Islamabad has not acted on it.
In March, Pakistan indicated its willingness to host an investigatory committee from India. Setting up the commission could be delayed by technical hurdles if Pakistan is not cooperative on procedural issues and refuses to share the identities of witnesses that Pakistani courts have examined in their own ongoing Mumbai trials.
As I have written earlier elsewhere, the evidence of the complicity of the ISI in the Mumbai attack has been clearly established by the FBI through its interrogation of a Pakistani American, Daood Gilani, who pleaded guilty in federal court to playing a key role in Mumbai.
If Pakistan does not take active measures to disarm LAT, future attacks on India—and the U.S.—will follow.
Image by Trakesht