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The Punjab: Hub for Pakistani Jihadis

September 27, 2011

More light is being cast on Pakistan, lately.  What is being revealed paints a rather unhappy picture given that the U.S. has previously considered Pakistan an ally in the war on terror.  MEMRI has a great report detailing the increased militant activity with the Punjab.  The Punjab is widely seen as a safe place for militants and jihadis to establish bases of operations.  Additionally, some of these groups have reached out to the Taliban.

The province of Punjab has been a major safe hub for Sunni jihadist organizations, which are often backed by the Pakistani intelligence agencies. The jihadist organizations also enjoy the patronage of the Punjab government headed by Chief Minister Shahbaz Sharif.[3] In recent years, a large number of Urdu-speaking militants from Punjab have joined the Pashtu-speaking Taliban in the Afghanistan-Pakistan border region, and are known as “Punjabi Taliban.”

Militants returning from Afghanistan and upwards of 170 madrassas are feeding the already healthy, and growing, landscape of jihadi groups in Punjab.

Lashkar-e-Taiba and Jamaatud Dawa are now functioning under a new name: Falah-i-Insaniat Foundation. Jaish-e-Muhammad, which is headed by terrorist mastermind Maulana Masood Azhar, is another major organization that is headquartered in the town of Bahawalpur. Almost all militant groups – e.g. Lashkar-e-Jhangvi, Harkat ul-Jihad al-Islami and Millat-e-Islamia Pakistan – have a major presence in Punjab province. Millat-e-Islamia Pakistan is a new incarnation of Sipah-e-Sahaba Pakistan, the mother of all Sunni jihadist organizations in Pakistan.

This report is an important one, especially given the timing of the introduction of  HR 3013 in the House of Representatives, which would freeze all aid to Pakistan.  Of course, the Punjab is not all of Pakistan. 

However, links have been made between Pakistan’s ISI and various terrorist groups.  A valid question is, can the U.S. keep its aid dollars out of the wrong hands within the Pakistani government?

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