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Call the bluff: Islamabad’s threats to the US offer excellent diplomatic opening to New Delhi

Sep 20, 2017
Current fulminations by Pakistani officials and politicians against the US, together with Islamabad apparently having prepared a “three-option toughest diplomatic policy” against the US and Nato, provide New Delhi with an excellent opportunity to achieve its objective of diplomatically isolating Pakistan. It should not fail to seize the moment.
 
The Pakistan establishment’s central obsession is India, and it has leveraged its ties with the West to keep a much larger India off balance. During the Cold War Pakistan offered its services to the anti-Soviet alliance, in return for Western aid to be used against India. 9/11 saw a return to this paradigm as Pakistan wove a whole narrative around how it was taking on Islamist extremism, even as it kept that spectre alive by offering sanctuary to regional and global terrorists. That narrative, however, is past its sell-by date and its discrepancies have become glaringly apparent. While Pakistan’s providing a base to groups like the Haqqani network in Afghanistan or to insurgent groups in Kashmir has led to mayhem in the region, including the deaths of innumerable Indian and American troops, Pakistan’s role in nuclear proliferation to North Korea now enables the latter to threaten to rain down destruction on South Korea, Japan and mainland US.
 
Last month President Donald Trump called on Pakistan to end safe havens for terrorists. The US has many policy instruments available to get Islamabad to do this – and New Delhi must cooperate and encourage Washington down this path. India can, for example, offer its ports and airports to supply Nato troops in Afghanistan should Pakistan block access to the overland route – this would be an excellent way of leveraging Pakistan’s India obsession to bring it around.
 
Having had its way for so long Islamabad now threatens to play its China card – it even fantasises about a new Cold War where it will square off with Russia and China against the West and India. But China has stakes in the global order as well and it too has a lot to lose from the jihadi militias Pakistan harbours. If, let us say, the US fails to bail out Pakistan during its next financial emergency, it would be interesting to see how quickly “iron brother” China rushes to assume its liabilities. It’s past time to call Islamabad’s bluff and get it to end support to terror, which destabilises the region and the world.
 
Times of India, September 20, 2017

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