Sunday, February 19, 2017

THE SLEEPWALKING HABIT

http://www.dailypioneer.com/columnists/edit/the-sleepwalking-habit.html

Saturday, 18 February 2017 | Pioneer | in Edit

Instead of blaming India, Islamabad must reset

In a comment that can only be called absurd, Pakistan has accused India of endangering regional piece through a military build-up and of seeking to sabotage the China-Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC). The remark has come after an equally laughable allegation by Islamabad that India was in the process of establishing a “secret nuclear city” by stockpiling nuclear arsenal. If levelling wild accusations is the way Pakistan wants to reset ties with India, then it is wasting its time. The problem with Islamabad is that it refuses to realise that no sensible country in the world would take such remarks seriously. On the contrary, Pakistan is making itself more of a laughing stock. Since it is so concerned about regional peace and stability, it must devote time and resources to address the issue of its backing to militant groups and individuals that are out to disrupt just that. Whether it's India or Afghanistan or Bangladesh, they are all unanimous and unambiguous in their charge that Pakistan has been supporting terrorists to target their assets. It's true that New Delhi has reservations about the CPEC, but that's because the proposed project impacts Pakistan-occupied Kashmir which India — and rightly so — has consistently maintained to be its territory, forcibly occupied by the neighbour. India is not against economic or infrastructural advancement in the region. Pakistan must remember that it has been, on the contrary, an obstacle to regional development, blocking moves by members of South Asian Association for Regional Cooperation (Saarc) to enhance connectivity through roads and space research (India's proposal for a Saarc satellite is a case in point). Islamabad must, therefore, stop whining.

Rather, it would be in Pakistan's interest to take cognizance of global sentiments that present the nation in poor light. This too is largely Islamabad's own doing, and for years and decades now. In other words, Pakistan has been hurtling down the path of danger in patronising terrorists. This has also been effectively projected in Khaled Ahmed's book, Sleepwalking to Surrender. Ahmed is not an Indian, and certainly not an agent of this country's external intelligence, Research & Analysis Wing (R&AW). Also, he is not the first Pakistani to warn his country about the pitfalls of sustaining the policy of ‘good terrorists and bad terrorists'. Former Pakistani envoy Husain Haqqani, who now travels everywhere except Pakistan because of the threat to his life there, too has written on the theme in his books; and so have West-based authors like Carlotta Gall and Christine Fair.

In recent days, two comments need to be taken in the prevailing context. The first is by a senior Central Intelligence Agency official who served in Islamabad, Kevin Hulbert. Writing on a website, he said that “Pakistan is the most dangerous country for the world”. He did acknowledge that Western disengagement with that country will make things worse — but it was said more out of having no choice. The other comment came from a Brussels-based think-tank, the International Crisis Group, which pointed to the flourishing of Karachi-based militant groups that target India, through state patronage. Pakistan can continue to ignore such matters at its own risk

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