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India waiting

India waiting

Author: Editorial
Publication: The Indian Express
Date: January 2, 2009
URL: http://www.indianexpress.com/news/india-waiting/405492/

Introduction: Pakistan's stubbornness post-Mumbai won't even America

External Affairs Minister Pranab Mukherjee has voiced India's frustration with the US efforts to make Pakistan yield on follow-up action after the Mumbai attack. Mukherjee said that US pressure hasn't produced tangible results. As this newspaper reported on December 28, New Delhi has of late seemed dismayed over the apparent ineffectiveness of the United States' persuasive tactics to gain access to the Lashkar chief Zaki-ur-Rehman Lakhvi and its communication chief, Zarar Shah - the FBI has enough evidence against both. Pakistan now seems less reluctant on allowing an FBI interrogation of the two. Nevertheless, US anti-terror policy vis-à-vis Pakistan is in a bind. And it appears to be a double-bind of strategic and economic blinkers. It does have leverage over Pakistan, but in order to optimise that leverage, the US has to first recognise and then rework certain ground realities.

The most useful tool that the US administration has in hand is Pakistan's economic state. Pakistan has for a while been on the verge of sovereign default on its debts, there is almost no money doing the rounds in its economy. The nascent, but powerful, Friends of Pakistan group, with the US at the helm, should not waste this opportunity. Pakistan needs a massive bailout and has asked for $60 billion to begin with. The IMF has released part of the $7.6 billion it promised in November, but any further aid to save the Pakistani economy should be tied, without compromise, to the clear condition of Pakistan shutting down the Terror machinery and delivering on the Mumbai attack investigation.

The other reason why US pressure on Pakistan is not having the desired effect is, of course, the situation in Afghanistan and US partnership with Pakistan. Pakistan sought to escalate tension over Mumbai with the aim of creating the pretext to redeploy its troops along the Indian border, moving them away, therefore, from its Afghan border. Since the US cannot afford this, it arms Pakistan with sufficient power of blackmail. As it is being argued in these pages today, it was this same tactic that had cleared the FATA of Pakistani troops during the post-Parliament attack hostilities and allowed the rejuvenation of Taliban and Al-Qaeda there. The Pakistani army and the ISI are looking to employ the same tactic again - to defeat the new international surge in Afghanistan. Unless the US neutralises this, there will be little hope for the anti-terror campaign in the subcontinent and for Afghanistan. There is, needless to say, a message here for the new US administration assuming office later this month.

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