Noxious neighbour

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Gurmeet Kanwal

THE apprehension of Lashkar-e-Taiba (LeT) operative Mohammed Naved, after he and a fellow terrorist killed two Border Security Force personnel and wounded eleven others on the Jammu-Srinagar-Leh National Highway near Udhampur, proved again that the Pakistan army and the Inter-Service Intelligence—the ‘deep state’—continue to sponsor terrorist strikes in India.

About a week before the Udhampur attack, three armed LeT terrorists had struck at a police station in Dinanagar near Gurdaspur in Punjab and killed a superintendent of police and eight civilians. They had been briefed to attack two temples and a college, but were all killed.

The final planning and coordination for these strikes were clearly done immediately after the Indian and Pakistani prime ministers met at Ufa in Russia and agreed to cooperate on “fighting terrorism in all its forms”. The Pakistan army and the ISI do not approve of counter-terrorism cooperation with India and were unhappy with the agreement at Ufa.

The ‘deep state’ makes a distinction between ‘good’ terrorists, who are considered ‘strategic assets’ and are employed to destabilise neighbouring countries (such as the LeT, Jaish-e-Mohammad, Lashkar-e-Jhangvi and the Haqqani network), and ‘bad’ terrorists like the Tehrik-e-Taliban Pakistan (TTP), who are enemies of the state. There is disagreement on making peace overtures to India between the civil society in Pakistan (represented by the Nawaz Sharif government) and the Pakistan army and the ISI that exercise undue influence on the country’s foreign and security policies.

Pakistan is gradually but inexorably headed towards becoming a failed state. It is riven by radical extremism, ethnic tensions, fissiparous tendencies, and a full-blown insurgency in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa and FATA, which the army has been unable to contain. It is indeed remarkable that the army continues to run with the hare and hunt with the hounds in Afghanistan and India, rather than worrying about eliminating the scourge of internal instability. Despite evidence confirming their involvement in sponsoring terrorism, they remain in the denial mode about the control they exercise over the terrorist organisations that they have spawned and supported for more than two decades.

In an article that Tariq Khosa, former chief of Pakistan’s Federal Investigation Agency, wrote in Dawn, a Pakistani newspaper published from Karachi, he accepted that the evidence available indicated that the November 2008 terrorist attacks in Mumbai were “planned and launched” from Pakistani soil and that Pakistan must “face the truth and admit mistakes.” He revealed that the “ops room” from where the attacks were launched was in Karachi and admitted that the trials of the seven attackers who have been charged “had lingered on for far too long.”

Khosa’s revelations are indicative of the early contours of realisation among members of Pakistan’s civil society that over six decades of hostility with India have yielded no dividends. The members of Pakistan’s civil society look with envy on India’s economic development and the freedom its citizens enjoy and wish their country could emulate India’s success. Pakistan’s conflict with India will end only if, and when, a similar realisation dawns on the Pakistan army and the ISI about the futility of conflict with India and leads to a change of heart at the strategic level to end the proxy war waged against India.

The remaining roots of the conflict and the insurgency in Jammu and Kashmir are now in Pakistan-occupied Kashmir and Pakistan. India must be proactive in launching trans-LoC operations against those who are waging a proxy war against India, including the perpetrators of terrorism. While India must continue to engage Pakistan, diplomatic parleys must be limited to getting Pakistan to end its sponsorship of terrorism and the early conclusion of the trial of the perpetrators of the Mumbai terror strikes.

The proof provided by Khosa’s admission of the complicity of organs of the state in launching terrorist strikes in neighbouring countries and the evidence available from the interrogation of Mohammed Naved and from the kits of the terrorists killed at Dinanagar should be sufficient for United Nations sanctions to be imposed on Pakistan as a state that sponsors terrorism. At the very least, as a first step, member states of the UN must ban the sale of weapons and defence equipment to Pakistan, including gifts like excess defence articles.

The writer is former director, Centre for Land Warfare Studies, Delhi.

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