Study history, study history. In history lie all the secrets of statecraft…” so said Winston Churchill. Around 45 years ago, as the Pakistani Army waged war against its own people in East Pakistan, Indira Gandhi made a prophetic observation in a TV interview weeks before the 1971 war. She said, “I think, and I personally think most of the world believes this but they may not say so openly, that Pakistan as it existed can never be the same again.”
History is witness, since, to the unravelling of a country—the decoupling of the nation and the emergence of the rogue state. For four decades, Pakistan has leveraged sponsorship of terror as an instrument of statecraft, creating multiple business models. That Pakistan continues to do so while being a member of the UN and a trusted ally of the evangelists of global morality illustrates the perfidy that defines geopolitics.
There has been hopeful excitement about a bill (HR 6069) titled “Pakistan State Sponsor of Terrorism Designation Act” introduced in the US House of Representatives by Congressman Ted Poe. He said, “A day of reckoning has arrived. Fifteen years after September 11, 2001, we have more than enough evidence to determine whose side Pakistan is on. And it’s not America’s.” This is not the first attempt. On March 9, 1995, Congressman Eliot L Engel along with Representative Bill McCollum supported by seven members introduced a resolution (H Con. Res 35) calling upon the Secretary of State “to designate Pakistan as a state sponsor of terrorism”. The 1995 resolution was referred to the Committee on International Relations. The 2016 bill has been referred to the Committee on Foreign Affairs and Committee.
The reality of Pakistan sponsoring terror and providing a safe haven for terrorists has been known and repeatedly proven—Abbottabad is but one location. The fate of India’s repeated presentation of dossiers is well known. Others haven’t fared better either. Rahmatullah Nabil, former head of Afghan spy agency National Directorate of Security, accused Pakistan and ISI of systematically sponsoring terrorism with grim details. Zalmay Khalilzad, former US envoy to Iraq, Afghanistan and UN told the House Committee on Foreign Affairs that Pakistan was playing a double game. He averred that Pakistan, instead of being designated as a “major non-NATO ally”, should be on the “list of state sponsors of terrorism”. Indeed, in February 2015, Edward R Royce, Chairman, Committee on Foreign Relations wrote to Secretary of State John Kerry questioning the strategic partnership between the US and Pakistan.
Fact is, Pakistan has insured itself into a secure refuge. The reason is located in history—in the crafting of the principal agent relationship with the US (and with China). On October 25, 1970, Richard Nixon promised Pakistan’s military ruler Yahya Khan that “we will keep our word, we will work with you, try to be as helpful as we can”. That was the price America had to pay for Pakistan brokering peace with China which came through in July 1971. Despite an arms embargo, arms were made available to Pakistan via Turkey and Iran. Indeed, in the 1970s, US Ambassador to India Patrick Moynihan urged in a telegram to the President “Promise Pakistan Anything But Arms” as it would be “feeding the fantasies” of Pakistan.
It would seem that four decades later, the US administration is yet paying the EMI. Since 9/11, it has funded Pakistan to the tune of $25 billion—nearly 70 per cent of which was for security-related assistance. And questions have been raised. In 2011, following Operation Geronimo, a bill titled “Pakistan Foreign Aid Accountability Act” called on the Secretary of State to certify that Pakistan did not know of Laden’s presence. In April 2016, Congressman Matt Salmon
(Chairman, Sub Committee on Asia) in his opening remarks on the 2017 Budget (Afghanistan and Pakistan) questioned the conduct of Pakistan and observed “too often they seem to do the bare minimum to keep the money flowing”. Pakistan is also a recipient of aid from multilateral agencies like IDA, World Bank and countries including Japan, the UK and Germany besides the Middle East.
For sure, countries will focus on self-interest. What about multilateral agencies—how sure are they or what is the accountability of end-use of money? What about the state of human rights in Pakistan? The HRW report is a litany of oppression. There is the persecution and execution of minorities—Shia mosques being bombed, Ahmadis being killed, the use of blasphemy laws to institutionalise discrimination. Worse, the government ended an unofficial moratorium on judicial executions.
What about the UN, what about its mandate? Benjamin Netanyahu recently described the transition of the UN from a “moral force to a moral farce”. Fact is, the UN Security Council Counter Terrorism Committee lists 38 resolutions of varying angles passed since 9/11. That, however, hasn’t yet resulted in even a question on how Pakistan repeatedly pops in the discourse on terror attacks—most recently the New York bomber. For sure, not every Pakistani supports terrorism. But events and facts beg the question as to why so many terrorists seem to have passed through Pakistan?
India is yet again at that intersection where it must avenge its
honour, yet it cannot afford to lose its moral stature. Options range from and include diplomatic isolation, military action, denying Indus river water and so on. Independent MP Rajeev Chandrashekar proposes to move a Private Member’s Bill in the Rajya Sabha calling for Pakistan to be declared a terrorist state. It stops short of asking the government to move a resolution in the UN. It would be interesting to see how the government responds to this approach.
They say you cannot escape your history and geography. India’s challenge is to find answers independently to establish its pre-eminence. That, however, still leaves open the question that now must be answered by the evangelists of global good: how long will the international community be mute spectators while a rogue state commits genocide at home and sponsors terrorism across the world? It is an inflection point in history.
Author of Accidental India: A History of the Nation’s Passage through Crisis and Change