A ROUTINE army corps commanders conference has resulted in a rather extraordinary allegation: The Conference also took serious notice of RAWs involvement in whipping up terrorism in Pakistan, according to an ISPR press release after Tuesdays conference.
Given the forum from which the allegation has emanated, it cannot nor should it be easily dismissed. For years, Pakistan and India have traded accusations about RAW and ISI fomenting trouble in each others vulnerable and unstable regions.
Inside Pakistan, there has been a consistent set of allegations that Fata, Balochistan and Karachi have been the area of particular focus of the Indian intelligence apparatus.
With a political and security transition in Afghanistan well under way, Iran edging towards the lifting of suffocating US-led sanctions and the army heavily engaged in Fata, the regional dimensions of Pakistans security situation are surely informing the armys concerns.
The principal question is where to go from here. A statement of condemnation by the army leadership is insufficient. Both from the point of form and substance, the next logical step is for the federal government to take the lead here.
Press releases by the ISPR are not a good way to conduct bilateral relations, especially with a neighbour accused of instigating terrorism inside Pakistan. Where the evidence exists, it should be gathered by the civilian government, assembled in clear and convincing manner and taken up at the highest diplomatic levels.
It is surely not enough for a minister or two to chip in with verbal condemnations of RAW and the Indian security establishment.
Sound bites and posturing for domestic audiences are not going to help keep Pakistan safe. There is an additional element here: the principal goal of the government should be to restart the dialogue process with India.
Where intelligence agencies may be creating mischief and stoking trouble, the only long-term answer is to try and restart a process that can lead to normalisation of ties. The seriousness of the army leaderships allegations notwithstanding, shadowy struggles between the intelligence apparatuses in the two countries should not overwhelm the broader need for finding common ground.
Finally, there is an internal dimension to the problem too: wherever it has been alleged that Indian involvement has been detected, it has come in areas long mismanaged by the Pakistani state itself.
Fata, Balochistan and Karachi have all suffered from the abdication by the state of its basic duties towards the people of those areas.
As the corps commanders conference stressed, the key is to press ahead with the fight against militancy internally. But a militarised strategy will never work not in Fata, Balochistan or Karachi.
At best, it will cause violence to temporarily subside, as seen after previous significant operations, only for it to re-emerge elsewhere or in a different form in the same places. Ultimately, internal security is about the right internal and external policies.—Dawn
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