The Karachi airport attack that left 18 victims and the 10 attackers dead Sunday has shaken Pakistan and raised a number of questions about extremism in the perennially unstable country.
One factor that has received a lot of attention is reports that weapons found on the terrorists were supposedly made in India. Multiple reports on the ground cited an unnamed official from the Pakistan Rangers who made the claim. Many didn't buy it.
— Karachi_Post (@Karachi_Post) June 8, 2014
Indo-Pakistani relations aren't always friendly, so this news sparked controversy across the Internet.
So is it true and does it matter? Indian officials have condemned the attack, but anti-Indian elements in Pakistan quickly seized on the reports.
The news of Indian weapons prompted U.N.-wanted terrorist Hafiz Muhammad Saeed to place blame squarely on newly elected Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi. Saeed is the head of Jamat ‘ud’ Da’wah, the political front of terrorist group Lashkar-e-Taiba, and is accused of orchestrating the 2008 Mumbai, India, attacks that left 153 dead.
Ironically, he condemned the Karachi attack on “innocent civilians” as a way to further blame and discredit the Indian government. In the long run the accusations are more likely to discredit Saeed himself more than the Indians. A Tehrik-e-Taliban Pakistan commander, Omar Khalid Khorasani, and another spokesman have both claimed the attack was in retaliation for the U.S. killing of Taliban leader Hakimullah Mehsud.
This attack was the revenge of martyrdom our leader Shaheed Hakimullah mehsud and brutal killings of ttp's prisoners in jails...
â€” omar khorasani (@omarkhorasani1) June 9, 2014
Even with the TTP claim out in the open, there is a group of Pakistanis that already believe the Indian government backs TTP. According to claims made by senior Pakistani officials in the past, the Taliban have reportedly had access to Indian weapons before.
Indian made weapons recovered from dead terrorist, Rangers sources. Need I say more? #Karachi
â€” Shaista Shahid (@Tayytta) June 8, 2014
Weapons aren’t hard to come by in Pakistan, so it wouldn't be surprising if Indian-made arms made it across the border, but even if they did, whether the weapons were in fact Indian is irrelevant. Radicals like Saeed are going to use any rumor they can to justify their anti-Indian sentiments. It's a matter of who will believe them and if the Pakistani government can bring some sense to the situation.
India may be Pakistan’s biggest foreign threat, but all signs point to Sunday’s attack being squarely from the inside of the country. Even if the weapons are Indian, what matters to most Pakistanis is that the government can stop these attacks. To do so the government has to focus on radical elements inside the country and ensure that the anti-Indian radicals like Saeed aren't allowed to poison relations. Rob Crilly of the Telegraph wrote about the need for Pakistan to "clean up its mess."
Karachi airport attack: Nothing will change until Pakistan acts decisively against militant groups it helped create http://t.co/b3I3vJz1NZ
— Rob Crilly (@robcrilly) June 9, 2014
VICE shot an excellent short documentary in 2006 about how easy it is to find arms in Pakistan.