With Pakistan’s release of the terrorist suspected of masterminding the 2008 Mumbai massacre, there can be little doubt as to where that nation stands on the war against terrorism. It is high time for the United States to seriously reevaluate its relationship with that nation and consider whether to continue funneling military and economic aid to it. Ever since the 9/11 attacks, the U.S. has provided more than $20 billion to Pakistan for its assistance in the war against terror. Yet the question must be asked: Which side of that war is Pakistan really on?
In a victory for terrorism, last week a Pakistani court ordered the release from detention of Zaki-ur-Rehman Lakhvi, a leading member of the terrorist group Lashkar-e-Taiba.
In 2008, members of the terrorist group launched a multipronged attack on several targets in Mumbai, India, that left 164 dead and more than 300 wounded. Told by their handlers in Pakistan that the death of one Jew was worth that of 50 non-Jews, several attackers targeted the Chabad House, murdering Rabbi Gavriel Noach Holtzberg, Hy”d; his wife, Rebbetzin Rivka Holtzberg, Hy”d, and their unborn child, Hy”d; Rabbi Leibish Teitelbaum, Hy”d; Rabbi Bentzion Kruman, Hy”d; Mrs. Norma Shvarzblat, Hy”d; and Mrs. Yocheved Orpaz, Hy”d.
Not surprisingly, the Indian government has expressed outrage over the release. India has had to suffer from the duplicity of a Pakistani government that, on the one hand, denounces terrorism, yet, on the other, provides refuge, if not outright support, to terrorists. Recently-elected Indian Prime Minister Modi has tried to forge warmer ties with Pakistan, but with such outrageous behavior on the part of the Pakistani government, Modi has to wonder what, if anything, his peacemaking overtures are accomplishing, particularly since the Indian prime minister’s main support comes from more right-wing Hindus.
Let us not forget that Pakistan is where Bin Laden found safe refuge for years, while U.S. intelligence agencies were scouring the globe for the al-Qaida chief and 9/11 orchestrator. Pakistan’s government has claimed that it was ignorant of Bin Laden’s lair, but it strains credulity to believe they didn’t know that the terrorist was living a short distance away from an army base. Bin Laden had been living in his compound for six years in Pakistan. Meanwhile, the Pakistani government wants us to believe it is committed to fighting the war on terror.
In exchange for aid, Pakistan has allowed the U.S. to use some of its territory for an airbase and for a supply route for U.S. forces in Afghanistan. In addition, the U.S. has conducted drone strikes on terrorist targets from Pakistan. But other than that, Pakistan has been playing a double game in the war against terror. Its military plays the charade of fighting terror but in reality avoids a decisive battle that would drive the Taliban to defeat. According to a Taliban trainer quoted in The New York Times, the Pakistani military “comes in, and they fire at empty buildings. It is a drama — it is just to entertain.”
The Pakistani military has no real interest in routing the Taliban because then the aid money to fight terror would dry up, so they perpetuate the war at the expense of American taxpayers. According to some estimates, the Pakistani government was bloating invoices by 30 percent. At the same time that they are taking U.S. military aid, they are abetting the Haqqani network. The Haqqani is a terrorist organization that operates on the Pakistan-Afghanistan border and is an ally of the Taliban, attacking NATO troops. In 2011, former head of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, Admiral Michael Mullen, testified before the Senate that the Haqqani “acts as a veritable arm of Pakistan’s Inter-Service Intelligence [ISI] Agency.” Mullen also said that there was a direct link between ISI and the bombing at the U.S. embassy in Kabul as well as other bombings against U.S. and NATO forces, including a truck bombing that killed five and wounded 77 others.
Pakistan has also managed to waste billions of dollars in non-military aid, money that was supposed to go towards building hospitals and health-care clinics. Most of those facilities were never built. The few that were constructed have equipment they don’t know how to run or lack the electricity or fuel to operate them. Where the money has actually gone is anyone’s guess.
Aid to Pakistan was also supposed to be tied to an effort to improve human rights, but Pakistan’s record in this area remains abysmal. Religious minorities are routinely persecuted and killed without prosecution. The government’s political opponents have been known to disappear.
The latest outrage on the part of the Pakistani government only confirms that Pakistan is more a part of the problem than a part of the solution towards fighting terrorism.