Islamabad: The deadly Pathankot attack in the Indian state of Punjab is an opportunity for Pakistan to prove to the world that it is committed to eliminate terrorists of all variety, including Lashkar-e-Taiba (LeT) and Jaish-e-Mohammad (JeM), whether or not they are attacking the country at the moment, a Pakistani author wrote in the online edition of a popular newspaper on Saturday.
In an article titled “Curse of non-state actors” and published in the online version of The News, Babar Sattar said that if Pakistan wants to be perceived as a responsible nation-state, it should realise that “the age of non-state actors as state assets has passed, and it should “see Pathankot as an opportunity, and not let the past define the future”.
Sattar wrote: “Will we dismiss offhand that the attack could have been executed by non-state actors from Pakistan, find glitches in the information shared and why it isn’t actionable, or act such that it is for all to see that we are serious about helping India find the perpetrators?”
Sattar, who is a lawyer based in Islamabad, further wrote: “We have told the world that non-state actors might have been assets once, but are now seen as liabilities that Pakistan is actively fighting to neutralise.
“We made loud claims about cutting off the cord connecting state and non-state actors during Musharraf’s time. But the world only started paying heed after the initiation of Operation Zarb-e-Azb when we were seen to be walking the talk.”
He praised the Indian government’s response during the Pathankot attack and said that “it was measured” and “it hasn’t gone to town framing Pakistan before an international audience”.
“It hasn’t drummed up anger or unleashed its streets against Pakistan. It has said it has intelligence and indications that the attackers were handled by Jaish-e-Mohammad from Bahawalpur, that it has shared actionable intelligence with us, that it expects us to act on such information and that it won’t accept cross-border attacks.
“If we put ourselves in India’s shoes, there is nothing wrong with what it has said so far. The ball is in our court,” Sattar wrote in the article.
“We can make sophisticated arguments about lack of state responsibility for acts of non-state actors and repeat explanations about how legal systems require admissible evidence that is hard to come by in terror cases, especially of the cross-border variety. But that doesn’t change the reality that while, as a matter of law, states might not be liable for actions of rouge citizens, as a matter of fact they are. And it isn’t just the state but also all citizens of the state who are painted black in the world’s perception due to vile acts of fellow citizens.
“Part of how we answer this is linked to how we view our future with India and our place in the world. If we believe that peace with India is in our long-term national interest and terror the foremost threat to our national security, even the Machiavellian motivation to keep some non-state actors alive (even if comatose) should die down,” Sattar wrote.