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Home > India > News > Columnists > B Raman

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Pakistan: Thus far and no further

December 05, 2008

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You cannot convince somebody, who does not want to be convinced, who is not prepared to be convinced.

That has been our experience since 1981 when Pakistan started using terrorism as a weapon to keep India bleeding and to weaken it, in the hope that, by doing so, it will be able to force India to agree to a change in the status quo in Jammu & Kashmir.

The recovery by the Dubai authorities in 1983 of a revolver from a Khalistani hijacker which German authorities certified in writing was from a consignment sold to the Pakistan Army [Images]; the recovery from the perpetrators of the March, 1993, blasts of hand-grenades which Austrian experts certified in writing had been manufactured in Pakistan with technology and equipment sold by Austria to the Army-run Pakistan ordnance factories; the recovery from them of a chemical timer which the US certified in an unsigned note was part of a consignment supplied by the US to Pakistan in the 1980s and more and more and more.

The more the evidence we collected, the stronger the rejection -- particularly from the US. Not sufficient enough. Does not directly implicate the government of Pakistan. That was the stock reply we received repeatedly.

The US was interested only in protecting the lives and property of its citizens and in preventing another 9/11 in the US homeland from Pakistani territory. So long as Pakistan was co-operating with the US in action against al Qaeda, the US closed its eyes and continues to close its eyes to Pakistani support for acts of jihadi terrorism directed against India.

One would have expected that the US attitude after the Mumbai terrorist strikes would have been different because the terrorists of the Pakistan government-raised and backed Lashkar-e-Tayiba killed not only about 160 Indians, but also 25 foreigners -- six of them Israelis and another six Americans.

The Jewish civilians killed by the terrorists in the Nariman House were subjected to brutalities the like of which the world has not seen since the brutalities inflicted on the Jewish people by the Nazis during the Second World War.

And yet, the attitude of the US and other Western countries has been the same as it has always been. Where is the evidence, we are asked.

What evidence?

Evidence of the death of 160 Indians?

Evidence of the death of six Americans?

Evidence of the death of six Israelis?

Evidence of the brutalities inflicted by the terrorists on the Jewish people?

Is not the capture by the public of one of the perpetrators, a Pakistani national, who has confessed that he is from Pakistan and that he belonged to the Lashkar-e-Tayiba and that the entire operation was mounted by the LeT evidence enough?

Are not the intercepted telephone conversations between the perpetrators and their handlers in Pakistan evidence enough?

Are not the movement and activities of Professor Hafiz Mohammad Sayeed, the amir of the Jamaat-ud-Dawa, the political wing of the LET, in Pakistan as reported in the Pakistani media and in its own web site evidence enough?

Is not the continued existence of the training camps of the LET in Pakistani territory, including at Muridke, its headquarters near Lahore [Images], evidence enough?

Is not the refusal of the Pakistan government -- whether of Pervez Musharraf [Images] or Asif Ali Zardari [Images] -- to arrest the operatives of the LeT and close their camps despite an ostensible ban on it evidence enough?

What more evidence do the Americans want?

What evidence did they have when Ronald Reagan ordered the bombing of Libya in 1986 after an explosion in a West Berlin discotheque, which killed some Americans?

What evidence did they have before Bill Clinton [Images] ordered the Cruise missile attacks on jihadi training camps in Afghan territory in August, 1998?

What evidence did they have against al Qaeda and the Taliban [Images] before they bombed Afghanistan from October 7, 2001?

What evidence did they have against the Saddam Hussain government before they invaded and occupied Iraq in 2003?

In every case affecting American nationals and interests, they bombed and then collected evidence. They did not wait till they had collected all the evidence possible before they bombed.

They did not act on the basis of evidence accepted by the international community. They acted on the basis of their conviction as to where from the attacks on Americans came.

Their actions were motivated by the need to show that nobody can play with American lives and get away with it.

We should stop demeaning ourselves as a nation by going to the Americans and others with evidence. I am shocked by suggestions that we should produce the evidence before the UN Security Council. I cannot think of a more naive idea. It is as stupid as the advice given by the British to Jawaharlal Nehru to take the Kashmir issue to the UN Security Council with a promise that it would do justice by India.

The time for action against Pakistan has come. Action based on our conviction that the terrorists came from a Pakistani terrorist organisation, which enjoys the patronage of Pakistan's Inter-Services Intelligence.

The objective of the action should be to force Pakistan to act effectively against the LeT and its terrorist infrastructure. It should also be to mount a no-holds barred covert operation against the LeT through our own resources and methods.

Two steps the Government can take immediately:

�  STEP No.1: Downgrade the diplomatic relations with Pakistan, terminate all economic relations including bilateral trade and communication links, suspend the confidence-building measures and the so-called peace process, terminate the talks on the gas pipeline from Iran through Pakistan and withdraw from the so-called joint counter-terrorism mechanism, which has been a farce forced on Prime Minister Dr Manmohan Singh [Images] by the US. Announce that these actions will remain in force till Pakistan acts against the LeT and its terrorist leaders and infrastructure and hands over to India the terrorists wanted for trial in India.

�  STEP No. 2: Revive immediately the covert action capability of the Research and Analysis Wing, which was wound up by Inder Gujral, when he was the prime minister in 1997, and empower it to impose prohibitive costs on Pakistan till it stops using jihadi terrorism against India. The RAW imposed heavy costs on Pakistan for supporting the Khalistanis and should be able to do so now for its support to the LET and other jihadi terrorist organisations.

If step 2 has to be effective, there is an urgent need for a revamping of RAW. The organisation has been in a bad state of affairs with low staff morale, factionalism and internal bickering. Unfortunately, at this critical time in the nation's history, the RAW has no covert action specialists at the top of its pyramid. Get a suitable officer from the IB or the army. If necessary, make him the head of the organisation.

This is not the time for a direct military confrontation with Pakistan. It could prove counter-productive. It would enable the Pakistan Army to divert its troops from the Pashtun tribal belt to the Indian border and could unite the various jihadi organisations against India.

A divided Pakistan, a bleeding Pakistan, a Pakistan ever on the verge of collapse without actually collapsing -- that should be our objective till it stops using terrorism against India.

We should be realistic enough to anticipate that Pakistan will step up terrorism in Indian territory if we adopt such a policy. This should not deter us from embarking on this policy. The policy of active defence against Pakistan should be accompanied by time-bound action to strengthen our counter-terrorism capability at home.


B Raman



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