The WikiLeaks expose: A wake-up call for India

     The international flavour of the week seems to be the WikiLeaks expose of the documents concerning the operations against the Al Queda and its allies in Afghanistan. The New York Times reported on Sunday, July, 18, 2010, that military field documents included in the leak suggest that Pakistan has been allowing “representatives of its spy service to meet directly with the Taliban in secret strategy sessions to organise networks of militant groups that fight against American soldiers in Afghanistan, and even hatch plots to assassinate Afghan leaders”. What this implies is that, while Washington is blindly paying Pakistan massive amounts of money, the ISI has been functioning against US interests leading to fatalities among the coalition rank and file. This may have come as a shock to people across the world but Indian security analysts have been consistently voicing their concern about Pakistani duplicity in the unholy drama that is being enacted in Afghanistan. A detailed analysis of politico-strategic postures and actions of various Pakistani governments provides empirical evidence about their close proximity to the Taliban and other terrorist organisations. Post-9/11 attack, President Bush, due to his desperation to destroy the Al Queda looked upon Pakistan as a major ally, a weakness which the Pakistani President Pervez Musharraf exploited to the hilt. The strategic dimension of the US-Pakistan partnership was hinged on hot pursuit of the militant Taliban elements into Pakistani territory. The events that unfolded on the ground were very different. Pakistan’s quasi-independent North West Frontier Province continued its relationship with the Taliban built during the Russian invasion of Afghanistan and it was not very ready to provide a platform for attacks on its traditional ally. As a result, the joint effort came to a standstill due to the sharp reaction of the tribals. Musharraf was forced to look towards a policy of appeasement which did not go down well either with Afghanistan or the coalition forces. Pressure by the US resulted in the cardinal error of applying force. The rest is history. The Pakistani army got embroiled in a debilitating situation of counter- insurgency, wherein, it lost both credibility and morale. Fundamentalist forces led by the Taliban seized the opportunity to sound the clarion call of Jihad leading to unsavoury incidents like suicide attacks and the Lal Masjid imbroglio. From 2008 onwards, the NATO forces, not convinced by Pakistan’s assurances of keeping its flock in check ceased being shy of launching drone attacks into Pakistani territory against Taliban hide outs. The killing of Benazir Bhutto re-established the fact that there existed very powerful, highly motivated, extremist, disruptive forces (The Taliban) in Pakistan who had the ability to strike at will and with impunity on high security targets. In March, 2008, President Musharraf abdicated power and a democratic government came to power in Pakistan. The US quickly attempted to arm twist the new dispensation into increasing support for eliminating the Taliban , but the Pakistani coalition managed to continue its policy. Thus a lid was put on American aspirations of hunting al Queda and the Taliban within Pakistan. What followed was acrimonious stand-offs, belligerent posturing and blame-games at international fora in the form of direct and unveiled accusations by Afghanistan President Hamid Karzi about Pakistan’s covert support to Taliban insurgency in Afghanistan. In January 2009, a United Kingdom based think tank, International Institute for Strategic Studies (IISS), came up with a very dismal report that hinted that there existed a rapidly proliferating Taliban movement in Pakistan. Barak Obama became President of the United States in January, 2009. By then the US and its partners in GWOT had embroiled themselves into a no win situation. The political sell off came in the form of the Af-Pak policy in pursuance of which Saudi and Pakistani officials, acting with tacit American encouragement, started engaging ‘second tier’ Taliban leaders with offers of cash and jobs but this also failed to produce tangible results. Under severe pressure, the Obama administration followed a course similar to that of the Bush regime and tried to win over Pakistan with offer of arms and funds. It continued playing down the Taliban, spread of fundamentalism and proliferation of terrorism angle. The situation was exploited to the hilt by General Ashfaq Pervez Kiyani who managed to procure weapon systems that boosted Pakistan’s capacity for a conventional war, obviously against India. Washington has also given no more than lip service to India’s demand that the perpetrators of the 26/11 terrorist attack on Mumbai who are based in Pakistan be brought to justice. India on its part should see the WikiLeaks expose as a reiteration of what is already known about the links that the Pakistani government has with the Taliban and other terrorist organisations operating on its soil. It is very obvious that, Pakistan is not interested in meeting the challenge of the growing fanatic Islamic orthodoxy. India’s response has to be in tune with this ground reality. There should be no doubt that all terrorist organisations like the Taliban, al Queda and Lashkar-e-Taiba are operating with impunity in Pakistan. They may be loosely confederated but their agendas are being synchronised and India after Afghanistan is their prime target.

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