Pakistan pressed on India attacks
Condoleezza Rice calls for Pakistan's 'cooperation.' She will visit India Wednesday.
(Page 2 of 2)
It points to a coming test. India does not want to provoke Pakistan further, says C. Raja Mohan, a political analyst at the S. Rajaratnam School of International Studies in Singapore. That would only strengthen the hawkish elements in Pakistan's public and Army, he says.Skip to next paragraph
Subscribe Today to the Monitor
Instead, "Let's test out what Zardari is saying," he says. "Is he serious about acting against these groups?"
The problem is that Mr. Zardari's government is probably too weak to take such action, even if there is convincing evidence.
"This is going to be extremely difficult for the government if it is asked [by India] to go after Kashmiri-based militants," says Hassan Askari Rizvi, an independent political analyst in Lahore. "It would be suicidal for the government to begin a wide crackdown without taking everyone at home aboard first."
On Sunday, Mr. Gilani called a conference of political leaders to discuss the current situation. But winning support to go after Kashmir-based militants is unlikely. The Pakistani Army is already stretched by operations against militants along the Afghan border. And while that war is unpopular in Pakistan, a move against Kashmiri militants would be hugely more so. Most Pakistanis believe that India illegally occupied Muslim-majority Kashmir in 1947, and the countries have fought two wars over the territory since.
Moreover, the Army has mostly ignored Lashkar-e-Taiba since signing a cease-fire with India in 2004, allowing the banned group to regain its former strength, according to several analysts. Part of this could be intentional.
Though the Army may be willing to go after certain militant groups in Kashmir, it would still be hesitant to crack down on those who are strategically engaging the Indian Army in Kashmir, says Ikram Sehgal, editor of the Defence Journal in Karachi and a retired Army major.
In recent years, Lashkar-e-Taiba has built ties with Al Qaeda and the Taliban. It has coordinated many of the suicide attacks in Pakistan on the Taliban's behalf, says Mr. Rashid, who also wrote the book "Taliban."
"Lashkar-e-Taiba is the hit squad for Al Qaeda and the Taliban," Rashid says.
These links could explain the Mumbai attacks, he adds. Lashkar-e-Taiba is suspected of attacking the Indian Parliament in 2001, essentially to create a diversion.
Suspecting Pakistani involvement in the attacks, India deployed troops along its western border. In response Pakistan pulled its forces from its western border with Afghanistan in preparation for a potential war with India. In the meantime, Al Qaeda leaders escaped US forces in Tora Bora, Afghanistan, and crept across the thinly guarded western border.
The Mumbai attacks could be an attempt at a repeat performance, Rashid suggests, with Al Qaeda and the Taliban now seeking respite from the Pakistani Army's increasingly intense offensive, as well as the US campaign of airstrikes.
The goal is again to bring India and Pakistan to the brink of war.
"If India decides to build military pressure, Pakistan will have no choice but to start redeploying its forces to its eastern border as well," says Ejaz Haider, a newspaper editor for a national English daily.
Rice's comments hint at the Indian strategy for challenging anti-India militants in Pakistan: build international support. It was international pressure that forced Pakistan to outlaw Lashkar-e-Taiba after the 2001 attack. International pressure also persuaded Pakistan to go after militants on its Afghan border.
"Similar pressure will be needed here," says Mr. Mohan.