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Home > News > Columnists > Vijay Dandapani

Pakistan will continue with the mischief

May 18, 2006

Pakistan's categorisation as a failed State by Foreign Policy magazine has predictably drawn the ire of most Pakistanis. Equally, many Indians have reacted with (mostly silent) glee best described by the German word schadenfreude.

The failed State label has been bandied for Pakistan before, most recently in February of last year by US intelligence agencies which predicted a Yugoslavia-like outcome for Pakistan. Even earlier, others like author Mary Ann Weaver in her book Pakistan implied as much.

While both the Indian and Pakistani reactions tend to be in the abstract, if visceral, realm, the implications for Pakistan's neighbours are real.

For Afghanistan's fledgling democratic government, stated to be at a tipping point, Pakistan's near complete lack of State control over Taliban terrorist movements across the Pashtun areas could eventually result in the fall of the Hamid Karzai-led government.

For India, the recent grisly murder of its national by terrorists only underscores its relative impotence on the security front, an area that cannot be ignored given the enormous investment of men and materiel in Afghanistan.

Some of the foregoing security issues were reviewed recently by Lieutenant General Karl Eikenberry, commander of US forces in Afghanistan. The general has been in the news a lot lately with both the Washington Post and the New York Times featuring extensive coverage of his outreach in the many troubled parts of Afghanistan.

Speaking at the Asia Society in New York in early May, he gave a mildly optimistic assessment of the situation in that country. While his remarks in New York cannot be quoted due to the rules of the Asia Society, much of what he said has appeared in the press elsewhere and ought to be of immense interest to India.

Essentially, the general's optimism is predicated on a single event -- the establishment of peaceful ties between Pakistan and Afghanistan. If history were a guide that outcome is not something to bet on.

The US has long since taken the official position that both Afghanistan and Pakistan are allies in the war against the murderous Taliban and Al Qaeda terrorists. But a parsing of US statements on Afghanistan at nearly all levels of the administrations shows considerable anxiety on their (particularly the army) part.

Last month, Eikenberry and his counterparts from Afghanistan and Pakistan, General Bismullah Khan and Lieutenant General Ahsan Hyat respectively, met for the third time in Rawalpindi where the usual platitudes of more troops and coordinated action were mouthed. But the sub-text was that nothing tangible was being done to stem the flow of terrorists across the Durand line.

Unfortunately for the Pakistanis, the Kashmir cop-out of claiming innocence due to a massive army on the other side of the border is not an option; the Afghan army, such as it is, is about as likely to be seen at the border as the Bamiyan Buddhas.

The Afghan government, beginning with President Karzai, has frequently indulged in criticism, at times bordering on the bare-knuckle variety, of their Pakistani counterparts. While that is unsurprising given the history, the US has been more vocal publicly, if anonymously, lately about their forces coming under fire. Along those lines the latest issue of the US Army Times carries a report of Eikenberry's boss, General John Abizaid visiting Islamabad on what is being billed as a routine visit.

While the US appears to continue to express its frustration with the Pakistani government behind closed doors, visits to Pakistan by prominent US personalities can scarcely be termed routine, particularly when they involve meetings with General Musharraf.

Unfortunately for India, all the unwelcome attention Pakistan is getting from the US has done nothing to stem the tide of terrorists and terrorism in Kashmir. Despite claiming to have 80,000 troops massed on the Afghan frontier and several thousands engaged in a vicious campaign in Balochistan, Pakistan's army and its forever scheming ISI seem determined to continue with their mischief on all fronts with the clear intention of outlasting the current spotlight. As one Taliban leader caught by the US recently near the Afghan-Pakistan border reportedly remarked to his US captors 'you may have the watch but we have the time.'

The last statement sums up Pakistan's decades long approach with regard to India and Kashmir. Any peace initiatives by India, such as vacating the Siachen glacier, while Pakistan continues to be ruled by the military is sure to be rewarded with treachery. India's post-independent history is replete with examples. India could do worse than emulate the captured Taliban leader's approach in its dealings with Pakistan's present leadership.


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Number of User Comments: 6




Sub: Do not ignore realities now.

Ground reality is now Pakistan under Musharraf's versatile abilities is indispensible for USA in its war against terrorizam, is all weathered friend of China and ...


Posted by Bagmar Satish C. A.





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Pakisthan does not have to do anything. we have our own home grown Arjun singhs and VP singhs to do pakisthan's bidding. God save India ...


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Sub: Pakisthan does not need . . .

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Posted by money





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Pakistan's present leadership is rulling only on the base of nock of gun & keeping a gun on the solder of Talebin. It has been ...


Posted by Datta K Yadav





Sub: Sri Dandapani 's Remarks on Paki- Taliban Mischief

Pkl. Friday, the 19th MAY,2006. sURELY SRI v. DANDAPANI RIGHTLY GUESSES the inner reasoning of the Paki-Taliban Axis who wish to continue the gore and ...


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