Thursday, September 22, 2011

26/11 versus Samjhauta: One does not justify other

26/11 versus Samjhauta: One does not justify other
16 Jan 2011
The Asian Age

By Ajit Doval
The killing of Salman Taseer, Governor of Punjab in Pakistan, is not unique but highly significant. Important public figures have been assassinated, both in Pakistan and outside, in the past and their voices silenced. The event — more importantly its aftermath — is however, important for making glaringly visible the trajectory of Pakistan that could have far reaching implications for regional and global security.
The muted response of frightened political leaders, the clergy’s refusal to perform his last rites, people honouring the assassin as a national hero and security agencies looking the other way to suggestions of sanitising their own house by purging undesirables are indicative of the dangerous precipice where Pakistan is standing today and the uncertain future it is heading for.
It points to the emergence of a nuclearised state heading for anarchy where government is fast losing control, civil society is partly seized and partly stunned to silence by violent armed groups, there is absence of any ideological or political thought-stream to counter Islamic radicalism and political parties are lacking both the will and the organisation to stand up to the Islamists. More sinister, the army which is in the driving seat, increasingly appears to be lacking both the capacity and intent to counter the jehadis — selectively calibrating their response on the basis of their targets, region, affiliations and agenda of terrorist groups.
Pakistan for long has been a source of serious security concern for India but what is discernible now is qualitatively different and much more dreadful. Pakistan, in India's security calculus has presented three sets of threats,. The first emanated from Pakistan's military posturing, exacerbated by army occupying a lead role in managing affairs of the state, particularly when they relate to India. Their compulsive hostility led to four military engagements, the last being their intrusion in Kargil. Aggressive posturing also manifested in Pakistan weaponising itself beyond its legitimate security needs, its pursuing India-specific nuclear and missile programmes, its heavy defence acquisitions on the pretext of fighting terrorism.
The second set of anti-India actions can be grouped as strategico-political initiatives. Starting from their joining military alliances like CENTO and Baghdad pact in the 50s it includes their recent mechanisations to exclude India from Afghanistan, becoming a willing proxy of China aimed at strategic encirclement of India.
The third set of threats pertained to its use of covert action against the asymmetric adversary that it could not take on militarily. These covert actions included sponsoring and supporting terrorism, insurgencies, acts of sabotage and subversion. The intelligence offensive in Kashmir and violence perpetrated in different parts of the country to bleed India were part of this grand strategy. For their covert actions in India and Afghanistan, they extensively used multiple radical Islamic groups that have now started threatening the very existence of Pakistan; a collateral cost that Pakistan’s strategists failed to factor in.
Pakistan is now faced with a situation where its civil society is crumbling and wilting under pressure of armed groups of various hues.
Numerical majority of religious moderates is irrelevant in this game whose outcome will now be determined by power of the guns and their unpredictable directions. The army, which is in the driving seat, suffers from three major infirmities. Firstly, it is still playing a duplicitous game vis-a-vis jehadis - fighting a few and appeasing the rest; calibrated selectivism is keeping jehadi culture alive, providing it legitimacy, respectability and new converts. The second problem is the fast eroding will within the Army to take on the jehadis.
On the political front, no political party has either the will or the capacity to mobilise the public to take on the radicals, their drawing-room denunciations notwithstanding. Political, sectarian and religious conflicts, compounded by serious economic crisis, are taking Pakistan to an uncertain future, possibly a civil war. The nation while faced with multiple conflicts — like battle lines drawn between moderates and Islamic hardliners; ethnic unrest among Pashtuns, Sindhis, Mohajirs, Baluch, Saraikis, etc; conflict between Deobandi and Barelvis; violence between Shias and Sunnis, etc, is still obsessed with India. It is still infiltrating terrorists in Kashmir, keeping the terrorist infrastructure intact and reluctant to take action against perpetrators of Mumbai attacks.
There is, however, a subtle shift. In the past people calling the shots though strongly anti-India belonged to elite middle class and not Islamic fanatics. They used Islam and the jehadis as expendable commodities to subserve their purpose, keeping full strategic and tactical control over their organisations, resources, leaders and operations. This phenomenon now appears to be reversed. Slowly but surely the radicals are acquiring the critical mass to dictate the terms and forcing the State to carry out its diktats. If the Islamists want government of Pakistan to refrain from taking any action against perpetrators of 26/11 Mumbai attacks, the government feels compelled to comply.
If Lashkar-e-Tayyaba wants the Pakistan government to defend Hafiz Sayeed in a US court the government of Pakistan finds it difficult to ignore. The strings of power, directly or through their proxies,
slipping into the hands of Islamic radicals in this nuclear state is now the real danger. The killing of Salman Taseer is indicative of this change.
(The author is a former IB chief and director, Vivekananda International Foundation, New Delhi)


Unknown said...

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