LOOK EAST, YOUNG PAK­ISTAN

Ris­ing anti-us sen­ti­ment is forc­ing Pak­istan to es­tab­lish bet­ter re­la­tions with In­dia

India Today - - NATION - By Qaswar Ab­bas in Is­lam­abad

THE ES­TAB­LISH­MENT, IN­CLUD­ING THE POW­ER­FUL PAK­ISTAN ARMY, SEES BET­TER TIES WITH IN­DIA AS THE NEED OFTHE HOUR.

In Septem­ber, af­ter over 500 per­sons died from a dengue fever out­break in La­hore, the Pak­istan Med­i­cal As­so­ci­a­tion ( PMA) did some­thing un­usual. The body that rep­re­sents over 10,000 doc­tors for­mally re­quested se­cu­rity agen­cies to in­ves­ti­gate whether Pak­istan was un­der bi­o­log­i­cal at­tack from the United States. “We are in­ves­ti­gat­ing the PMA’S claim,” said a se­nior fed­eral In­te­rior Min­istry of­fi­cial.

Ten­sions be­tween the US and Pak­istan have been on the boil this year. The US ac­cuses Pak­istan of shel­ter­ing the Haqqani ter­ror­ist net­work re­spon­si­ble for a string of at­tacks on western forces in Afghanistan. Amidst this ac­ri­mony, ru­mours and con­spir­acy the­o­ries have taken root on the streets of Pak­istan. One pop­u­lar the­ory: deep cover com­man­dos are al­ready in­side the coun­try wait­ing for a sig­nal from the US ad­min­is­tra­tion to snatch away Pak­istan’s nu­clear weapons. This the­ory has gained cre­dence af­ter the May 1 US raid in Ab­bot­tabad that killed Osama bin Laden.

Pak­istan’s peace over­tures to­wards arch-en­emy In­dia must be seen in the back­drop of this ris­ing anti-us sen­ti­ment. The es­tab­lish­ment, in­clud­ing the pow­er­ful Pak­istan Army, sees bet­ter ties with In­dia as the need of the hour. An In­dian army helicopter that strayed into Pak­istani airspace in Oc­to­ber was sent back in just four hours.

Mount­ing do­mes­tic opinion too calls for Pak­istan to jet­ti­son the US and mend fences with its neigh­bours. Ris­ing po­lit­i­cal star, Pak­istan Tehreeki-in­saf’s Im­ran Khan re­cently called the USA, not In­dia, en­emy No. 1.

“An un­cer­tain re­la­tion­ship with the USA has com­pelled us to es­tab­lish a smooth re­la­tion­ship with In­dia,” says a se­nior Pak­istan for­eign min­istry of­fi­cial. He said award­ing In­dia the sta­tus of Most Favoured Na­tion ( MFN) was an ex­am­ple. Se­nior of­fi­cials in the PPPled rul­ing coali­tion Govern­ment at­tribute the over­tures to re­alpoli­tik. “It is be­cause of the chang­ing geopo­lit­i­cal and geo-strate­gic environment of South Asia and the ap­proach­ing 2014 troop with­drawal of Us-led NATO forces from Afghanistan,” says an of­fi­cial. Pub­licly too, the anti-in­dia rhetoric is be­ing toned down. Pak­istan’s For­eign Min­is­ter Hina Rab­bani Khar spoke of build­ing a new re­la­tion­ship and co­op­er­a­tion and a new foun­da­tion.

“Times have changed. The world is com­ing closer,” Pak­istan’s Com­merce Sec­re­tary Za­far Mah­mood said af­ter ar­riv­ing in New Delhi on Novem­ber 14 for talks with his In­dian coun­ter­part in­clud­ing the an­nounce­ment of a 2012 dead­line for MFN sta­tus for In­dia. At the re­cently con­cluded SAARC sum­mit in the Mal­dives, Prime Min­is­ter Man­mo­han Singh called Pak­istan’s Prime Min­is­ter Yousuf Raza Gi­lani ‘a man of peace’.

In­dian an­a­lysts are, how­ever, more cir­cum­spect. Pak­istan In­te­rior Min­is­ter Rehman Ma­lik may have called for 26/11 ter­ror­ist Aj­mal Kasab to be hanged, but is silent about the Lashkar-e-toiba chief Hafiz Muham­mad Saeed. “Pak­istan has no in­ten­tion of dis­card­ing ter­ror­ism as an in­stru­ment of state pol­icy against In­dia. Even with the US, Pak­istan still plays games, con­tin­u­ing to shield its own mil­i­tant prox­ies de­spite mount­ing Amer­i­can pres­sure,” says Brahma Chel­laney of the New Del­hibased Cen­tre for Pol­icy Anal­y­sis. Clearly, a do­mes­tic po­lit­i­cal paral­y­sis is one of the key is­sues which has forced In­dia’s lead­er­ship to re­cip­ro­cate peace over­tures.

PAK­ISTA­NIS BURN A US FLAG IN KARACHI

Newspapers in English

Newspapers from India

© PressReader. All rights reserved.