Sunday, November 4, 2007

Pakistan developments a threat to India

India has responded with diplomatic propriety to the imposition of emergency on Saturday in Pakistan. Terming as "unfortunate" the developments in Pakistan where emergency has been declared, Defense Minister, A K Antony, on Sunday said a stable government in Islamabad was good for that country as well as for India, according to this report in The Hindu newspaper.

Indian officials are however in private worried about the impact of the emergency on the Talibanization of Pakistan, and the overall growth of fundamentalism in that country.

The imposition of emergency rule, and the marginalization of both political parties and institutions like the judiciary, leaves Pakistan in a political vacuum that the fundamentalists will try to fill.

The fundamentalist elements, besides targeting Afghanistan, will also target India, stepping up its demand for an independent Kashmir. Kashmir is now partially under Pakistani control with the rest of the territory under Indian control.

The Indian government has maintained in the past that terrorist attacks in India were often perpetrated by Pakistanis with support from intelligence agencies and the military in Pakistan. The intelligence agencies were also accused of running training camps for separatists.

The fundamentalists in Pakistan are likely to attempt to move beyond the Kashmiri separatist agenda to a broader fundamentalist agenda in India. India has a large Muslim population who the fundamentalists in Pakistan would want to bring to their fold.

The other danger is that fundamentalists have already infiltrated the army and the intelligence agencies in Pakistan. While Musharraf’s government continues to receive US aid, positioning itself as an ally in the “war against terror”, the army and the intelligence agencies may subvert his agenda, and give the terrorists a wink and a nod both for their activities in North West Frontier province, and in Kashmir and the rest of India.

In an interview to ABC News, former Pakistan prime minister Benazir Bhutto said: “There's a very slim line between what are called Musharraf's people and the terrorists who tried to kill me in Karachi”. Here is a link to the interview.

India’s options are few. As in the past its view will not count in international diplomacy as long as the US is intent on backing Musharraf. Pakistan was viewed by the US as an ally against terror, even though India had frequently expressed concerns about Pakistan stoking cross-border terrorism.

What Pakistan does in Kashmir does not concern the US a lot, as it is not seen as an important theatre in its war against terror. The US is concerned about the presence of Al Qaeda in the North West Frontier province, and there Musharraf holds the cards.

Related articles:
US support to Pakistan unaffected after martial law
US impotent before “buddy” Musharraf

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