Sunday, 1 February 2009

Another terrorist attack could lead to military confrontation

Another terrorist attack could lead to military confrontation
Dr Shabir Choudhry 02 February 2009

I don’t support a war as it causes death and destruction, and brings suffering and misery, especially to the innocent and poor people. Moreover war does not solve problems, if anything it exacerbate existing problems and bring new problems. Apart from that no one wins in a war. Both warring parties lose in their own way. Even the party which has militarily won loses out in some other way.

So those who criticise me that I want to see a war between India and Pakistan are wrong, but unfortunately I can see clouds of war gathering. A war has to take place to determine future roles of India and Pakistan; unless both agree to accept their respective roles in the region and the world at large.

Both India and Pakistan have their own importance and respective roles to play in the region, in Asia and the world at large. Power and influence of a country is not determined by strong passions and emotional slogans, but it is determined by strength of economy and military might. Geography and foreign policy of a country can certainly enhance that power and influence.

Both India and Pakistan have their own strong points, and if they become friends and work together then they can broaden the area of their influence. No one is suggesting that Pakistan should play a subservient role, but it has to be acknowledged that both India and Pakistan have different standing in the world politics and have different influence and different image. With their friendly cooperation they can make SAARC more effective and assert their influence from that platform, as EU do. When EU countries take a decision then a question of small or big country does not arise, it is a decision of the EU.

Pakistan and India in the past years made some efforts to establish friendly relationship and resolve their disputes; and despite some friendly help and advice from outside they could not make substantial progress. They had a number of CBMs in place, but only one terrorist action was needed to halt that progress, and bring traditional enemies back to state of ‘high alert’.

It is true overwhelming majority of people, both in India and Pakistan don’t want a war, but it is also true that extremists in both countries want hatred and animosity to continue, as it suits their agenda. In order to cause mischief and keep the pot of communalism boiling these fanatics and war mongers promote hatred and confrontation by changing their ‘gender’ and ‘religion’. For example a Muslim fanatic could assume a Hindu name and speak against Muslims to promote anger and the required response; and Hindu fanatics also doing similar deeds to ensure that friendship and cooperation between these communities remains a dream.

The war in FATA, Swat and other parts of the Frontier province in Pakistan is getting out of control; and to make matters worse for the Pakistani government, army men were reluctant to continue the war and kill their own Muslim brothers. They were persuaded that people fighting the government in these areas were disguised as Taliban or Muslims, in fact they are agents of India; and many of dead men were not circumcised.

War on terrorism was perceived as the USA’s war against Muslims. The Pakistan government under Musharaf played a double game, and outcome of that policy is a rise of Talibans in Afghanistan, more terrorism within Pakistan and anger of the Americans. The new government of Pakistan appears to be ‘sincere’ in helping the Americans in the war on terrorism; and presenting it as Pakistan’s own war – a war which has to be won for stability and future of Pakistan.

The new government in America has a clear policy on Pakistan and Afghanistan. Obama government will help Pakistan but would like to see tangible results; and if they see that Pakistani government is still playing double then Obama would not play around the bush like the president Bush did. Analysts believe being a practical man he will come down like a ton of bricks, and Pakistan doesn’t have much time left.

One expert on South Asia who also has insight to the American policy in response to my email wrote to me on 29 January 2009:

‘I know Obama but he is still an optimist about Pakistan so he would give a chance to Pakistan but would not ignore, what I have said about Pakistan…. Obama is not stupid. Whenever he realizes that Pakistan has not been out to quash Taliban and has been fighting a 'Nooraa KooshTi' Pakistan is doomed. Obama would give a node to India…..’

I have deleted the last part of his message due to its sensitivity, because fake people and conspiracy theorists will make many stories out of this. Mumbai carnage brought both countries close to a war, but common sense prevailed and Indian government exercised restraint. Whether Pakistan fully cooperates with India on the issue of Mumbai or not India could not use that as an excuse to start a war. Something new has to happen in order to provoke a military response from India.

I am not a script writer of this event or a fortune teller, but what that means is another terrorist attack in India. This terrorist attack could be carried out by Pakistani extremists, Indian extremists, Taliban, Alqaeeda, or any foreign party interested in provoking a war between the two countries. A new group called ‘Hindu Taliban’ is also making news. So there are many potential candidates to commit that act, which could destroy peace and stability of the region.

All this is to be seen in the back drop of unfolding events in Pakistan. As noted earlier the government of Pakistan has practically lost its writ in FATA, Swat, and other parts of the Frontier province. A new strategy is being worked out to establish government writ, but these areas are not Red Mosque and people of these areas know how to fight back.

Apart from that the government is fast losing its popularity because of its failure to fulfil promises made to people, if anything problems are getting from bad to worse. Tension between the Punjab government of Muslim League N and the Peoples Party government at the Centre is growing; and lawyers movement supported by Nawaz Sharif and other opposition leaders is getting a new momentum. They have announced to start a long march on 9th March 2009 to Islamabad and an indefinite sit in (Dahrna) with unforeseen consequences.

The Governor of Punjab, who is best known for creating trouble and speaking dialogues in style of villains of Punjabi films, has expressed his determination to stop this march. It is frightening to even visualise outcome of this contest where the Chief Minister of Punjab wants to make the March successful and the Governor wants to stop it.

Some people think a terrorist activity in India in the first week of March would suit many. No matter who commits it, Indian government will react. It will also give an excuse to the Pakistani government to say to the nation that when our neighbour is threatening us with a war, Muslim League N and Lawyers movement is destabilising Pakistan.

There are other analysts who say that this matter won’t go that far and men with big boots will step in and close the chapter of democracy as we see it now. Whatever the sequence of events, February and March will bring trouble to the region, especially in Pakistan; and it could start a new phase in the history of the region which could change its geography as well.

Whatever happens these issues are not directly related to the cause of Kashmir, as the war of 1971 was not; although Pakistani brothers after the war said, ‘we have sacrificed East Pakistan for Kashmir’. They did not say that they refused to give political rights to the people of that province which resulted in a civil war and subsequent Indian intervention and emergence of Bangladesh.

Whether peace prevails in the region as a result of diplomacy, or geography changes as a result of a war and a civil war, the Kashmir dispute is unlikely to be settled according to our wishes. Unfortunately there is more suffering and testing time ahead of us, so we need to get our act together and abandon this policy of leg - pulling and playing in hands of those who are against our identity and national emancipation.

Writer is a Spokesman of Kashmir National Party, political analyst and author of many books and booklets. Also he is Director Institute of Kashmir Affairs. Email: drshabirchoudhry@gmail.com

To view other articles see my blog: www.drshabirchoudhry.blogspot.com

2 comments:

Shalabh said...

Yes, I agree to an extent that for a fraction of second I wanted to beleive that this civilian Govt. in Pakistan is serious about fighting terrirism and better ties with India. Again but is it capable? Does not look so.
The only option which look that can help Pakistan over come the negatives that has plagued it for decades now is Army and ISI under complete control of civilian Govt.
I think this is the biggest challenge for Pakistan. Would like a discussion on this. Would be great for you Dr. Shabir to initiate one with your views on this matter.

Anonymous said...

You should have your own website and not hosted by the blogspot.com

It seems you are a very big leader of International Kashmir Alliance.