The economy is the soft-underbelly of Pakistan. A weak economy has not prevented Pakistan from spending more on its defence forces—about a third of the nation’s income goes to buy new arms and to maintain a huge army. The ‘Naya’ Pakistan continues with illusions of fighting terror….writes Rifan Ahmed Khan
Spurred by the possibility of being black listed by the Paris-based Financial Action Task Force, (FATF), Pakistan is detaining terrorist leaders and is taking over their offices with a lot of fanfare; it is also freezing bank accounts of terror groups. India dubs this all as a stunt to creating the illusion of fighting terror to fool the Americans and the world alike. But the international audience appear to be impressed with the “promises”of “Naya” (new) Pakistan on uprooting terror.
Undeniably an element of urgency is visible in the Pakistani action against Jaish-e-Muhammad (JeM) of Maulana Masood Azhar. It is a sequel to India’s airstrike at a JeM terror camp at Balakot, deep inside Pakistan on 26 February. And the global condemnation of JeM’s terrorist attack at Pulwama in Kashmir on 14 February.
Well, Pakistan has been claiming that no harm was caused to the JeM camp by the Indian airstrike. This could be Pakistan’s way of inviting India to show more ‘dare’. That does not support the self-proclaimed ‘peaceful’ intentions of the land of the pure, as Pakistan styles itself.
In the battle of perception about what happened at Balakot, Pakistan might have succeeded in creating doubts about the Indian airstrike fully achieving its aim of annihilating the JeM terror camp. But India will draw more than a mere consolation from the fact that the IAF airstrike faced no criticism at all from Pakistan’s friends and patrons. Even the ‘iron brother’, China, did not speak against the airstrike. What is more, Beijing has since (in a white paper titled “The Fight against Terrorism and Extremism and Human Rights Protection in Xinjiang”) termed the 28/11 Mumbai mayhem perpetrated by Muridke (Lahore) -based Lashkar-e-Taiba (LeT) of dreaded Hafeez Saeed as one of the most notorious terrorist attacks.
It may not be wrong to say that the fallout of the Balakot airstrike churned up domestic politics in India and it is something to be expected in a democracy. There is another flip-side. It is the pointed references made by Western media and governments to the dangers of a nuclear clash. What it means is that while India thinks it has called off Pakistan’s nuclear bluff,India has not been able to convey this message to the international community, which is still not willing to give up its long entrenched fear of a nuclear holocaust in the event of a military retaliatory action against Pakistan by India.
For years Pakistan hasbeen threatening to use its nuclear weapons against India to frighten India as well as the West.Pakistan believes that its nuclear blackmail is the surest way toinvolve ‘outside’ parties in its disputes with India. Despite developing a nuclear programme well ahead of Pakistan, India had never threatened to use nuclear arms against Pakistan, no matter how grave the provocation. India’s nuclear programme was (and is) not Pakistan centric but a part of its efforts to utilize nuclear energy for peaceful purposes.
Western leaders and the media fail to emphasize that Pakistan uses the N word with casual ease. Pakistan ought to have been stopped at the initial stages for building its nuclear arsenal with stolen European designs, Chinese technical and material helpunder the watch of a benign ‘ally’, the US. The nuclear grandstanding of Pakistan has not been condemned sufficiently hard by the elements which fear nuclear war in the sub-continent.
The military establishment in Pakistan, the real rulers, thrives on a diet of incorrigible hate for India. This is not going to change in the near future. India has to step up multi-pronged efforts to inflict constant ‘pain’ on Pakistan. Military action can be only one part of it. Pakistan cannot be allowed to sell its misleading narrative to the world because the country imagines it is coming out of the dog house where it was confined after 9/11. Pakistan deserves global isolation for indulging in loose talk about using nuclear arms against India and offering ‘peace’ in the same breath.
The economy is the soft-underbelly of Pakistan. A weak economy has not prevented Pakistan from spending more on its defence forces—about a third of the nation’s income goes to buy new arms and to maintain a huge army. Nor has it stood in the way of terror financing or terror export as the state policy. The Army’s brains-trust, Inter-Services Intelligence, (ISI), has been training and arming terrorists of different hues to further Pakistan’s goals in India and Afghanistan. Pakistan will not dismantle its terror factories as long as it believes in remaining hostile to India. It will be equally wrong to believe that the anti-Afghan terror infrastructure inside Pakistan will be wound up should the pro-Pakistan Taliban find itself in power in Kabul.
Pakistan senses trouble at the FATF because of India’s presence at the forum. It has already started throwing tantrums but the Paris based agency should act firmly and make Pakistan to fall in – line with the global practices.
The United States will be on test in the days ahead with the Doha round of talks with the Taliban preparing the ground for a new Afghan deal – Afghanistan for Taliban in return for Pakistan’s support to the exit of NATO and American forces from the war-ravaged country. President Donald Trump knows well how duplicitous Pakistan has been in dealing with terror that exists on its soil. On the one hand Pakistan says the Taliban is independent of its control and on the other it tells the US that it alone can facilitate talks with the Taliban. This Pakistan-speak is creating the illusion of fighting terror to fool the Americans and the world alike. Caution and double check should, therefore, be American forte in its dealings with Islamabad- Rawalpindi combine and its public mask cricketer-playboy turned politician Imran Khan.