Analysis

Pakistan's Calculated Provocations:

India Must Keep its Powder Dry

While Musharraf as President faced threat of impeachment this scribe conjectured that he could bless an adventure in Kashmir to regain political relevance. On August 6th this scribe wrote: 'Is there a design behind these (ceasefire) violations... To isolate the US in Pakistan and consolidate support from Beijing nothing could be more effective than even a small adventure against India' Musharraf's previous record' reveals a gambler capable of taking any risk to preserve his power and position.' 

With Musharraf's exit it seemed that the threat was over. Appearances were deceptive. Cross-border firing by the Pakistan army increased. The crisis in Jammu and Kashmir escalated. The shortsighted stupidity of politicians in Jammu and in the Valley apart, there is little doubt that the death of a senior Hurriyat leader in police firing became a critical event to inflame public opinion in the Valley. It transpires that he was not shot by a police or army bullet. Would it be too far fetched to speculate that the ISI had a hand in his death? 

Meanwhile bomb blasts inside Pakistan increased in intensity and frequency. And the ruling coalition instead of a united and focused fight against terror fell apart. One day after Nawaz Sharif walked out of the ruling coalition Pakistani infiltrators attacked Jammu. But this time there was a significant difference. They crossed not the Line of Control but international border. The army battled the terrorists in Jammu. Was the international border violation a carefully calibrated move by the forces scuttling Pakistan's democracy to provoke a cross border response by the Indian army? It might be recalled that in 1965 when President Ayub Khan crossed the international border to cut off Akhnoor Prime Minister Shastri launched an attack against Lahore. 

This time around an even mild response by the Indian army could serve the purpose of Pakistani forces out to destroy the country's democracy. The army would regain full power with or without Musharraf. The Indian government needs to be doubly cautious. 

The Pakistan government has failed to address the genuine demands for autonomy in NWFP and Baluchistan with a worthwhile peace package. It has failed to neutralize mounting terrorism. It has failed to separate the local Taliban from foreign Al Qaeda mercenaries. And it has failed to provide a united cohesive civilian government. Pakistan is in a mess. 

If India responds angrily to calculated provocations by certain dark Pakistani elements, it will help strengthen them. If India watches, waits and keeps its powder dry, it might well see Pakistan fall apart under the weight of its own contradictions. That would be a tragic, complicating event. But with the failure of Pakistan's politicians to rise to the occasion, this dire prospect is possible. 

27-Aug-2008

More by :  Dr. Rajinder Puri

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