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Pak terror kingpin killed in bid to flee

Jul 30 2015 : The Times of India (Chennai)
Pak terror kingpin killed in bid to flee
LeJ Supremo Masterminded 2009 Attack On Lankan Cricket Team
Banned Sunni sectarian outfit Lashkar-eJhangvi chief Malik Ishaq was gunned down along with his two sons and 11 others early on Wednesday . They were killed in a shootout while being taken to Shahwala in Muzaffargarh by Pakistan's counter-terrorism department to aid in the recovery of arms and explosives it had seized from LeJ terrorists.

Punjab home minister Shuja Khanzada said the encounter took place following an attack on the convoy taking Ishaq and his sons to a detention centre. “As the convoy was return ing, a group of militants on motorbikes ambushed it near Shahwala jungle in an attempt to free Ishaq,“ Khanzada said.“Fourteen militants, including Ishaq and his sons, were killed in the gun-battle,“ he said, adding that at least six police officers were injured.

Ishaq had spent 13 years in police custody on more than 80 charges of sectarian killings.He was arrested in 1997 and after serving nearly 14 years in prison, released on bail in 2011.

Observers believe Ishaq, accused in over 70 criminal cases, was never successfully prosecuted. Ishaq was also accused of masterminding, from behind bars, the 2009 attack on the Sri Lankan cricket team in Lahore, which wounded seven players and an assistant coach, and had left eight Pakistanis dead.

Ishaq's death could shift terrorists' focus to India

The death of Malik Ishaq T might be a positive development in and of itself.But within the regional terror matrix that exists between Pakistan, the jihadi conglomerate and India, Ishaq's death could signal a greater focus on terrorism against India.

Recent reports said LeJ had welcomed Abu Bakr Baghdadi's Islamic State into Pakistan, which resulted in a spike in anti-Shia violence, with takfiri groups like Jundullah and LeJ carrying out numerous attacks against Shias inside Pakistan.

But while Wednesday's killing might have local reasons, no Pakistan leader can openly forswear the jihadi enterprise.Nor can they do away with the terror tool as an instrument of state policy. Therefore, groups like Lashkar-e-Taiba, with close links to the state as well as Punjab government, could get a fresh lease of life. LeT chief Zakiur Rehman Lakhvi is out of jail. Hafiz Saeed remains free and active.

As the terror attack in Gurdaspur showed, LeT's capacity remains lethal as ever.For the Sharif government, it would be much easier to continue the support to LeT, as long as the target is India. Indrani Bagchi


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