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ISI in damage control mode as Lashkar heads for a split

By Vicky

Pakistan's Inter-Services Intelligence is in damage control mode after a major falling out between Hafiz Saeed and Zaki-ur-Rehman Lakhvi, the two top men in the Lashkar-e-Tayiba. The LeT, which is the ISI's most trusted proxy is heading for a two-way split after Saeed and Lakhvi fell out due to various reasons.

[Saeed, Lakhvi at war: Is the Lashkar heading for a two-way split?]

ISI in damage control mode as Lashkar heads for a split

Lakhvi was unhappy that Saeed chose his brother-in-law to head the outfit after he had been placed under house arrest. Lakhvi was also unhappy with the planning of the Kashmir unrest. Saeed had nominated his brother-in-law, Abdul Rehman Makki to head the outfit.

The ISI has now decided to play the peacemaker. It has offered Lakhvi the role of heading the operations where Jammu and Kashmir are concerned. The Kashmir issue is particularly close to Lakhvi's heart. In fact, he has lost two sons while they were sent out to fight in Kashmir.

The ISI realises the gravity of the split. It has, in fact, deputed two very senior officers to ensure that the group stays united. It may be recalled that the ISI had undertaken a similar damage control exercise prior to the 26/11 attacks.

The LeT was heading for a split as most of its cadres under Lakhvi felt that they should join the al-Qaeda and Taliban in the war in Afghanistan. However, the ISI was not in favour of the same. In a bid to keep the operatives engaged, the ISI sanctioned the 26/11 attacks.

For the ISI, retaining Lakhvi is important. Lakhvi moving away from the LeT would deal a bloody blow to the outfit. He has several supporters and if he leaves, he would take them all with him. What works for Lakhvi is that the fighters of the outfit back him considering he is the one who has trained most of them in the capacity of the operations commander of the outfit.

While Lakhvi always handled the operations part of the group, Saeed was an ideological mentor. Both had become crucial to the outfit and the LeT needs them in order to be the lethal force that it is. The ISI which nurtures the outfit has still not been able to find a solution to the problem, IB officials say.

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