Karachi hub of anti-India jihadists like LeT, JuD: think-tank

17 February 2017

The Pakistan port city of Karachi is a hub of anti-India jihadist groups and criminals who often enjoy the support of the Pakistani army, says a report released by the Brussels-based think tank International Crisis Group (ICG).

The report says terrorist groups like Lashkar-e-Taiba, its parent organisation Jamaat-ud-Dawa, the Maulana Masood Azhar led Jaish-e-Mohammad and anti-Shia group Lashkar-e-Jhangvi have "umbilical links with Karachi's large, well-resourced madrassas".

It says Pakistan's most dangerous groups actively contest Karachi's turf and resources. These outfits operate madrassas and charity fronts with no hindrance from Pakistani law enforcement authorities.

The ICG report titled Pakistan: Stoking the fire in Karachi talks about how ethnic, political and sectarian rivalries and a jihadist influx are turning Pakistan's largest and wealthiest city into a pressure cooker. It says that during a crackdown on jihadists and criminal gangs, the Pakistan Rangers have spared many areas in Karachi and its outskirts, known as the redoubts of "good" jihadists like LeT-JuD and Jaish-e-Mohammed.

"There are pockets all along the Super Highway of 'good Taliban'", ICG quoted a senior Sindh ruling PPP (Pakistan People's Party) member as saying.

Quoting elected representatives, senior officials, journalists, civil society activists and sources on the ground, the ICG report states that while many jihadist masterminds had fled Karachi by September 2013, anticipating a Rangers operation, they may have now returned emboldened by lack of action.

On the role of these groups when India-Pakistan tensions are running high, ICG quoted a retired senior provincial official of Pakistan, who said, "Any time Pakistan-India or Kashmir tensions flare, these groups mobilise in the heart of the city ... you can't treat (LeT and Jaish-e-Mohammed) as your friends in one part of the country and your enemies elsewhere."

A police officer from Karachi, as quoted by ICG, said, "We tend to look at law and order challenges in isolation; we can't. We have to also look at (them) in the context of our foreign policy choices.''

The report adds that "prominent pro-jihadist madrassas continue to operate freely..." The report speaks of well-funded jihadist organisations in Karachi proactively tapping young men who have no other way to make a living. ''For many with few other prospects, jihad is a job," the ICG says.

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