The India Pakistan relationship in recent years has been to a pattern. They hit, we appease. The massive train bombing in Mumbai in 2006 was followed by the NAM Summit in 2007 where we lowered ourselves to Pakistan's level by agreeing that both countries faced the common threat of terrorism.
We ignored that India had suffered from Pakistani terrorism and innumerable killings for decades and Pakistan had just begun to suffer from Pakistani terrorism. Thereafter, the commonality ended. The carnage of Mumbai on November 26, 2008 -- something all of us watched in horror and anguish -- was really Gen Kayani's Kargil against us. It was a declaration of war.
In response we did not even formally suspend the Composite Dialogue. Instead, we had the sell out at Sharm el-Sheikh in July 2009 where we scored a number of own goals.
Diplomatic failure: The India-Pakistan relationship in recent years
has been set to a pattern.
That has been the pattern since then, beginning with the Delhi fiasco of the Foreign Secretaries' meeting followed by the Islamabad fiasco of the Foreign Ministers' meeting interspersed with dreamy eyed hopes of building trust at Thimpu and ending with the latest foray in the Maldives. Our problem has been that we have made hope a principle of foreign policy and Pakistan has made terrorism a weapon of foreign policy and we are not able to see the futility of the first and the reality of the second.
The reality is harsh and frightening. The reality is that of Lashkar-e-Tayyaba, its linkages with the Deep State of Pakistan embodied in the Pak Army and the ISI and the jihadi paraphernalia. They draw sustenance from each other. While the world is now waking up to the threat, we in India should by now have a clear idea of the kind of threat we face from this terrorist outfit masquerading as a social service NGO. We should be under no delusions about what the future entails as this organisation has the full support of the state.
Three years after Mumbai, despite all our entreaties and dossiers, there has been no joy from Pakistan. Instead we have the Pak Interior Minister suggesting that we hang Qasab, and thereby close the case implying quite clearly we are not going to get what we want from Pakistan. Three years after Mumbai the LeT has grown in strength and range of activities with a presence in at least 22 countries and making it a far more potent threat than any other terrorist organisation.
The LeT's vast terror network extends beyond Pakistan; its terror training establishment of military-jihadi expertise teaches an international alumni. Jihadi training schools are now a lucrative post retirement avenue for retiring Army officers and men who provide international consultancies and specialised training, like creating deep cover operatives. It is estimated that the LeT has over 2,500 offices, employing over 25,000 persons. While its main centre remains at Muridke, near Lahore where it has a sprawling campus, students' hostels, technical institutes, medical centres, its second major infrastructure facility is in Shahdodpur in Sindh.
Its financial resources are enormous -- both domestic from charity contributions, compensation/subsidy from the Army, global donations from Pakistanis abroad and from Saudi Arabia and UAE charities. There is enough money in the LeT coffers to enable purchase of new property worth US $ 6 million in Punjab and Sindh in 2003. Since 2001 a new centre, the Markaz Qadsiya was built in Lahore at a cost of US $9.5 million. All this and more can be found in Wilson John's book "The Caliphate's Soldiers," which is guaranteed to leave many of us very frightened.
Today the LeT is the world's most powerful trans-national, but essentially Punjabi, terrorist group enjoying unending state support. There are no signs that the Pakistani state has any intentions of either even disengaging from LeT's activities to say nothing of dismantling this group.
The fear that there could be a major terrorist attack in India by the LeT or its proxies, is very real. This threat will begin to recede only when the Deep State realises it has to pay a price for such activities. Mere threats to break dialogue, display of misplaced magnanimity or appeals to the international community are unlikely to impress the LeT or its mentors.
The writer is a former chief of Research and Analysis Wing (RAW)