New Delhi, Jan 4: The role of the investigating agencies in pin-pointing the role of the Pakistan army in the Pathankot terror attack will be a challenge.
First and foremost, Pakistan will deny any role in the attack. While investigating details will spill out in the next couple of days, there is a history that shows the links between the Jaish-e-Mohammad and the Pakistan army which cannot be denied.
The Jaish-e-Mohammad was the second most important proxy that the Pakistan army created after the Lashkar-e-Tayiba-e-Tayiba. The Jaish-e-Mohammad was created following the Khandahar hijack of 1999.
It was Brigadier Ijaz Shah, a close aide of General Pervez Musharaff who was handler for Maulana Masood Azhar who founded the JeM. After he was released by India, Azhar returned to Pakistan and announced the formation of the JeM at a press conference in Karachi.
The headquarters at Bhawalpur:
Azhar was an important man for the Pakistan army. Following the decision to launch the JeM, he was given a free hand to recruit youth from across the country. So strong was his influence that in the first round, Azhar managed to rope in 2,000 youth into his fold.
In addition to this he was permitted to send the recruits to the training camps that were being run by the Harkat-ul-Ansar. The role of Azhar was to be restricted to Kashmir. When his men were ready he held a meeting with top army officials in Pakistan who assured to assist his boys with fire cover along the Line of Control during infiltration into Kashmir.
While the relationship was hunky dory it went sour in 2003. The JeM decided to get out of the establishment control. Members of the JeM along with some Pakistan air force personnel decided to carry out an assassination bid on General Pervez Musharaff. When investigations proved the role of the JeM, Azhar was pushed to the wall.
The role played by Kayani:
In the year 2005, the tensions between the JeM and the Pakistan army eased out. General Asfaq Kayani, the chief of the army in Pakistan felt that it was time to ease the relationship. The Pakistan army wanted more proxies to fight against alongside the Taliban in Afghanistan against the Western forces.
Two dedicated camps at Lower Dir and Dir in the Khyber Pakthunkhwa were set up to train new fighters. In these two areas, Kayani called upon the JeM operatives to come forward and train.
It was at the same time that the JeM with funds from the Pakistan army set up a recruitment centre at Lahore. During this period the JeM also revived the Al-Rehman trust which helped with the fund raising.
While funds poured in, the JeM became stronger with the complete backing of the Pakistan army. Today JeM is as important a proxy as what the Lashkar-e-Tayiba is.
The JeM has once again been allowed to nurture its anti India tirade. While the focus of the JeM has always been Kashmir, the outfit has also been building up plans to hit other parts of India as well.
The main agenda of an attack by the JeM is to challenge the Indian establishment. The Parliament attack and the Pathankot strike suggests just this. The manner in which the operatives go about the operation also shows the kind of precision they have and the skills to hold up at least 500 security personnel for several days in a row. It all points towards extensive training by the Pakistan army.