New Forms of Old Threats
By Dr Shireen M. Mazari

While some very important developments in the context of Pakistan-India relations merit major focus this week, two new developments, one in Austria and one in the US, should jolt any Muslim still sanguine about how the West views Muslims and Islam into a reality mode. Post-9/11, it truly is open season on Muslims and Islam even as the West reasserts its sensitivity towards the Jews. This was shown only too starkly in the three-year prison sentence awarded to historian David Irving by an Austrian court for his denial of the Holocaust.
There was no support for freedom of expression in this case even though the issue in question was a historical event and not blasphemy of the Prophet of Islam, one of the leading religions of the world today. Just as anti-Holocaust cartoons cannot be printed in the Danish press, no one in Europe can have a revisionist view of Nazism and the Holocaust.
Meanwhile, in the US there is an outcry because control of six major US ports is being given to a UAE -- that is Arab -- company, Dubai World Ports, after it won the bidding. It appears that while American and European companies can have free access to the Muslim world and can operate in sensitive areas, including energy and communications, Arab companies cannot have a reciprocal freedom to operate in the West. What we in the Muslim world need to do is to see patterns because that allows a better comprehension of the in-built biases against us in the western world.
Meanwhile, Pakistanis have been consumed by the violence that has increasingly accompanied the protests against the blasphemous cartoons. In the process some critical developments this month have gone by without much attention or comment. First, there was the bizarre statement from the Indian president, in Singapore, that in about 50 years there was the possibility of a Pakistan-India confederation. His understanding of history is confused, because he supported his argument by citing the case of the two Germanies! Or perhaps age has caused a certain level of amnesia in Mr. Kalam's mind because the two Germanies were the result of post-war occupation of Germany by the four Allied powers -- not a result of post-colonial independence. Also, of course, both Pakistan and India were created in 1947 out of a colonial entity, British India, so both were 1947 constructs in their independent shape.
However, the Indian president's statement does reveal a particular Indian mindset that still views Partition as a temporary event. Never mind that 1971 led to the creation of Bangladesh -- a reaffirmation of the two-nation theory -- rather than the expansion of the Indian state of West Bengal. The Indian trauma over Partition persists.
That is why while Pakistan has been prepared to go that extra mile in its peace moves, India continues to be playing for time on the conflictual issues. Despite myriad proactive suggestions from Pakistan, India maintains an obduracy on conflicts like Kashmir. In fact, a pattern of hostile intent is beginning to emerge visibly from the Indian side, which should be a warning to Pakistan. Apart from the questionable diplomatic stance reflected in the Indian president's statement in Singapore, more ominous has been the growing concern that India is increasingly involved in the terrorist acts in Balochistan.
Many of us have been suspecting that India would get involved in low-intensity operations in Balochistan once it opened six consulates in Afghanistan, especially those close to the Pakistan-Afghanistan border. After all, Pakistan had been protesting Indian activities from its consulate in Zahedan earlier. Finally, the Pakistan government has had to go public with the Indian agency RAW's involvement in Balochistan, and has formally handed over evidence to this effect to the Afghan president. The Karzai government, despite statements to the contrary, seems to have an inbuilt hostility towards Pakistan. Given that some of its cabinet members have had close links to India, this is not surprising, although President Karzai's periodic accusations against Pakistan are a little disturbing.
However, the Afghan government's complicity, be it indirect, with Indian designs is a serious issue and one hopes the Karzai government will move effectively on this count -- especially since we are constantly being told to deal more effectively on the al-Qaeda-Taliban issue.
What makes the new Indian threat from Afghanistan extremely serious is the fact that India sent 300 commandos into the Kandahar area in the first week of February -- as given out by official sources to the Indian media. The rationalization was that there are Indian workers in the area, but this logic is a little absurd because if every country that had workers in Afghanistan sent their forces to 'protect' these workers, there would be utter chaos. After all, there are Chinese and Pakistani workers also present and they have also been attacked. So, should China and Pakistan also send in their commandos to protect their workers in Afghanistan? And would the Karzai government allow us such access?
One needs to question the Karzai government's intent in allowing Indian commandos into a clearly volatile and sensitive area. The 300 Indian commandos are bound to add to the instability of that region -- as is their intent.
As for President Karzai stating that he had given a list to Pakistan pointing out the Taliban figures sheltering in Pakistan, it appears no one in Islamabad knows who was given the list. So what is the Afghan game all about, especially the constant accusations against Pakistan? Clearly, there is a pattern here because Indian actions are well thought out and India's close links to the Karzai government have allowed the Indians operational space against Pakistan on its western borders.
Nor is this all. An Indian maritime aircraft also violated Pakistani air space earlier this month over Pakistan's Exclusive Economic Zone. Why are all these things happening now when we thought the dialogue process was inching forward, despite Indian intransigence on Kashmir and other conflicts? Clearly, one intent is to keep Pakistan preoccupied internally as India moves ahead on controversial nuclear deals with France and the US. As it is, the French president's visit to India has gone almost unnoticed by Pakistan as has the nuclear deal between France and India which effectively accepts India's nuclear weapons status. India is desperate to de-link its nuclear status from that of Pakistan's. The Indo-US nuclear deal already provides de facto recognition of India's nuclear weapons status and the US has reiterated that it will not have a similar agreement with Pakistan.
For Pakistan this de-linkage between its nuclear status and that of India is going to be the most threatening long-term development, impinging directly on our overall security parameters as well as the status of our nuclear program. That is why we need to act pre-emptively on that count, but we cannot do so effectively if we continue to remain preoccupied and destabilized domestically.
(The writer is director general of the Institute of Strategic Studies in Islamabad. Courtesy The News)


Editor: Akhtar M. Faruqui
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