India: Pakistan Must Sustain Resolve

By Sappenfield, Mark | The Christian Science Monitor, December 11, 2008 | Go to article overview
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India: Pakistan Must Sustain Resolve

Sappenfield, Mark, The Christian Science Monitor

For a world eager to see India and Pakistan climb down from a standoff that has included the threat of war between nuclear-armed rivals, India has one request: Wait and see.

Pakistan's decision to arrest the alleged architect of the Nov. 26 attacks in Mumbai (formerly Bombay) is seen as a positive step. As is the announcement Wednesday that Pakistan would abide by a United Nations resolution outlawing Jamaat-ud-Dawa, the charity accused of being a terrorist front.

But Pakistan has repeatedly cracked down on militants, only for its resolve to vanish when international pressure fades. In coming days, India will look for "assurance that this is not something being done only for cosmetic reasons," says C. Raja Mohan, a security analyst at the S. Rajaratnam School of International Studies in Singapore.

Shutting down militant camps that are an "open secret" in Pakistan, according to one American analyst, would be a start, Mr. Mohan says. So would charging the detained militant leaders with crimes and putting them on trial, even in Pakistan.

Many in India's Army and intelligence agencies want more. Pakistan should hand over individuals who have clear links to terrorism or risk "military action to show them how serious we are," says Brig. Gen. Gurmeed Kanval, director of the Center for Land Warfare Studies, a think tank in New Delhi.

The Times of India reported Wednesday that the Indian Air Force is on "high alert" and has reduced the number of personnel on leave from 30 percent to 10 percent. India: trying not to lose face

Caught between an agitated Army and an angry populace, the Indian government realizes it is in "a bit of a box," says Paul Kapur, a South Asia expert who teaches at Stanford University and the Naval Postgraduate School in Monterey, Calif.

Military strikes will only empower the Pakistani Army - the institution that is most hostile to India and began using militants to strike India in the first place. Yet Pakistan's problems are so deeply rooted and its 10-month-old civilian government so weak, that diplomacy can offer only slow progress. It could take years to strengthen Pakistan's civilian government to the point that it can control the Army and the militants it nurtured.

"The long term is hard to stomach - systematic changes will take time," says Dipankar Gupta, a sociologist at Jawaharlal Nehru University in New Delhi. "In the short-to-medium term we have to do something about Pakistan ... [or the] government will lose face internally," he adds.

Recent elections in India have calmed the situation somewhat. The ruling Congress Party fared better than the more hawkish Bharatiya Janata Party in three of five states, suggesting that voters were not motivated by the desire for revenge against Pakistan.

Moreover, Pakistan has begun to respond to some of India's concerns this week. Raids nabbed Zahi-ur Rehman Lakhvi, the operations commander of the militant outfit linked to the Mumbai attacks, Lashkar-e-Taiba.

"Four days ago, no one would have visualized that [Pakistani President Asif Ali] Zardari would do something," says Mohan, the Singapore-based analyst.

On Wednesday, Pakistan's ambassador to the UN also said that Pakistan would proscribe Jamaat-ud-Dawa if asked to by the UN.

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