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.
Dave, you wrote in 2007:
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?
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.
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.
An essential backgrounder from Arundhati Roy.
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?
They kept the lines supplying our troops in Afghanistan open.