Praising Indian and Pakistani leaders for not allowing the Pathankot terror attack to develop into a full-blown crisis, a daily here on Thursday urged the government to “permanently” dismantle the Jaish-e-Mohammad (JeM) that has been blamed for the mayhem.
“Past experience suggests that JeM, like some other banned organisations, has access to sophisticated legal counsel which can help protect its operations and its leaders’ freedom,” the Dawn said in an editorial. “This time JeM, and others like it, must be fully and permanently dismantled.”
The editorial said the “mature responses” of India and Pakistan to the January 2 terrorist attack on the Indian Air Force (IAF) base in Pathankot “appear to have thwarted” whatever the JeM wanted to achieve.
“But why was the group still able to plan and execute such an audacious and sophisticated attack on the air force base?” it asked.
A Pakistan government statement on Wednesday said several JeM activists had been arrested and its offices sealed as part of a crackdown on the group following the Pathankot attack.
But the Foreign Office said on Thursday that it was not aware of the reported arrest of JeM founder leader Maulana Masood Azhar, who India says plotted the Pathankot operation.
“Thirteen years after the group was banned by the state, why was it able to still operate offices that are only now being sealed?” the Dawn asked about the JeM.
“For too long, militant groups that have been banned by the state have simply changed their names or gone temporarily into hiding, only for them to reappear stronger and more resilient.
“In the case of JeM, the state’s failures have been exceptionally egregious.
“Until yesterday (Wednesday), when he was reportedly detained, Masood Azhar was a free man; other well-known leaders of the group apparently routinely roam the country preaching jihad.
“It is fairly obvious that leaders of banned outfits publicly exhorting violence is likely to lead to some kind of disaster or crisis.
“Pathankot has certainly been the former, though mature political leadership on both sides of the border has prevented it from becoming a full-blown crisis.”
The Dawn said Pakistan must ensure that the initial actions against JeM were converted into “sustained and meaningful measures that ensure the long-term dismantling of militant groups.
“Too often steps taken in haste have unravelled over time.”