Monday, May 7, 2012

Analysing Pakistan’s Commitment to Peace - Part 2

Ananth Venkatesh
Ananth does not trust the peace talks of Imran Khan and charts out the path he may be taking to oust India from Afghanistan, thereby creating worse conditions for India, the West and international peace. The real messengers of peace like Burhanuddin Rabbani are being murdered while the politicos are making pacts with the murderers. Part two of three in his story on India-Pakistan peace relations. (part one)
The infrastructural robustness and the ideological verve of these Pakistani terrorist groups are largely unstained and unbroken, notwithstanding the outlawing of some of them periodically by the Pakistani government. The outlawing is so passive and ineffective that these groups regroup and rename themselves and their aims to make themselves more palatable to the global community. They reincarnate themselves as outfits of philanthropy. Pakistan can then conveniently express its incapacity to crack and illegalize these ‘charitable outfits.’

The Jamaat-ud-Dawa is the humanitarian wing of the
Pakistan-based Lashkar-e-Taiba militant group (source)
Essentially, these ‘charitable outfits’ have the same demoniacal aspiration as their terrorist founders. One needs to look at the ‘transformation’ of the proscribed Laskhar-e-Toiba into a ‘philanthropic outfit’, which has meant that the Lashkar has circumvented the proscription on it by adorning the guise of a ‘charitable outfit’, which it may very well be, but its intentions and infrastructure, as well as finances for funding terror, still are healthy. Lashkar, LeJ and Harkat-ul Mujahideen al-Alami were involved in the many unsuccessful endeavors to bump off Musharraf, which led majorly to their toothless banning in the first place. Of course, these terrorist groups have indulged in bloodthirsty bellicosity against Western interests as well, such as the vehicular bombing in June 2002 near the American Consulate in Karachi. The LeJ is also accused of participation in the loathsome homicide of the former Pakistani Prime Minister, Benazir Bhutto, in December 2007.
The menace of these extremist Pakistani outfits hasn’t faded away, with many of their members forging ultra-orthodox political alliances, whose mammoth congregations have been attended by the functionaries of Imran Khan’s emerging political party, Tehreek-e-Insaaf. Imran Khan has promoted himself as the bringer of a better future for the Pakistani populace. He is, apparently, a stainless candidate unlike Zardari and some of the other conventional Pakistani politicians, who have been encircled by allegations of subornment and nepotism. Imran Khan does represent a new political fragrance for the Pakistani electorate as he is untested administratively and, hence, bereft of the grubbiness of allegations of corruption. But his standpoints on Afghanistan, on the Taliban, on the Pakistani political ultraconservatives, on the Pakistani terrorist outfits, on the international military presence in Afghanistan, etc. are fundamentally worrisome for Indian interests and strategic wellbeing.

Imran Khan advocates a dialogue with the Pakistani and Afghani Taliban to procreate orderliness in Afghanistan. Talking to these terrorist outfits, which have not hesitated to murder prominent Afghan messengers of peace such as Burhanuddin Rabbani, is a catastrophic idea, which will eliminate whatever democracy and tolerance that exists in Afghanistan today under the presence of the ISAF. Talking to the Talibani outfit will mean compromising with them if success has to be accomplished during the talks. That means that the Talibani demand for political power in Kabul will have to be accommodated. The cultural, religious, sectarian and gender bigotry practiced by the Taliban will come to the fore more openly if the Taliban acquires political potency. The objective behind the justifiable liberation of Afghanistan by the ISAF in 2001 was the extermination of the poisonous infrastructure of the Taliban. To accord the Taliban political power in any form would be to infringe the core principles upon which the invasion of Afghanistan was implemented in October 2001 by the Bush administration in the aftermath of the 9/11 carnage on American soil that was thickly assisted by the Al-Qaeda leadership safeguarded on Afghan earth by the then governing Taliban.

Burhanuddin Rabbani was the former head of the High Peace Council before he was killed in September 2011 [Reuters] [source]
The Talibani penetration of political potency in Kabul, as a part of any ‘peace pact’ arranged by the Pakistanis and even by the reluctant Americans, would be devastating for the stabilizing Western influence in Afghanistan. The Talibani access to the Afghan governmental corridors would be a blow that incapacitates Indian influence in Afghanistan, which has been beneficial for Afghan infrastructural development since 2011. The Taliban entrance into the Afghan government would mean an increased likelihood of sanctuaries being provided in Afghanistan for Taliban terrorists, who are opposed to the West and to India (non-Islamic India/Hinduism). An Afghanistan without the ISAF, even under a national coalitional administration consisting of the Taliban, will be forced to depend on Pakistani tutelage. Pakistan can take advantage of its meaningful connections with segments of the Taliban (terrorist Haqqani network) to exert considerable pressure on Afghanistan after 2014, 2014 being the year of the intended disengagement of American troops from Afghan soil.
Pakistan will then block any Indian attempt to gain a toehold in Afghani matters such as Indian investment in the Afghani economy, Indian training for the Afghani military, etc. Pakistan will subdue Afghani strategic independence to such an extent that India will be regarded as a pariah in an Afghanistan that is devoid of the ISAF and that is, subsequently, under the coercive counseling of the Pakistani State (ISI, Pakistani military). An Afghanistan, which has a central coalitional government with the Taliban as one coalitional component, will be a nation fractured by political unsteadiness, administrative procrastination and obdurate inter-ministerial divergences. In the event of a coalitional government in collaboration with the Taliban, a few ministries will have to be handed over to the Talibani hands. Such a government will be forever under incapacitating political paralysis of different degrees.

Afghan National Police officers, seen training with mock guns during a session with ISAF soldiers from the German Federal Armed Forces (Bundeswehr) at the German army camp in Fayzabad, northern Afghanistan, Monday, Sept. 29, 2008. (AP Photo/Anja Niedringhaus)
ISAF benefitted the Afghan police and civilian administration in training activities.
The Taliban, on acceding to the democratic political process in Afghanistan as part of a ‘serenity accord,’ may ensure the temporary deactivation of their armed cadres to gain international succor. However, after the ISAF withdrawal from Afghan soil in 2014, the Taliban, even if it is a part of the political process in Afghanistan then, can effortlessly reactivate the militariness of its cadres as there will be, at best, an inconsequential global military presence in Afghanistan after 2014. Reactivation of its armed cadres will not be difficult for the Talibani political wing then.
After the ISAF disengagement from Afghanistan in 2014, the whole geopolitical and geo-strategic scenario vis-à-vis Afghanistan will alter. Pakistan, through means such as its endorsement of the deadly Haqqani network, may become the major foreign player in Afghanistan and the weary West may relent. This means that anti-Indian Islamic terrorist factories could reopen in Afghanistan after 2014 and function more freely. Terrorists could be pushed from Afghanistan to Pakistan, their border being unmanageably unlawful and unruly. These terrorists could then infiltrate Indian Kashmir from Pakistani soil i.e. vintage cross-border terrorism. Anti Western terrorists could house themselves in Afghanistan after 2014 with the guarantee of receiving safe havens from the Afghan government, which has the political Taliban as its part. If the moderate pro-Indian Afghani parliamentarians protest against Talibani dictatorialness, then the Taliban could disengage from the Afghani political process and threaten to instill anarchical bloodshed on the streets.
Will the West intercede militarily then to terminate the Taliban threat?

A Taliban blast in Kabul (source)
Another full-fledged Western military intercession is highly improbable considering the Western tiredness on account of the current Afghan conflict. Pakistan will be the only country that will then trumpet to the world that it has the power to stabilize Afghanistan and kill the prospective anarchy there. This will mean, at least, that Pakistan will ‘arrange’ a very strong Talibani presence in the national Afghan government, which will represent the sidelining of other relatively broadminded Afghan political parties, with strategic conviviality towards India. Pakistan, in order to assert itself in Afghanistan, may desire and come up with a heavily Talibani Afghan government. This will typify the termination of the meaningfulness of the Indian diplomatic presence in Afghanistan as the Taliban will not aspire to do any business with India.
Pakistan shares a border with Afghanistan and India doesn’t. India currently doesn’t have a military existence on Afghan soil. It will be difficult for India to penetrate Afghanistan militarily after 2014 if the Talibani virulence for India manifolds. India will be a tragic loser.

This is the reality that Imran Khan desires, despite knowing the thick connections between Al-Qaeda, the Taliban and other Pakistani Islamic terrorist groups. Negotiations with the Taliban represent a core strategy of Imran Khan to heighten the Pakistani influence in Afghanistan after 2014 and to decapitate Indian influence there after 2014.  [Photo:"By 2014 Afghans will be fully responsible for their security' [source]]
Imran Khan aspires to see the ouster of a constructive Indian presence in Afghanistan. His sugarcoated talks about Indo-Pak peace being one of his primary goals must not make India position blind trust in him.
His alliances with the Pakistani political ultraconservatives, who have zero respect for India, his advocacy of discussions with Pakistani extremist groups to create orderliness in Pakistan and in the lawless Waziristan, his disparagement of the stableness that the Western military presence and the Indian diplomatic presence have brought to Afghanistan, etc. embody his political personality, which is unpalatable and indigestible for the idea of peace in South Asia.
He has not spoken at length about the measures that he would take to dissect the Islamic terrorist infrastructure in Pakistan. He probably never will speak at length on this matter since he doesn’t intend to do anything of this sort. India, at this stage, can derive no comfort from the electioneering and sloganeering of Imran Khan and his allies.

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