On July 28, a British newspaper, Evening Standard, published its lead story with the headline: Cameron: Pakistan Exporting Terror. While speaking to Indian businessmen in Bangalore, the British Prime Minister hit out at Pakistan. Mr Cameron said: “We cannot tolerate in any sense the idea that this country [Pakistan] is allowed to look both ways and is able, in any way, to promote the export of terror, whether to India or Afghanistan or anywhere else in the world….It should be a relationship based on a very clear message: that it is not right to have relationships with groups that are promoting terror.” He added: “Britain stood shoulder to shoulder with India in its determination that such groups (as Lashkar-i-Taiba) should not be allowed to launch attacks on Indian and British citizens.” He also pledged to broaden “UKs counter-terrorism partnership” with India. Later, despite protests from Pakistan and some of the British Labour leaders, Mr Cameron reiterated his frontal attack on Pakistan by saying: “It was well-documented that Pakistan had in the past, used its links with terror groups to pursue its foreign policy.”
This public vilification of Pakistan by the head of government of an influential state came hot on the heels of the WikiLeaks, consisting of 92,000 secret US documents accusing the ISI of collusion with the Taliban and also a plot to kill President Hamid Karzai. Earlier, Secretary of State Hillary Clinton during her recent visit to Pakistan did not mince words when she referred to certain elements within our military of having links with Al-Qaeda and Taliban. One may also refer to Indian Home Secretary’s brazen assertion (when Indian Foreign Minister was visiting Pakistan) that ISI was involved in the Mumbai terrorist attacks.
Nevertheless, the US and other major powers have acknowledged the sustained operation launched by the Pakistan army against Al-Qaeda and Taliban who are now suffering from heavy casualties. Thought unfortunately thousands of civilians have also been killed. It is widely accepted that Pakistan itself is the biggest victim of terrorism and has had the highest number of suicide attacks in most of its major cities. All this loss of persons and property, as well as insecurity and lawlessness, has severely affected the economic and cultural life. In spite of this, the country is committed to ensure that its territory is not allowed for terrorist activities against other and especially neighbouring countries. The fact of the matter is that it is due to continuous drone attacks by the US and ISAF forces in Afghanistan that has resulted in the increase of terrorist activities in Pakistan. There is a widespread feeling that these strikes in Pakistan and infiltration from Afghanistan have spawned unending terrorist assaults all over the country.
In the context of these developments, how can the Pakistani government, which economically is so dependent on the US, afford to undertake anti-American activities? If at all, certain elements for certain reasons indulge in any such acts, it is incumbent on the administration to expose and take drastic action against them.
What is surprising and very much disappointing is that there is no well-devised strategy to identify such objectionable activities. Again as, and when reports and studies emanate from various sources, aiming at demonising Pakistan, it is expected that our intelligence agencies and foreign missions would track them to counter such initiatives. There is indeed a pressing need for well-funded and adequately staffed Public Diplomacy organisations, which have links with think tanks, foreign intelligence agencies, universities, as well as the print and the electronic media. If groups of well-educated and intelligent analysts are developed to trace and examine studies, reports, journals etc, keeping themselves abreast of ideas emerging from seminars and conferences, only then useful material can become available for the purpose of decision making at higher levels.
Presently, and in the past too, all that our government or Foreign Office does whenever volleys are fired, is to issue statements of protest which soon enough fade away. Take the recent extremely serious Cameron assault. Yes, a few feeble remarks have come from the Prime Minister, Foreign Minister and the Foreign Office spokesman. The President too has uttered just a few words although he had an excellent opportunity to express national feelings by postponing his visit to the UK. He possibly was advised to do so. He, however, has refused to follow the advice and will be proceeding to the UK in early August, as planned.
Another persisting weakness on our part is the failure to make out a good case when we accuse India or Afghanistan of intruding in our territories and of conspiring to promote subversive action. Mr Rehman Malik, for instance, has been repeatedly claiming in Parliament and outside that India and Afghanistan have been involved in terrorist and anti-state acts in Pakistan. A dossier, according to reports, is said to have been handed over to the Indian officials. When questioned however, India’s Foreign Minister Mr Krishna retorted the other day that no evidence had been provided to the Indian authorities substantiating charges of Indian complicity in seditious and terrorist activities in Balochistan. His point-blank denial did not elicit much response from our side. The conclusion from the general state of incompetence spelt out above is that there can be no great expectation from a weak, vulnerable and tainted government. This is in sheer contrast to the stature and strength India has been able to gather during the last decade or so, which may well be gauged from the write-up in the British press in regard to the British Prime Minister’s visit to India. In a full page splash in the Sunday Times on July 25, this is what inter alia was published (with a giant size Manmohan Singh extending a hand to a diminutive Mr Cameron) under the title The real special relationship: “When Britain and India’s representatives convene for their banquet at the Taj Palace Hotel, who will have the upper hand – the visiting heirs to the Raj or the local heirs to the Mughal emperors?”
Thus, by quoting Omair Ahmad, 35, an author from Delhi, it is clear. He said: “India has gone from being the jewel in the crown of the empire to being the crown and the UK can compete to be the jewel if it wants to.”
The writer is a political and international relations analyst.