We have been tip-toeing around this fact for over ten years. The fact is that our “ally” in the War on Terror, Pakistan, is also the world number one state sponsor of terrorism. In fact the US State Department wanted to designate Pakistan as a terror sponsor back on 1998 but then Secretary Of State Albright put the kibosh on it.
President-elect Barack Obama has been a bit bi-polar regarding Pakistan. During the primaries, he promised to order military strikes on targets within Pakistan if he had information of high-value terrorists sheltering there and if the Pakistan Government could not or would not take action itself. Then he talked about appointing a special negotiator to Pakistan (Bill Clinton).
Asia’s Islamism engine
Greg Sheridan, Foreign editor | December 04, 2008
FOLLOWING the terror massacres in Mumbai, Pakistan may now be the single biggest state sponsor of terrorism, beyond even Iran. Yet it has never been listed by the US State Department as a state sponsor of terrorism.
In 1998, according to the 9/11 Commission Report, the State Department’s counter-terrorism co-ordinator recommended listing Pakistan as a state sponsor of terrorism. Then secretary of state Madeleine Albright decided against it, saying it would destroy US influence in Islamabad. And that has been the dilemma of Western policy towards Pakistan ever since.
India is now deciding whether to strike at a training base of Lashkar-e-Toiba, the Pakistan-based terrorist group involved in the Mumbai massacres. It may be that prudence will prevent India from conducting the strike. However, in law and morality, India would certainly be entitled to strike. The US has been conducting strikes across the Pakistani border to hit Taliban terrorists, who have been trying to kill NATO soldiers in Afghanistan. India would have the more urgent justification of protecting its civilians.
Every civilised person in the world has a duty to express maximum solidarity with India, which is what the Rudd Government has done and which is why US Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice is in India.
Above all, the world must do nothing that rewards the terrorists for their actions.
US president-elect Barack Obama has expressed his absolute solidarity with India, but he has been a bit schizophrenic on Pakistan nonetheless. During the primaries, Obama said he would order military strikes on targets within Pakistan if he had information of high-value terrorists sheltering there and if the Pakistan Government could not or would not take action itself.
At first I thought this a little imprudent until the Bush administration started to do exactly the same thing. So, one tick to Obama’s tough-minded realism.
However, he also has suggested appointing a special presidential negotiator on Kashmir. This is a very stupid and dangerous move indeed. In light of the Mumbai bombing it would be a pure political reward for terror outrages. The wretched message such a move would send would be: You murder enough civilians and we’ll start making concessions.
As the epicentre of global terrorism shifts from the Middle East to South Asia, you can see the effort to transform the Kashmir dispute into the equivalent of the Palestinian dispute; that is, the fountainhead, all-purpose grievance can be used to explain, if not justify, every act of Islamist butchery and murder in the region.
But the history of Kashmir doesn’t bear that out. Nor do negotiations on it offer any solution.
When India was partitioned in 1947, there were disputes over which bits should go to Muslim majority Pakistan and which should go to Hindu majority India. Kashmir’s government, though it was a Muslim majority state, decided to go to India. Subsequently, a large chunk of its territory was taken by Pakistan, and the line between the territory Pakistan controls and that which India controls has been the effective border between India and Pakistan since. If anything, Pakistan should give back the territory it took. But during the intervening years the Pakistani government has constantly fuelled terrorism, separatism and insurgency in Kashmir. Islamabad thus has made it impossible for Kashmiri life to develop normally.
Undoubtedly, in response to this, at times India has been guilty of human rights abuses in Kashmir.
However, Kashmiris, like everyone else in India, enjoy Indian democracy, and state elections have recently been under way. If it were not for what are in effect constant acts of war by Pakistan, Kashmir could have settled into a fully normal life. Even with the constant Pakistani military intervention, India is still winning the allegiance of Kashmiris.
Pakistan’s ruthless and amoral military establishment has always seen stoking the Kashmir dispute as in its interests. It keeps India off balance. At best it puts a cloud over the legitimacy of India as a modern, democratic, secular state.
It also confuses the distinction between India, which is a multiracial, multi-religious democracy with a booming economy, and Islamic Pakistan, which is a broken-backed state on the brink of failure and collapse. More than 10 per cent of India’s population is Muslim, whereas few Hindus or Sikhs remain in Pakistan.
The only possible solution to Kashmir that Islamists would accept is all of Kashmir becoming Pakistani territory and some local Taliban-style government ruling day by day. The more Obama, or anyone else, tries to internationalise Kashmir, the more he is playing into the hands of terrorists.
We do not know for sure what degree of active involvement Pakistani authorities may have had in the Mumbai massacres.
The Pakistan Government denies all involvement and most senior Indians I speak to do not think the ineffectual Pakistani civilian Government was directly involved.
But it is becoming increasingly difficult to believe that an operation of such scale and sophistication, mounted by Pakistanis from within Pakistan, had no involvement from the Pakistani military or some element of its Inter Services Intelligence agency.
The ISI founded Lashkar-e-Toiba to prosecute its low-level war against India in Kashmir, just as the ISI founded the Taliban to ensure a government in Kabul sympathetic to Pakistani interests.
Lashkar-e-Toiba is notionally illegal in Pakistan but operates openly under another name. The ISI is asking us to believe that, having founded Lashkar-e-Toiba, it has no control or even knowledge of its biggest operations.
The parallel with the behaviour of Pakistan in the A.Q. Khan scandal is instructive. The Pakistanis expect us to believe they are a responsible nuclear power, yet have no responsibility or even knowledge when their chief nuclear scientist sells nuclear weapons technology to rogue regimes across the world, often using Pakistani military transports in the process.
The Pakistan Government has a long record of bad faith. In August it was involved in a terrorist bombing against the Indian embassy in Kabul. The Americans got this information, through their pervasive eavesdropping on electronic communications and passed it to the Indians.
There is no obvious path forward with Pakistan, which occupies that diabolical category of divided state, where part of the state fights terrorism and part of it enables and helps terrorism.
India, among others, is locked in a struggle with the pro-terrorist elements of the Pakistani state.