There is trouble brewing big time in Pakistan. In the days to come one can expect a stand off between the Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif and the military over the issue of Zaki-ur-Rehman Lakhvi.
While the military feels that the prime minister should not be buckling under international pressure on the Lakhvi issue, Sharif on the other hand wants to undertake a clean up act and is in no mood to listen.
Last week there was immense drama after the Islamabad High Court had ordered the release of Zaki-ur-Rehman Lakhvi, the 26/11 mastermind who is also the operations head of the Lashkar-e-Tayiba. The Pakistan government which buckled under pressure from India and the United States of America issued an order which continued with his detention for another month.
A calm before the storm:
Intelligence Bureau officials who have been closely monitoring the situation in Pakistan say that there is a clear stand off between the government and the military. Nawaz Sharrif is no mood to listen to the army and the ISI which want Lakhvi out on jail and on the job immediately.
The ISI and the military have been pressurising Sharrif not to buckle under pressure and if this attitude continued, the situation in Pakistan could spin out of control. Sharrif during a meeting with the army chief and also the ISI head said that they want to show the world that they are battling terror especially in the aftermath of the Peshawar attack.
The army and the ISI however pointed out that by keeping Lakhvi under detention which they terms as illegally will not help the cause. In fact it could worsen the situation and hence Sharrif should take a tough call on the issue.
Lashkar could go astray:
The biggest worry for the ISI and the military is that the Lashkar which has been ever so loyal to them could spin out of control. There is a great deal of disgruntlement among the leaders of the Lashkar who feel that the democratically elected government is acting under pressure from two sworn enemies, the US and India.
Already the cadres have started to threaten a switch over of loyalties. The ISI and the army just cannot afford this situation as the Lashkar is today the only outfit which is completely remote controlled by them.
It was the military and the ISI which had threatened the government not to go ahead with the ban on the Jamaat-ud-Dawa. Pakistan had assured the world that the JuD which is the financial wing of the Lashkar was banned but in reality they never went ahead with it.
While the JuD issue managed to keep the Lashkar happy to a certain extent, the issue pertaining to Lakhvi is threatening to snow ball into a major crisis. This is for the third time that a court has ordered his release and the Pakistan government has not abided by it and instead issued a fresh detention order.
Lashkar needed for war in Afghanistan:
The ISI and the military has gone back and forth on the Afghanistan issue. They have alongside the so called Good Taliban and also the Al-Qaeda in the sub-continent. However the danger with these groups is that they cannot be trusted and could swing any way over a period of time.
Moreover, the ISI also has the headache of dealing with groups such as the Al-Khorasan and the Tehrik-e-Taliban which at no point in time would stand by Pakistan. In such a scenario for the ISI the Lashkar is the best bet. The Lashkar could unite several groups and at no point in time will they go against Pakistan.
This is being used heavily as a bargaining chip by the Lashkar leaders who want Lakhvi to be released immediately. Moreover in Afghanistan the turf war is not going to be an easy one.
The Lashkar would require its master commander or the imam of Jihadis-Lakhvi to lead the pack. Without him the Lashkar appears directionless and the ISI too is aware of this situation which is why they are pushing for his release.
Officials in India say that these are dangerous times and Sharrif would have to find a way to deal with it. He needs to sort out the issue or there is a good chance of him facing another coup as the battle for Afghanistan intensifies.