Only the tough get their way with Pakistan
The United States carried out a daring military operation and killed Osama Bin Laden, the man who masterminded the horrific 9/11 attacks. The man they most wanted for over 10 years. The man they declared was public enemy number one. This determined pursuit of the US in tracking and hunting their enemies down even if it took them 10 long years stands in sharp contrast to our own efforts in seeking justice for all acts of terror perpetrated by Pakistan. While the US is determined to take its pursuits to their logical conclusions, we however hope for “Aman” where there is no “Asha”. It is not surprising then that there are renewed demands for doing something about Pakistan.
The manner in which Pakistan’s ties to terrorism have been exposed and the humiliation it suffered in this US Navy SEALs attack in Abbottabad has thoroughly discredited them. This is adding to the growing demands that Prime Minister Manmohan Singh must do a rethink of his policy towards that country.
After the audacious fidayeen attacks of 26/11 in Mumbai, designed and aided by the ISI, people of the country wanted the Prime Minister to take strong action against Pakistan so that this heinous act would not go unpunished. International opinion too was in our favour. But we continue to be disappointed to this day.
It is not as if we lack the capability to carry out covert, surgical strikes. Our armed forces are one of the most professional, most respected in the world. They have proven their skill time and again, under trying conditions in defending our national interests. Our elite forces have beaten their counterparts in military exercises. What hampers us is the lack of political will to take brave decisions. Public opinion favours such strikes, our armed forces are willing. However lack of strong political will to do so is the only weak link.
Pakistan has been used by the US to further their own interests for long now. US depends a lot on Pakistan for a face saving exit from Afghanistan. The US also has some use for Pakistan against China. On the other hand China has vowed strong friendship with Pakistan. And it has demonstrated a willingness to stand by Pakistan come what may. Even in the embarrassing aftermath of Osama’s killing China has stood behind Pakistan. China too sees Pakistan as a very useful tool against us. By not dealing strongly and resolutely with Pakistan we are only letting it become a more useful tool for both the US and China. The longer we wait to deal with it, the more useful it becomes for China and US and the more difficult it becomes for us. Opportunities like those presented after 26/11 should be seized upon because it becomes very difficult for friends to stand by Pakistan in such situations. There were international victims in the Mumbai attacks which allowed us a chance to retaliate without much fear of world opinion. We cannot afford to waste such narrow window of opportunities. Yet our government has been unwillig to seize upon them.
We have suffered Pakistan sponsored terrorism for decades. That is enough time to better prepare and come up with possible options for ourselves in dealing with and sending a strong message to Pakistan. But that is not the case. We only react and react poorly. That shows our lack of strategic foresight.
For far too long Pakistan has been allowed to escape the consequences of its policy of terror towards us. Absence of any retaliation has only emboldened it to carry out increasingly audacious attacks against us. It is time that we leave behind all the ideas that have failed to yield any results in all these decades. Fear of severe consequences is a strong deterrent for any misadventure. We need a rethink in our policy towards Pakistan. It is time to start guarding our national interests with all the force we are capable of.