In a stunning statement before the US Senate Armed Services Committee last week, Adm. Michael G Mullen, chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, charged Pakistan's dreaded intelligence agency, the ISI of supporting and aiding insurgents in last week's Kabul bombing of the American embassy and the truck bomb assault on a US combat outpost in Wardak province that wounded 77 US soldiers. Not mincing any words, the Admiral directly accused the Pakistani establishment of aiding and abetting terrorism, not non-state actors as President Zardari would like the world to believe.
'Sullen Mullen', as he was quickly termed said that Pakistan had lost its edge to be seen as a serious player in the region. In choosing to use 'violent extremism' as an instrument of policy. Mullen said, 'the government of Pakistan, and most especially the Pakistani army and ISI, jeopardises not only the prospect of our strategic partnership but Pakistan's opportunity to be a respected nation with legitimate regional influence.' Retired Indian foreign office mandarins of the 90's and 2000's must be smiling.
Appeal for Justice: Using radical Islamic ideology, Pakistan employs low-cost, risk-free Jihadi groups, as a tactic to bleed India
For two decades they had been warning the US and the rest of the world that Pakistan's policy of exporting terror and using cross border terrorism, as an alternative foreign policy tactic would hurt not just the region but also the entire world. The Nineties were a depressing decade. India was losing to a well-orchestrated state policy of cross border terrorism from Pakistan. Having lost every war against India, Pakistan finally hit its eureka moment. Using Jihadi groups it used a low-cost, risk-free tactic to bleed India.
Hizbul Mujahideen, Jaish-e-Mohammad, Lashkar-e-Taiba, Harkat-ul-Mujahideen, Hizbul Tehrir, Al Faran and several others that morphed and renamed themselves attacked India at regular intervals. Jammu and Kashmir became the hot bed of terror activity. The ISI tasted successes that they last hoped during the Khalistani agitation. But now using radical Islamic ideology as the peg, it trained and funded terrorists to attack India. Former ISI chief Hamid Gul in an interview said, "If the jihadis go out and contain India, tying down one million men of their army on their own soil, for a legitimate cause, why should we not support them?"
For over two decades Pakistan's main objective has been to devalue India's conventional superiority by keeping it engaged in a proxy war. India presented before the world satellite imagery, phone intercepts, video recordings and confessions by terrorists as proof of Pakistan's devious and heinous acts of proxy war. The world watched on as thousands were butchered. It was our battle, we had to fight it on our own.
India dithered on how to deal with this menace. If its home minister threatened 'hot pursuit' of terrorists into Pakistan, the FM and even the PM would not back him and instead extend a hand of friendship to Pakistan, hoping that peace was a deal that might be acceptable to it. The basic tenet of offering peace is that one has to be in a position of strength to offer it. We were losing, weak and vulnerable.
Two events changed the game. Economic liberalisation in India and the terror acts of 9/11 in America. With Indian markets wide open for investment opportunities, we found ourselves the toast of major economic summits. Along with economic recognition for India, the world wised up to the threat of global terror. But no it still didn't cut the ice. In the 'War on Terror' that ensued as a result of 9/11, America designated Pakistan as its most important ally. An ally that harbours those same terror elements that America is at war with.
Why, even Osama Bin Laden decided to kick back in a mansion in Abbotabad. There is no turning back now for the Pakistan military-Jihadi complex. Using terror groups as an extension of their foreign policy is and will remain part of the modus operandi. That is how Pakistan aims to achieve 'Strategic Depth' in Afghanistan. There is no point feeling joyous that the world now believes what we already knew, and faced. Pakistan is our neighbour, not theirs.
Smita Prakash is Editor (News) at Asian News International