Pakistan WikiLeaks no comfort to India

The WikiLeaked U.S. diplomatic cables about Pakistan confirm much that was suspected about the relationship between the two countries — worse than troubled, built on mutual suspicion and fear of the capabilities of one to do harm to the other. As long as it was only journalists writing about it, both still had the luxury of denial, which they duly used when reports first began to surface about American fears that Pakistani nuclear weapons or material might fall into the hands of Islamist militants. Officials in Washington publicly certified that the nuclear weapons of its most important ally in the Afghan war were safe in the hands of the country's military; Islamabad lashed out against what it characterised as “scurrilous” and “motivated” journalism. But the wealth of detail in the cables lays it all bare. The communications expose the depth of U.S., Russian, and European fears about extremists laying their hands on Pakistan's nuclear weapons. Not just that. They tell about the tensions over Pakistan's “diversion” of U.S. Coalition Support Funds for operations in the tribal areas. They reveal how Pakistani leaders see the U.S. as a key player in internal politics and at the same time expose American helplessness in dealing with a country where the Army calls the shots and runs four militant networks, one expressly for use against India. The Americans could only express frustration when the Pakistani military establishment decided to punish Washington for its civilian financial assistance to the government through the Kerry-Lugar legislation. U.S. officials were denied visas; the embassy in Islamabad had to wait for permits for import of armoured vehicles, and suffer the humiliation of staffers' cars being frequently stopped and checked at security points.

Beyond the discomfiture for both sides, it is unsettling to know that the war on terror is led by two countries whose relationship is based on animosity rather than trust. For India, particularly for those who seek peace with Pakistan, it raises some troubling questions. In one cable, Anne Patterson, the U.S. Ambassador in Islamabad until recently, makes the observation that money cannot change the Pakistan military's view of India as the main external threat, nor stop its sponsorship of the Lashkar-e-Toiba and three Taliban groups in Afghanistan. In her view, resolving the Kashmir issue and reassessing the Indian role in Afghanistan will be more helpful. The most obvious worry for New Delhi is the knowledge that the U.S. has no leverage with Islamabad to safeguard India's security concerns vis-à-vis Pakistan-based terrorist groups. Resolving the Kashmir issue should be a priority for political India irrespective of Pakistan. What is most troubling is that as long as Pakistan remains in the grip of its military, amity between the two neighbours is likely to remain elusive.

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Printable version | Jun 22, 2021 5:18:22 AM | https://www.thehindu.com/opinion/editorial/Pakistan-WikiLeaks-no-comfort-to-India/article15576705.ece

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