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Pakistan: Hamas and the jihadi links
  • ?Pakistan: Hamas and the jihadi links
    ?Pakistan: Hamas and the jihadi links
"Get ready for jihad! Today the Palestinians are watching us, we are telling the Muslims of Gaza that we are with them. We are with the Muslims of Gaza, we are with the oppressed Palestinians. Pakistan's atomic bomb is not only for this country, it is the bomb of all Muslims." Word of Captain Muhammad Safdar Awan, son-in-law of former Pakistani Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif who recently returned to Pakistan amid cheering crowds and, incidentally, waving a Palestinian flag. The heroic captain, who never fought a war in his life, uttered these ominous words in Peshawar at a pro-Palestinian rally, summing up the mood of the crowd well. Also in Peshawar, Khaled Meshaal, who leads the activities of the Hamas diaspora, harangued the crowds on video at a massive protest hosted by the Jamiat-e-Ulema Islam-Fazl (JUI-F), a party that was part of Pakistan's last governing coalition: the one, just to be clear, led by Imran Khan. JUI-F leader Maulana Fazlur Rehman, who called Hamas' October 7 attack on Israel a "historic success," vowed to send aid to Hamas and reiterated that "we are ready to join the fight." And in Karachi, during a Sunday rally held by the Jamaat-e-Islami (JI), one of Pakistan's largest religious parties, leader Siraj-ul-Haq warned that "we will besiege the U.S. Embassy in Islamabad" if U.S. President Joe Biden continues to support Israel. The assault on the embassy was prevented, strange but true, by Pakistani law enforcement, but certainly not for the sake of peace and democracy. The economy is in the doldrums, Pakistan needs money from the International Monetary Fund, and, most importantly, it needs to stay off the FATF gray list that monitors terrorist financing. So the government has limited itself to sending humanitarian aid to the Palestinians and reiterating support for the Palestinians. "We appeal to the OIC nations to urgently provide food and medicine to the Palestinians. We all support an independent Palestinian state with Al-Quds as its capital," reiterated former PM Shahbaz Sharif (Nawaz's brother). Thus making a few things clear. Pakistan has always failed to recognize Israel and its right to exist. The call to jihad, which started in Iran and echoed in Afghanistan and Pakistan, is, as always, informally backed and supported by the intelligence services: jihadi fighters belonging to Pakistani groups trained and supported by the military services have for years joined various organizations in different countries. Former PM Imran Khan admitted long ago that Islamabad was training 'Palestinian fighters'. And Hamas is not the only terrorist organization in the Middle East with which Pakistan has flirted and for which it serves as a glue and common denominator. Transfers of Pakistani terrorists to Syria to fight alongside ISIS have been reported. One Syrian training camp was even named after a slain Pakistani terrorist, Abdul Rashid Ghazi. Pakistani groups, including the Jaish-e-Mohammad, are active in East Africa-Somalia, Kenya and Tanzania. Traces of Pakistani jihadi have also been detected in Sudan. Pakistanis fought in the Bosnian War and alongside Azerbaijani forces against Armenia. The Taliban were, originally, Pakistani: but they, unlike the above-mentioned groups and, especially, the Pakistani jihadi groups, never had a global agenda. What unifies Al Qaeda, Isis, Jaish-i-Mohammed, Hamas and other similar groups is in fact the dream of the great Islamic caliphate, a dream of which Pakistan has always been the custodian and guardian. A dream before which even confessional and sectarian differences disappear for a moment. Iran, Qatar and Turkey, with which Pakistan has more or less close relations, finance Hamas and Hezbollah as well as various jihadi groups, including the Taliban, that belong to different Islamic denominations. And Islamabad, always playing on the razor's edge, seeks to compact an Islamic bloc against Israel (and to link the Palestinian issue with the Kashmir issue) without irritating the Emirates and Saudi Arabia on which it depends economically but which see Hamas as smoke and mirrors and which much more pragmatically aims at normalization in relations between countries in the geographic area. And who at the G20, from which Pakistan was excluded, had entered into an agreement with India for an economic corridor that, in opposition to China's Belt and Road Initiative, would directly link the Indian subcontinent to the Middle East. For the Pakistanis, the Turks or the Iranians and the terrorist groups they sponsor, it is not about stopping Israel, liberating Palestine or Kashmir: it is not about liberation wars, but ideological wars. About building a world dominated by sharia and pax islamica. To not understand this is to not understand the ideological and logistical welding of seemingly such different groups and what is really going on.
Francesca Marino