September 1999 News


Pakistan's Contempt for Accords

8 September 1999
The Hindustan Times
By: Brahma Chellaney

A series of recent events are highlighting Pakistan's familiar disdain for international norms and laws. The recovery of more than 8,500 Pakistani anti-personnel land-mines in Kargil following Pakistan's retreat from the battlefield is one such case. The Pakistani-planted plastic mines, some painted white to camouflage them in the snow, have killed or maimed some Indian soldiers. Pakistan also continues to supply anti-personnel and anti-vehicle mines to terrorists groups in Jammu and Kashmir.

Pakistan's actions fly in the face of its legal commitments under the amended Protocol II of the Convention on Certain Conventional Weapons (CCW). Pakistan became a party to the 1996 protocol barely six months ago; yet in the very first months it has violated its provisions by transferring land-mines to non-state actors and by indiscriminately scattering mines in Kargil. The protocol bars indiscriminate use, and requires states to "make available to the other party" all information concerning mines and booby-traps "laid by them in areas no longer under their control". Even if Islamabad's claim that Kashmiri insurgents, not its military forces, were involved in the Kargil fighting was accepted - a claim it self-punctured with gallantry awards to its Kargil heroes - the recovery of thousands of mines with its markings has exposed its legal culpability in the matter. The protocol's Article 8(b) prohibits the transfer of any mines to non-state entities.

Pakistan treats agreements as instruments for waging war against India by other means. That is the reason it planned the Kargil invasion even as it signed the Lahore Declaration. It signed the Simla Agreement without any intention to adhere to it, so as to buy time to recover from its 1971 dismemberment and hit back at India. It still swears by the 1948 and 1949 UN resolutions on J&K yet, by refusing to withdraw from its colonial possession which it has stripped of all rights but farcically calls Azad Kashmir, it remains in violation of them. The vacation of all occupied areas is a UN-decreed precursor, not sequel, to the holding of a plebiscite. The vacation has to include the 20 per cent of J&K (Aksai Chin, Shaksgam, etc.) subsequently annexed by, or ceded to, China.

Even if Islamabad's implausible story about the downing of its spy plane is believed, it serves as only one more example of its contempt for accords. A 1991 bilateral agreement prohibits military aircraft from flying within 10 kilometers of the border, yet Pakistan's own account denies violation of Indian airspace but tacitly acknowledges violation of the accord. As if transgression of a binding accord is immaterial, Pakistan wants $60.2 million in damages. Will Pakistan pay tens of billions of dollars in damages to India for the Kargil war it imposed in which 500 bright, young Indian military men died?

Although the international system seeks to uphold law, it is impracticable to prosecute a state party that violates its legal commitments. The UN is a place where deals are mad, not where justice is dispensed. The World Court's rulings - like bilateral or international agreements - are dependent on the concerned parties' willingness to accept them. The key to the success of any treaty is enforcement. The CCW protocol, for example has no compliance mechanisms. The only treaties with strong compliance measures are those that are critical to great-power interests, such as the NPT.

Pakistan's tack record on complying with the accords it signs has been dreadful. The accords it has entered into with India, in any case, have lacked enforcement mechanisms. The only Indo-Pak agreements that have worked are those where the onus of compliance has fallen on India and the benefits Pakistan derives are indispensable, such as the Indus river waters sharing accord.

In the style suggested by ancient Chines strategist Sun Tzu, Pakistan underpins its diplomacy and strategy with prevarication, deceit and guilefulness. It not only seeks ways out of its international legal commitments, it has systematically and audaciously broken national laws of other countries through front organisations engaged in clandestine procurement of proscribed components or in terrorist actions. It founded its nuclear-weapons programme by filching Western items, and blueprints, setting up a model that its mentor China emulated years later to similarly purloin US technologies. in a reverse process, however, Pakistan learned its proxy-war stratagems from China, which passed on the baton to it after having trained and armed insurgents in India's North-East.

Nothing can better illustrate the contrasting Indian and Pakistani attitudes to accords than the 1993 Chemical Weapons Convention (CWC). India, in complying with the CWC obligations, truthfully notified that it possesses a tiny stockpile of rudimentary chemical weapons, a cache it had not told its own military about. Pakistan, long suspected of producing chemical weapons, delayed its CWC ratification inordinately and then submitted a "nil holdings" declaration after presumably destroying its stocks. India now has to pay international inspectors to come and destroy its useless chemical-weapons holdings. The CWC, however, has not eliminated chemical-weapons threats to Indian security. The discovery of gas masks and accouterments from the Pakistani-vacated bunker sites in Kargil was reminder of that. The bio-science revolution is making effective CWC enforcement difficult.

With its obsessive, almost-neurotic fixation on India, Pakistan does not support any international treaty unless New Delhi does so. It sprung a surprise last year by de-linking its CTBT signature from New Delhi's, but it didn't take long to revert back to its customary "we'll do-what-India-does" position. The CTBT and the proposed fissile material cur-off treaty, however, will not do to Pakistan what they will do to India - qualitatively and quantitatively cap its nuclear-weapons capabilities Pakistan's new Chinese-aided Khushab plutonium production reactor testifies to the fact that neither treaty will be a barrier to covert transfers of nuclear-weapons designs, materials or technology.

Pakistan will remain a renegade state with a sign-and-violate approach to accords and a vengeful, terrorist-style disposition towards India. To its desire to avenge 1971 has been added the Kargil humiliation. As a wounded, not vanquished, state Pakistan is already seeking to tear apart its July 4 accord with Clinton which mandates that the Line of Control in Kashmir be respected by both sides.

This is evident from not only the qualitative escalation brought about by the raids on Army, paramilitary and intelligence centers in J&K by Pakistan-sponsored elements, but from the Pakistan Army's new intrusions and assaults across the LoC in which a number of Indian soldiers have died, two were captured and four are missing. Bandipore, and now Baghatpora, indicate that having failed to achieve its objectives in Kargil, Pakistan is stepping up its covert war. It is clear that Kargil has saddled India with significant new costs in the long run, both in terms of controlling Pakistani military attacks and encroachment along the LoC and preventing further Bandipores and Baghatporas.

These events suggest that, in the manner of the Lahore Declaration, Nawaz Sharif signed the joint statement with Clinton without any intention to honour it, except to get his troops out of the Kargil quagmire. The Washington accord actually legitimises the LoC drawn under the Simla Agreement, but Pakistan, as a non-status quoist state, has a vested interest in sustaining tensions along the line. With the aid of the primitive, barbaric Taliban regime it props up in Afghanistan, Pakistan is better placed to export more militants, arms and terrorism to Jammu and Kashmir and elsewhere. East Timor's vote for independence will further embolden Pakistan. India has to come out of its defensive mode on Kashmir and demand, as a prerequisite determined by the UN, the vacation of all occupied J&K territories by Pakistan and China, which together hold 55 per cent of the original state. The time has also come for India to stop being Pakistan's victim and take the war to its recusant, implacable enemy.

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