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WASHINGTON – Al-Qaida leader Osama bin Laden, who was killed by U.S. SEALs on May 2, 2011, in Abbottabad, Pakistan, home of the Pakistani army’s military academy, was under the protection of the Pakistani army at the time, according to analysts, according to report from Joseph Farah’s G2 Bulletin.
Yet, the West hasn’t pressed this point, since there are other strategic considerations with the Pakistani army, according to Bhaskar Roy of the South Asia Analyst Group.
Geo-strategically, Pakistan is important to the United States, since it provides a major route into Afghanistan. Its coastline on the Arabian Sea offers trade with the rest of South Asia and the Far East, along with the Persian Gulf in the Middle East to the west. It also serves as a backdoor to Iran. Because of its central position, it acts as a counterweight with Russia, China and Iran.
Another consideration is the stability that the army can bring to what fast is becoming a chaotic political situation in Pakistan.
There’s also the rising sectarian differences between Shi’a and Sunni Pakistanis that have broken into open fighting. Bruce Riedel, former analyst for the Central Intelligence Agency, believes that sectarian strife, unless stopped, could cause Pakistan to collapse by 2030.
However, the army still yields real power in the country and makes the decisions regarding strategic issues and relations with Pakistan’s neighbors such as India and Afghanistan. In fact, the Taliban, closely linked to al-Qaida, and other terrorist organizations, were created by the Pakistani army and continued to be supported by the army through its intelligence service, the Inter-Service Intelligence, or ISI, Directorate.
“(Army Chief) Gen. (Parvez Asfaq) Kayani is on record having said that the terrorist organizations are the army’s assets,” Roy said. “Gen. Kayani is reported to have said that Pakistan had nothing in common with India – culturally, historically, linguistically. This revealed the mindset of prosecuting a 100 years’ war with India.”
Pakistan indeed is riddled with terrorist groups backed by the government. It has created a number of what the United States would regard as terrorist groups to act as its proxy against India. Some of them are active in killing U.S. troops in neighboring Afghanistan.
To Pakistan, India remains the main enemy, which recently was outlined in Pakistan’s latest military doctrine.
“The Pak army is privileged, and this position should remain,” Roy said. “To do this, they need to create external threats” such as India.
At least one terrorist group, the Pakistani Taliban, also known as the Tehrik-i-Taliban Pakistan, or TTP, attempted in May 2010 to explode a car bomb in New York’s Time Square. While the attempt was unsuccessful, evidence has shown that it was the TTP which trained the bomber, Faisal Shahzad.
Based on a compilation by the South Asia Intelligence Review which provides weekly assessments and briefings on terrorism in the region, there are some 12 domestic and some 32 transnational terrorist and four extremist organizations in Pakistan. They include:
- Tehrik-i-Taliban Pakistan (TTP)
- Lashkar-e-Omar (LeO)
- Sipah-e-Sahaba Pakistan (SSP)
- Tehreek-e-Jaferia Pakistan (TJP)
- Lashkar-e-Jhangvi (LeJ)
- Sipah-e-Muhammad Pakistan (SMP)
- Nadeem Commando
- Popular Front for Armed Resistance
- Muslim United Army
- Harkat-ul-Mujahideen Al-alami(HuMA)
- Hizb-ul-Mujahideen (HM)
- Harkat-ul-Ansar (HuA, presently known as Harkat-ul Mujahideen)
- Lashkar-e-Taiba (LeT)
- Jaish-e-Mohammad Mujahideen E-Tanzeem (JeM)
- Harkat-ul Mujahideen (HuM, previously known as Harkat-ul-Ansar)
- Al Badr
- Jamait-ul-Mujahideen (JuM)
- Lashkar-e-Jabbar (LeJ)
- Muttahida Jehad Council (MJC)
- Al Barq
- Al Jehad
- Jammu & Kashir National Liberation Army
- People’s League
- Muslim Janbaz Force
- Kashmir Jehad Force
- Al Jehad Force (combines Muslim Janbaz Force and Kashmir Jehad Force)
- Al Umar Mujahideen
- Islami Jamaat-e-Tulba
- Jammu & Kashmir Students Liberation Front
- Islamic Students League
- Tehrik-e-Nifaz-e-Fiqar Jafaria
- Al Mustafa Liberation Fighters
- Muslim Mujahideen
- Al Mujahid Force
- Islami Inquilabi Mahaz
- Al-Rashid Trust
- Al-Akhtar Trust
- Rabita Trust
- Ummah Tamir-e-Nau
According to the South Asia Intelligence Review, many of these terrorist organizations continue to operate with a high degree of freedom in and from Pakistan.
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