Isolated in South Asian region, Islamabad has lost confidence of Washington, its once ally
By Shankar Kumar
Even as former Pakistan National Security Adviser Mahmud Ali Durrani appeared to be bold in admitting that the 26/11 Mumbai terror attack was carried out by a Pakistan-based terrorist group, he was not completely truthful. He said the Pakistan government or the Inter-Services Intelligence had no role in the terror attack that led to the death of 166 people. This is a blatant lie as investigations carried out by Indian authorities and US officials point towards ISI handlers and top Lashkar-e-Taiba leaders’ role in the 26/11.
In his testimony before a Chicago federal court and subsequently, while deposing before a Mumbai Court (through videoconferencing) LeT operative David Headley said that Mumbai’s Chabad House was one of the targets of surveillance given by his ISI handler Major Iqbal. Was not such testimony categorically hinted towards the Pakistan government’s involvement in the Mumbai attack? By denying the truth, Pakistan has only harmed itself. It is not only a laboratory of terrorist groups’ nefarious activities, but has also turned out to be the key exporter of terrorism in the world.
Isolated in the South Asian region, it has lost the confidence of once trusted ally, the US. Rather American lawmaker Ted Poe has recently moved a bill in the Congress to declare Pakistan as a “state sponsor of terrorism.” It’s playing of victimhood card on account of sporadic terrorist attacks inside the country. But it has not paid off any dividend. Only China, Pakistan’s all-weather friend, supports Islamabad and the former does this out of two key reasons: first, Pakistan helps in fulfilling China’s design to keep India tense and bleeding through terrorism; second, Pakistan serves strategic-economic advantage to China in highly qualified manner. The $54 billion China-Pakistan Economic Corridor, linking China’s Xinjiang with Pakistan’s Gwadar Port, offers Beijing a transportation corridor for energy and goods. Beyond this, what is emerging clear is China’s design to have a significant presence in the Indian Ocean through the Gwadar Port where Beijing is planning to station marine-corps. Indicating clearly that Pakistan and China friendship will be a constant source of headache for India.
But New Delhi is bit surprised to see narrative given by Pakistan’s authorities on terrorism issue. Even if former NSA, Durrani’s statement that he was sacked in 2009 for stating that Ajmal Kasab may have been a Pakistani, is to be believed, his valiant attempt to protect his country’s government for any role in the Mumbai attack has only exposed contradictions that have set in that country’s system. His statement that Jammat-ud-Dawa chief Hafiz Saeed has no utility in Pakistan is the narrative which is currently given by all those who are concerned about the country’s internal security. “Saeed can pose a serious threat to the society,” Defense Minister Khawaza Asif recently told audience at the Munich Security Conference. He also added that Saeed was “arrested in the larger interest of the country.”
It should be remembered that Lashkar-e-Taiba founder and Jamaat-ud-Dawa chief, Hafiz Saeed and some members of his organization are under house arrest since January. This arrest took place to keep the US in good humour.
However, India is steadfast in its stand on any engagement with Pakistan. “Terrorism and talks,” can’t go together has been reiterated by Indian leaders several times in the recent past. Continued shelling from across the border has further more resolved New Delhi’s negative attitude towards Pakistan. In recent unprovoked firing from Pakistan, a two-storey administrative building of Trade Facilitation Centre (TFC) at Chakan-Da-Bagh area along LoC in Poonch was damaged, while Indian Army jawan Deepak Jagannath Ghadge was martyred in an indiscriminate firing. These shelling and firings are resorted to Pakistan army soldiers in their bid to provide cover to terrorists trying to sneak in Indian border. They have also increased their bid to dig cross-border tunnels to push terrorists inside Indian territory.
Recently, the BSF detected a 20-metre long tunnel along the border with Pakistan in Samba district of Jammu and Kashmir. In the past too, Pakistani rangers have unsuccessfully tried to dig tunnels along the LoC to facilitate terrorists’ entry into India. In July 2012, the BSF discovered a 400-metre long tunnel in Jammu and Kashmir. Amidst such provocative moves, if Pakistan takes step to arrest Hafiz Saeed or some terrorists, they would be seen as a cosmetic measure.
Instead, India in its attempt to further isolate Pakistan has nipped in bud the latter’s move to buy armaments and goods from Russia, the Eurasian country which has also rejected Pakistan’s request for another Russia-Pakistan Army joint drill. Last year, the two countries had conducted joint military exercise in Pakistan, a first of its kind in the diplomatic relations of the two countries. It was conducted a few days after Pakistan-based terrorists had attacked Indian Army’s base camp in Uri in Jammu Kashmir. This had led to huge disappointment in India. But Moscow, while taking India’s sensitivity seriously, stomped Pakistan’s bid to bring distrust in age old ties of New Delhi and Moscow. In the South Asian region too, India has choked Pakistan’s attempt to revive the SAARC. In its place, New Delhi has begun to strengthen BIMSTEC.
Comprising Bangladesh, India, Myanmar, Sri Lanka, Nepal and Bhutan, the group is going to have its next summit in Kathmandu. To be held sometime in October-November this year, Prime Minister Narendra Modi may likely to join this summit, indicating categorically that New Delhi is leaving no stone unturned to make Pakistan suffer. In April, Bangladesh Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina is making two-day state visit to India. Both countries are expected to sign several agreements, including defense one. It is said that India is doing this to win Dhaka away from China, Pakistan’s sole lawyer in the international court.