Tuesday July 23, 2024

A belligerent India

Pakistan will have to learn from Turkey, Saudi Arabia, Egypt and other US-friendly nations how they

By Ahmed Quraishi
December 24, 2008
Pakistan will have to learn from Turkey, Saudi Arabia, Egypt and other US-friendly nations how they pushed back American interference. This is important for us to be able to also understand how to push back the Indians. India appears set to launch its new career as an interventionist power at Pakistan's expense. It will fall to Pakistan to help Indian warmongers understand the limits of their designs. Pakistan will need a government that can match and not succumb.

Indian provocations need to be matched. We need to also recognise that the rise in tensions in the region is happening with the direct nod from our ally, the United States. Pakistani appeasement has emboldened our detractors. Polite statements from the Pakistani leadership will not do. Sonia Gandhi and Pranab Mukherjee must be put in their places.

I saw this happen firsthand. Ambassador Edward W Gnehm's aggressive interference in Kuwaiti affairs was the first sign of United States' coming pre-emptive policy in the Gulf region. It was 1992 and the US military had just expelled Iraqi forces from the oil-rich emirate. 'Skip' Gnehm, as friends and colleagues called him, strutted all over the country encouraging Kuwaitis to limit the powers of the ruling family. He was so effective in exploiting Kuwait's insecurities and extracting concessions that Washington decided in 1996 to appoint him in Riyadh. That's when the coldest spell in Saudi-US relations began. There was no American envoy in Riyadh for almost two years because the Saudis had put their feet down and refused to accept Mr Gnehm's papers. Washington had to budge eventually. The Turks and the Egyptians have also survived many US attempts at belligerent arm-twisting.

The Indian 'evidence' against Pakistan for Mumbai attacks is inadmissible in any court of law. Yet New Delhi is using it to bully Pakistan with full American and British support. Pakistani officials must understand that India wants to use Mumbai to launch a new career as an aggressive superpower. Mumbai is India's opportunity to legitimize action beyond its borders, which is what superpowers do. Evidence here doesn't matter.

Pakistan will have to either match Indian bullying or accept Indian hegemony for the rest of this century. President Zardari and Prime Minister Gilani's calm reactions to Indian provocations were partially acceptable in the initial stages. But there is no excuse now for turning the other cheek. Pakistani reluctance to call India's bluff and forcefully present its case has emboldened the Indians.

Beginning with the Indian blockade on Pakistan's water from Kashmir, which is an act of war. Subsequent Indian actions, visa restrictions on Pakistanis, cancellation of talks, freezing sports events and harassing Pakistani visitors to India are all signs that New Delhi is convinced about Pakistani weakness. The weakness of the Pakistani government is feeding this misconception. Aside from some statements by our foreign minister, Pakistani officials are yet to pay the Indians in the same coin. We need to hear a stronger reaction to the childish and provocative statements of Ms Gandhi and her foreign minister.

Also, where is the government's media machine? Is it all reserved for PPP anniversaries and events? When will the state-run media wake up and realise we are staring into a possible war? Why our media and diplomats abroad have failed to show the world the immature and bellicose behaviour of the Indian government? Why no Pakistani official has come out to condemn how Pakistani artists and visitors to India were harassed and turned back? And why Indian movies are still playing in a cinema hall right next to the Pakistani military headquarters?

It is also a matter of concern that the rise in Indian hostilities is coinciding with mysterious riots in Karachi, an ill timed attempt to generate controversy over renaming NWFP, and now the Balochistan chief minister's sudden challenge to the rest of the country to prove Indian interference in the province, whose evidence was shared with no less than the U.S. military chief himself.

India, a country burdened by multiple ethnic fault lines, should not do something that might eventually run out of its control.

The writer works for Geo TV. Email: