Asif Haroon Raja
It is now an established fact that no South Asian state has ever indulged in covert operations or cross border terrorism against its neighbors. The only culprit is India which resorts to this evil practice against all its neighbors, be it Pakistan, Sri Lanka, Bangladesh, Nepal, Maldives, Bhutan, China and Myanmar. It has dovetailed clandestine operations into its war strategy to apply it against its foes during peace time for harassment, intimidation and blackmailing purposes and for weakening them from within. Afghanistan has been used by Russia and India to raise the bogey of Pashtunistan, render support to Pakistani runaways and rebels and to launch covert operations against Pakistan. Karzai has belatedly assured Pakistan that it would not allow its soil against Pakistan. Hopefully he sticks to his commitment. Marching orders given by Karzai to his intelligence chief and interior minister, both venomously anti-Pakistan and favorites of Washington are positive signs though some more steps are needed to scatter away clouds of distrust built over nine years. The US military has starting packing its bags to wind up its business in Afghanistan and go home starting July 2011. The US and Karzai’s tilt towards Islamabad are ominous developments for India vying to have complete sway over Afghan affairs after the departure of coalition forces. The entire Indian leadership is in a state of depression. Its spin doctors are at a loss but are still scratching their heads how to retrieve the situation. Indians are feeling out of place since they are akin to traits of a scorpion which stings compulsively.
Indian Foreign Secretary Nirupama Rao and Home Minister Chidambaram were here in Islamabad to renew talks. An Indo-Pak talk is a drama staged by India at the behest of USA. India loses all and gains nothing out of composite dialogue, which she had purposely stalled after Mumbai attacks. She stubbornly clung to her one-point agenda of no talks without Pakistan tackling India’s concerns about terrorism. After intense pressure from USA, stuck in Afghanistan and urgently requiring Pakistan’s services for a bailout, India has reluctantly relented and agreed to resume talks. However, the entire focus of talks was on terrorism. Chronic issues such as Kashmir dispute, Siachin and Sir Creek problems, water problem, RAW’s support to terrorists in Balochistan and in FATA were skipped. India wants solution to Kashmir as suggested by former President Gen Musharraf. It had been mutually decided to sideline UN resolutions on Kashmir, convert Line of Control (LoC) into soft border and to put the dispute in cold freezer as had been done during Simla Agreement in 1973.
But for lawyers movement which weakened Musharraf, the sellout plan would have been implemented in 2008. It is for this reason that Indian leaders fondly remember Musharraf and pray for his return. President Zardari was also in favor of this plan as was evident from several statements he had made on Kashmir and the so-called ‘good news’ he wanted to give to the nation. Had the Army under Gen Kayani not taken a firm stand and had Zardari not lost his reputation and credibility, he would have given a go ahead signal to the plan. Zardari’s inability to open up nuclear program for US and IAEA inspection, bring ISI under Interior Ministry and to implement Indian dictated Kashmir solution has disappointed USA and India. To twist his arm, he is off and on subjected to barrage of vilification campaign, most of which is based on facts.
Pakistan had been led up the garden path by India through much hyped composite dialogue in early 2004. It was pledged that all issues including Kashmir would be resolved through dialogue. Four rounds of talks were held but nothing concrete came out of the meetings. While Pakistan lost a lot, India gained a lot. Under the garb of friendship, India successfully completed fencing of LoC, defanged armed resistance in Held Kashmir, redirected all Jihadi outfits towards Pakistan, made Balochistan, FATA and large parts of Khyber Pakhtunkhwa restive, lowered the image of Pak Army and other institutions through propaganda campaign, consolidated tentacles of RAW within Pakistan, disturbed law and order situation, built several dams over rivers Chenab, Jhelum and Indus and reduced flow of water into Pakistan. India not only enhanced its presence in Afghanistan significantly but also spread hatred amongst Afghans against Pakistan to keep the two neighbors perpetually hostile to each other. Through these acts, it impoverished the economy of Pakistan.
While preaching friendship, Indian military feverishly built up its strength and former Indian chief Gen Kapoor hurled threats of Cold Start and limited war under a nuclear overhang. Pakistan quietly digested all the insults and harms inflicted upon the body of Pakistan under the skewed policy of appeasement and under a misperception that Kashmir issue would be resolved. In return, India didn’t budge an inch over any of the disputes and continued to maintain its pre-2004 rigid stance on all issues. It showed its ugly face after Mumbai carnage and reverted to its old policy of antagonism.
Having gained on all fronts, India is unprepared to dole out any concession to Pakistan. It still wants more from Pakistan. It wants Pakistan not to oppose its key role in Afghanistan, its right for a land route to Afghanistan via Wagah, and its membership to UNSC. It also wants Punjab based banned Jihadi groups like Lashkar-e-Taiba, Jamat-ud-Dawa, Jaish Mohammad and Sipah-Sahaba to be crushed and Muredke religious centre to be dismantled. India is keen to extend physical support to help Pak security forces to tackle these outfits. Punjab being the only stable province, it has become an eyesore for India and it desperately wants its destabilization. The likes of Salman Taseer and RAW sponsored Tehrik-e-Taliban are helping India in its nefarious designs. RAW is among the leading terrorist organization which is bleeding South Asia but surprisingly no finger has ever been raised on it. The US and western think tanks and newspapers never tire of concocting stories against ISI but see RAW, Mossad and CIA chaste and spotless. This is because they are birds of same feather and are flocking together in pursuit of common objectives. Pakistan and other South Asian countries have remained the victims of intrigues and conspiracies of India for the last 63 years. It pretends to be well meaning and friendly but it always carries a dagger under its armpit and strikes whenever opportunity comes its way. It is principally responsible for impeding the growth of SAARC because of its habit of hegemony and selfishness. It is high time for SAARC countries minus India to get together and collectively combat the Indian menace.
I propose immediate establishment of a joint intelligence centre at Islamabad or Colombo on the pattern of the one working in Jabal-al-Siraj, north of Kabul. Both are well trained in the art of counter terrorism and have successfully fought RAW sponsored terrorism. The new intelligence setup should have tentacles in all the affected South Asian countries to share intelligence and monitor activities of home based and foreign based terrorists, spies and double agents. Assistance of China may be sought or it may be co-opted. Intelligence Centre should maintain close liaison with intelligence agencies of selected Muslim states which follow independent foreign policies and are not close to India. Intelligence can be exchanged with CIA, FBI and MI-6 prudently and on need basis only.
Besides, a joint media and publicity cell should be opened to counter Indo-US-Israeli propaganda. In addition, each country should raise a counter terrorism force fully equipped with requisite firepower, mobility and technology superior to what the terrorists possess to be able to dismantle terrorist networks, disrupt supply routes and sources of funding. Collective efforts should be made to beat RAW in its own game.
—The writer is a retired Brig & security & defence