Wednesday, November 10, 2010

Post LeT it's Punjabi Taliban worrying India

A recent report from Pakistan suggested that the Lashkar-e-Tayiba had broken off and a part of its operatives had joined the deadly Punjabi Taliban. At first this was thought to be a strategic move by the Lashkar and the ISI to create an impression that all was not well with the primary terrorist organization in Pakistan. However now with intercepts and information flowing in, Intelligence agencies say that there is a cause for concern since the Punjabi Taliban is expected to emerge stronger with several of the Lashkar operatives breaking away from their primary outfit.

Indian intelligence agencies tell that the Lashkar has always had a connection with the Punjabi Taliban. The association between the two outfits starts at the training stage and all militants of the Lashkar have been trained by the Punjabi Taliban.

The Punjab Taliban first came into existence to battle US forces in the Afghanistan areas. Over a period of time they started to battle Pakistan forces too who on the directive of the US had started to crack down on these forces. A large number of the Punjab Taliban cadres are from the Punjab area of Pakistan which incidentally houses the army bases of the Pakistan areas. During the earlier days these persons were trained by the Pakistani army and this helped them get access to sophisticated training. During this period a lot of persons from the Pakistan army too joined hands with this Taliban since they felt sympathetically towards the cause they were espousing.

Worry for India: Although this outfit will focus largely on operations against the United States in Afghanistan, India has plenty to worry about. India will not forget that the Punjabi Taliban was first instituted by the Pakistanis to fight in Kashmir. Although the ISI controls the manner in which the Kashmir battle is fought the cadres of this outfit have now decided to go on its own and agencies are pretty sure that they will continue their battle in Kashmir all by themselves too. In addition to this, the outfit has many of its support bases along the Indian border and there is every chance of them infiltrating into the country.

There has been a paradigm shift in the manner in which this outfit has been thinking off late. They have started joining hands with the Taliban and a section of the Al-Qaeda as they feel that they have a common enemy. The ISI has deliberately gone slow and has been telling its creations to go slow when it comes to battling the US, a fact that has not gone down too well with these outfits.

The bigger worry is that India’s chief enemy, Ilyas Kashmiri happens to be part of this Taliban. Kashmiri’s love affair with the ISI has come to an end for a second time and he too has decided to go against them. Kashmiri who had close links with Lashkar operative David Headley during the planning of the 26/11 attack has now chosen to stay away from the Lashkar since he feels that going alongside this outfit which is ISI driven would mean not taking on the US directly.

In the days to come there will be further splits in the Lashkar since there is growing dissidence within the outfit. The top leadership of the Lashkar has however decided to stay away from the Punjabi Taliban since it is no mood to defy the ISI at the moment. The ISI too is trying its best to keep these outfits together and may think of a new strategy to achieve the same. The biggest worry is the India battle and the ISI would not want any of these outfits to decide on its own. The ISI also worries about the fact that with this split the Lashkar operatives will not have access to training by the Punjabi Taliban which is a big blow for the outfit. It was the likes of Kashmiri who belong to the same outfit which helped the Lashkar militants train for the 26/11 attack.

The Indian IB says that these are passing problems for the ISI and it would reach some kind of a compromise in the near future. The worry is if these outfits come together since they will be a much stronger force to reckon with.

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