Pakistani lawmakers have voted to try terror suspects in military courts in a bid to tackle insurgents after last month’s school massacre. But legal experts suggest this could become a reason for concern.
As Pakistan’s new military courts prepare to launch the first terrorist hearings, new questions emerge for US-India relations over how to press Pakistan for the trials of anti-Indian terrorists.
As the US continues to bolster relations with India, the Obama administration faces pressure to heighten its push for a Pakistani crackdown on groups like Lashkar-e-Taiba (LeT), which is believed to have carried out the 2008 attacks in Mumbai that killed 166 people, Jaish-e-Mohammed (JeM), which has focused attacks on the Jammu and Kashmir state, and the Haqqani Network, which bombed the Indian Embassy in Afghanistan in 2008 killing 58 people.
These groups have traditionally been protected by Pakistan, but US Secretary of State John Kerry said he reached a “strong consensus” with Pakistani leaders during a recent visit to Islamabad. Kerry said they agreed to combat “all forms of terrorism,” indicating that groups such as Let, JeM, and the Haqqani Network would be subject to a similar military crackdown by the Pakistani military that up until now has largely focused on Taliban factions in the country, known as Tehrik-i-Taliban Pakistan (TTP).
But Bruce Riedel, who served for 30 years in the Central Intelligence Agency and has been a senior advisor to the last four US presidents on South Asia and Middle Eastern affairs, said that he doesn’t expect Pakistan’s military courts to take on LeT. Riedel added that any concerted US push for Pakistan to do so will likely be ineffective, saying that LeT enjoys the protection of the country’s military. “The US has put lots of pressure on Pakistan to no avail,” said Riedel in an e-mail.