Pakistan’s non-serious approach

In a recent interview Advisor to the Prime Minister of Pakistan on Foreign Affairs, Sartaj Aziz, levelled a preposterous charge that India was using terrorism as an excuse for not talking to Pakistan. He also claimed, rather disingenuously, that Pakistan had cooperated with India on the Pathankote terror attack and it was not justified to blame Pakistan for not doing enough. Clearly, if Sartaj Aziz’s interview is anything to go by, he is hinting that India needs to reconcile to holding talks with Pakistan even as terrorism continues to be spawned in India by both ‘state’ actors and ‘non-state’ actors who function as auxiliaries of ‘state’ actors. In other words, he is asserting Pakistan’s entitlement to continue using terrorism as an instrument of policy against India and expects India to, at best be blasé about terror attacks, and at worst, learn to live with these attacks. This is hardly a sustainable or tenable, much less an acceptable, proposition for India.
Even as the Pakistan foreign secretary was parroting before a visiting delegation of US officials the standard line that ‘Pakistan was already pursuing its objective of eliminating all militants and terrorists from its soil in accordance with the National Action Plan’, the military establishment had brought out the ‘good’ militant and terrorist groups – Difa-e-Pakistan Council comprising among others the internationally designated terrorist organisation Lashkar-e-Taiba/Jamaatud Dawa and the Sunni extremist ‘banned’ outfit ASWJ – on the streets of Pakistan to demonstrate and protest against the US-India summit in Washington and the drone strike that killed the Pakistan-backed Afghan Taliban chief Mullah Akhtar Mansoor.
The only purpose for unleashing the DPC was to blackmail the world with the jihadist threat if Pakistan wasn’t given what it wanted – parity with India. While the rest of the world has presumably seen through this game, the Pakistanis obviously continue to believe that they can still squeeze something by at least waving the jihadist threat and occasionally using it as well.
In the face of these developments, for Sartaj Aziz to take cover behind what he calls a ‘principled stand’ – Pakistanis quoting principles is quite akin to the Devil quoting the scripture – on the issue of designating the Jaish chief Masood Azhar as an international terrorist is part of the duplicitous conduct that is characteristic of Pakistan’s approach to terrorism.
India will need to break this mould and send a clear and uncompromising message, not just to Pakistan but also other interlocutors in the international community, that while it is more than ready to engage Pakistan in talks, no dialogue can be held with a Pakistani gun pointed to India’s head, or for that matter to Pakistan’s own head. If Pakistan is genuine about holding talks with India, it must deliver on its commitments to bring the planners and perpetrators of both the 26/11 attack as well as Pathankote attack to justice. And it must put the terrorist auxiliaries of the state out of business.

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