Washington: Is India slowly replacing the United States in the dysfunctional relationship with Pakistan where it humours the spoilt child with rewards without demanding accountability for bad behaviour? Ironically, just when Washington and other capitals are finally tightening the screws on Islamabad, New Delhi is finding excess generosity in its heart.
In the wake of what should now be termed an extremely successful visit — from Pakistan’s point of view — by Foreign Secretary Jalil Abbas Jilani, India will resume cricketing ties and may lift the ban on Pakistani television channels. Both significant concessions and both made in the absence of any tangible positive moves from Islamabad.
This when Jilani and subsequently Pakistan’s ambassador to India, Salman Bashir, basically threw mud in India’s face and rubbished the evidence of ISI’s involvement in the 2008 Mumbai attacks. Bashir said on Karan Thapar’s show that it was “unbelievable” and “incredible” for India to say that Pakistani state agencies were involved in the attacks when Pakistani military’s headquarters and ISI offices have been attacked by terrorists.
I don’t see why both can’t be true or how one precludes the other. But logic clearly hasn’t been Pakistan’s strongest suit. After all, it has been working steadily towards its own destruction.
Pakistani diplomats are said to be skilled at their craft and they certainly are. For ten years they took billions of dollars in American money while their terrorist proxies killed American soldiers. But why is India falling into the trap it has clearly seen others dive in over decades?
By all means, give when you get something in return. Strengthen democratic forces within Pakistan but not by unilateral disarmament. The proxy war against India hasn’t been called off — not a single meaningful gesture has been made to show the official mindset has changed. The atmosphere may have improved around the edges but a nation’s business can’t be conducted on the basis of atmospherics.
The last round of excitement in Indo-Pak saga was generated by Pakistan’s supposed granting of Most Favoured Nation status to India, 16 years too late but never mind. The initial announcement came in November last year but it has remained an announcement so far.
Now India is willing to resume cricketing ties, surely the mother of all excitement. Remember 2005 when hundreds of Pakistani fans came across the border and partook of the joy that only an India-Pakistan match can generate? Here is a grim detail — among the fans were 14 people who never went back to Pakistan and were never found. They are probably scouting sites, recruiting people, creating cells and blending in.
Sajid Mir, a key planner of the Mumbai attacks, and one Major Abdur Rehman apparently came as innocent cricket fans in 2005 and went around scoping Delhi and Mumbai for nearly two weeks, according to Syed Zabiuddin Ansari alias Abu Jundal, one of the plotters of Mumbai who is being interrogated by India after his extradition from Saudi Arabia. This is a year before David Headley began making his trips to India. Can Indian officials ensure the next batch of attackers doesn’t sneak in as we begin the new round of cricket diplomacy?
Now for the other concession — not yet made but being looked at favourably by the Indian government. Jilani seems to have successfully argued that India should remove its ban on PTV and private channels. Alas, this is an idea whose time has not yet come. The demand from Pakistan has been on the table for several years but in the past wiser counsel prevailed.
So what makes Indian policy makers suddenly so sanguine about hate speech and anti-India propaganda that are regular fare on some Pakistani channels? Anyone who has watched Mubashir Luqman or Zaid Hamid talk casually about annihilating India with nuclear weapons (and Israel and the US) would know what I am referring to. Hamid’s solution to all Indo-Pak problems is to take over India with his “lashkars” and create one large country called Pakistan. Here are a couple of samples:
Do we really need this kind of onslaught? Do we really need to unleash Hafiz Saeed, a certified terrorist leader who has eased himself into Pakistan’s political discourse while the generals have watched, into millions of Indian homes? That too legitimately by signing an agreement? This will be a confidence building measure — but only for Pakistan.
In the past, district commissioner of Jammu has ordered cable operators to stop distributing Pakistani channels, including ARY and Geo, because of the intense anti-India propaganda. In Punjab, people in border villages have alerted the Indian army and visiting reporters about demonisation of India on PTV, a channel they watched because the Doordarshan signal was too weak.
May be there is some deep “Chanakya neeti” involved in the latest concessions or just latent idealism. I, for one, don’t get it. For the record, I want good relations with Pakistan but as Bashir said: It takes two to tango. Sadly, Pakistan’s tango is with terrorism. And the music there has died.
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