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'Pak meets criteria to be called state that sponsors terror'

Last updated on: December 2, 2011 14:45 IST

'Pak meets criteria to be called state that sponsors terror'

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Aziz Haniffa in Washington DC

If there is another Mumbai-like attack; US should not constrain India. India and Pakistan should simply deal with it bilaterally, without US pressure, says South Asia expert Professor C Christine Fair.

Aziz Haniffa reports from Washinton, DC..

One thing you've got to hand it to noted South Asia expert Professor C Christine Fair -- at whatever forum or seminar she appears there's never a dull moment.

She's provocative, salty, magnanimous with her use of four-letter obscenities and easily lapses into Urdu with perhaps her nose-stud giving her an air of authenticity.

Thus, her appearance at the American Enterprise Institute forum on Military Reform in Pakistan, was no different from the non-stop entertainment she has provided at several recent such forums. But although she may make other fastidious South Asians squirm, there's no discounting her because there's no one who's done the kind of extensive field research into the terrorist groups in Pakistan and delved into the Inter Services Intelligence as she has.

After all, Assistant Secretary of State for South Asian Affairs Robert Blake, wanted her to be his deputy assistant secretary in his bureau and it was Fair who declined. Fair, instead, opted for an academic career as an assistant professor at Georgetown University and more-so, realising that she would be in a straitjacket and totally uncharacteristic as a diplomat, the job ultimately went to Alyssa Ayres.

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Image: Taliban fighters pose with weapons as they sit in their compound at an undisclosed location in southern Afghanistan

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'Haqqani network needs military therapy'

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During the interaction that followed the opening salvos by panelists, Fair responding to the question as to why the US State Department has not designated Jalaludin Haqqani -- the founder of the Haqqani network, which Admiral Mike Mullen, chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, had said was the leading terrorist outfit that kills American troops and is a veritable arm of the ISI, as a terrorist -- was at her inimitable best.

"Our approach is cerebral anally inverted," she said. "I think why the old man Jalaludin Haqqani is not designated is because there is still this bizarre fantasy of negotiating with him. This bizarre fantasy of negotiating with Haqqani is really to placate Pakistan."

When someone reminded her if she could have said the same thing at Rand Corporation -- regarded as the Pentagon's own think tank -- where Fair was its senior political scientist, she shot back, "I am not at Rand anymore," and went into a giggly fit, adding, "You can't say that at Rand -- their PR person would tackle me."

Fair said, "No one has any illusions here what Pakistan wants. Its Jurassic goons have various positions of control of Afghanistan -- at the federal as well as the provincial levels."

She argued that Haqqani does not "deliver anything politically. His vote capture is not terribly impressive. I don't see what having Haqqani at the table brings other than some fanciful notion that Pakistan will be less sanguinary in its efforts to reconstruct Afghanistan. The only thing that we should be doing with the Haqqani network is trying to exercise military therapy."

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Image: Jalaluddin Haqqani, founder of the Haqqani network, points to a map of Afghanistan during a visit to Islamabad.
Photographs: Reuters
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'No reason to give Pakistan strategic assets'

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Fair also said that it was highly exaggerated that China would always come to Pakistan's aid whenever it falls out with its other so-called allies like the US. She ridiculed Islamabad's constant refrain that Beijing was Pakistan's all-weather friend.

"Pakistan likes to say that it is the condom we use to screw Afghanistan, as much as it is the condom China uses to screw India," she said.

But Fair argued, "China never supported Pakistan in any war (with India) -- not in 1965, 1971, not in 1999. It didn't bale it out in the 2009 fiscal crisis, during Kargil."

She said that Beijing, "pretty much took the line as United States in India," and added, "China has a lot of issues with Pakistan in terms of its own Islamist militants."

Fair said, "We should consider putting Pakistan on a list of states that support terrorism. Again, if I go back and look at the criterion that merits being designated as such, then Pakistan certainly fits all those criteria."

She asserted that the kind of security assistance that US gives Pakistan should be devoid of all of strategic partnership. "They don't want a strategic partnership -- what they want is a transactional relationship. We have failed to get what we paid for," Fair said.

Fair said that the kind of US assistance that should be provided to Pakistan "should be like other countries -- police training, counter-insurgency training. There is no reason to be giving them strategic assets."

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'Pak has not really been punished for their support of terrorism'

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Fair argued that "Pakistan has really one strategy, which is, to hide under the nuclear umbrella. It continues to proliferate for two reasons. One, to seem increasingly irrational, and so it's basically the instability paradox trade-off to basically intimidate India, to ensure that India cannot ever be confident of having escalation doctrines."

"It's also to keep us (the US) in Pakistan," she said. "The fact that it is proliferating tactical nuclear weapons should really raise some obvious questions."

However, Fair argued that she did not believe that "Pakistan is an irrational possessor of nuclear weapons. Pakistan fully understands that should it do something provocative," and there's a nuclear conflict, "India will survive, Pakistan simply won't."

Fair asserted that Pakistan has not really been punished for their support of terrorism under the nuclear umbrella.

Fair suggested that "if in fact, there is another Mumbai-like attack; the United States should not be in there constraining India. India and Pakistan should simply deal with it completely, bilaterally, without US pressure."

"And if it does come to an escalation," she added, "that's Pakistan's problem, because there will come a time when India is not going to be in a position to where it is today -- right now it is difficult to argue that a decisive war is possible over the duration which a war is likely to lead to."

Fair estimated that "India really needs a three-week war for its advantage right now to become effective."

She reiterated her position that if there is an India-Pakistan conflict, Washington should stay out of it, because otherwise, "we actually reward Pakistan by pulling the Indians off of them."

"We need to re-consider that policy," on prevailing on New Delhi to exercise restraint, she said.


Image: A burning Taj Mahal hotel in Mumbai during the 26/11 terror attacks
Photographs: Reuters
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