THESE days Pakistan is facing a mini two front dilemma. Line of Control in Kashmir and the international border with Afghanistan have gone prickly simultaneously. However there is nothing alarming, both could go only this far. Pakistan should continue to focus on degrading the capacity and capability of terrorist sleeping cells to carry out massive and near simultaneous violent attacks in an increasing number of urban centres.
General Joseph Votel, Commander US Central Command while deposing before the Senate Armed Services Committee,on March 09,has opined that the Indo-Pak conflict could escalate into a nuclear exchange:“India’s public policy to ‘diplomatically isolate’ Pakistan hinders any prospects for improved relations…“This is especially troubling as a significant conventional conflict between Pakistan and India could escalate into a nuclear exchange, given that both are nuclear powers.”He rightly stated that Pakistan’s requirement for an increased attention on its eastern border “detracts from its efforts to secure the western border with Afghanistan from incursion by Taliban and al Qaeda fighters.”Pakistani seeks to expand border control and improve paramilitary security along the western border.According to General, despite recent constraints in relations between Pakistan and Afghanistan, there is “promising coordination” between militaries of the two countries.
On Afghanistan Votel opined that new US government was encouraged by Pakistan’s military operation Radd-ul-Fasaad “in which they set up simultaneous multiple blocking positions along the Afghanistan-Pakistan border in order to reinforce Afghan National Defence and Security Forces effort to disrupt activities of Daesh’s Khorasan chapter.In a brazen cross-border attack from Afghanistan, five soldiers were martyred on March 06. Reportedly, terrorist belonging to Jamat-ul-Ahrar — a breakaway faction of outlawed TTP — attacked at least three border posts in Mohmand Agency killing five soldiers while another soldier was killed due to firing from Afghan territory in Khyber Agency. The attack came in backdrop of heightened tension between two countries and country-wide operation Radd-ul-Fasaad launched by armed forces to eliminate menace of terrorism, including its cross border element. Terrorist outfits under intense pressure in Pakistan, and their cohorts in neighbouring countries are trying to retaliate; most troubling aspect of issue is that they are being facilitated by some regional countries.
The attacks on Pakistani border posts by non-state actors, from across Afghanistan prove that Pakistan is justified in closing the border and initiating measures for border management. Afghanistan is not showing any seriousness about management of the border as chaotic conditions suit its vested interests which lay in rampant smuggling of goods, and arms, flourishing havens for human and drug traffickers. Pakistan displayed the spirit of goodwill not only for Afghanistan but also for the sake of regional peace and security by opening the border for two days to allow valid visa holders to cross over. However, at the same time, it does not intend to compromise on application of universally accepted procedures for border crossings. Pakistan has closed its border with Afghanistan, as Kabul was not responding to repeated requests to take action against those hiding in Afghanistan and planning, carrying out terrorist activities in Pakistan. There are verifiable reports that India is misusing Afghan soil against Pakistan. Afghanistan is hands in glove with India in creating instability and sponsoring terrorism in Pakistan.
Pakistan considers Durand Line as its legitimate international border with Afghanistan;and this notion has world-wide recognition. Occasionally Afghanistan hypes the issue to make it controversial. Even Afghanistan doesn’t want to take the matter beyond bilateral levels. However, during periods of such tensions,India often floatssome dubiousgimmicks which could add fuel to fire. In sync with ongoing difficult phase, Rupa publishers of India are contemplating to launch a book on Durand Line by Rajiv Dogra, a former diplomat, and a foreign affairs analyst. This Durand Line focused work is a part of series ofjoint Indo-Afghan ventures to mount pressure on Pakistan by making the Durand Line a controversial issue, whereby talks should open between Pakistan and Afghanistan over the Durand Line issue. Pakistan very well know the intent and also knows ways and means to avoid the trap. International law is on Pakistan’s side; moreover Durand Line has been ratified by several Afghan governments in the past.
Captured India spy Kulbhushan Yadav’s confessional statement, Samjhota Express attack and use of Afghan soil against Pakistan leave no doubt in anybody’s mind as to who is providing succor and sustenance to the terrorists.Culprits of 2007 Samjhota Express bombing in which Indian officials and leaders including Swami Aseemanand, had admitted their involvement are moving freely.Indian Deputy High Commissioner was called in by the Pakistan’s foreign office to express concern over acquittal of Swami Aseemanand in Ajmer Shrif blast case. Swami Aseemanand had publicly confessed that he was the ‘mastermind’ of Samjhauta Express terrorist attack of February 2007 and had also identified a serving Indian army officer Colonel Parohit, who is head of terrorist organization Abhinav Bharat, as his accomplice.
A recently published report at Brookings has concluded that Pakistan’s security threat emanates from India, and that India’s irrational defence buildup is incongruent to its strategic needs, and a reason behind Pakistan’s nuclear and defence programmes. India’s massive arms-buying spree, makes it one of the top arms-importers in the world, this arms procurement instinct is driven by its desire for regional hegemony and global power status. Pakistan, on the other hand, has been compelled to acquire and maintain a deterrent capability to ensure its national security. Several international reports and independent observers have drawn attention to the rapid expansion in India’s capability to produce fissile material for military use. Pakistan does not want to engage in any kind of arms race, nuclear or conventional. Two countries need to engage in a meaningful dialogue for mutual restraint measures and conflict resolution.
LoC violations are a matter of concern to Pakistan.During last year there were more than 400 violations from the Indian side.During the ongoing uprising, more than 110 people have been killed while more than 14,000 have been injured. So far, over 750 people have sustained pellet injuries, with a majority of them has of lost their eyesight partially or completely. In a bid to defuse tensions, the United Nations Secretary General Antonio Guterres is considering holding talks with Indian and Pakistani officials on the deteriorating situation in Kashmir. “He will talk to different officials if it helps move the process along. That’s something that he is looking into,” deputy spokesman Farhan Haq said while responding to a question whether Guterres has come to any conclusion about how to deal with the situation in Kashmir. Though the pressures are formidable, Pakistan is capable of sustaining the emanating strain. Successful ECO summit was a manifestation that in regional dynamics Pakistan could easily ward off nefarious designs of Indo-Afghan nexus.
—The writer is a freelance columnist based in Islamabad.