15 May 2011

GoI Repeats Strategic Blunder

It seems that the Government of India (GoI) has not learnt its lessons even after burning its fingers in the 'Pakistan-is-a-victim-of-terror' bogey. I have no doubt that this stance of the GoI is nothing short of a strategic blunder.

On May 9 this year, in a TV interview, India's Home Secretary G. K. Pillai said that, "There is no doubt that Pakistan is a victim of terror. But at the same time, they are a sanctuary of terror also... There is a contradiction." 

It is not that Mr Pillai is the first GoI official to state this; he was merely parroting the Prime Minister Dr Manmohan Singh's 'soothing' words. In his efforts to foster peace with Pakistan, Dr Singh had gone to the extent of setting up a ‘Joint Mechanism’ with Pakistan to fight terror. Beat this - we partnered with the world's biggest sponsor of terror to fight terror! The Pakistanis must be laughing their asses off. 

Indian security and intelligence experts had slammed the ‘Joint Mechanism’ move. They say that by equating India and Pakistan as “victims of terrorism”, India seriously undermined the cornerstone of its Pakistan policy: that Pakistan is a direct sponsor of terror against India, and that for any peaceful and meaningful negotiations, Pakistan should stop such anti-India activities.

In fact, a strategic expert put it this way: “The next time there is a major terrorist attack against India, with substantial circumstantial and other evidence of Pakistani involvement available, Pakistan and its apologists in the international community will ask India to sort out the matter with Pakistan through the ‘Joint Mechanism’, which is now to be set up. To divert attention, Pakistan will allege that India has sponsored scores of terrorist incidents in Pakistan. If India objects to this, Pakistan will say that the Indian prime minister himself has acknowledged that Pakistan is a ‘victim of terrorism’.”

This is precisely what is happening now. On the international stage, even after being caught with their pants down in the 'Osama bin Laden-in-Abbottabad' case, the Pakistanis are crying itself hoarse that their country is a victim of terrorism. 

In a post 9/11 world, Pakistan has clearly exploited the West’s nervousness and compulsion and has extracted huge concessions—military and monetary—through threats and cajoling, for its so-called ‘cooperation’ in the ‘war on terror’. 

Post-OBL, the U.S. continues to turn a Nelson’s eye to Pakistan’s sponsorship of terrorism, unless that terrorism is directed against its interests. You just have to look at their anti-terror policy - they say that 9/11 and 26/11 are not on the same page. In other words, your terrorist is different from my terrorist, seems to be the favorite line of the Americans.

While the U.S. has its own compulsions, especially strategic, India certainly does not have such compulsions to treat Pakistan with kid gloves. India should take the U.S. and other members of the big powers club, into confidence by apprising them of the critical need to rein in Pakistan’s dangerous activities. It remains to be seen whether the world has the capacity to recognise Pakistan’s persistent perfidy, and to evolve a workable strategy to neutralise it.

The Government of India’s response to Pakistan’s complicity in the Mumbai Terror Attacks can hardly be called consistent and mature. The GoI would warn of a stern and befitting reply to Pakistan on one day while on the next day it rules out the military strike option. Having strong anti-terror laws is not going deter terrorists, who come to kill innocent citizens and are willing to die in the process. We need to beef up our intelligence gathering machinery and strengthen the security apparatus. Rather than blow hot and cold, what the GoI needs to do is to come up with a comprehensive and pragmatic policy to end the Pakistan menace.

While the hawks in the Indian administration advocate a hard-line approach like an all-out war, India can ill-afford to go to war with a nuclear state like Pakistan that is armed to the teeth.

Dr Singh says that, “We cannot countenance a situation in which the safety and security of our citizens can be violated with such impunity.”
Brave words but if the charade of the GoI's current muddled Pakistan policy continues, it will not only embolden the anti-India terror groups but also strengthen the hands of the Pakistani Establishment, i.e. the Pak Army and the ISI, to continue their covert war against India with impunity. 

In any political decision, national interest should be paramount, and it is our national interest that should guide India's policy towards a rogue state like Pakistan. 


abhiram_nayan said...

How true.. and the sad part is.. as always it is back to square one, no matter what.. endless dialogues and discussions to no avail. There is a lack of determined approach to the situation.

srinath said...

ISI chief Mr. Pasha says "if India tries to ape the US then our missiles are ready and we have a clear idea about our targets in India". He made clear that they are ready for a war. What are we waiting for then? is it that we fear their nuclear capability and support of china?

The King of Kings said...

As always the GOI suffers from the classical 'foot-in-mouth' syndrome regarding it's anti-terror policy vis-a-vis Pakistan.The writing on the wall is that though Pakistan has an elected democratic government,the essential 'control center' lies with the military and the all powerful ISI.Pitiable that the terrorism there is state sponsored and it's hardly a secret that Pakistan is a safe haven for terrorits (OBL practically living next door to a military compound in a garrison town bears testimony to this fact.) Probably even the U.S turns a blind eye to this because it essentially keeps an emerging power like India in check and gives it important headaches to ponder on.May be the solution to this lies in a clandestine war involving RAW,which doesn't even remotely have the same capabilities as the CIA.But they must atleast try to mount strtegic intelligence ops and 'make the rats scurry out of their holes'.But an out-and-out war with Pakistan will be a total waste and has a much too risky chance of escalating into another world war,which frankly even the superpowers can't afford at this point in time.