Double-Talk from Islamabad

Apparently the troops Pakistan has transferred from the border with Afghanistan to the border with India are just going there for a nice Christmas holiday:

ISLAMABAD (AFP) — Pakistan again said on Saturday that it did not want war with India, as the international community tried to defuse tensions between the nuclear-armed neighbours after Islamabad moved troops to the border.

The White House called for calm amid a flurry of diplomatic activity in both Islamabad and New Delhi aimed at easing already badly strained ties, one month after the Mumbai attacks, which India has blamed on Pakistan-based militants.

“We have lost our people — we do not talk about war, we do not talk about vengeance,” Pakistani President Asif Ali Zardari said in a speech on the first anniversary of the assassination of his wife, former premier Benazir Bhutto.

“Dialogue is our biggest arsenal,” he told ministers and lawmakers in remarks broadcast live on state television, saying negotiations were “the solution to the problem of the region.”

But Zardari did warn India not to push Islamabad too hard for action against extremist organisations like Lashkar-e-Taiba, the group New Delhi says masterminded the Mumbai attacks, which left 172 people dead including nine of the 10 gunmen.

“We have non-state actors. Yes, they are forcing an agenda on us,” the Pakistani leader said

or, perhaps. they’re just going there for the waters.

You know when you’ve got enough light to read by when you’ve turned on enough lights that you can read. You know that you’ve cleared your front walk of ice sufficiently when you don’t fall down when you step outside your door. When “non-state actors” are able to force an agenda on you, you haven’t taken adequate action against them.

In my commentary in the aftermath of the attacks in Mumbai last month I’ve tried to hew as closely to the known facts as possible. I’ve tried to give Pakistan the benefit of the doubt whenever possible without dismissing India unduly. Ideally, I don’t think that I (or the U. S.) should take either side in the controversies between India and Pakistan.

But eventually Islamabad must stop coddling the “non-state actors” it’s supported over the years if it’s to be more than a nominal government. Islamabad’s unofficial policy of supporting jihadis in order to appease political forces within Pakistan is rendering its official policies of favoring a stable, peaceful Afghanistan and an improved relationship with India ineffective.

If Pakistan and India go to war, nobody benefits. It’s time to stop the double-talk.

For a backgrounder on the relationship between Pakistani intelligence, the I. S. I., and terrorism see here at the Council for Foreign Relations.

FILED UNDER: Terrorism, Uncategorized, , , , , , , ,
Dave Schuler
About Dave Schuler
Over the years Dave Schuler has worked as a martial arts instructor, a handyman, a musician, a cook, and a translator. He's owned his own company for the last thirty years and has a post-graduate degree in his field. He comes from a family of politicians, teachers, and vaudeville entertainers. All-in-all a pretty good preparation for blogging. He has contributed to OTB since November 2006 but mostly writes at his own blog, The Glittering Eye, which he started in March 2004.


  1. Cernig says:

    Dave, you wrote in 2007:

    So I think it’s prudent that, rather than risking a nuclear World War III by bombing a few tents in the wilds of Waziristan, we stay our hand unless we become sufficiently unhappy with Pakistan that we’re willing to destroy the country (we should communicate that publicly and in no uncertain terms to Pakistan).

    Given the events of today India may be willing to take care of that for us at some point. Once again in my view that’s our real recourse in dealing with situations like those in Pakistan: rather than constantly being the big dog we should be encouraging regional powers to take a more active role in bolstering regional security within their regions. But that’s a rather different posture for us than has been held for the last 25 years or so.

    Have you changed that position – that India should be the lead regional power in dealing with Pakistan’s complicity in terrorism as a proxy force – since you originally wrote that, especially now that a war seems a wee bit closer than it did then? If so, I’d agree with you. India has a lot of legitimate beefs with Pakistan’s proxy policy but it isn’t always a rational actor in response as partisan interpretations of history keep getting in the way. (In much the same way as the US is with Iran, imho).

    Still, I agree regional powers should be the way to go – but I would say a consortium of such powers rather than a single, heavily involved, nation. I note that the Chinese are trying to ratchet down the escalating rhetoric from both sides too – particularly useful as they’re more of a military ally of Pakistan’s than the US will ever manage to be. The Iranians – who are India’s trade route into Afghanistan – could also have a useful role to play if the US would let them. Isn’t it a pity that Bush told them to f-off back in 2003?

    Regards, C

  2. Dave Schuler says:

    I see a difference between weighing in on India’s side and acknowledging the inevitable in South Asia. The inevitable is that India is the big dog.

    I think we’d be prudent to cultivate good relations with the regional big dogs and rely on them a little more. I think it’s less prudent to make enemies by getting in the middle of things.

  3. caj says:

    Hope we aren’t going to weigh in on this as well, aren’t we involved in enough wars already???
    All this pandering to one side or the other of these conflicts only gets us embroiled in unnecessary involvement I feel.

  4. Cernig says:


    An essential backgrounder from Arundhati Roy.

    Almost always, when these stories unspool, they reveal a complicated global network of foot soldiers, trainers, recruiters, middlemen, and undercover intelligence and counter-intelligence operatives working not just on both sides of the India-Pakistan border, but in several countries simultaneously.

    In today’s world, trying to pin down the provenance of a terrorist strike and isolate it within the borders of a single nation state, is very much like trying to pin down the provenance of corporate money. It’s almost impossible.

    In circumstances like these, air strikes to “take out” terrorist camps may take out the camps, but certainly will not “take out” the terrorists. And neither will war.

    Also, in our bid for the moral high ground, let’s try not to forget that the Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam, the LTTE of neighboring Sri Lanka, one of the world’s most deadly terrorist groups, were trained by the Indian Army.

    Regards, C

  5. steve says:

    In theory we should have some leverage with both India and pakistan. What are we doing with that? In particular, what do we have to show for the billions we gave Pakistan over the last few years?


  6. Dave Schuler says:

    They kept the lines supplying our troops in Afghanistan open.