Dec 10, 2008

World - Pakistan;Positive Step

After the civilian government was pressured by the military to backslide from its initial assurances of practical cooperation in the investigation of the terrorist attack on Mumbai, political and social Pakistan seemed to go into denial bordering on defiance. But given the firm and mature handling of the crisis by political India and the mounting international pressure on Islamabad to act against the terrorist infrastructure, the Pakistan People’s Party regime decide d to take one step forward. Sunday’s raids on a camp of the Lashkar-e-Taiba — a banned organisation working behind a charitable front, Jamaat-ud-Dawa — and the arrest of Zaki-ur-Rehman Lakhvi, the organisation’s military commander and the alleged mastermind behind the Mumbai terror, and several other Lashkar operatives must be welcomed. It suggests that the Indian and international pressure is working, and also that there has been some stiffening of the civilian government’s spine.

Interestingly, in an article titled “The Terrorists Want to Destroy Pakistan, Too,” published in The New York Times, President Asif Ali Zardari confirms the reality of the raids, “which resulted in the arrest of militants,” and promises that Pakistan will take action “against the non-state actors found within our territory, treating them as criminals, terrorists, and murderers.” He reiterates that taking forward the peace process with India, “a mature nation and a stable democracy,” is very much on his political agenda. He invites India to work together with Pakistan to “track down the terrorists who caused mayhem in Mumbai” and elsewhere, including Islamabad. Following a meeting of the Defence Committee of the Cabinet (DCC), attended among others by Army chief General Ashfaq Parvez Kayani, Islamabad has offered New Delhi intelligence-sharing and investigative assistance within the ambit of Pakistani law. Specifically, it has proposed a joint investigation commission and a visit to India by a high-level delegation comprising Federal Investigation Agency officials, intelligence personnel, and diplomats. Conscious of the peace stakes involved and the vulnerability of the transition to democracy in Pakistan, official and political India must avoid going into a rejectionist mode. It must not underestimate its diplomatic and political capabilities or the international sympathy and support it has got after the Mumbai terror strikes. It must factor in the worsening situation in Afghanistan, and four major Taliban attacks during the past month on U.S. and Nato supplies in Pakistan, which have increased the western pressure on Islamabad to act more resolutely. While meeting every positive Pakistani response half way, India must keep in focus the gamut of anti-terrorism obligations mandated for all states by United Nations Security Council Resolution 1373 — and ask Pakistan to live up to these obligations in letter and in spirit. In an evolving situation, that will be the sober and responsible policy approach.

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