The Twin States Must Fight Terror Together
Like us, our western neighbour is bleeding under terrorist -- and of recent, also imperialist -- attacks. On March 27, as the US president was unveiling his new strategy to “disrupt, dismantle and defeat al Qaeda” and its allies in Pakistan, people of that country were cleaning up the debris of an explosion inside a mosque near the town of Jamrud in the Khyber agency region -- an attack that killed some 50 Muslims offering prayers on Friday and wounded dozens more. Only days before that, Pakistani Taliban fighters and their Afghan counterparts were distributing an agreement to bury their differences in order to counter the new American-led offensive. Incidentally, Pakistan's security officials had recently concentrated forces in the Khyber region, and especially in the Jamrud area, to fight militants attacking convoys carrying supplies for the NATO forces in Afghanistan.
The Jamrud explosion was preceded and followed by a long series of increasingly violent terror attacks. While some of these senseless killings have their origins in Shia-Sunni conflicts, most are handiworks of terrorist groups. In recent months Pakistan has also been battered by American drone strikes in North West Pakistan, which clearly violate the country's territorial sovereignty and bring grist to terrorist mills.
It was in this tense and troubled backdrop that, on the very next day after the Friday mosque attack, President Asif Ali Zardari renewed -- for the umpteenth time -- the request of early resumption of the composite dialogue process that was stalled at India's instance after the terror attack on Mumbai. Once again, India turned it down. It is easy to understand why. With elections round the corner, the Congress-led government does not wish to give the BJP a handle to blame it for being soft towards Pakistan. Moreover, it does not wish to let go the opportunity to further harden the hard state with draconian legislations and trample democracy on Indian soil in the name of fighting "Pakistani-inspired" terror.
While rejecting the most sensible Pak appeal, New Delhi welcomed the new US strategy to fight terrorism in Afghanistan and Pakistan and sought a role in the US campaign as a “responsible power” with a stake in defeating extremism. And what was that strategy? Under this new regional strategy in the "Af-Pak theatre," President Obama promised a "surge" of troops into Afghanistan and also to send an additional 4,000 troops under cover of "training" recruits for the Afghan National Army. He also agreed to further enhance economic aid to Pakistan, but observers believe the financial carrots are likely to be more than cancelled out by the military stick he has chosen to wield.
It is abundantly clear that the US project is designed solely for regional military domination and resource extraction vis-à-vis its geopolitical rivals Russia and China. Afghanistan and Pakistan stand at a nexus of pipeline and trade routes between the Middle East, Russia, China and the Indian subcontinent, and US domination of the two aforementioned countries together with strategic partnership with India would give it decisive influence over the entire region. But this is not the Indian people's agenda, this is not in our national interest. We must therefore pressure the government to dissociate our country from this imperialist game-plan and immediately resume the aborted composite dialogue with Pakistan.
From the seizure of Lal Masjid to the attack on the police academy near Lahore, innumerable incidents prove that like us, Pakistani too is a victim of terrorism and in war with it. Indeed it is a common fight against terror that the twin nation states in this subcontinent are engaged in, and we must fight it together. If New Delhi has some reservations against Islamabad, if it believes the latter is not doing enough in curbing cross-border terrorism, such issues can well be raised on the discussion table itself. Breakdown of dialogue only strengthens the hand of those elements in Pakistan's multilayered ruling dispensation that are believed to be assisting the terrorists, while sustained bilateral negotiations can go a long way in addressing each other's concerns and coming to grips with the common enemy.