Washington: Noting that Pakistan has recently arrested only those militants who have crossed the red line set by it, a US-based strategic think-tank on Thursday said that these arrests do not necessarily indicate any kind of shift in Islamabad`s strategy.
"Taken at face value, these arrests appear to be a reversal by Islamabad on its policy of maintaining informal connections to militants in order to better control the Afghan-Pakistani border and use the groups as proxy actors against India," Stratfor said in its commentary on the series of arrests made by Pakistan in recent days.
"But a closer look shows that the individuals arrested had crossed the red line set by Islamabad — engaging in attacks in the region that harm Pakistani interests, or constitute direct attacks on the state itself," it said.
The Startfor remarks came after the arrest of Afghan Taliban no 2 Mullah Abdul Ghani Baradar and other top Taliban leaders. Pakistani police yesterday arrested commander of the banned LeT Matiullah (aka Abu Talha) along with 34 Afghan students in the northwestern Pakistani district of Nowshera.
"Matiullah is accused of promoting violence through an illegal radio station he operated. However, his arrest had less to do with his being a leader of a banned militant group than the fact that he asserted his independence from the Pakistani state," it said. The Stratfor said the core militant function of LeT was to counter the Indian presence in Jammu and Kashmir.
"In violently opposing Indian forces along the Line of Control, the LeT served Islamabad`s interest, and thus there was little reason for Pakistan to crack down on them.”
"However, as with any movement, individual commanders and militants strayed from the informal agreements under which Islamabad allowed them to operate, and LeT, through its various incarnations, has splintered over the years, factions have spun out of Islamabad`s control and some have joined up with al Qaeda," it said.
"These militants are of little use to Islamabad because they are more of a liability than an asset. At the same time, Islamabad is not willing to take down an entire group on account of a few wayward individuals, as the leadership of most groups does not challenge the authority of the Pakistani state," Stratfor said.
"Even if Pakistan did desire to shut down an entire group because individual militants under its banner had challenged Islamabad, it would not be able to because militant groups are too pervasive a force to eliminate completely."
"This arrest, then, does not necessarily indicate any kind of shift in Islamabad`s strategy, especially since the core renegade leadership of the LeT was taken out of commission in the aftermath of the Mumbai attacks," it said.
"Washington and New Delhi have been pushing Islamabad to do more about its militant presence and support. This arrest, then, also serves as a symbolic gesture to show that
Pakistan is willing to co-operate," Stratfor said.