The futility of engaging Pakistan
Another high-profile summit set the stage for a meeting between the leaders of India and Pakistan. Indian Prime Minister Manmohan Singh and Pakistan President Zasif Ali Zardari posed for shutterbugs on the sidelines of the Non-Aligned Movement (NAM) Summit at Tehran in Iran, giving unnecessary impetus to what has come close to almost pointless and nonsensical hypocrisy.
The timing of the duo’s meeting is quite significant. On Wednesday, the Indian Supreme Court had upheld the death sentence of Mohammad Ajmal Amir Kasab, the lone surviving Pakistani terrorist held in the 2008 Mumbai attacks. Although Mumbaikars and the rest of the nation celebrated the verdict, yet a number of questions have arisen since then. Is hanging of Kasab the only justice for the 166 people killed in horrific attacks? Will sending him to gallows end one of the goriest chapters in the ties between India and Pakistan?
Time and again, India, thanks to its flexuous approach, has been giving chances to Pakistan to dramatise its alleged seriousness in combating terror. On the one hand, Islamabad vows to bring to New Delhi a message of `peace and prosperity`, on the other hand its Inter-Services Intelligence (ISI) continues to devise new ways to send jihadis across the border.
And what does India do? After the deadly Mumbai attacks in 2008, India did talk tough. And why not, the attacks had not just shocked the whole nation, but stunned the world too. At that time, the then Indian government hinted at keeping all options open if Pakistan did not take immediate action against the perpetrators of the frightening attacks. India further halted political dialogue and trade links with Pakistan, giving signals that it wanted results. The tensions between the nuclear-armed South Asian neighbours sparked even war rumours and alarmed the US too, which played an important role in pacifying the two sides. Pakistan was then sternly told to start acting against terror elements breeding on its land.
But as the time passed by, India softened its stance and meetings between the officials began. The PM met the Pakistani President in Russia and Egypt on the sidelines of summits. Manmohan Singh even hosted Asif Ali Zardari for lunch in New Delhi not long ago with the same message that Islamabad must take action against terror. But what did these talks achieve? Nothing really.
Even during the recent meeting in Tehran, Dr Singh pushed Pakistan to act against India-directed terrorism. The PM told Zardari that speedy conclusion of the 26/11 trial in Pakistan would be a "major" confidence building measure in bilateral relations. Zardari again assured that the Islamic nation was committed to bringing to justice those involved in the horrific attack. I wonder how long Indian officials can buy this duplicitous statement of their Pakistani counterparts. The 26/11 trial in Pakistan has been hit by countless delays and the judge has been changed five times. A number of dossiers have been exchanged, detailing the involvement of Pakistani citizens in the conspiracy, but Islamabad continues to nag about lack of evidence.
India has been assertive on the "state support" to the terrorists behind the 26/11 attacks. Lashkar-e-Toiba handler Abu Jundal and David Headley have also acknowledged ISI's involvement in the 26/11 massacre.
How serious Pakistan is in bringing 26/11 perpetrators to justice can be gauged by the fact that the grisly attacks’ mastermind, Jamaat-ud-Dawa (JuD) chief Hafiz Mohammad Saeed, openly campaigns against India on Pakistani land. India has taken note of it and urged Pakistan to help checkmate terrorist groups for normalising relations. But to no avail; Pakistan, as usual, asked for evidence proving Saeed’s involvement and gave to India what it is best at giving - assurances.
Till when India would tolerate Pakistan’s irksome and fake overtures? Pakistan’s sole agendum is to export terror – either by jihad or by cyber-jihad. Didn’t Manmohan Singh find it important to talk to Asif Ali Zardari about the involvement of Pakistan-based groups in spreading hate propaganda in India by circulating morphed images of alleged atrocities on Muslims in Assam and Myanmar?
The US is also frustrated with Pakistan’s denials and concocted assurances as far as anti-terror operations are concerned. The future of coup-prone Pakistan, which is preparing to go to ballots, is further keeping India and the US on their toes.
History has proven that Pakistan’s Army and radical jihadi groups are not interested in peace with India. Today, nobody trusts the nuclear-armed Islamic country’s ad-lib claims that it has no association with terrorism around the world. Yet, Indian officials stick to their futile perdurance theory of engaging with Pakistan and pushing it to nail terrorists. Isn’t it time that New Delhi accepts the fact that even after 65 years of co-existence, the exercise of diplomatic talks is futile when it comes to Islamabad. But is there any other option?