Will India never learn from history and punish Pakistan?
Somehow, our leadership too believe that we have 'limited options' when it comes to dealing with Islamabad.
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Barely a day after India and Pakistan released a joint statement encompassing, among other things, expediting the 26/11 Mumbai attacks trial, we woke up to news of Zaki ur Rehman Lakhvi’s lawyer saying his client won’t give voice samples. These voice samples would be crucial to the ongoing case because the trial court in Pakistan needs to “establish” that the voice recordings given by India as evidence against Lakhvi do indeed have Lakhvi’s voice.
As per Pakistani laws, the consent of the person (whose voice samples have to be taken) is necessary and, by that chink in the law, Lakhvi has so far been evading giving voice samples. This isn’t and in all possibility wouldn’t be the last time when our euphoria over “possibility of peace with Pakistan” has had water poured all over it in a matter of days if not weeks. Conflicting reports seem to be coming on whether the lawyer did actually say this or not.
But it isn’t just about evading giving voice samples.
Pakistan has a history of living in denial. It denied sending Mehsud and Afridi tribals mixed with army regulars to annex Kashmir in 1947. It denies the existence of terrorists on its soil, says it never harboured Dawood Ibrahim, feigns innocence about terrorist training camps, and carries out sham trials of extremists to deflect international pressure of sanctions, only to revert to its revisionist tactics when the pressure eases.
Hussain Haqqani, Pakistan’s former ambassador to United States, writes in his book, Pakistan: Between Mosque and Military, ”Pakistan’s two-track policy - clandestine operations to weaken India while simultaneously appearing to seek a durable peace - remained operational throughout the period Zia-ul-Haq was in power as well as in subsequent years”. Each time India is attacked and it is established beyond doubt that the perpetrators were either directly or indirectly linked to Pakistan, the Pakistan state exercises the clause of plausible deniability saying these are non-state actors and the Pakistani State does not “support” such acts. So we see non-state actors at work in Kashmir, in the attack on Parliament, in the Mumbai blasts, in the Delhi blasts even in Kargil War. After every attack our intelligence agencies and police collect evidence and send dossiers upon dossiers to Pakistan only to be told that the “evidence” is not enough.
In February 2004, General Pervez Musharraf told Pakistan’s newspaper editors in Islamabad, “Pakistan has two vital national interests: Being a nuclear state and the Kashmir cause”. The contagion of hatred towards India isn’t however exclusive to the military establishment. Pakistan’s civilian leadership (no matter how weak and effete it might be) isn’t even marginally inclined towards countering terrorism or having peaceful relationship with India. The two longest serving civilian prime ministers of Pakistan in the recent past, Benazir Bhutto and Nawaz Sharif, have been as venomous in their speeches and inciting groups against India as their military counterparts. Both have allowed terrorist groups to operate openly, collect money and not only profess but propagate their ideology of hate against India. In one of the briefings about Kargil, Nawaz Sharif had asked Musharraf – Kashmir kab dilwava rahe ho? (When will you get us Kashmir?). Who can forget Benazir on PTV during the height of insurgency in 1990 in Kashmir saying - Kashmir ke log ladenge kyunki woh musalman hain, unki raghon main ghaziyon ka khoon hain (Kashmir’s people will fight because they are Muslims, the sons of slayers of infidels).
We have for long known that Pakistan has a quest for what it calls “strategic depth”. It wants its proxies to be prominent decision makers in Kashmir and Afghanistan. The Hurriyat & United Jihad Council do for it in Kashmir what the Taliban does for it in Afghanistan. These “assets” are taken care of and closely watched over. The deviant are punished with death. We have seen how Maulvi Farooq (the then Mirwaiz and present Mirwaiz Omar’s father) and Professor Ghani Lone (Sajjad Lone’s father), not to mention the Hizbul Mujahideen commander Abdul Majeed Dar were killed for falling out of line.
Most in the Pakistani establishment believe that having nuclear weapons adds to its strategic depth. Even a cursory look through the Green Book (Pakistan Army’s internal publication), especially post Kargil War, has innumerable papers on “India’s limited options” and its operational capabilities "drastically curtailed” in view of Pakistan being a nuclear armed state.
Irrespective of which party has been in power, attempts have been made to talk to Pakistan. From summit-level talks, to composite dialogue process to Track-II, nothing at all seems to have succeeded in getting Pakistan to mend its ways. Despite several joint declarations and agreements, we are where we were. They continue to send trained terrorists who kill our people, attack our cities and target our military installations. Despite agreeing to solve all bilateral issues between us, Pakistan spares no effort to internationalise the Kashmir issue. It continues to host anti-India groups like Hizbul Mujahideen, Lashkar-e-Taiba and Jaish-e-Muhammad. There has been little or no action against the perpetrators of Mumbai carnage or the D-Gang.
What then explains Indian leadership’s penchant for extending the proverbial hand of friendship to Pakistan despite knowing well that they could be burning their fingers? Does somehow our leadership too believe that we have “limited options” when it comes to dealing with Pakistan? Giving peace a chance is fine, but haven’t we ended up being betrayed every time we have given peace a chance?
Christine Fair in her book, Fighting to the End: Pakistan Army’s Ways of War, concludes in the following words, “With few prospects for substantive change in Pakistan’s strategic culture, in the assessments this culture encourages, or in the behaviour it incentivises, the world should prepare for a Pakistan that is ever more dangerous and ever more committed to its suite of dangerous policies.”
For far too long, our leadership has rewarded Pakistan’s behaviour with a hand of friendship. It is about time we punished them.