P.akistan is in action. Within 10 days, the terrorists trained on the ground managed to attack and kill the harsh Indian counter-terrorism army in Kashmir in Handwara. This country has also succeeded in causing murder Sardar Muhammed Arif Wazir, the leader of a fully peaceful group, demanded Pashtun rights. Even more recently, the killer’s protégé the accused from a vicious attack on the maternity ward in Afghanistan, killing a newborn baby. Some other countries can aspire to touch the heights of sub-conventional wars that are so brave, without a ton of sanctions imposed on them.
Iran, North Korea are inferior humans
Now, consider this. Iran has been described as “The worst sponsor of terrorism in the world”, with US President Donald Trump appointed Iran’s Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC) as a terrorist entity in April 2019. That was the first time a government agency was designated a terrorist entity. However, like analyst point out, Shia terrorism has never found a place in the Annual Report on Terrorism issued by the Ministry of Foreign Affairs in the last 20 years. Iran naturally tends to go out and kill its enemies, but its operations are a pale shadow of what Islamabad can achieve on a reasonable day.
Then there is the eternal brat, North Korea, who was reappointed as a terrorist sponsor in 2017. That has more to do with political Trump administration. Although the North Korean regime prefers to abolish dissidents, they are unable to maintain virtual forces in one country and 20 years of terrorist activity in another, as Pakistan does.
The Taliban are soldiers who depend on Pakistan for housing, banking, medical care and money, among other things. In the Afghanistan conflict, 20,260 civilians have been killed or injured between 2009 and March 2020, according to UNAMAConservative estimate. It did not take into account the war ten years earlier, which could be considered to have killed a number of similar civilians. The total number of victims (both civilian and military) in Kashmir is estimated to be around 41,000 until 2017. Add to that about the others 855 killed since then. In total, Pakistan has been directly or indirectly responsible for more than one lakh death since 1990. However, Iran remains at the top of the charts to spread terror.
How Pakistan escaped this for decades is a question that has puzzled even the best security experts. Except for a single threat after 9/11 “Pakistani bombing goes back to the stone age” The US seems to have avoided airstrikes that were even confined to Taliban camps in Pakistan. When asked about this diffusion, many people in Washington jeered at the possibility of attacking a nuclear weapons state, forgetting that Pakistan had become a nuclear state when Richard Armitage, then an assistant US secretary of state, made his historic threat.
However, the US has been twirling Pakistan on another occasion: when using drones to strike deep into Pakistani territory, when US aircraft crossed Pakistani air space to bomb Osama bin Laden’s camps in Afghanistan, and when it went to Pakistan itself to get Bin Loaded. So whether Pakistan’s nuclear weapons obstruct the US or not seems to depend very much on its own interests, the political context and the level of punishment Pakistan can bear.
The second view is that the US is too dependent on Pakistan for any operation in Afghanistan. That this is true is seen from US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo advice following the latest attack on Afghanistan, when he recommended that Kabul “work together” with the Taliban to bring peace to the country.
It is also true that Islamabad is adept at turning bad cards into winners. So, it milked US operations for all it’s worth, moving from $ 177 million before 9/11 to reach $ 2.7 billion in 2010.
Pakistan trade intelligence
Pakistan managed to cash in another way too. As a note of analysis, 3 out of 4 terrorist attacks in Britain, for example, have their roots in Pakistan. Previous paper by Inheritance Foundation warned that the Anglo-Pakistani “terror connection” posed a serious threat. This paper recommends a “coordinated” British-US policy on Pakistan. Clearly, Britain is following its own path in ‘helping’ Pakistan in return for intelligence about terrorist movements. So do other countries, including Russia, Uzbekistan and China.
Cooperation with the Pakistani army and intelligence services is highly valued by the government and academics who are looking for resources. Only a few are deceived by Pakistan’s falsehood, but follow along for a good paper and contacts they can borrow home. Therefore, the criticism was subdued in international journals. In other words, terrorism keeps Pakistan in business and also lets it influence the narrative.
There is a third view. Diplomats secretly admit that as an Islamic state, Pakistan has ‘entered’ into troubled countries like Iran or Saudi Arabia, and is using its access to help Western friends. Then, there is a suspicion that the US is operating into Iran through Pakistani groups to access intelligence from a country that cannot be expected to access it on its own. In 2008, the then President of Pakistan, Pervez Musharraf, was flown to the turbulent Xinjiang region of China to preach peace to Chinese Muslims. Pakistan is not the leader of the Islamic world, but of course it is a useful pawn.
Pakistan has prevented the threat of being labeled a terrorist state, especially by calculating the threshold tolerated by the US, India and others. This was annoyed by the Balakot attack, making him dependent on other levers, including America’s dire need to end the debilitating war in Afghanistan and offer information about the terrorists it evoked.
Meanwhile, Chinese aircraft carrying drugs and military doctors were welcomed in Pakistan, when Beijing faced difficulties everywhere because of its failure to deal with the spread of the corona virus. For Rawalpindi, China’s physical presence is additional insurance.
None of this has held India back in the past, and it shouldn’t have. When India considers the appropriate response to the Handwara attack, there will be consideration of other air strikes, despite the fact that Beijing has chosen to heat the border in Ladakh comfortably for Islamabad.
While air options must remain open, aggressive calls for sanctions against Pakistan as a terrorist state must be considered, rather than exhausting requests for seats on the UN Security Council. This may receive support at a time of global exhaustion due to Pakistan’s endless war, and more importantly, the costs imposed on a budget emphasized by a pandemic that are far more deadly than anything that can happen in Pakistan. This time, the levers of Islamabad might lose their superiority.
The writer is a former director, Secretariat of the National Security Council. Display is private.
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