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Defiance of the bully

Defiance of the bully

Author: Editorial
Publication: The Free Press Journal
Date: May 30, 2002

Of all the international leaders who spoke to Musharraf on the immediate need to end terrorism, Japan's Prime Minister has spoken with cold and implementable realism. The Japanese Premier has told Musharraf that Japan would find it difficult to continue the promised economic aid unless the Pak leader puts an end to cross-border terrorism and closes down the terrorist base camps. Needless to add, this is the language that Islamabad understands. All the bluff and bluster of the army strong man about terrorism beyond his control and "freedom struggle in Kashmir" can be called the day the aid-giving countries convey the same kind of message to Musharraf.

The insensitivity of the Pak regime has been fully exposed when it received the British foreign secretary with a missile test. It is nothing but spitting on the visitor's face. For once, Britain has done some plain speaking. A master of obfuscation, Musharraf tried to persuade the British to agree on inducting UN observers on the LoC in Kashmir which the British foreign secretary flatly refused. He added for good measure that it is a bilateral dispute which the two countries should sort out. About the "freedom struggle" argument of Musharraf in referring to mercenary terrorism, Jack Straw told the junta leader that Britain was familiar with the kind of "freedom struggle" going on in Kashmir. Those who blasted churches and murdered innocent people in Northern Ireland also used to say that they did all that in the name of freedom struggle.

Musharraf has not particularly reacted to the observations of President Bush or secretary of state Colin Powell on the missile tests and terrorism. The frequent and casual reference to nuclear terrorism by Musharraf should make the US sit up and take note of what Musharraf was up to. In the light of the frightening words of Musharraf, the US administration should take a hard look at the continuing economic aid to Pakistan. And once the US takes a decisive stand on economic aid, all the European allies of US too would know what to do to fight the country which has become the epicentre of terrorism.

Musharraf who was going out of his way to internationalise the Kashmir problem, has merely succeeded in internationalising terrorism with the threat of acquiring nuclear weapons. It is more than clear to the world community that Pakistan is the base camp for all terrorist activities. ISI has become a power unto itself with the powerful backing of a dominant section of the army. As the international community, led by US, asks Musharraf to translate his promises into ground realities, the aid-givers can take a decisive step in bringing Musharraf to the normal path by withholding aid. This is an immediate task that the aid-givers to Pakistan should consider. The Japanese government has set the ball rolling.

The other step that the anti-terrorism allies can take is the denial of arms for Pakistan. China helps Pakistan (even the missile so impressively tested on the eve of Jack Straw's visit might have been imported technology and imported hardware, as opined by Jaswant Singh). Even so, Pakistan's scouting for arms worldwide can be effectively curbed. Washington should seriously discuss these problems with allies.

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