It is true that the American vice president elect Mr. Joe Biden who recently visited Pakistan and Mr. Miliband the British Foreign Secretary visiting India, have not endorsed the Indian contention that Pakistani state actors were involved in the Mumbai Attack. The cat finally has been belled, though indirectly, by American under Secretary of State Mr. Richard Bucher who has linked ISI with various Jehadi Groups. Needless to say this is a jolt to Pakistan in their on going cover up operation of their involvement in 26/11.
Mr. Richard Boucher has on 15 Jan made an official statement to a leading news magazine that Pakistani intelligence Agency ISI was involved with various terror groups and that its deli king process from them is going on and that it will take some time. In Pakistan, ISI directly functions under Pakistani Army. The current Pakistani Army Chief General Parvez Ashfaq kayani was for three long years the Chief of the ISI during Musharrafs time. If Mr. Bruce Riedal of Brookings Institute, an American think tank is to be believed, than this plan of attacking Mumbai by sea route was the brain child of General Kayani when he was the head of ISI.
Obama and his new team will take over on 20 January 09. Mr. Obama Administrative team, well knowing the Indian sensitivity on the issue is unlikely to back peddle what Mr. Boucher has already said. Mr. Boucher has also appealed to India, not to break its ties with Pakistan. Mr. Miliband telling India that it should accept the trial of the perpetrators of 26/11 if caught, in Pakistan only as Pakistan wants and Mr. Boucher wanting India not to break relations with Pakistan are all OK as long as these pearls of wisdom come as advice and not dictation. It is India who should decide what is good for its national interest.
On 15 Jan 09 Pakistan Interior Minister Mr. Rehman declared that Pakistan has closed five training establishments of the recently banned Jammat-ud-Dawwa (banned by UN Security council) and has arrested 124 of its operatives including Mr. Laakhvi named as mastermind of the current Mumbai strike. However in all these declarations Pakistan continues to be silent as to type of arrest of these operatives. Most of the top leaders of this outfit including their leader Mr. Hafiz Mohammad Saeed have been kept in the luxury of the house arrest and not in any judicial or police lock up. Pakistan is also silent on how this banned organization J-u-D, after taking on a new name held a country wide rally a few days back. Pakistan is also saying that it is not closing down the charity institutions run by this J-u-D. Needless to say Pakistan is still not serious and this entire exercise is to buy time and deflect the attention of new Obama administration from Pakistan.
We in India must understand that in the entire six decade old history of Pakistan, their civilian elected Governments including the current one never enjoyed any real power. The power has always been wielded by the Pakistani Army and the ISI. In the late seventies after the ouster of Soviets from Afghanistan the Pakistani Army, ISI duo recruited, trained and equipped Taliban for Afghanistan sector and Lashkar-e-Toiba for India. In Kargil it was L-e-T whose operatives were working as fighting porters for Pakistani Army. Lashkar has never carried out any terror strikes in side Pakistan. In actual fact Lashkar-e-Toiba is an unofficial extension of Pakistani Army and ISI. It is being used as tool by Pakistani Army to destabilize India by using terror as a weapon.
ISI is too deeply linked with the terror groups of Pakistan to get de linked under American efforts. May be to please the US it may strike an unofficial deal to take genuine strong action against Taliban in Afghanistan. In any case Pakistani Army is now getting increasingly worried about the creeping Taliban effect on Pakistani society. Pakistani Army and the ISI however will not let go Lashkar-e-Toiba. It is imperative that India must device its own means of dealing with this terror menace originating from Pakistan. Towards this end, apart from strengthening our internal security India will have to make short, mid and long term proactive plans to contain and then eliminate these jehadi organizations and all those people who support them by using all means including military. Whatever may be the cost we must snap all relations with Pakistan. Finally we must learn to fight our own battles and stop expecting others to pull our chestnuts out of fire.
* Brigadier Arun Bajpai (Retd), Journalist Free Lance (Defence and Strategic Analyst)