Own group blasts Pak’s Indian terrorist myth

29 12 2008

27 Dec 2008, 0122 hrs IST, ET Bureau

NEW DELHI: As a Pakistani pro-Taliban group punctured Islamabad’s attempt to pin the Lahore car bomb blast on New Delhi, the Indian government
has pointed the finger of blame at the Pakistani military for manufacturing stories about “Indian terrorists’’, and warned Indian nationals against travelling to Pakistan.

Without naming either the ISI or Pakistani military, the ministry of external affairs has accused agencies “outside civilian control” for the reports in Pakistani media about the arrest of “Indian spies” in Lahore and Multan for the Lahore car bomb blasts. “Since it has also been reported in the Pakistani media on Thursday (Thursday) that the senior police officer in Lahore was unaware of the arrest in his city, it seems that this is the work of other agencies in Pakistan that operate outside the law and civilian control,’’ MEA spokesperson Vishnu Prakash said. The main agency that operates outside the civilian control in Pakistan is the Pakistani military under which falls the ISI.

In this atmosphere, the government fearing the detention of Indian citizens also issued a travel advisory warning Indians against travelling Pakistan. “Indian citizens are therefore advised that it would be unsafe for them to travel or be in Pakistan,” the spokesperson said.

Islamabad’s attempt to manufacture Indian spies was dealt a big blow with a new pro-Taliban group called ‘Ansar Wa Mohajir’ taking credit for Wednesday’s car bomb attack in Lahore.

According to a report in Pakistani newspaper The News, a man identifying himself as Toofan Wazir said he was the commander and spokesman of the ‘Ansar Wa Mohajir’ which was responsible for the blast in Lahore and earlier rocket attacks on Dera Ismail Khan city.

The report said it appeared “obvious that he (Wazir) and his men are pro-Taliban and part of the Pakistani Taliban”. Wazir, who called up the newspaper from somewhere in North Waziristan, further said that the group held the Pakistani government responsible for the attacks by the US drones in North Waziristan in which militants were killed. He said they believed that the Pakistani government was cooperating with the US in its efforts.

This claim by the local group has poured water over attempts by the Pakistani establishment to pin the blame on India. The development further demonstrates that the ungoverned areas in Pakistan continue to be terror hotspots even as the Pakistani military tries to deflect attention from the establishment’s unwillingness and in some cases inability to take action against the terror infrastructure.

As part of the effort to show India as the aggressor, Pakistani intelligence had planted stories in the media saying that an Indian national, who used to work in the Indian High Commission in London, was responsible for the Lahore car bomb blast. The reports were never officially confirmed or denied. And Islamabad also did not take up the matter officially with New Delhi even though reports claimed that visa documents and other papers were seized from the man, who is from Kolkatta. The Indian High Commission in Islamabad was also not told of the so called arrests of Indian spies.

But this latest episode further adds to the assessment that Pakistan, which is in the international spotlight, is reacting under pressure and is unable to come up with a coherent strategy resulting in constant denials and embarrassments. Even the latest diversionary tactic has ended up as a huge embarrassment for Pakistan.