By Malladi Rama Rao.
When veteran diplomat Zalmay Khalilzad appeared before a joint meeting of US Congressional panels on Terrorism, Non-Proliferation, Trade and Asia and the Pacific issues on July 12 afternoon and exposed Pakistan’s perfidious games of terrorism, he did not disclose anything new, much less earth shattering.
Many commentators, notably scholars like Christine Fair have already documented in black and white “The Pakistan Army’s ways of War”, and recorded in great detail how Pakistan’s efforts were “not restricted to fanning Islamists insurgency and terrorism” in India, and how “Pakistan’s creeping nuclear umbrella has emboldened it to pursue revisionist agenda”.
The significance of US Congressional hearing was undoubtedly in its timing. It took place just when Pakistan is running around and accusing India of fomenting terrorism in Kashmir. Only a few days before the American law makers began questioning the credentials of Pakistan as an ally, world representatives at the UN, heard how Pakistan is the fulcrum of terrorism in the region, Kashmir including.
The cumulative effect? Pakistan’s mischievous, indeed, desperate attempt, to fan the flames of violence, which it triggered, and had been sustaining for decades, stands nailed to the dismay of the Sharifs- Nawaz Sharif in Islamabad and Raheel Sharif in Rawalpindi. The world now knows that it has been a perfidious and dangerous game on the part of Pakistan to spawn terrorism across the globe. Well, with some American money and American weapons, of course.
As a former US Ambassador to Pakistan and advisor to several American Presidents and other global leaders, Zalmay Khalilzad has had a ring side view of what is news to the uninitiated in Pakistani ways.
“Pakistan’s use of extremist and terrorist proxies – including to threaten India — is a significant contributor to the global menace of Islamic extremism….Since the overthrow of the Taliban regime after 9/11, Pakistan has been playing a perfidious and dangerous double game”, the veteran diplomat told the American law makers. Khalilzad was not the only one to expose Pakistan. Two other experts, Bill Roggio, senior editor of the Long War Journal, and Tricia Bacon, an Assistant Professor at the American University delivered an equally strong condemnation of Pakistan and its duplicitous policies of supporting terrorists while pretending to be an ally of the US in hunting down the same terrorists.
A former Afghan intelligence chief, has just come up with documentary evidence to condemn Pakistan and its duplicitous policies of supporting terrorists while pretending to be an ally of the US in hunting down the same terrorists.
This is not something which has been a secret—India has been arguing before all possible global fora about Pakistan’s sustained support for terrorist groups. In fact, India has proved time and again that the state itself has masterminded several terrorist attacks, the most notable being the Mumbai terrorist attack of November 2008 – a fact conceded rather belatedly by China early July. The US has also of late acknowledged that some of the attacks on its forces in Afghanistan had the stamp of Pakistan Army.
Notably, a few days before the US Congressmen were briefed about Pakistan’s terrorist activities, Indian envoy to the UN was categorical in his speech at the world body about how Pakistan has not only created a highly dangerous situation in the region but across the world. It is time for the international community to stop dithering on Pakistan and its terrorist agenda and impose heavy sanctions to force the country’s civilian and military leadership either to give up their patronage of terrorist groups or face the global wrath.
Mollycoddling Pakistan has been one of the singular reasons for the spread and sustenance of terrorism across the world. It is known that long before the Afghan Jihad, Pakistan has been in the forefront of creating and sustaining terrorist groups, first to target India on Kashmir, way back in 1948 and then in the late 60s and early 70s to subjugate Bengali Muslims in east Pakistan. These are well documented facts.
Equally proven is how Pakistan created a massive terrorist infrastructure on its soil and in its occupied territory (parts of Kashmir), to recruit, train and launch terrorists into Kashmir and then into India in the 80s. If Pakistan had not done it, there would have been no impetus for terrorism in the region and across the world. Terrorist violence in Kashmir, and the state sponsoring it enjoyed from Pakistan, gave other violent extremists ideas about repeating the same in other countries and regions. The Afghan Jihad was one such example. Then came al Qaeda, Taliban and now the ISIS.
Pakistan’s nursery of terror could have been dismantled in the 90s but for the international community’s pussyfooting over the issue. For various reasons. One reasons was that it was dubbed as an Indian propaganda. So the prognosis coming from New Delhi was dismissed as false. Now thanks to Zalmay Khalilzads of the world, everyone says Pakistan had sowed the seeds of global terrorism. There was a time in the 90s when even the US government was seriously mulled declaring Pakistan as a terrorist state. But Washington dithered. It was a serious failure of strategic thinking. To borrow a Marxist Communist phrase, it was a historical blunder.
But it was not the first time such a major failure occurred. It happened several times since then; whenever India came out with clear proof of Pakistan’s role in terrorist attacks, there was hardly any attention paid. This continuous indifference on the part of the US and other countries encouraged Pakistan to be even more aggressive in pursuing its terrorist agenda. It took the US and other countries for a ride, as the US Congressmen were told recently.
The US and other countries, for some strange reasons, have hitherto opted to look the other way as Pakistan-supported Haqqani Network, Pakistan Taliban, LeT JeM and a host of other terrorist groups carried out attacks against India and against the US and Nato troops stationed in Afghanistan. These groups and their leaders have been roaming around Pakistan freely calling for jihad against the ‘Ugly Satan’ of the world, while Pakistan Army and civilian leaders claimed in world capitals that they were the ones who were suffering from terrorism. No one questioned their claims in public, strangely till the threat landed at their door-step.
Is it now too late in the day to name and shame Pakistan? Well, in a manner of speaking, it is late but not too late in punishing Pakistan if it continues to foment terrorism actively as it has been doing for decades. By warning and then sanctioning Pakistan, the international community would take the first serious step in containing the raging fire of Islamic extremism and terrorism which is taking a heavy toll of human lives in different parts of the world.
Pakistan has for long been a sanctuary for terrorists and without such a sanctuary, ably protected by Pakistan Army, terrorist groups would find it difficult to wage their nefarious war against people whom they consider their enemies. Punishing Pakistan has therefore become imperative as ISIS and al Qaeda, and their clones, are wreaking havoc in a wide arc of nations stretching from Bangladesh to France.
The US Congress heard some of the ways in which Pakistan can be reined in. Specific financial sanctions and threat of further and wider economic sanctions would put adequate pressure on perennially cash strapped Pakistan, which practices the art of talking of GDP data to impress the Bretton Wood twins at regular intervals.
Immediate freezing of personal accounts held by Pakistani civilian and military leaders in banks and financial institutions outside Pakistan would go a long way as a disincentive to continue the status quo. Imposing restrictions on the travel of leaders would certainly help; at least they would not get free platforms in the international capitals to spew venom and to spread lies.
In short, it is a call to don a thinking cap for what next. Without much fuss. Undeniably, Islamabad has inched towards the end of the long rope it has had for too long. (Syndicate Features)