the most criminalised orders of the global Right

INDIA: Mulling Tough Options Against Pakistan
Praful Bidwai, IPS, NEW DELHI, Dec 3 2008 (extract)

[…] the assumption that LeT’s involvement necessarily implicates the ISI or the Pakistan Army, or proves the complicity of the civilian government headed by President Asif Ali Zardari, is questioned by many former intelligence officials in India. One of them told IPS on condition of anonymity that

it would be wrong to assume that LeT enjoys no autonomy and the ISI still fully controls it. Making a direct equation between LeT, the ISI, the Pakistan Army and the elected civilian government, and accusing them of having colluded to engineer the attacks, would be way off the mark.

This official’s assessment is that Zardari’s government would not want to undermine the peace process with India and risk a costly conflict at a time when Pakistan is in dire economic trouble and volatile thanks to a growing collapse of governance and rising ethnic strife. These are manifested in the current Mohajir-Pushtun clashes in Karachi, and the creeping Taliban takeover of the North-Western Frontier Province. That conspiracy theory sits ill with Zardari’s recent statement pledging not to use nuclear weapons first against India. Zardari has often said that Pakistan can ill-afford to unleash against India the forces of extremism which have caused havoc on its own territory. After all, Pakistan is also a victim of extremists, who claimed his wife Benazir Bhutto’s life, carried out the Sep 20 attack on the Marriott hotel in Islamabad, and earlier made two major attempts on former president Pervez Musharraf’s life. On Tuesday, Zardari told the Financial Times that provocation by extremist “non-state actors” poses the danger of a return to war between India and Pakistan, and rhetorically asked: “Even if the militants are linked to LeT, who do you think we are fighting?” Achin Vanaik, professor of international relations and global politics and Delhi University, says:

Many will question his claim that Pakistan is seriously fighting LeT or its parent organisation, Harkat-ul-Dawa. Pakistan imposed a formal ban on the group, but it reappeared under a different name. Its leader, Hafiz Mohammed Said, is a free man. And HuD holds public meetings, according to many credible reports. Nevertheless, India should take Pakistan’s offer to help investigate the attacks. Although it has reneged on its earlier offer to send the ISI director-general to India, it still promises to send a senior agency official. India should respond positively to this and try to build alliances with the saner elements in Pakistan who recognise the dangers of fomenting jehadi terrorism.

The alternative would be to drift towards conflict, insecurity and war. If India insists on its demand about turning in fugitives living in Pakistan, there is a danger that Pakistan will not comply. India cannot compel it. Says Vanaik:

This seriously risks an armed conflict, which neither side can win, but is fraught with grave nuclear danger. The only gainers from an India-Pakistan conflict will be extremists and terrorists — besides the US through a heightened mediatory role. This would only confirm the view that the attacks are a gift from the most criminalised orders of the global Right to its most powerful echelons.

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