Prime Minister Mr. Nawaz Sharif has written to Prime Minister Mr. Narendra Modi expressing satisfaction with his recent visit to India. Mr. Modi has responded with the hope that bilateral ties will be enhanced after an atmosphere free from violence and confrontation is established. It is a futile hope. Terrorist violence will never be eliminated unless the present approach and policies adopted by both governments is drastically revised. The terrorists are smart. Apart from petty personal rivalries among terrorist leaders and the Sunni-Shiite enmity the Taliban terror outfits are united in the pursuit of their main agenda. And that is to ensure that India and Pakistan remain hostilely separated. Terrorists systematically strike to prevent any move towards achievement of Indo-Pakistan peace. They have done so in the past and will do it in the future.
It is the political establishments in India and Pakistan that stupidly allow manipulation by the terrorists. The strategy of the terrorists could not be more transparent.
On the eve of Mr. Modi’s swearing in ceremony and invitation to all heads of South Asian nations, including Afghanistan and Pakistan, there was a terror strike against India in Herat. After Mr. Sharif wrote his friendly letter to Mr. Modi, there was a major terror strike against the Karachi airport. Even as Mr. Modi’s letter to Mr. Sharif, hoping for end to an atmosphere of violence and confrontation was delivered, there was ceasefire violation with mortar shelling in Kashmir. This could not have been done without the direct participation or complicity of the rogue element in Pakistan’s security establishment. Like puppets on a string the governments and ruling elites in India and Pakistan dance to the tune set by the terrorists who display formidable unity and cohesion.
In the Karachi airport strike the Tereeq-e-Taliban claimed responsibility. The terrorists shot dead in that encounter were Uighurs. Uighur leaders proudly claimed that they had participated in the attack organized by the Punjabi Taliban. And yet some security analysts in Pakistan continued to accuse India and Afghanistan of jointly launching the attack. Could a response have been more pathetic? Both India and Pakistan are being bled by terror attacks, Pakistan more so than India. Yet both countries cannot make common cause to eliminate terrorism which could be accomplished within a few months if both armies and security agencies conducted joint operations. Can they not draw inspiration from the unity displayed by the terrorists?
It may be recalled that early Chinese claims of Uighur terrorism may have been spurious to appear victim while being a perpetrator. Some years back Beijing sought information from Islamabad about certain Uighurs being trained in Pakistani camps. This revealed Beijing’s official awareness of Uighur participation in terrorist activity. Pakistan trained Uighur terrorists, who were expected to go for action in Chechnya, sent with blessing of the People’s Liberation Army. The situation changed after Beijing supplied arms to Iranian backed Shiite jihaadis. China depended heavily on energy supplies from Iran. But that miscalculation turned Sunni terror outfits against Beijing and led to escalation of genuine Uighur terrorism in Xingjian. The cooperation displayed now between Uighurs and the Punjabi Taliban in the Karachi airport strike is worth noting.
The Prime Ministers of India and Pakistan are tragically wasting time by refusing to recognize the simple truth. Confidence building measures and goodwill exchanges will accomplish nothing. Terrorists can always derail the peace process through calculated acts of terror. Mindsets have to change before both nations build trust to eliminate the common enemy. That trust will only come if both governments agree to jointly eliminate terror. They will agree to joint efforts only if a serious effort to settle the Kashmir dispute, whatever its final solution, is first announced. That serious effort can only be made when a settlement is reached with the consent of Islamabad, New Delhi and the people of Kashmir.
So first things first! The steps towards genuine Indo-Pakistan peace are, first an agreement to establish joint operations against terror, secondly to simultaneously agree to sincerely address the Kashmir dispute, and third to introduce the institutional changes required to stabilize the new consequent arrangement in the region. Everything else is a waste of time. Politicians should not delude themselves. They should learn to be as smart as the terrorists who confront them.