What's in a name? For Pakistan, everything, as it continues to change names of terror groups to dodge bans
New Delhi, Mar 04: Earlier this week, the National Investigation Agency registered a case against a little known terror group, Lashkar-e-Mustafa.
Investigations by the NIA found that this terror group works at the behest of the Jaish-e-Mohammad.
This is however not for the first time that the names of such unknown groups have popped up.
The Lashkar-e-Tayiba's financial wing, Jamaat-ud-Dawa which masquerades as a charity wing was renamed Falah-i-Insaniyat, when international pressure shot up and the FATF plenary was nearing.
The case of the Lashkar-e-Mustafa is no different. The name of the outfit came up at a time when Pakistan was unable to get out of the Grey List and the heat on the Jaish-e-Mohammad is very high. Post the ban imposed on Jaish-e-Mohammad chief, Maulana Masood Azhar, the outfit's name was changed to Jaish-e-Muqti.
Officials tracking the developments say that this is done to overcome a ban or to reduce the heat on the outfit. In reality, whatever the name may be, the chiefs remain the same and the ISI continues to be at the helm of affairs. This is also largely to do with the fact that Masood Azhar and Hafiz Saeed continue to remain assets for the ISI.
Not just the outfit, the ISI has also propped up leaders when the heat is high on the main chief. With the ban on Azhar, it is his brother, Mohammad Rauf Asghar who is at the helm of the JeM. A similar thing happened following the Mumbai 26/11 attack, when the ISI advised Zaki-ur-Rehman Lakhvi to go underground. His appearances since have reduced considerably. Even during his stint in jail, he lived a luxurious life with conjugal rights.
Another outfit which popped up in recent times in the Valley was The Resistance Front. It was once again a pure diversionary tactic. The TRF is a proxy of the Lashkar-e-Tayiba, which follows the instructions of the leadership in Pakistan. In a nutshell, The Resistance Front, Jamaat-ud-Dawa and the Falah-i-Insaniyat are all part of the Lashkar-e-Tayiba and have different names to divert attention and lower international heat. The same came be said in the case of the JeM's proxies, Jaish-e-Muqti and Lashkar-e-Mustafa.
Following the 26/11 attack, investigators in India found the funding of the attack to have been carried out by the JuD. There was international pressure and this forced a ban on the JuD. In fact the then interior minister, Rehman Malik had informed that the JuD had been banned with immediate effect.
Although the statement sounded strong, Pakistan was not going to take any chances and directly confront the JuD. It did not impose the ban directly but asked various authorities such as the UN to impose sanctions on the JuD.
Paksitan's eye wash was evident in the year 2008. It sealed 100 offices of the JuD and even Saeed was placed under house arrest only to be released later. During all this Pakistan made a shocking statement in which it stated that there was no need to issue any notification banning the JuD when the UN has already added it to the list of banned outfits.
There was some more eye wash by Pakistan. It claimed that it had sealed the 200 acre campus of the JuD in Murdike. It also stated that an administrator in Pakistan had taken over the operational facility of the JuD.
All this led to the JuD seeking legal recourse. The petition drafted by top bureaucrats of Pakistan sought a directive to first release Saeed who was under house arrest. The court allowed the petition and in the days to come even the ban on the JuD was lifted.
It is quite surprising that the Pakistan government was asked to return the property of the JuD and also its other assets when there was never any official notification
The JuD has a sprawling campus at Murdike spread over 200 acres of land. It has teaching facilities catering to 3000 students and also residential complexes. The investigations post 26/11 showed that the ten terrorists were housed in this complex and underwent training over here.