Waiting for action

Waiting for action

The country has relived the horror of 26/11 a full year after the event, vainly waiting for Pakistan to respond with more than empty words, counter- accusations and injured innocence. Seven dossiers later, Pakistan is still brazenly waiting for more evidence while prime movers like Hafeez Saeed, the former LeT head and now the chief of the Jamat-ud Dawa, a wolf in lamb’s clothing, walk free.
Meanwhile it faces punishment in the Talibanised inferno of its own creation. It is the innocent who bleed while the ideologues, military and hapless civil-political regime they manipulate watch and wait for something to turn up. 

Far from fighting the so-called war on terror, Pakistan is an epitome of world terror, having nurtured this scourge over the years, earlier, with American assistance and silent approbation to fine tune it into an instrument of state policy under the protection of its own nuclear umbrella, which too it was allowed and assisted to create by China and America for short-term collateral gains unmindful of huge future collateral damage from which India has surely been the worst affected. 

Period of incoherence
Hillary Clinton formally described this as a period of incoherence in America’s AfPak policy. This incoherence clearly remains as General Stanley MacCrystal, the US commander in Afghanistan, has high praise for Indian humanitarian assistance to that devastated country and yet asks Delhi to be solicitous of Pakistan’s sensitivities even as Washington periodically arraigns Pakistan for thwarting, if not aiding, the Taliban in Afghanistan.

The Pakistan calculation is that sooner or later, the Americans will tire of Afghanistan and once again walk away after proclaiming some kind of victory, leaving the field clear for it to use that unhappy land as a strategic asset and the Taliban as its sub rosa strike force in pursuit of its eastern ambitions.  
Obama has now joined with Hu Jintao, the Chinese Premier, to call for “more stable and peaceful relations in South Asia.” This is a gratuitous barb – coming just as A Q Khan has again reminded the world through the Pakistan media that Beijing assisted Islamabad with enriched uranium and the blueprint of a tested nuclear weapon  in 1982 - notwithstanding the further remark that neither Afghanistan nor Pakistan “can or should be used as bases for terrorism.”

Even as Ajmal Kasab’s trial continues in Mumbai, new evidence keeps surfacing of other sinister players operating out of Pakistan or with Pakistani connections. Headley, an American and Rana, a Canadian, both of Pakistani origin, increasingly appear to have been involved in the Mumbai terror plot or were possibly planning more mischief elsewhere in India. Evidence points to their having been in touch with the same Pakistani handlers as the 26/11 terrorists.

Meanwhile, more arrests have been made in different parts of the country and huge caches of arms found. Much of this evidence might yet be circumstantial but as the dots are joined, the emerging picture suggests that the Pakistani state and not just non-state actors remains active and working to a plan to wage a terrorist jihad in India. 

It might be argued that a distinction must be drawn between Islamabad and rogue elements within the state and genuine non-state actors, former protégés now out of control and creating mayhem within Pakistan itself. Such subtleties provide cold comfort. Even if their background is ignored, the Pakistan state refuses to take on these ideologues and cover organisations. The trial in Rawalpindi of Lakhvi, Zarar Shah and five others for their role in 26/11 inspires little confidence as it proceeds fitfully in camera, with long adjournments under different judges, one of whom recused himself as he was under threat.
Pakistan’s defence
Pakistan’s defence is now offence. The Pakistan Prime Minister, Gilani, farcically asserts he has clear evidence of India’s complicity but will only reveal details ‘at the right time.’ Such humbug fools nobody, not even Pakistanis themselves.  
The problem is that nobody quite knows who is in charge in Pakistan. Not Zardari who has his back to the wall especially after his national reconciliation order indemnity against corruption charges was rescinded. Gilani? The military, with the ISI in tow? Sundry ideologues in cahoots with rogue elements within the civil establishments and military? 

The Americans, hoist with their own petard and afraid that if they push too hard Pakistan might collapse under the weight of its many contradictions, in which scenario desperate men might use or sell nuclear material to dubious elements even if the actual nuclear arsenal can be protected in these circumstances.  
What then should India on the first anniversary of 26/11? Not rant and rage or encourage chauvinist bravado. Nor refuse to engage Pakistan quietly. Merely sitting on its hands is no policy. It must endeavour to strategise to assist incipient civil, democratic forces in Pakistan to rally and build themselves to reclaim the state.   
Pakistan has to find its soul, not in enmity but in friendship with India, ending the trauma of partition and the negativism and hate inherent in its founding philosophy. For its part, India must go forward boldly with a Kashmir settlement, internally certainly and externally if possible on the lines of the Manmohan-Musharraf package of cohabitation between the two parts of J&K, making boundaries (the LOC) irrelevant, but retaining the existing twin sovereignties.