DEALING WITH PAKISTAN
The outcome of India-Pakistan Foreign Ministers’ talks in Islamabad this week has brought dismay in India. Indians feel that Pakistan’s present civilian government is not taking New Delhi’s complaints about terrorism seriously. Pakistan would like to talk of Kashmir first to evade India’s problems about terrorism backed by Pakistani state actors. But are we not expecting two much of the Pakistani civilian or democratic government to punish those of its nationals, including officials who planned, funded and executed the Mumbai terror in November 2008? There are two events which must convince, one that any expectations from the present civilian government to take action against the perpetrators of terror are futile. Take, for example, the civilian government’s request to the United Nations to reopen the investigations into Ms. Benazir Bhutto’s assassination in Rawalpindi in December 2007. The UN has rejected the request. It is well known that the present civilian government headed by Ms. Bhutto’s husband Asif Zardari does not have the guts to try the Army officers and ISI men whom the UN report has mentioned. After spending millions of dollars on trying to find out who killed Ms. Bhutto the civilian government finds it very safe to blame the dead Baitullah Mehsud, former Chief of Tehrik-i-Taliban, and be done with it. Then President of Pakistan General Pervaz Musharraf had hastily blamed Mehsud without any inquiry. Mehsud denied saying that Tehrik-i-Taliban did not target women. The UN investigators didn’t agree that Mehsud could be the killer. If Mehsud was the killer no investigation was done about him. The UN commission writes about Pakistan’s history of nurturing and working with Jehadis. It said the politicized intelligence agencies could have used Jehadi groups, including Tehrik-i-Taliban to kill Ms. Bhutto. The UN Commission’s accusation against intelligence agencies is very clear in the report. But see the civilian government’s reaction : within a month of the publication of the UN report, a fact finding committee absolves former Military intelligence Chief Maj. Gen Nadeem Ijaz Ahmed and two police officers who were responsible of getting the crime scene hosed. A Pakistani writer says truth and justice have become extinct in the country. Just imagine, the Pakistan People’s Party (PPP), which rules the country and whose Chairperson Benazir Bhutto was killed, is afraid to try those intelligence officers whose involvement in her assassination is mentioned in the UN report. Therefore, how can India expect this civilian government to act against Jamaat-u-Dawa Chief Hafeez Saeed, a protege of the intelligence agencies, who is involved in the 26/11 terror in Mumbai. The whole world knew that the perpetrators of 26/11 terror were Pakistani but the civilian government kept on denying it. So much so at first it denied that sole surviving terrorist Ajmal Kasab in India’s custody, was a Pakistani national. But it could not sustain the denial for long in the face of national and international media’s investigative reports. Pakistan is also trying to evade the truth that its national turned-American David Headley has disclosed about the Pakistani Army and the ISI’s active role in planning and executing the Mumbai terror. Headley currently in America’s custody in Washington, is a Lashkar-i-Tayyaba man, who did all the spadework for the 26/11 carnage. He gave shocking details of the conspiracy to attack Mumbai to an Indian investigator’s team. He said the ISI had given Rs. 25 lakh to the attackers to hire a boat from Karachi to a point where they hijacked an Indian fisherman’s boat to travel to Mumbai. He told Indian investigators that the Pakistan Navy had trained ten attackers who caused havoc in Mumbai. That confirms what Kasab has already disclosed. The Pakistani government cannot act on India’s dossiers because it dare not even question the Army, ISI and the Navy men for their role in the 26/11 terror. The present “democratic” government is fully under the control of the Army. It has to curry favour with the Army and the ISI because many of its Ministers have past record of corruption also, these Ministers think they can salvage their credibility in the eyes of the anti-India section in the public and the Armed forces. India’s diplomatic weakness vis-à-vis Pakistan has been its declared desire for democracy and economic prosperity in this neighboring country. Pakistanis, who love democracy appreciate India’s desire, but there are powerful forces who are hostile to India just because of its desire to see democracy established in their country. These powerful forces, who include the armed forces, a section of feudals and bureaucracy, Jehadis and fundamentalist parties like Jamaat-i-Islami, have no problem with China and countries who do not advocate democracy in their country. They have no problem with the United States as long as it supports the Army rule with dollars and weapons. The problem starts when America, wanting to extricate itself from Pakistan, begins talking of democracy. The anti-democracy forces then become active and use their talent to generate anti-US sentiments in the country. With reference to democracy, there is an irony in India-Pakistan relations: during democracy there relations are cold to hostile, but during military rules there is warmth and unrestricted interaction between the two people. Mr. Zulfikar Ali Bhutto ruled Pakistan from December 1971 to July 1977. The Shimla Agreement between him and India’s then Prime Minister Indira Gandhi, was signed in July 1972. But in the five years, before the overthrow of Mr. Bhutto by his Army Chief Gen. Ziaul Haq, there was very little interaction between the two peoples. Trade relations, of course, were being established. During Gen. Zia’ military rule, there was free movement of Pakistani and Indian people to each other country. It was a period of great bonhomie. Indian (smuggled) goods flooded the Pakistani shops. Pakistani smugglers took Indian goods to their country because of great demands there. Newspapers wrote that customers asked shopkeepers only for Indian goods. When Ms. Benazir Bhutto became the first woman Prime Minister of a Muslim country in 1988, there was great jubilation in India. Indians hoped for a genuine normal relationship. But the establishment’s reaction to Ms. Bhutto and her India counterpart Rajiv Gandhi’s, one to one meeting in Murree in July 1989 made it clear that she cannot go any further. The room where the two Ministers met was bugged. They had reportedly examined possibility of reducing their troops. Then President Ghulam Ishaq Khan played the tape of Benazir-Rajiv talks to the Army Chief and she was called a security risk. Soon she was removed from power by the President. When Ms.Bhutto returned to power in 1995, she had learnt the lesson that a civilian government had to take an anti-India posture to be in the good books of the establishment. Thus, in her second Prime Ministerial stint she was rabidly anti-India. The Army, on the other hand, plays double game when it comes to India-Pakistan relations. First of all, it will not allow a civilian government to normalize relations with India. But when it takes over power, its first priority becomes normalization of relations with India for the pleasure of its backers in Washington. But under the pretext of normalization it works against the state of India. See, for example, while India and Pakistan were working for a peace and friendship treaty, General Zia was running training camps for insurgency in Punjab and Kashmir. Also, while General Musharraf was working for normalization with India, he was trying to give respectability to terrorists by calling them Freedom Fighters. He also said terrorism cannot end without resolving the Kashmir issue. He was never sorry for his invasion of Kargil. India has no choice between democracy and military dictatorship in Pakistan. Pakistan’s Foreign Minister Shah Mehmood Qureshi said that he would not go to Delhi for picnic. India, he said, should first be willing for a meaningful dialogue. It is ridicu
lous. Pakistan itself pleads with the United States to put pressure on India to resume dialogue. Having been the outcome of the Foreign Minister’s talks in Islamabad, one wonders if it is worthwhile to talk to present government.