Peace Process and 26/11
Posted on September 30th, 2009

A.Siddique

Ever since the coming down of the WTC twin towers in New York on September Eleven 2001, terrorism has acquired the status of a regulatory tap that India has compulsively employed to control the ebb and flow of Indo Pak bilateral relations. The strategy has served them well and even after passage of nine years the fervor with which the terror card is being brandished, is manifestation of the Indian faith in this modus operandi. The Mumbai incident of November last (26/11) “”…” the run of armed terrorists in Mumbai that claimed 170 lives – has provided India with the latest whipcord to drive the Composite Dialogue Process (CDP), that was initiated in 2004 after coming back from the brink of a full fledged war in Oct 2002.

Indian Home Minister Mr. Chidamabram recently visited US; promoting the fallacy of Pakistan’s alleged non cooperation in advancing the investigations related to 26/11. The center piece of his tirade remained the demand for prosecution of Hafiz Muhamad Saeed, the Chief of Jamaat ud Dawa whom the Indians blame, without providing incriminating evidence, to be the mastermind of 26/11. Hafiz was arrested by the Pakistani authorities but the case against him was simply untenable for lack of evidence and he was set free by the High Court. The decision by a competent court after evaluating the evidence has failed to stall the Indian propaganda that Pakistan has failed to respond to the evidence provided by India in a Dossier whose sixth edition is now with Pakistan.

The prospects of picking up threads for taking forward the CDP are already under the shadow of Indian pique over Pakistan’s alleged reluctance to respond to Indian diktat over taking action on “intelligence” contained in the Indian Dossier. Indian Foreign Minister has made such intent obvious even as the foreign secretaries and the foreign ministers of the two countries prepare to meet on the sidelines of UN General Assembly Session in New York during September. “It is an orchestrated voice emanating from Pakistan. They have vested interest in safeguarding Hafiz Saeed. We have no doubt that Saeed is the brain behind the 26/11 attacks and have evidence to prove it,” Indian Foreign Minister said in an interview. With such implausible rhetoric Krishna has left hardly a doubt that “terrorism”, not reopening the moribund CDP is the centre piece of the much anticipated diplomatic interaction in New York. Indian diplomatic offensive against Pakistan is centered on asserting the credibility of the Indian Dossier but the question remains ; Are the contents of the Dossier worth the Indian rhetoric in setting the tone and tenor of their coercive interaction vis-ƒÆ’†’ -vis Pakistan? Few points in this context merit consideration.

First, the “ƒ”¹…”evidence’ concocted by Indian police and intelligence community, once critically evaluated, falls dismally short in substantiating the vitriolic allegations. India is obsessed with playing the “ƒ”¹…”cross-border-terrorism’ card in its coercive diplomatic interaction with Pakistan and its security apparatus is now accustomed to doctoring evidence and conducting fake encounters. 26/11 is no exception. But cooking up “ƒ”¹…”evidence’ takes time and leaves behind gaping voids; something that has become the hall mark of all dossiers that India so brazenly shares with Pakistan. It was 40 days after 26/11 that the first Dossier reached Pakistan without containing the smoking gun. The contents were so tepid that Prime Minister Gilani commented upon it as containing “ƒ”¹…”information’ rather than “ƒ”¹…”evidence’. Nevertheless, Pakistani authorities went along; initiating criminal cases against nine suspects and making six arrests. 30 posers were initially worked out to seek clarifications from the Indian investigators but the entire exercise, thanks to Indian game of one-upmanship, has been subverted to the farce of a painfully slow ping-pong game. Sixth version of the Dossier is now in Pakistan but as the early evaluation indicates nothing substantive has been shared. There is thus enough justification for India to continue haranguing Pakistan for “ƒ”¹…”exporting’ terrorism while the charade of dodgy Dossiers continues.

Second, the Indian Government, in an attempt to draw attention away from the poor quality of its dossiers has now latched onto to the person of Hafiz Saeed as the villain who bears ultimately responsibility for the gory incident. Indian Home and Foreign Office are now seized with the issue of projecting the arrest of Saeed and then release by the competent courts in Pakistan thereby circumscribing the agenda of the meeting of the foreign secretaries and ministers of the two countries in New York. Hafiz Saeed was released because the Dossiers carried no evidence that could have linked him to 26/11. The evidence that India had passed on gave no proof of his complicity and so was he released. India need to understand that courts give verdicts on basis of evidence and are not moved by political imperatives.

Third, the smokescreen raised by the issue of dossiers and Hafiz Saeed is being used by the establishment in India to stall the dialogue process. This stands in stark contrast with the joint statement issued after the meeting between the two Prime Ministers at Sharm el-Sheikh on Jul 16, 2009. “Action on terrorism should not be linked to the Composite Dialog Process and these should not be bracketed,” it said. Obviously the Indian position has undergone a somersault and India is using the terrorism in Mumbai to push the dialog process to the sidelines even as it diplomatically engages Pakistan over non-issues such as trumped up allegations of Pakistan’s non cooperation in Mumbai investigations. Indian Foreign Minister S Krishna bared this design by declaring that terrorism would remain his focus when he meets Mahmood Qureshi in New York.

Indian longstanding obsession with pretending itself as the victim of terrorism emanating from Pakistan has remained enduring even if its credibility has worn over the years. 26/11 has become the latest excuse for India to avoid any serious diplomatic interaction with Pakistan to resolve long festering issues “”…” including Kashmir. When will this fetish run its course in India remains uncertain at best. Bilateralism, hasn’t worked too well in solving the Indo-Pak problems, it seems.

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