A timely anal­y­sis of why Pak­istan con­tin­ues to pose a threat to In­dia and the world

India Today - - LEISURE - By G. Parthasarathy

Books by Amer­i­can aca­demics, of­fi­cials and jour­nal­ists on In­dia and Pak­istan al­most in­vari­ably por­tray re­luc­tance of the au­thors to call a spade a spade. They un­der­play the se­ri­ous global im­pli­ca­tions of Pak­istan’s links with rad­i­cal Is­lamist ter­ror­ist groups and the danger­ous role of th­ese groups within Pak­istan and be­yond its bor­ders, par­tic­u­larly in In­dia and Afghanistan. Bruce Riedel is dif­fer­ent. He is an Amer­i­can spe­cial­ist on the Mid­dle East, South Asia and counter- ter­ror­ism, with 29 years’ ex­pe­ri­ence in the CIA. He has also served four pres­i­dents in the White House.

Riedel’s new book, Avoid­ing Ar­maged­don: Amer­ica, In­dia and Pak­istan to the Brink and Back, is a colour­ful and in­ter­est­ing ac­count of the im­per­a­tives, twists and turns of Amer­ica’s poli­cies, es­pe­cially since the days of World War II and the sub­se­quent par­ti­tion of the sub- con­ti­nent in Au­gust 1947. While the birth pangs of the par­ti­tion, the dis­pute over Jammu and Kash­mir and the In­di­aPak­istan con­flicts of 1965 and 1971 are cov­ered fac­tu­ally and im­par­tially, it is im­por­tant for all those in­ter­ested in the geopol­i­tics of In­dia’s neigh­bour­hood to read and ab­sorb Riedel’s anal­y­sis of how the US cul­ti­vated Pak­istan’s mil­i­tary dic­ta­tor, Gen­eral Zia- ul- Haq, to “bleed” the Soviet Union in Afghanistan. In the process, Amer­ica made Pak­istan a play­ground for rad­i­cal Is­lamist groups world­wide, which un­der­mined se­cu­rity and sta­bil­ity within Pak­istan and across its en­tire neigh­bour­hood.

Gen­eral Zia laid the foun­da­tions for Pak­istan’s am­bi­tions to make Afghanistan a rad­i­cal Is­lamic state and the epicentre for global ji­had. Over 80,000 Afghans were armed and trained by the ISI dur­ing the Zia pe­riod, with an aim of end­ing Afghan ter­ri­to­rial claims on Pak­istan and elim­i­nat­ing In­dian and Soviet in­flu­ence there, while also mak­ing Afghanistan “a real, Is­lamic State, part of a panIs­lamic re­vival that will one day win over the Mus­lims of the Soviet Union”. Riedel re­veals how Gen­eral Zia used the Afghan con­flict for car­ry­ing his en­thu­si­asm for ji­had into Jammu and Kash­mir, fol­low­ing a se­cret meet­ing with Kash­miri Ja­mat- eIs­lami leader Maulana Ab­dul Bari in 1980. Riedel also re­veals Zia’s role in fo­ment­ing ter­ror­ism in Pun­jab in the 1980s. He ex­poses US du­plic­ity in re­ward­ing Pak­istan in the 1980s, by de­lib­er­ately turn­ing a blind eye to its nu­clear weapons pro­gramme.

Riedel ex­plains how short- sighted Amer­i­can poli­cies pro­moted Wah­habi- ori­ented rad­i­cal­i­sa­tion in a nu­clear- armed Pak­istan. Th­ese poli­cies also in­creased the dom­i­nance of the army, weak­en­ing demo­cratic in­sti­tu­tions. They led to the emer­gence of global links be­tween rad­i­cal Is­lamist or­gan­i­sa­tions in Pak­istan and Afghanistan and their coun­ter­parts across the world. The Kargil con­flict is dis­cussed in de­tail, as is the mil­i­tary stand­off that fol­lowed the De­cem­ber 2001 at­tack on the In­dian Par­lia­ment. Riedel is un­spar­ing on the links of the ISI with the Lashkar- e- Toiba ( LeT). He dwells on

the nexus be­tween ISI- sup­ported

SAU­RABH SINGH/ www. in­di­a­to­day­im­ages. com

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