By N. Elahi
The Indian Defence Minister Manohar made a startling statement three days ago that ‘terrorists are needed to be used to neutralise terrorists’. Pakistan considered it a clear ‘terrorist threat’ to Pakistan as the Prime Minister’s Advisor on Foreign Affairs Sartaj Aziz termed it a confessional statement by the most important member of the Indian government, of state sponsored terrorism in Pakistan.
The Indian Defence Minister’s statement has come at a time when many quarters in Pakistan have recently accused RAW for fomenting terrorism in Pakistan. The ghastly killing of Ismailis in Karachi was termed as handiwork of RAW (Research & Analysis Wing- External intelligence agency of India). His statement has added credibility to this accusation.
The confessional statement is unique and also bizarre at the same time, as hardly ever any official as high as a minister of a country has openly vowed to use terrorism as a tool to counter alleged terrorism against his country. What has prompted him to resort to this temerity? Apparently it is perfectly in line with the hostile atmosphere created by the Modi government against Pakistan. Point of concern is that it has all the potential to stir up further escalation in the tense Pak-India relations. But the question is does it suit India to undermine its relations with Pakistan?
There can be two reasons behind this blatant Indian approach. One, growing Pak-China proximity in form of huge Chinese investment in Pakistan has visibly perturbed it and the idea is to prick Pakistan to initiate hostilities on the border and inside Pakistan so that Chinese projects are shelved. Second, Modi’s hegemonic mind has convinced itself of the utility of adopting aggressive policy to tame Pakistan so that it may stop thinking of competing with India. So India may like to bark and bully to achieve these objectives.
Apart from the disquiet displayed by representative of Pakistan government over Manohar’s statement, Pakistan army is genuinely concerned over these developments because large number of infantry and artillery is already engaged in Operation Zarb e Azb against the insurgents in Waziristan and the terrorists ensconced across Pakistan. If the Pak army considers Manohar’s statement a forewarning or precursor to Indian bellicosity, it will have to withdraw large portion of army from Waziristan to deploy it at its Eastern border to preempt likely Indian mischief there. It would be an upsetting shift from an important internal war to an external row. If this shiftbecomes inevitable, the government of Pakistan should be ready with a counter insurgency force, initially constituted of para-military forces, to replace army to tackle insurgents and terrorists in Waziristan and at Pak- Afghan border.
Albeit Manohar may like to give a twist to his statement to be construed as a taunt or something half serious, but Pakistan is left with no other option but to shift priority to the Eastern border. Besides,Pakistan intelligence agencies cannot afford to fall prey to gullibility and take this threat lightly. They have to explore other meanings of this threatening statement.
There is another apprehension that the threat of use of terrorism might be a ploy. There may be a more sophisticated plan concealed behind it to harm Pakistan. RAW might use fifth columnists, agent provocateurs and disgruntled elements to foment social and political unrest to sabotage Pak- China projects. The indications of such ill intentions became visible recently when some elements within Pakistan created unnecessary fuss over the change in the route of China Pakistan Economic Corridor.
Pakistan might seem to be reading too much into Manohar’s statement. But given the ever-deepening dip in recent Pak-India relationship, it is quite understandable. Manohar, however, needs to avoid spewing out toxic statements that can bring the two nuclear powers closer to the brink of war.