During a press interview to a foreign journalist President Pranab Mukherjee said that even if cross border terrorism was perpetrated by non-state actors as Islamabad claimed, the Pakistan government could not evade responsibility. The territory was under the jurisdiction of the government, the President pointed out. “Non-state actors do not descend from heaven,” he said. This view was echoed by Information and Broadcasting (I&B) Minister Mr. Manish Tewari who told media that the crossing over by terrorists and non-state actors suggested either complicity or negligence by the Pakistan government. “Obviously these terrorists or non-state actors are not coming out of a vacuum,” he said.
My question is: Will the Pakistan government accept an offer of joint intelligence and joint operations against terror to wipe out these non-state actors from both our countries?
The Pakistan High Commissioner to India Mr. Salman Bashir gave a veiled rejoinder to these remarks. But he focused his criticism mainly against the media. He accused the media of focusing exclusively on “so-called” incursions and infiltrations from across the border. He said: “Whoever is making the argument that they have not descended from heaven, I want to ask who are these thousands of people who are involved in heinous acts of terrorism in Pakistan. Have they descended from heaven? We agree they have not descended from heaven, from where are they being funded and sourced?”
One can appreciate the constraints under which Pakistan’s official envoy to India has to function. Mr. Bashir said something, and he implied something. Both his assertion and implication deserve attention. Since he thought it fit to direct his ire against the Indian media this writer takes the liberty of directly responding to his criticism.
Mr. Bashir cannot blame the Indian media of responding to continued incursions from across the border which for diplomatic compulsions he described as “so-called”. But he was right to point out the failure of the Indian government as well as the media to adequately differentiate between the government and non-state actors in Pakistan. Mr. Bashir has rightly asserted that “thousands of terrorists” are operating against Pakistan who obviously did not descend from heaven. By implication this is tacit admission of failure of the Pakistan government. It is a fact that there are substantially more victims of terrorism in Pakistan than in India including in the state of J&K. Then Mr. Bashir went on to question the source of funding and training of these terrorists. His central plea was for the enhancement of cooperation between Islamabad and New Delhi. He said: “We have evidence which we have shared and are prepared to share with the rest of the world and particularly with the government of India on fuelling of acts of terrorism in Pakistan.”
Mr. Bashir’s plea for greater cooperation between India and Pakistan to fight terror clearly indicates that by questioning the source of terror funding he was not pointing a finger at India. He was obviously indicating the hand of Al Qaeda which inspires global terrorism. In the light of the reality of terrorist activity in Pakistan funded and directed by global forces the Indian government is clearly remiss in not taking an initiative for closer cooperation with Pakistan to combat terror. New Delhi ’s inhibition may be explained by its continued doubts about how deeply subverted Pakistan’s security establishment is by pro-terror elements. Well, the Indian media has no such inhibitions. Since Mr. Bashir squarely blamed the Indian media I take the liberty of directly addressing him. I put a question to the Pakistan government through him that the Indian government has failed to do.
Mr. Bashir you seek closer cooperation between India and Pakistan, you admit that there are thousands of terrorists operating inside Pakistan. You indicate that they are funded and directed from abroad. You tacitly imply though you do not state that they cannot operate without help from a section of the official machinery. I agree with your overall analysis. My question is: Will the Pakistan government accept an offer of joint intelligence and joint operations against terror to wipe out these non-state actors from both our countries?
I know that you may not deign to respond to such a question from a mere media person instead of from the government. But let me assure you. If you do answer the media will compel the Indian government to respond appropriately. So will you respond?