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Pakistan: A rogue state with a rogue army

Saturday December 04, 2010 12:32:38 PM, Amulya Ganguli

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Perhaps the most disturbing piece of information available from the latest Wikileaks disclosures is the United States' realisation about the durability of the links between the Pakistan Army and terrorists. As Anne Paterson, the US ambassador in Islamabad, has noted, no amount of aid from Washington will make the army cut its ties with religious extremists.

 

Equally upsetting for India is its belief that closer Indo-US ties will increase Pakistan's paranoia and make it move closer to the "Afghan and Kashmir-focussed terrorist groups". The hint in this assertion that it may be advisable for the US to cool its relations with India is not unlike the earlier observations by General Stanley McChrystal (who has since been dismissed for insubordination) that the growing Indian influence in Afghanistan will "encourage Pakistani counter-measures".

Again, the implicit suggestion was that India must terminate its "development efforts" in Afghanistan so that Pakistan will not embrace the terror groups more closely. This weird logic of Patterson's and McChrystal's analyses negates the time-honoured concept of dealing with terrorists, which is not to submit to their demands since it will only encourage them to persist with their anarchic lawlessness.

Yet, in the case of Pakistan's now widely acknowledged bonhomie with the militant Islamic fundamentalists, the argument of at least a section of the US establishment is that Pakistan will continue to boost terrorism unless India stops even its humanitarian and development efforts in Afghanistan.

So the good guys must be criticised in the mistaken belief that this will induce the bad guys to behave. But the obvious counterpoint is that any such abject retreat before a blackmailer will only persuade the latter to up his demands. Indians are likely to see in this curiously indulgent American attitude a continuation of the pro-Pakistani and anti-Indian policies dating back to the former US secretary of state, John Foster Dulles, during the cold war.

This biased attitude was discernible even after the horrendous Mumbai massacres of Nov 26, 2008, when the US ambassador in New Delhi said there was "no clear evidence" of the involvement of Pakistan's Inter-Services Intelligence (ISI) in the attack and the US, Britain, Canada, Australia and New Zealand refused to enter the "blame game" between India and Pakistan. Continuing in this vein in 2009, Hillary Clinton opposed any "premature dissemination" of Pakistan's role in the carnage.

It is not impossible that this insouciance towards such a grave tragedy was based on the belief that India, rather than the West, will remain the primary target of the terrorists. The apparent weakening of the Al Qaeda and the fact that the US has been able to prevent a repeat of 9/11 seem to have persuaded the West that it is now safer than before.

Since its current seeming invulnerability has been ascribed to improved intelligence and preventive measures, the US and the four other countries sought to blame the failure of Indian intelligence for the Mumbai outrage rather than Pakistan.

It is noteworthy that by leaning towards Pakistan, the US is ignoring its own Kerry-Lugar legislation linking US aid to the assertion of civilian supremacy in Pakistan and the reduction of military influence. Although the army remains so much of a dominant force that it was thinking of toppling yet another civilian president, as a Wikileaks document has revealed, there is no reduction in the quantum of American largesse.

From the earlier turning of the blind eye by the US to Pakistan's complicity in terrorism to the present resigned acceptance of this inconvenient fact, it is obvious that India will have to devise its own solutions to the menace.

The threat is apparently greater than any other in recent history. For a start, it is for the first time ever that the army of a country is openly in collusion with the terrorists with the rest of the world not only unable to break this sinister alliance but even to condemn Pakistan in unequivocal terms.

The danger is worsened by Pakistan's stockpiling of nuclear weapons, including - the most chilling of all - tactical battlefield nuclear armaments evidently for use in the event of an India-Pakistan war. This eager compiling of the so-called doomsday weapons is probably the result of India formulating the so-called Cold Start doctrine, which is said to envisage a swift military response to another Mumbai-type outrage.

The belief in Pakistan apparently is that the possibility of such an operation leading to a nuclear conflict will scuttle the Cold Start project.

Apart from the familiar fear of the subcontinent becoming a nuclear flashpoint, a greater apprehension in the US and Europe is the possibility of the weapons-grade material being pilfered by those sympathetic to the jehadi cause to enable the terrorists to build a "dirty bomb" to target the West.

As a Russian document put out by Wikileaks has said, "there are 120,000 to 130,000 people directly involved in Pakistan's nuclear and missile programmes...there is no way to guarantee that all are 100 percent loyal and reliable".

Apart from the admission of US helplessness in the matter of stopping Pakistan from using terror as a foreign policy tool, there is nothing new in the latest leaks. But what is unnerving for India is that as its hostile and seemingly demented neighbour comes increasingly to be recognised as a rogue state with a rogue army, its sense of humiliation, intensified by despair at India's rise and rise, may force its military to take to a nihilistic path of widespread destruction.

 

(Amulya Ganguli is a political analyst. He can be reached at aganguli@mail.com)



 

 

 

 

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