US Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice said on Thursday that Iran’s support of terrorism, nuclear ambitions and lack of democracy are out of step with trends in neighbouring nations, notably Pakistan.
Rice, speaking to reporters after meeting with EU officials, said Pakistan has moved toward internal reforms, better ties with India and has joined the fight against terrorism. “If one looks at where Pakistan was 3 1/2 years ago, (then) those trends are moving Pakistan away from extremism, toward a policy that recognises … that extremism and modernisation in Pakistan cannot exist side-by-side,” Rice said. ~The News (Pakistan)
Let’s all be clear about a few things: the only remotely good reasons why Pakistan should still be our ally is that it has marginally helped in the war in Afghanistan and would make for a much worse active enemy. But this should not confuse us into believing that it is anything other than a much greater sponsor of terrorism and practitioner of nuclear proliferation than Iran has ever been. Gen. Musharraf’s pleasant remarks about opposing fundamentalism aside, and the entirely unintended arrest of A.Q. Khan, master proliferator, his regime has been premised on stirring up Kashmiri militants, encouraging what the Indians properly call “cross-border terrorism” and tolerating the continued support of Taliban and al-Qaeda members inside Pakistan from elements of his security services and the army.
It is, at best, a transparent diplomatic lie on the part of Secretary Rice to claim to see improvement in Pakistani policies, and at worst it is simply a refusal to face the reality of the situation out of reflexive, Cold War attachments to an outdated, pointless hostility to Indian interests. Democracy as a guide to foreign affairs is overrated, but democratic India is manifestly a more trustworthy nation and our legitimate interests in the coming century, if they lie with any country in Asia, lie with them.
We should remember that Musharraf seized power because of his frustration with the insufficiently militant stance of the Sharif government over Kashmir, which Pakistan was infiltrating in force in the Kargil region in 1999. There has been relatively little improvement in Indo-Pak relations since the near-war in 2002, and it would not be all together too biased to say that, were it not for Indian forebearance and goodwill, even these improvements would have been impossible.
It has been Pakistan’s basic foreign policy for at least the last 15 years to support Islamic fundamentalists along its borders, using them as cat’s paws against their main rivals, thus avoiding any further humiliating defeats at the hands of India’s military or direct confrontations with the Iranians. Within the last three and a half years, during which Pakistan has supposedly been doing so much to curb extremism, terrorists based in Pakistan organised and carried out the stunning attack on India’s parliament in Dec. 2001, and this was hardly the last attack in northern India by Pakistani terrorists. To ignore this sponsorship of terrorism by a principal ally is a blunder in terms of legitimate American interests and the egregious double standard our government has for Pakistan-based terrorism has not gone unnoticed in India.