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OpEdNews Op Eds    H3'ed 12/27/08

Indo-Pak Tension Affecting War On Terror Badly

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Muhammad Khurshid
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It seems, at the moment, that terrorists have been winning the war as they successfully created war-like situation between Pakistan and India. Rulers of both the countries have been playing into the hands of terrorists. It is ridiculous to note that Pakistani rulers have been threatening that they will withdraw troops from tribal areas in case India attacks Pakistan, but they forget one thing that tribal areas are also the part of Pakistan. The cruel rulers of Pakistan never considered the tribal areas as the part of Pakistan. This is the reason that terrorists easily occupied these areas.

I think the world must establish direct contact with the people of tribal areas as now they are ready to take action against terrorists. The United States should tell the Pakistani leadership to fulfil their obiligation in which utmost importance is the provision of security to the citizens. There must be effort to stop this unnecessary war.  According to a newspaper comment, the government of Pakistan must not abandon war on terror.

Reports in the Indian media suggest that the Pakistan army has moved some elements on Thursday to the Line of Control (LoC) in Kashmir and the international border with India. Specifically, that its 10th Brigade had been deployed to Lahore, the 3rd Armoured Brigade had been ordered to march towards Jhelum, following a heavy concentration of Indian troops on the borders, the 10th and 11th divisions have been put on high alert, and troops have been stationed in the Rajauri and Poonch sectors of Kashmir. Indian TV channels have also reported that the Pakistan Air Force was continuing its state of high alert and had started aerial surveillance of the Chashma power plant and other sensitive sites.

Does this suggest that we are moving from the "verbal" to the "actual" phase? Not really. First, deployment along the Line of Control does not require advance to contact because the string of posts is manned 24/7 and round the year by both sides. It is a constant state of high alert, though some beefing up and issuing of ammo and other equipment may be in order if there is build-up on the other side. Some manoeuvring is at times considered important both for signalling purposes as well as for deploying assets closer to active locations for possible quicker mobilisation. In any case, full mobilisation in the case of Pakistan is an exercise faster and easier than India because of shorter internal lines. This fact is also obvious to India whose mobilisation during 2001-2002 found Pakistani troops deployed even before India had completed its own deployment.

Quicker mobilisation and shorter internal lines are the plus side of lack of depth which has its own minuses in actual combat. This is one of the reasons India developed its much-hyped "Cold Start" strategy, which relies on eight integrated battle groups deployed close to the border with Pakistan. The idea was/is to have these IBGs with their mechanised infantry elements working in tandem with tanks and self-propelled artillery for quick thrusts into Pakistani territory and relying on close air support. The concept is still evolving and its operationalisation is hampered not only by India's lack of capability for such an integrated blitz but also because of the nuclear factor.

The Indian government is under pressure from a hysterical media and a rightwing opposition that wants to fully utilise the Mumbai incident as a device to win the forthcoming elections. On the Pakistani side, the government that showed flexibility in the beginning has had to toughen up its stance in the face of pressure from India and the United States. Foreign Minister Shah Mahmood Qureshi says we should hope for the best but prepare for the worst.

While Pakistan has not moved beyond signalling to active mobilisation across the board, this is time to sober up and start thinking in terms of genuine cooperation rather than trying to forcibly elicit it. For instance, Indian veteran journalist Kuldip Nayar believes that "the two countries have to sit across the table to reconstruct the whole attack from beginning to end to see where the fault lies". This is good advice but the exercise of sitting together has to go beyond taking a snapshot view of Mumbai. It must help the two sides cast an eye on the full spectrum of India-Pakistan relations. Already, the "pause" announced by India has served to deprive the two sides of the only framework through which they could reach out to each other. If this "pause" is stretched longer, it will only serve to worsen the situation.

Already the Indian hype has served to delink the fear of Pakistanis from the terrorists and focused it on India. But the problem of terrorism will not go away. As if on cue, the Taliban have begun making their moves. On Thursday a cache of explosives weighing 650 kg was discovered in Islamabad, putting the government on notice about what could be coming to the capital after the Marriott Hotel blast. If it is going to be another Lal Masjid, the forerunner signs are ominous. The massive amounts of ammunition captured by the government from Lal Masjid in 2007 have already been "stolen" from an Islamabad police station. The NWFP government has more or less pronounced upon Pakistan Army's operation in Swat, calling it a failure after almost two years of battle against the warlord Maulana Fazlullah, who eliminates ANP politicians at will and still successfully prevents girls from going to school. The progress made in Bajaur has been significant but could be undermined if there is a shift of military focus to India. That would mean the two states have played into the hands of whoever did Mumbai. That will bode ill for overall security in the region.
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Muhammad Khurshid, a resident of Bajaur District, tribal areas situated on Pak-Afghan border is journalist by profession. He contributes articles and news stories to various online and print newspapers. His subject matter is terrorism. He is (more...)

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