Indian Decade

Firing Off Threats

Pakistan’s slowness to condemn those openly calling for jihad from there is troubling.

Last month, an Indian TV channel showed video of Syed Salahuddin, head of terrorist outfit Hizb-ul-Mujahideen, exhorting his Kalashnikov-toting followers in Pakistan-administered Kashmir to launch suicide attacks against India. The already besieged Indian government, facing flak in some quarters over its diplomacy toward Pakistan, needless to say wasn’t happy.

Responding to a question on whether the Pakistani government would arrest him, as it has been professing that it would not allow its territory to be used by terrorists to launch attacks on a third country, Pakistani Foreign Office spokesman Abdul Basit said he would rather not respond to the statements of a single ‘gentleman’.

Terrorism expert Ahmed Rashid, in contrast, has said the Pakistani government must arrest Salahuddin for his utterances, which he says contravene the government’s stated official policy. The fact of the matter is Syed Salahuddin is not the only terrorist leader exhorting ‘jihadi attacks’ against India. Hafeez ul Saeed, head of Jamaat-ud-Dawa (a reincarnation of Lashkar-e-Toiba), and various leaders of Jamat-e-Islami have made public utterances calling for jihad against India. There was a similar display of Kalashnikovs in a gathering addressed by the LeT chief in Lahore.

Salahuddin is shown saying in a video screened by Headlines Today of India Today group: ‘Go to India, wage Jihad. You will be fighting in the most inhospitable weather conditions. You will be killed there but your martyrdom will be supreme…The battlefield of Kashmir is no doubt the most difficult of all battlefields. That is why as compared to others, the holy war in Kashmir will bear you the sweetest fruit.’

The video appears recent, and New Delhi’s Pakistan-watchers worry that public displays of Kalashnikovs in gatherings addressed by terrorist leaders is reminiscent of pre-2001 days when terrorist groups, like the LeT, Jaish-e-Mohammed, Lashkar-e-Jhangvi, Sipah-e-Sahaba, openly paraded in jeeps firing their Kalashnikovs into air.

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The view by many here is that an official spokesman referring to militants as ‘gentlemen’ and failing to address open calls for terrorist attacks from Pakistani territory demonstrates utter indifference to commitments given to international community.