Former Central Intelligence Agency South Asia analyst, Lisa Curtis, now a Senior Fellow at the Heritage Foundation, recalled how in 1995, when she served in Islamabad as a diplomat, the Pakistan-based terror groups that were funded, armed and supported by the Inter-Services Intelligence specifically to launch attacks in Kashmir against Indian security forces, also had strong links to the Taliban.
Curtis, at a recent conference on the unrest in Kashmir, said, "In July 1995, a group calling itself the Al Faran, which was really a front organisxation for the Pakistan-based Harkat-ul-Ansar terrorist organisation, had kidnapped five citizens in Kashmir -- an American, two Brits, a German and a Norwegian."
"And, being the young, second secretary at the Islamabad US embassy, who was following developments in Kashmir from the Pakistan side, I was charged with trying to resolve that kidnapping situation."
Curtis said, "The point I want to make here is that it was clear back then that the Harkat-ul-Ansar was closely linked with the Taliban, with Jalaladin Haqqani, and it was clear that Jalaladin Haqqani had direct influence on this organisation."
"So, I am really tired of reading that we are beginning to see increasing linkages between Indian-focused terrorist groups like the Lashkar-e-Tayiba, like Jaish-e-Muhammad, which is an evolution of the Harkat-ul-Ansar and the Taliban and Al Qaeda," she said.
Curtis pointed out that "these links have been there for at least 15 years, but I guarantee you, you will pick up any newspaper or you will see in the media today that says there are 'growing linkages.'"
"But this is incorrect," she asserted. "The real story is the fact that the US government has not digested this reality and dealt with it appropriately," and declared, "That has been a failure of US policy."
Curtis said the proposition that had gained currently in certain circles in the Obama administration, particularly in the Pentagon that "you need to resolve Kashmir and then these groups would melt away is a fallacy and represents misplaced thinking on the issue -- a misunderstanding of events over the last 20-25 years."
She said that the real interests of groups like the LeT, that were spawned by the ISI and now taken on a life of its own, "Their real interest in not Kashmir. They simply use Kashmir to try to justify their killing sprees and the real intent, which is to destabilise democracies for these kinds of vague, undefined pan-Islamist goals."