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V. Balachandran is a former Special Secretary, Cabinet Secretariat.

Indo-Pak ties are as kaleidoscopic as ever

The Mendhar incident was justified by Pakistani media as retaliation, although they denied any mutilation.

An army soldier works near the LOC after reported ceasefire violation, in Mendhar in J&K, on Wednesday. PTI

n 4 January, our media welcomed the recent changes in Pakistan Army's "Green Book" with elated headlines like "Terrorists replace India in Pak danger list". Four days later we are condemning them for the 8 January Mendhar sector incident on the Line of Control, wherein Pakistani raiders allegedly mutilated Indian soldiers. No other example would reveal the kaleidoscopic nature of Indo-Pakistan relations and the risk of viewing either the Pakistan Army or the civil government as sole arbiters of their policies and actions. In January 2010, Jonathan Paris of the Atlantic Council cautioned in a succinct analysis "Prospects for Pakistan": "US pressure on the Pakistan Army to expand its war or else acquiesce in US direct attacks on Afghan Taliban leaders in Baluchistan may trigger dissension within Pakistan society and especially within its army that leads to serious destabilisation of the country". He said that the Pakistani Taliban "are not as threatening to the state as those Punjabi militants ...The danger for the army, and for Pakistan generally, is not Talibanisation but Islamisation from Punjab-based militants and their allies". In May 2010, a senior retired Pakistani Army general, who attended a Track-II dialogue in New Delhi where I was also present, told me that the support given by Pakistani political parties to Islamic groups constituted greater danger to Pakistani security than the Taliban threat. This was well before Punjab Governor Salman Taseer was killed by his bodyguard on 4 January 2011.

Our misplaced optimism on 4 January could have been tempered had we analysed Pakistani media comments. Mansoor Jafar , editor of Urdu Al Arabia (Islamabad) complained (8 January) that just two days after the "revision" of Green Book "an attack by the Indian Army on a Pakistani military post in Islamabad-controlled Kashmir left one soldier killed and another wounded". The Mendhar incident was justified by some sections of Pakistani media as retaliation, although they denied any mutilation. Khalid Iqbal, retired senior Air Force officer wrote (Nation, 4 January) that "much hype has been created about an addition (read revamping) of a chapter on 'Sub-conventional warfare' to the Green Book, or the 'Army Doctrine'. By all counts, it would be naive to call it a major shift in the doctrine... It would be a misperception to assume that military leadership now come to regard internal threats as the biggest danger to the country's security and has brought a major shift in its operational priorities, as has been widely misconstrued by foreign and national media."

Religious sections were very aggressive: Pakistan Today (5 January 2013) reproduced a call by Hizbut Tahrir (HuT) to the "sincere officers in the armed forces to work with it to get rid of alleged traitors in their lines", alleging that "in the final year of his service, General Kayani was working hard to change the mentality of the armed forces so that after his departure, the war of 'fitna' remained in its place. We have requested the Tehreek-e-Taliban Pakistan (TTP), which is another threat for traitors within the armed forces, to announce rejection of surrender talks..."

Jonathan Paris also mentioned the linkage of India and the United States with Afghanistan as another factor affecting Pakistani policy, besides total resentment against drones. The nomination of "Drone Warrior" John Brennan as the next CIA chief would have contributed to strong resentment in Pakistan. The Los Angeles Times (Jan 7, 2013) reflected the overwhelming Pakistani feelings against drone attacks: "In June 2011, in a major speech on anti-terrorism efforts, John Brennan made the startling claim that there hadn't been a 'single collateral death' in more than 100 covert U.S. drone strikes in Pakistan over a 12-month period. Yet just three months earlier, American missiles had rained down on what senior Pakistani officials said was a tribal council over a mining dispute in North Waziristan, killing as many as 45 men, most of whom the Pakistanis insist were neither members of the Taliban nor Al Qaeda."

Pakistan has suffered far more deaths in sectarian violence and terrorist incidents than India. In 2012, they lost more than 6,000 lives compared to India, which saw about 800 deaths. This alone should have compelled them to clamp down on the non-state actors working as death merchants.

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