February 2000 News

Heading for trouble

8 February 2000

Two events on Sunday should prompt Pakistan s ruling junta to ponder whether its aggressive and expansionist ethos is not going to lead it into serious trouble. The first was Prime Minister Atal Bihari Vajpayee's speech in Jalandhar and the second, the hijacking of the Afghan airlines, Ariana s flight from Kabul to Mazhar-e-Sharif. Mr Vajpayee made it clear that no amount of minatory talk of a nuclear war by Pakistani leaders would intimidate India which, though desirous of peaceful ties with their country, was ready to face any eventuality forced on it. While India was for no first use of nuclear weapons, it would retaliate massively if it was attacked. The second message from Mr Vajpayee, who referred to Pakistan s renewed efforts to arouse international concern over Kashmir, was that India would not take any decision under international pressure. Had the military junta at Islamabad been been capable of seeing reason, it would not have been necessary for Mr Vajpayee to emphasise either point. It is not. It is, however, still not too late for the junta to see the writing on the wall and opt for peace. It has been trying to annex Kashmir through overt and covert warfare, deceit and treachery, since 1947, as the first step towards achieving its design of dismembering India. The latter, as influential United States Congressman, Mr Gary Ackerman, has pointed out, and not Kashmir is the core issue , representing as it did the hegemonistic hopes of certain sections of Pakistani national security apparatus.

Pakistan has drawn a blank so far, and it will continue to do so in the future. As Prime Minister Vajpayee rightly pointed out, How can India leave Kashmir when its people had joined India on their own free will? General Pervez Musharraf, Pakistan self-appointed Chief Executive, must also realise that India's patience is running thin. Prime Minister Vajpayee's statement that India was ready to talk about Kashmir alone if Pakistan wanted it, but that it would talk of one-third of Kashmir occupied by Pakistan because it belongs to India , is a clear indication of this. The mood in this country is increasingly one of not taking terrorism lying down and understandably so. According to a draft White Paper on the activities of Pakistan s Inter-Services Intelligence in India, circulated in 1998, Pakistani sponsored terrorism had claimed 35,000 Indian lives, including those of 5,000 security personnel. The figure has gone up since then.

One can then hardly blame India if it feels that enough is enough and a pro-active approach is necessary against terrorism. Should this lead to a war, the consequences would be more devastating for Pakistan than for India. Even the consequences of nurturing Islamic terrorist groups will be dangerous. As the hijacking of the Ariana aircraft shows, one cannot encourage terrorism against other countries without being affected by it oneself. The various fundamentalist Islamic sects which Pakistan itself has nurtured first to fight the Russians in Afghanistan and then to unleash its proxy war on India are now plunging it into chaos through their internecine conflicts. The blasts which are almost becoming routine in Pakistan, are clearly the work of these people. And this is only the beginning.


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