A charge sans substance

May 11, 2015 12:11 am | Updated November 16, 2021 05:05 pm IST

Usually, the Pakistan Army does not play the blame game directly. But in a departure from practice, a formal meeting of Pakistani corps commanders in Rawalpindi on May 5 >blamed India’s external intelligence agency , the Research and Analysis Wing (RAW), for “whipping up” terrorism in Pakistan. In a six-paragraph statement, which dwelt at length with Pakistan’s internal security challenges, the corps commanders, often described as the real cabinet of Pakistan, took “serious note” of RAW involvement in spreading terror. The statement came just days after Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif had telephoned his Indian counterpart Narendra Modi and conveyed his condolences over the recent loss of lives in the Nepal-centred earthquake. Earlier, in an interview to Saudi Gazette Mr. Sharif had expressed disappointment at the lack of progress in resuming talks with India despite his “exceptional decision” last May to visit India for Mr. Modi’s swearing-in ceremony. It is evident from the corps commanders’ statement that the Pakistan Army doesn’t share Mr. Sharif’s stated interest in improving relations with India. So what exactly is Army Chief Raheel Sharif’s game here? One, he is signalling to his civilian Prime Minister that India policy is in his domain. Two, as he takes on some of the terrorists seriously in Pakistan, he wants to keep the India bogey alive. Friendship with India remains anathema to the Army despite American efforts over the years to convince Rawalpindi that it might not be such a bad thing. Central to the Army’s ideology as the defender of the nation is its anti-India position: any dilution in such an approach will be considered a sign of weakness, or so General Sharif and his commanders seem to believe. The General has also strengthened his foreign policy role in Pakistan by opening up to the Afghans and Americans, something his predecessor Ashfaq Kayani failed to do. Clearly, he is a sought-after man. And during his tenure, ties with Kabul and Washington have improved a lot.

The charge that RAW is involved in fomenting trouble in Balochistan or Karachi is not a new one. Other than one line in the statement, the Pakistan Army has come up with precious little evidence to prove it. As Mumbai was attacked in 2008, the bravery of martyred policeman Tukaram Omble ensured the capture of one of the attackers, Pakistan national Ajmal Kasab — the most potent piece of evidence ever collected by India pointing to a Pakistani link to terrorism on Indian soil. Statements, in themselves, don’t mean much; only hard evidence counts. While India takes note of the Pakistani charge, the relationship as it stands is unlikely to change. Not much has happened in one year in the > bilateral relationship , and there are no signs otherwise.

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