by Asif Haroon Raja
A 120-second pep talk between Nawaz Sharif and Narendra Modi at Paris on November 30, followed by a meeting of National Security Advisers Ajit Doval and Lt Gen Nasser Janjua at Bangkok on December 6 melted the ice and set the ball rolling.
Indian external affairs Minister Sushma Swaraj’s visit to Islamabad to attend Heart of Asia conference two days later and her announcement that Indo-Pak talks would be soon resumed and flying visit of Modi to Lahore on December 25 made our political leaders, media and intellectuals euphoric.
It was widely anticipated that the ground has been smoothened to end the era of antagonism.
None took into account that nothing special had happened which made India to push aside its policy of antipathy and to send friendly gestures after prolonged bout of belligerence in response to Pakistan’s consistent efforts to defuse the heat along the LoC and working boundary since last August and to resume stalled peace talks. Short of war, India has applied all tools of coercion and slander to browbeat, defame and isolate Pakistan.
India’s covert operations in FATA, Baluchistan and Karachi are still continuing and Indian media is still aggressive.
It will be puerile to think that there is a genuine change of heart and India has overcome its desire to undo Pakistan, or to reduce it to a vassal state as in the case of Bhutan, Nepal and Bangladesh. Hoping that India will amicably settle Kashmir issue in the light of UN resolutions and give right of self-determination to the Kashmiris amounts to chasing rainbows.
By just renaming ‘composite dialogue’ as ‘comprehensive dialogue’ doesn’t mean that India would now change its age-old practice of dilly dallying tactics to buy time and keep the resolution of the conflict in pending tray for times to come. India has been playing Baluchistan card to equate it with Kashmir issue and keep it as a bargaining chip to trade off Kashmir in return for pulling out from Baluchistan.
India began to hammer Pakistan on charge of cross border terrorism in occupied Kashmir from 1990 onwards and after 9/11 intensified the use of hammer more fiercely. After Mumbai attacks in November 2008, India has made the incident into an excuse to pin down Pakistan on the charge of terrorism and project the issue of terrorism more important than Kashmir issue. This stance helps India in keeping Pakistan on the defensive and releases pressure on India to resume dialogue and resolve issues. This stance was reiterated during Ufa meeting between Nawaz and Modi last year.
India hypocritically drums up the issue of terrorism and portrays itself as the biggest victim of terrorism, not realizing that it is the architect of cross border terrorism in South Asia and all the seven states of South Asia are its victims. In the ongoing war on terror in which Pakistan has been acting as the frontline state, it has suffered the most and has produced much better results in counter terrorism than any other country.
Can we ignore seven decades of baggage of animosity and distrust? How can people of Pakistan forget that Pakistan was cut into two by India in 1971 and since then has suffered thousands of cuts on its body? How can India be trusted and declared as a reliable and trustworthy friend and get complacent that she will refrain from causing harm in future when practically it has never done anything good for Pakistan and is always scheming to undo Pakistan?
RAW has not rolled up its terror networks in conflict zones of Pakistan and is still using Afghan soil for exporting terrorism into Pakistan. Indian brutes are continuing to persecute the Kashmiris in occupied Kashmir ruthlessly. Indian leaders are still talking of breaking Pakistan into eight quasi states. They say CPEC is unacceptable and are employing various tactics to scuttle it. RAW is still supporting banned terrorist groups TTP, BLA, BRA, BLF and is in league with certain political parties to damage Pakistan. India has no intention to resolve Kashmir dispute and may resolve Siachin and Sir Creek disputes if Pakistan agrees to give land access to Afghanistan and Central Asia through Wagah border and to accept LoC as a permanent border.
India is desperately looking for an opportunity to disable Pakistan’s nuclear program so that it could establish its regional hegemony. India opts for talks only to buy time or to get out of difficult situation and not otherwise. It would always like to sit on the negotiating table from position of strength. It has all along sought one-sided concessions and never given anything in return. It wants peace and trade on its terms only. Pakistan has traditionally been sweet talked by India whenever it was in a better position to talk and bargain.
Our leaders get carried away by the farfetched enthralling offers of cooperation, two way trade and prosperity and quickly forget that Indian leaders believe in Chankyan tactics of ‘Baghal mein Chhuri, moun mein raam raam” (cloak and dagger policy), and on the first available opportunity stab us in the back. They have been pursuing these immoral practices since the inception of Pakistan but for unknown reasons our leaders remain in their magic spell. Don’t we know that ‘Cold Start doctrine’ is Pakistan specific and two-thirds Indian military is poised against Pakistan?
So what Modi who proudly talked of India’s and his personal role in liberating Bangladesh has done which has made our leaders draw fanciful conclusions? It is not difficult to discern that both India and her chief patron USA are on the back foot in Afghanistan and Pakistan after remaining in hot soup for a very long time is gradually recovering and regaining its health and credibility.
Thanks to the laudable efforts of the military and ISI, series of conspiracies and plans hatched from 2002 onwards by the strategic partners based in Kabul to destabilize, denuclearize, de-Islamise and balkanize Pakistan through covert operations while pretending as friends, Pakistan has survived and mercifully has sailed past the rough patch.
Pakistani security forces have been fighting the ideologically-motivated fanatics with extraordinary grit and determination.
After Operations Rah-e-Raast and Rah-e-Nijat, the decisive sledgehammer was struck by Operation Zarb-e-Azb which has ultimately broken their back. Their command and communication centres, training centres, logistic bases and safe havens have all been destroyed.
All the 18 administrative units in the northwest that were in their control have been recaptured and writ of the state re-established. The military has gained a conclusive edge over the militants wanting to destroy Pakistan to fulfill the agenda of adversaries of Pakistan. The foreign paid militant groups funded, equipped and trained by foreign agencies have been flushed out and they are no more in a position to carryout organized attacks from Pak soil.
They are now carrying out random attacks using Afghan soil, under the patronage of their mentors, to keep the pot of terror simmering. National Action Plan has the capacity to root out terrorism and in this regard the government and Army under Gen Raheel Sharif have pledged to take the ongoing operations in FATA, Baluchistan and Karachi to their logical end. This pledge is giving nightmares to the enemies of Pakistan since their billions of dollars of investment will go waste.
It is owing to outstanding results achieved by the military and the resilience shown by the people of Pakistan to withstand the onslaughts of terrorism, insecurity, joblessness, poverty, and miraculous economic recovery which has impressed the world. Construction of $46 billion worth CPEC has the capacity to upturn the fortunes of Pakistan. Pakistan has become relevant and is today looked at with awe, admiration and respect.
The hackneyed theme sung by Indo-US-West-Israel nexus that Pak military is either complicit or inefficient has lost its appeal. Another propaganda plank that instability in Afghanistan is owing to cross border terrorism emanating from North Waziristan has also gone stale and so have several other suchlike cockeyed themes to portray Pakistan in poor light. The reason behind this change in outlook of the world comity is that Pakistan is the sole country which has fought terrorism from the front, rendered largest sacrifices and turned the corner.
This accomplishment has become all the more praiseworthy when seen in context with the fact that the ones pressing Pakistan to do more against terrorists were aiding the same terrorists. Pak soldiers fought with the faceless enemy for over a decade with meagre resources and didn’t get fatigued or demoralized. They have become more hardy, battle inoculated and fearless. It is now rated as the best Army of the world, while ISI is rated as number one among the top ten intelligence agencies of the world. Gen Raheel has earned the distinction of being the most popular military leader among the top ten military leaders of the world.
All other countries involved in counter terrorism in Afghanistan and in Middle East, with huge resources at their disposal and with no limitation of damage control, failed in their mission and had to pack their bags and quit. They are now at the receiving end. So much so, that Pakistan is being pampered to help in restoring peace in Afghanistan. India and Afghanistan are the only two spoilers playing the old tunes and putting spanners in the way of peace talks.
They don’t want peace talks brokered by Pakistan since they know the outcome will be to their disadvantage and to the advantage of both Taliban and Pakistan. Yet Afghan unity government is seeking Pakistan’s help and Pakistan is doing its bit to restore peace in war-torn Afghanistan.
The fast changing regional and global dynamics is shrinking space for India’s anti-peace activities from Afghan soil. It cannot resort to open war since Pakistan has geared up its minimum nuclear deterrence to full spectrum deterrence. Pakistan’s short range missiles like Nasr have buried the Cold Start doctrine while the long range missiles can reach up to Nicobar and Andaman Islands to tackle with India’s second strike capability. Cruise missiles have been matured after a dozen successful tests. PAF and Pak Navy are also constantly improving and upgrading their offensive/defensive capacities. Pakistan’s conventional and non-conventional capabilities have made the Indian leaders sensible.
CPEC towards which countries of Central Asia are getting attracted and all ASEAN states and South Asian states are vying for peace and friendship and are in favor of China’s concept of connectivity have left Hindutva loving India isolated in this critical age of geo-economics. Insatiable thirst for energy is another compelling reason for India to set aside insanity and sit and talk since she knows that her thirst can be quenched by Central Asia and the route to it passes through Pakistan. India also wants Pakistan to tone down its opposition to her quest for earning a permanent seat in UNSC.
India was therefore compelled by circumstances to silence her guns along the LoC and Working Boundary and to mend fences with Pakistan.
Sushma Swaraj’s visit to Islamabad and to agree to resume stalled talks was a bitter morsel she had to chew and swallow. Modi’s visit to Lahore was the result of American pressure to let Afghan peace process move forward and improve ties with Pakistan. However, these initiatives were not taken out of sincerity and noble intentions, but with devious intentions. A message had to be given to the world that India is a peace loving country and desires peace with neighbors.
No sooner the message was given and dates for talks fixed for January 15, another false flag operation was enacted in Pathankot and Pakistan blamed. Some proofs have been handed over to Pakistan. To give a further proof that Modi is a good boy, the BJP government behaved sensibly and accepted Pakistan’s proposal of carrying out a probe while Indian media kept up its tradition of going berserk.
Sensible behavior however was short-lived and Indian leaders once again exposed their true face. Indian Defence Minister hurled open threats that pain will be responded with pain and India will chose the time and place to cause greater pain. Within three days of his offensive statement, attack on Bacha Khan University in Charsadda took place on January 20 in which 20 students were martyred and 35 injured by four terrorists.
It has been established beyond an iota of doubt that the attackers (all killed) and their four facilitators who have been arrested came from Afghanistan and were in communication with their sponsors in Afghanistan. It has also been established that RAW in league with Afghan NDS masterminded the attack and the attackers were trained and briefed in Jalalabad and Rs 30 crores were spent on this operation.
TTP’s leader Umar Mansoor based in Kunar has declared that many more attacks on educational institutes will be launched. He had also initiated gruesome attack on Army Public School Peshawar on December 16, 2014.
The first fallout effect of the Pathankot incident is the postponement of talks without giving fresh date.
It seems India is making the resumption of talks conditional to progress shown by Pakistan as had been the case after Mumbai attacks. Coming weeks will show whether Indian leadership opts for sanity by living and letting others to live or insanity.
The writer is a retired Brig, defence analyst, columnist, author of five books, Director Measac Research Center, Director Board of Governors Thinkers Forum Pakistan; and takes part in TV talk shows and delivers lectures. He can be reached at [email protected]