Action on LeT, Jaish-e-Mohd, Hizbul: Pakistan shuts 13 camps across LoC ahead of anti-terror body’s plenary
India’s outreach to crack down on terror seems to have had a throttling impact on Pakistan.
After India cranked up diplomatic pressure by reaching out to FATF member countries after the Pulwama terror attack that left 40 soldiers dead, Pakistan which had been placed on the grey list in 2018, was expected to show that it has taken action on this front to avoid being blacklisted, which would have a devastating cascading effect on its already broken economy.
ET has learnt that in the last few weeks, 13 terror training camps of the Lashkar-e-Toiba, Jaish-e-Mohammed and Hizbul Mujahideen in Pakistan Occupied Kashmir (PoK) have been shut down. The shutdown seems to have had an early impact on cross-border terrorism with army sources saying that infiltration has ebbed.
The JeM, which claimed responsibility for the Pulwama attack and saw most of its leadership in Kashmir being wiped out in operations since then, has lost its Shawai Nala camp in Muzaffarabad and the Kalch Samhanj and Garhon Jundla camps in Mirpur, according sources.
Similarly the LeT, which faced big reverses after a series of successful operations by counter insurgency forces last year, have lost the Dollai and Sher Kot 1 camps in Muzaffarbad and the Fagosh camp in Mirpur.
India’s outreach to crack down on terror seems to have had a throttling impact on Pakistan, which sources said has charged cadres and financiers of groups that were focused on India, including the Falah-e-Insaniat, and frozen their assets since February this year.
While in the past, especially after the 26/11 attack and the parliament attack in 2001, Pakistan had attempted to show action against terror only to go back to its old ways, this time round the crackdown is largescale as FATF member nations will demand verifiable proof to ease the pressure.
For the first time, almost all educational institutions, seminaries and even hospitals of terror organisations – believed to number over 800 - have been seized. While in the past such limited action was taken in the province of Punjab, this time institutions being run in PoK have also been seized – action that would have a direct impact on pushing terrorists into India.
Observers are also closely watching a possible rift within the Pakistani establishment with spy agency ISI wanting Kashmir-focused groups to survive the crackdown and the army and political leadership taking an opposing line, given the devastating financial future the country is facing.
The Pakistani army announced last week that it will be undertaking budget cuts – an unusual step given that tensions had gone up significantly with India post the Balakot air strikes – in view of the prevailing economic situation.
Pakistan needs to stay within the FATF grey list to save its economy, as a backlisting would bar foreign nations and institutions from making any investments. Last month, Pakistan secured a $6-billion bailout from the IMF which is to be disbursed over the next three years.
While China, its biggest backer in the international community, seems to have made it clear that it cannot continue supporting Pakistan if it inspires largescale terror attacks in India or continues its activities in Kashmir, there is a sense of urgency from the Indian side to ensure lasting action.
The FATF meeting this month in Orlando is critical as it will be the last plenary meet before China takes over as chair of the inter-governmental body. Till now, the US was leading the body and with Beijing taking the chair, India will need to keep on pressing hard to ensure that there is no rollback or breather for Pakistan.