How are Lashkar-e-Taiba, Pakistan Army and Hafiz Saeed’s JuD connected? Lashkar-e-Taiba (LeT), the group behind the 2008 Mumbai Attacks enjoys unstinting support of the Pakistani military and intelligence establishment? And interestingly, Lashkar-e-Taiba’s newest unit Jamaat-ud-Dawa (JuD) – led by Hafiz Saeed, actively infiltrates into Kashmir and vows to break India.
The United States had designated LeT and Jaish-e-Mohammad (JeM) a Foreign Terrorist Organization following the suicide attack on the Indian Parliament in December 2001.
Washington urged the then Pakistani President Pervez Musharraf to ban both LeT and JeM. However, Pakistan has continued to defy international calls to ban its pliant proxy and as the world watches, LeT has continued to proliferate other front organizations including its humanitarian branch – Falah Insaniat Foundation.
Then in 2007, it floated the Milli Muslim League (MML), a political party led by Hafiz Saeed in 2017. Experts say that MML reflects Pakistan’s sincere desire to defang its nastiest militant group by shunning its stalwarts and cadres into a useful political role. And it miserably failed to achieve the same in the country’s recent-most elections.
American political scientist Christine Fair argues that the formation of the MML is part of a more serious effort to use the pro-state organization against the myriad militant groups tearing the state apart. Fair says the MML will be a complement to JuD’s efforts to stabilize Pakistan internally and enhance LeT’s external activities in the service of the deep state.
“It is evident that MML’s positions completely align with the interests of Pakistan’s deep state. For example, the MML is unstinting in its promotion of the China-Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC). It is also committed to persuading those in Balochistan who are opposed to the CPEC, that they should accept Chinese projects in the country because the MML believes, as does the army, that they are necessary to secure Pakistan’s financial independence.”
Fair highlights that Pakistan’s newest political party also embraces several contentions of the deep state such as India is an existential threat; Pakistani army’s role in the Saudi Arabia-led Islamic Military Alliance in Yemen is a legitimate extension of Pakistan’s interests; and the army’s internal security operations in the country are legitimate despite their enormous costs.
All in all, Pakistan’s governance is a well-developed cobweb. A week ago, Pakistan’s Minister of State for Interior Shehryar Afridi came into the limelight when a video exposed him talking to MML leaders. The government is tightly interwoven with the army playing most of the cards.
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