To the Naysayers on Pak JIT Probe, Peace Deserves Another Chance
With growing concern, Pakistan is realising that its honeymoon with terrorism is coming to an end, says KG Suresh.
The ultra-nationalist rhetoric of the Aam Aadmi Party, led by Delhi Minister Kapil Mishra, and the Congress party outside the Pathankot air force base against the visiting five-member Joint Investigation Team (JIT) from Pakistan (to probe the January 2 terror strike) was not at all surprising, given the fact that both the parties are key contenders in the Punjab Assembly polls to be held in early 2017.
In fact, even in the run-up to the formation of its first ever government in Delhi, AAP cadres extensively used nationalist symbols such as the waving of the tricolour and the chanting of ‘Bharat Mata Ki Jai’ – in what was seen as a clever ploy to woo voters in the national capital, electorally perceived as a Jan Sangh stronghold since its inception.
Given the fact that over the years, the national consensus on foreign policy issues has eroded considerably – to the extent that political parties openly attack each other even in foreign lands – it would be naive to expect that the opposition would be welcoming of any initiative or achievement of the BJP-led NDA Government.
Seeing the Glass Half Full
- Questions about Pakistan’s JIT
are misplaced as without their cooperation, it would be
difficult to nab Pathankot masterminds.
- In this era of strategic
satellite communication, it would be foolish to conclude that we
would be exposing our vulnerabilities to Pakistan.
- Any serious Pakistani probe without
the involvement of its army and the ISI would be nothing short of a farce.
- The very act of sending a probe team is a first ever official acknowledgement of the possibility of Pakistani involvement in a terrorist act in India.
Are the Opposition’s Concerns Valid?
The Pakistani team led by Punjab’s Additional Inspector General of Police, Counter Terrorism also includes a Lt Col rank officer of the notorious ISI and a Military Intelligence official, factors which have given ammunition to the opposition protest. Ironically, the Pakistani media has accused India of being reluctant to cooperate with Islamabad on the probe.
As for the strategic concerns raised by the opposition, the Pakistani team was only taken to the “scene of crime” where the encounter between the security personnel and terrorists took place, and the entire process was videographed by two IAF personnel. Secondly, in this era of strategic satellite communication and espionage, it would be foolish to suggest that the Pakistani team would gain access and deep insight into confidential information about our deployment just by visiting the air base.
The question as to why a Pakistani probe team should be visiting India also reflects a high degree of ignorance as without the involvement of the neighbouring country, it would not be possible to access the masterminds of the attack who are apparently on that side of the border.
It would be nothing short of an unrealistic expectation for Pakistan to act against the perpetrators without even a facade of a probe to cater to the domestic opposition, which is just as keen (if not more) to embarrass Nawaz Sharif than our AAP and Congress friends back home.
Why Does Pakistan Deserve Another Chance?
While we in India share a clinical hatred for both ISI and the Pakistan Army, can we afford to ignore the fact that they are the ones who really matter in Rawalpindi if we are serious about engaging our recalcitrant neighbour? In fact, any serious Pakistani probe sans the involvement of these two crucial agencies would be nothing short of a farce. Let us be real.
While one may have reservations about the NDA Government’s “blow hot, blow cold” policy towards our Western neighbour, it is also a fact that it is the first time that a Pakistani team has visited the country to probe a terror case.
For a country which has unabashedly nurtured, promoted and shielded anti-India terrorists of all hues over the decades and vehemently denied any involvement – even in the face of hard evidence such as the capture of 26/11 terrorist Ajmal Kasab and dossiers on criminals including Dawood Ibrahim – the very act of sending a probe team is a prima facie, though reluctant, first ever official acknowledgement of the possibility of Pakistani, state or non-state, involvement in a terrorist act in India.
It’s equally true that it would be idealistic to expect any radical outcome from this exercise. There is every possibility that it could be an eyewash, with the Pakistanis questioning the evidence provided in the coming days or some cosmetic action taken against some outfits back home.
But the movement forward has to be appreciated by all those wishing normal ties with Islamabad and peace in South Asia between the two nuclear-armed neighbours. This acknowledgement – though hesitant – may itself be the outcome of the realisation of a state increasingly being torn apart by mindless violence which claims innocent lives every day.
With growing international concern and consequent pressure on the issue of terrorism, Pakistan is fast realising that its honeymoon with terrorism as a tool of international diplomacy, whether in India or Afghanistan, is coming to an end, and that the Frankenstein’s monster it has created is turning on it with a vengeance.
We have spared no opportunity for peace in the past. Why make the JIT probe an exception?
(The author is a senior journalist and commentator)
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