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Sunday, 20 June 1999

Dishonest Broker: U.S. Role in Indo-Pakistani Relations


(Originally appeared in the 1990s in the Times of India, as published in M. D. Nalapat's book "Indutva", Har-Anand Publications, 1999)


With admirable candour, former test captains in Pakistan have
reminisced about the methods used to ensure a win. Tampering
with the seam of the ball, getting a friendly umpire, and bribing
rival players are among the sportsmanlike gestures favoured by
our friendly neighbour. Looking at the Benazir Bhutto regime’s
performance—which includes rocketing its own mosque to once
again paint India as an anti-Islamic state—it is clear that the
Pakistan premier is an admirer of her cricket team's methods.
In its eagerness to ensure a "fair" result (one in which it gets
99 per cent of what it seeks), the Bhutto regime has been trying
to insinuate as a "neutral" umpire the very country that has
backed Pakistan against India since 1950, and which has rewarded
Islamabad’s terrorist war against India by re-establishing a
strategic relationship with it. After the George Bush interregnum,
when facts about South Asia were faced and not fudged, President
Clinton has returned to the traditional Pentagon policy of
buttressing Pakistan against India. In a remarkable interpretation
of "even-handedness", Islamabad is being given a billion dollars
worth of sophisticated weapons, while India has not been
offered even a handgun.

Training Terrorists
In a further refinement of the meaning of candour, the Clinton
administration has in effect denied not only that China has given
M-11 missiles to Pakistan, but that the Bhutto regime is using
Lahore, Muzaffarabad and Peshawar to train thousands of
terrorists for operations within India. During the past year, the
scope of ISI operations has expanded beyond fundamentalist
fanatics in Kashmir to left extremists in Bihar and other centres.

Judging by the shrill commands emanating from the Clinton
administration, India needs to be punished for preserving a
secular democracy in a neighbourhood infested with U5-
supported dictatorships. This country needs to be punished for
attempting to prevent its balkanisation through the setting up of
a fundamentalist state on its northern borders. Most importantly,
retribution must be swift should India attempt to protect itself
against the danger of China arming Pakistan with nuclear
weapons and delivery systems. In the process the million dollar
question—Will the US put at risk New York and San Francisco
to protect Mumbai and Calcutta?—has gone unanswered.

Within a few years the US administration may witness on its
own soil the consequences of flirting with fundamentalism. 
Louis Farrakhan has, in a much milder forr, begun articulating
the position that only a "separate homeland" can solve the
problems of African Americans. Thus the "Pakistan syndrome"
has finally hit the US, just as it will France, Germany and Britain
during the next decade. Strangely, the very American diplomats
who are so enthusiastic about "homeland" arguments when
applied to Kashmir have thus far refrained from congratulating
Farrakhan on his wisdom.

India, however, has a different agenda. Which is to resist the
attempt by the two US surrogates, Saudi Arabia and Pakistan, to
inject fundamentalism into the region. While Riyadh is funding
extremist groups, Islamabad is training them. Both are
participating in attempting to destabilise moderate regimes in
central Asia by replacing them with fundamentalists. How
international security can be enhanced by such actions on the
part of these two "moderate democracies" is not clear. However,
the point to be noted is that the US supply of weapons to both
Saudi Arabia and Pakistan means that Washington cannot escape
responsibility for the actions of these countries.

Where Pakistan is concerned, so long as the Bush policy of
non-supply of lethal weapons was adhered to, Washington
could argue that it was not responsible for Islamabad's actions,
just as a businessman can argue that the deeds of an acquaintance
cannot be blamed on him, However, should the businessman
employ the acquaintance, the relationship changes into one of
principal and agent. By resuming the earlier arms supply
relationship with Pakistan, the Clinton administration has made
itself answerable for Islamabad’s actions, including the terrorist
war.

'Out of Control'
Clearly, Washington would not give sophisticated armaments to
a country unless it had a significant degree of leverage there.
Thus it is no longer possible to feign non-culpability in Islamabad’s
"terror factories" in Lahore, Muzaffarabad and Peshawar. If
Pakistan were "out of control" in carrying out such activities,
surely the US would not have trusted it with lethal weapons.

India needs to adopt a variant of the US policy of "even-
handedness" and link US advice on security issues to the
behaviour of Pakistan. So long as Washington’s strategic ally
continues with its terrorist war on India, it will be difficult to
take seriously US protestations that it is supportive of India’s
security concerns. Even more than the Clinton administration’s
unwillingness to rein in Saudi Arabia and Pakistan from
promoting fanaticism around the globe, what is inexplicable is
New Delhi's inability to realise that with the swearing in of Bill
Clinton, US policy had resumed its Pakistan tilt. For more than
three years, this fact has been obvious to all except the PMO and
the MEA.

As a consequence of this myopia, India has over the past
three years implemented a chain of "confidence-building
measures" while Pakistan has focused on "confidence-blocking
methods". As a consequence, immense damage has been done to
Indian security. While Islamabad has waged its war on India
with undiluted ferocity, now extending it to left extremists and
to states such as Tamil Nadu and Kerala, the Rao government
has responded by lowering defence preparedness and giving
credibility to agents of Pakistan such as the Hurriyat Conference.

National Security
Unless it is the policy of Raisina Hill to demolish India's defenses
as completely as they were neglected during 1957-62, there is
need to set up a national security machinery that is not
compromised by officials thirsting after dollar pensions. Such a
machinery would be able to formulate and get implemented a
strategy that would deter mischief-makers from attacking India.
Had such a deterrent been in operation already, India would not
have been undergoing the trauma of having a terrorist war
waged against it, and watching as self-declared "friends" seek to
repeat their efforts of 1953 and 1963 to delink Kashmir from the
rest of the country.

There is need to involve the private sector in the nuclear
power programme, so that the Department of Atomic Energy
can concentrate on developing both power-related as well as
deterrent-related technologies, Before the CTBT comes into
operation in four years time, India needs to follow France and
China in perfecting its weapons systems, so that these are safe
and reliable. Work on delivery systems—including its civilian
applications—needs to get speeded up. As for Washington, a
country that pleads ignorance of Pakistan’s efforts to become a
nuclear and missile power—rather than admitting the truth—
has no ethical right to condemn India for taking care of the
security of 900 million people who have sought to preserve
secular democracy in their country against the wars and terror
propagated by a country that has been emboldened to attack
India only because it has got diplomatic and material support
from Washington.



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