When India made Pakistan a joint partner against terror

Is joint anti-terror mechanism working?
An indefensible blunder by India
Brahma Chellaney
Strategic Affairs Expert
The Economic Times, October 26, 2007
Remember the shock in India when Prime Minister Manmohan Singh, on the fifth anniversary of 9/11, turned Indian policy on its head and embraced Pakistan as fellow victim of and joint partner against terror?

The prime minister’s bizarre logic was that since India had tried in vain to contain growing trans-border terrorism, it should employ a joint mechanism to persuade the terrorist sponsor to correct its course. What he overlooked was that Pakistan’s ruling military establishment still values terrorist groups as useful proxies to bleed India.

The ill-conceived and ill-timed joint mechanism was the product not of institutional thinking but of personal caprice. It put India out of sync with the growing international focus on Pakistan’s rise as the fount of transnational terrorism.

Just when the rest of the world was beginning to goad Pakistan to rein in its terrorist elements, New Delhi eased its own pressure. Today, with the joint mechanism stuck and a new trail of terror attacks occurring from Ajmer to Hyderabad, India’s policy reversal stands out as an indefensible blunder.

New Delhi should have known that Islamabad would not allow this mechanism to become an instrument to put Pakistan in the dock. At the mechanism’s very first meeting, the Pakistani side sought to turn the tables by presenting a "dossier" on alleged Indian involvement in the Baluchi insurrection — a charge it again repeated in the second recent New Delhi meeting. The mechanism, rather than help corner Pakistan, has turned out to be a platform allowing Islamabad to place India’s alleged terrorism on the bilateral agenda.

To makes matters worse, Pakistan has stuck to two things from the outset: that Kashmiri terrorists are to remain out of the mechanism’s purview because they are "freedom fighters"; and that New Delhi ought not to insist that Pakistan help trace those on India’s most-wanted list because, in the words of Pakistan Foreign Minister Khurshid M. Kasuri, "the past has to be forgotten".

Is it thus any surprise that the mechanism has become a frivolous exercise in bureaucratic one-upmanship?
Copyright: The Economic Times, 2007.

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