Sponsored terror and its consequences
By MV Kamath
There must be loud laughter in the offices of the Intelligence Bureau of India on hearing that the US military chief, Admiral Mike Mullen has accused the Pakistan spy network, Inter Services Intelligence (ISI) of supporting the Haqqani network in carrying out a string of deadly terror attacks, including an assault on the US Embassy in Kabul on September 13. Mullen charged the Haqqani network, a powerful faction of the Taliban as a “veritable arm” of the Pakistan spy agency. And which is this spy agency? It is the ISI whose operaters, according to Maloy Krishna Dhar, former Joint Director of the Indian Intelligence Bureau were “extensively trained in the ‘black arts’ of sabotage and subversion, both in the UK and in the US – in the latter by the Central Intelligence Agency (CIA). According to Dhar in his revealing study Fulcrum of Evil: ISI-CIA-Al Qaeda Nexus, some of the ISI’s operations had been bank-rolled by the US and Saudi Arabia. Literally, the ISI has been the CIA’s baby and its activities have been extensively covered in another book, Stephen Tankel’s Storming The World Stage: The Story of Lashkar-e-Taiba. The ISI, the Lashkar-e-Taiba and other terrorist organisations had been extensively used by the US to drive the Russians out of Afghanistan. But now the chicken are coming home to roost.
The ISI is now turning against its own benefactor, the US and Washington does not know what to do! For a long time, when ISI was playing its murderous assaults on India, the US looked the other way round. The United States surely knew that part of its economic aid to Pakistan was being used to mount a ‘thousand cuts’ on India to make it bleed. India’s warnings went unheeded. Now, as India’s External Affairs Minister SM Krishna has gently noted, Washington is coming to acknowledge its grave mistakes. Hillary Clinton was the first to officially admit in an interview to ABC News on November 14, 2010 that it was the US itself which had created radical outfits and supported terrorists like Osama bin Laden to fight against the Soviet Union. “We trained them, we equipped them, we funded them… and it hasn’t worked out too well” she said, which should be called the under-statement of the year.
The current Pakistan Foreign Minister, Hina Rabbani Khar, is furious. She is quoted as saying: “We have conveyed to the US that you will lose an ally. You cannot afford to alienat’e Pakistan, you cannot afford to alienate the Pakistani people. If they are choosing to do so, it will be at their cost”. The US is in a dilemma. It is being literally blackmailed, by Pakistan. If the US gives up on Islamabad, the latter will completely turn to China, its supposed ‘all-weather’ friend and that would be a calamity for the US, and even worse, to India, Pakistan’s leaders are shameless. Their hatred of India knows no bounds. Stephen Tankel’s book illustrates it in no small measure. At the same time, Washington cannot put up with a recalcitrant ISI. In July 20, 2011, the powerful US House of Representative Committee on Foreign Affairs passed a Defence Authorisation Bill which prohibits further security aid to Pakistan until the Secretary of State provides certification affirming various aspects of Pakistani cooperation in the war on terror.
The trouble is the ISI – and fundamentalist-infested Pakistan Army has got out of hand. Neither is any longer easily influenced by the CBI which once played the role of the god-father. And the US has come to realise that even after pouring in 20 billion dollars into Pakistani coffers over the last decade and another one billion dollars more recently under the Kerry-Lugar-Berman Bill, anti-American sentiment is going strong. What intensely bothers the US is that Pakistan is collapsing. What is frightening the US more is the very thought that Pakistan had doubled its nuclear arms stockpile to 110 warheads, from an estimated 30 to 80 weapons four years ago.
According to David Albright, President of the Institute for Science and Technology, Pakistan is even now increasing its production of plutonium, enabling it to make lighter warheads for a more mobile delivery system. India can handle this, but what the US is afraid of is the possibility of the weaponry getting into the wrong hands. The US is damned if it continues to give aid to Pakistan and is equally damned if it refuses to do so. There have been reports that the Pakistani Army wants to completely take over the administration, as once did Musharraf, but apparently General Kayani is opposed to the idea.
To state it plainly, Pakistan is in a bind, with internal generation of revenues abysmally low and defence expenditure extraordinarily high. Jamia Millia Islamia’s Vice Chancellor, Najeeb Jung couldn’t have been more specific when, in describing the current situation in Pakistan, he said that social services are collapsing there, gas fields in Balochistan are fast depleting, both the Army and politicians stand discredited and local talent is leaving, with the quantum of support from both the US and Arab States likely to fall short.
What is even worse, instead of making peace with India, Pakistan has been activating terrorist camps along the Indo-Pakistan border in Jammu & Kashmir with fresh batches of militants waiting to infiltrate into India to cause deep damage. That is asking for trouble. Pakistan may be doing so in order to divert people’s attention from the country’s politico-economic situation and a deepening crisis. Perhaps India needs to give one good wallop to Pakistan and let it collapse on its own. According to a former Pakistan National Security Advisor, Maj. Gen (Retd) Mahmud Ali Durrani, “A showdown with India is not in Pakistan’s best interests”. He is quoted as saying that “there is a need for a paradigm shift in Indo-Pak relationship, from confrontation to cooperation”. But that may be a voice from the wilderness. What Pakistan is following now – a point that even India’s Prime Minister Dr Manmohan Singh must have felt necessary to notice – is a policy of rabid confrontation, justifying the ancient saying: vinasha kale viprita buddhi. What the statesman needs to think over is what can possibly happen with a Pakistan self-annihilated.