For peace, Pakistan …

For peace, Pakistan must decry terrorism

By JN Raina

July 2010

jn rainaPermanent peace in the subcontinent is nigh impossible, till Pakistan remains paranoid about India. Peace will remain a pipe dream, until Pakistan sheds antipathy towards India and gives up state-sponsorship of terrorism.

What 2611 accused, Pakistan-American terrorist mastermind David Coleman Headley has told the National Investigating Agency (NIA) about the manipulations of Pakistan’s Inter-Services Intelligence (ISI) and its flirtations with the dreaded militant organization Lashkar-e-Toiba (LeT), is revealing. The ISI and LeT are ‘inseparable’, says Headley. They work in unison to achieve their goal of sponsoring Pan-Islamic terror agenda, which has international implications. Mumbai carnage was guided by ISI at ‘each and every stage of the plot’. Punjab’s provincial government in Pakistan had paid Rs eight crore to Markaz-e-Tayyaba, the headquarters of Jamaat-ud-Dawa (JuD), after it was banned following November 26, 2008 Mumbai attack. To continue talking just for the sake of it is meaningless.

A Harvard scholar’s analytical report about ISI’s ‘double dealing’ with Americans in Afghanistan is equally serious. While ‘pretending’ to back US war against terrorism in Afghanistan, the bluff masters are actually engaged with Taliban and Al Qaida against the American interests. The US has expressed considerable distrust about Pakistan’s role in the region.

It is a paradox that Prime Minister Manmohan Singh is seeking Pakistan’s help in creating a congenial environment for the two countries to live in peace. Under such circumstances, can Pakistan be trusted? Can it oblige Manmohan Singh? Had Indira Gandhi been the prime minister, her tone and tenor would have been different. Meaningful and pragmatic discussions for rapprochement of good relationship are not possible till Pakistan, playing in the hands of the radicals, eliminates terrorism for good; whether it is directed against India or US.

Union Home Minister P Chidambaram is sanguine that some ‘good things’ will emerge out of the June 26 meeting he had with his Pakistan counterpart Rehman Malik. Chidambaram has demanded action against 2611 mastermind, LeT founder Hafiz Saeed. He has told Pakistan to put on trial people involved in the attack. India has been seeking the custody of Saeed. But can it happen? It has flatly refused and argued that Saeed cannot be even barred from spewing venom against India. Pakistan has to say goodbye to terrorism.

The main purpose of their meeting, held on the sidelines of the SAARC countries’ Home Ministers’ conference, was to narrow down trust deficit. Their tete-e-tete followed just after two foreign secretaries’ talks, where India told Pakistan to show ‘progress’ on punishing the perpetrators of the Mumbai attack. India is keen on engaging Pakistan for ensuring peace in the subcontinent, but concrete results are in the state of oblivion. Is it possible for Pakistan to take action against India-specific terror groups, indulging in obnoxious hate campaign? It is to be watched with interest.

India has made it clear that another 2611 would not only derail the resumed dialogue process, but would have serious consequences. Whether Pakistan’s assurances that ‘we will not allow such incidents in future’ will fructify and if the civilian government is in a position to give that clearance is doubtful. Pakistan’s response has been lackadaisical. The Army is still in-charge and a bug-bear for the civil administration. There are many independent players who would not like good relations to develop. Generally cordial tones are exchanged at every meeting. But the real tone from Pakistan has not reflected at the ground level.

Can we say violence in Jammu and Kashmir is at low ebb? Infiltration from LoC is continuing.  India lost a colonel and a captain, besides many soldiers, fighting fresh groups of terrorists. But no eye-brows were raised in the valley. It happened just when talks were underway. Neeraj Sood is the first colonel to get killed in Jammu and Kashmir in three years. Mercenaries, led by LeT have sneaked in to the valley to foment fresh trouble. LeT is linked to ISI. They are trying to convince the international community that people of Kashmir are not with India. But Pakistan President Asif Ali Zardari, nicknamed ‘ten per cent’ by the Pakistan media, should know that according to a recent survey, carried out across Jammu and Kashmir and PoK , only two per cent of the respondents in the valley want  Pakistan. But it is these two per cent of people who create trouble and hold the entire state to ransom, because of Pakistan-sponsored militancy.

Talks though essential, should be result-oriented. There has to be an end to state-sponsored terrorism by Pakistan. It is paramount. Having done this, ‘mission Kashmir’ will follow to its logical end.

A spade work was done by Chidambaram and Malik. If nothing like Mumbai attack happens till July 15, when foreign ministers of the two countries meet in Islamabad, some good results are expected to galvanize the stalled omnibus dialogue. It is more essential in Pakistan’s interest, considering the level of insurgency there.

Notwithstanding its nuclear ‘status’, Pakistan ranks 10th among failed states, in the 2010 Failed State Index, released by the prestigious Foreign Policy magazine. India’s rank is 87th in a list of 177 countries. Pakistan has already been dubbed as the epicenter of global terrorism. Washington has been keeping it on tenterhooks for its dubious role and failure to control Taliban. The U S has planned punitive measures against Pakistan if any ‘successful attack’ on American soil is traced to that country. India cannot even think of such punitive action against that country. U S is prepared to launch attack on Pakistan for failure of its ally to liquidate Al Qaida. There are fresh reports of Osama bin Laden hiding in Pakistan, thanks to ISI.

Washington in fact woke up after the arrest of Faisal Shahzad, author of failed Time Square bombing in New York. Pakistan understands India is not America and will not retaliate in case of another 2611. Let there be no misunderstanding about the role of LeT. There is large presence of Lashkar militants in Kashmir Fresh violence has been engineered by ISI while the Amarnath Yatra has just started. There were continuing reports of terror threats against India, making it difficult to hold composite dialogue. 

“ It is a matter of faith, that is fixed in Pakistan’s thinking, that India will take every opportunity to put Pakistan at a disadvantage”, Marvin Weihbaum, a senior analyst at the Middle East institute has said. The U S has put Pakistan ‘on a clock’, but can India do so? Not to speak of launching counter-terrorist offensive in PoK.  India has asked Pakistan to shed its ‘insecurity’. New Delhi has reiterated that it is interested in a “stable, peaceful and economically progressive Pakistgan”. Ahead of engaging her counterpart in Islamabad, India’s Foreign Secretary Nirupama Rao told Pakistan that India sincerely desires peace with Pakistan. Despite ‘misgivings and serious provocation’, India has exhibited restraint. She wanted Pakistan to prevent the entry of ‘radical ideology’ into the domain of religion, which subsequently mars peace and security in the region.

Pakistan needs to act firmly against terror groups that seek to nullify the ‘prospects of peace and cooperation between the two nations.  It has to change its parameters and cure itself of the malady afflicting it since inception.

*(The author is a senior journalist based at Pune).