Terrorism and our neighbours

Published: December 21, 2010
Both the Iranian president and the Indian Prime Minister Manmohan Singh called on Pakistan to do more against terrorist outfits based out of the country. PHOTO: AFP

Both the Iranian president and the Indian Prime Minister Manmohan Singh called on Pakistan to do more against terrorist outfits based out of the country. PHOTO: AFP

Two neighbourhood complaints regarding terrorism emanating from Pakistan have come on the same day. Indian Prime Minister Manmohan Singh has repeated his condition of having friendly relations with Pakistan only if the latter ensures “that its territory is not used for terrorist activities against us.” Iranian President Mahmud Ahmadinejad has rung President Asif Ali Zardari to demand that Pakistan capture and hand over the Jundallah terrorists who killed 39 people during a Muharram gathering on December 15 in Iran’s province of Sistan-Balochistan.

It is ironic how the two complaints are viewed by the international community. The Indian plaint, intensified after the 2008 reign of terror in Mumbai, goes back at least two decades and started with the ‘condition’ of Pakistan stopping ‘cross-border’ terrorism (read Kashmir). The entire world sympathises with India and holds Pakistan responsible for not suppressing the responsible jihadi organisations. Since these organisations also threaten other states because of their nexus with al Qaeda, the demand that Pakistan take action in eliminating them has the backing of the UN.

The plaint from Iran goes to the root of Iran’s decades-old grievances against Pakistan. The Iranian press has become sensitive to news coming in from Pakistan, often about Shia-killings at the hands of outfits that have been practicing jihad on the side in Pakistan’s covert proxy wars. It looks at Jundallah as a Baloch nationalist organisation that functions with impunity inside Pakistani Balochistan. Pakistan, sincerely wishing to shore up its relations with its western neighbour since General Zia spoiled them, is faced with the problem of lack of control over its territory in Balochistan where it is contending with insurgency. Its hands are tied by the fact that the Taliban in Balochistan are steadily targeting the Hazara Shia in Quetta.

Pakistan is playing on a weak wicket, but its attitude towards the two complaining neighbours is extremely interesting. To India and the international community lined up at the UN, it says that it is going through the judicial process of indicting the said jihadi organisations and is taking time because credible proof is required to get them convicted. It tells India that it, too, is doing ‘parallel’ mischief in Balochistan from the bases it has unfairly acquired in Afghanistan with the help of the US and Nato countries. The response from the international community to this is dismissive because Pakistan has not been able to furnish any evidence of India’s culpability so far, in contrast to the testimony against it by terrorists such as Pakistan-linked David Headley who planned the Mumbai attack. Pakistan, less credibly, opposes the Indian complaint with its own complaint: that India does not come to the negotiating table to discuss bilateral disputes, including Kashmir.

Iran has enemies at the regional as well as global level. It threatens the US with its aggressive nuclear programme which it will not open for inspection and faces punitive resolutions from the UN Security Council. That under a challenging President Ahmadinejad it also threatens Israel may be favoured by some radical anti-government elements in the Middle East, but neighbouring Arab regimes despise this policy and think Iran has hegemonic designs against them. Needless to say, these regimes are friendlier to Pakistan, which irks Iran and compels it to interpret Shia-killings in Pakistan as a ‘relocated’ Arab-Iranian war. Hence, no one apart from Pakistan is disturbed over the Iranian plaint. But Pakistan can do little about it, given the fact that it does not control Balochistan and is, in fact, allegedly banking on the anti-Iran Taliban to provide it ‘strategic depth’ in Afghanistan.

What should Pakistan do? There is a lesson in what the Chinese have done to sideline difficult bilateral disputes with India: open free trade and create mutual vested interest in resolving issues in a more favourable environment in the future. Had Pakistan not been hamstrung by the dominance of military thinking at home, it would have followed this route, which would have allowed it to mop up the terrorists on its territory.

Published in The Express Tribune, December 22nd, 2010.

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Reader Comments (32)

  • Cautious
    Dec 21, 2010 - 10:56PM

    It’s not that complicated and has nothing to do with trade. The answer is simple – clean up the terrorist within your own country – stop supporting religious extremism – start becoming a responsible country respected by the international community.Recommend

  • PriyaSuraj
    Dec 21, 2010 - 11:00PM

    Very well written piece, as rightly pointed India gets the world’s support because the terrorists threaten all nations and they trust India (due to dialogue, trade etc) whereas Iran does not. However what Pakistani’s really need to do think about is –

    a) Arabs are using them to prop them against Iran etc. No terrorist gets trained in any of the Arab country. They use Pakistan for that.
    b) US uses Pakistani soldiers to kill these terrorists to safeguard its citizens.In turn Pakistani soldiers and innocent civilians get killed.
    c) Chinese have used Pakistan and gotten a large chunk of area in the north that belonged to Pakistan

    And yet Pakistan is friends with all of these countries. There is saying that God helps those who help themselves. Save yourselves, safeguard your interests. No one else in whole world cares (muslim or non muslim).Recommend

  • Vishal
    Dec 21, 2010 - 11:52PM


    Most of the times we in India feel that all the people, media, establishments etc in Pak are totally baised and have a closed mindset. Many times we also feel that people in Pak are blinded by lot of misinformation when we hear any discussion on TV involving people from Pak. Due to this most have lost respct for Pak as well. This became even worse after 26/11 as when we saw that there is really no will on Pak side either to catch or to punish those responsible.
    But this editorial in its analysis is totally unbaised and has put down facts. This is truely great for a Pak news paper. This gives hope that there are many people in Pak who are sincere in their views. I have to admit that I really have started to resepct this news paper.Recommend

  • Neeraj, India
    Dec 22, 2010 - 2:39AM

    What an excellent editorial sir, no sane person can disagree with the facts you pointed out about the Pakistan’s untenable and distorted policies towards her neighboring countries. I think abject failure of Pakistan in the fields of economy and foreign policy is due to the absence of a clear cut objective and lack of sense as a nation. Pakistanis never tire of boasting their nation as an ideological state, but, till date no one could define as to what that ‘ideology’ is. Islamic? No sir, that is just a religion and certainly not a binding ideology of a state. Bangladesh and present day Pakistan stand testimony to it. Culture? Yes, could have been, but you killed it in the name of religion.
    Common history? Might have been. But, you disowned it too! History of south asian Pakistan starts from an Arab Muhammad bin Kasim! Common language? Yes, it can be a binding factor for a nation. Alas, again you adopted Urdu, which is not a mother tongue of any of the Pakistan’s four states! This made Pakistan a confused state with no clear direction and it resulted in many power centers within the state, with every player pulling the state in a different direction. That is the reason Pakistan is unable to come to terms with it’s neighbors and increasingly becoming a problem not just for India, Iran, Afghanistan but also to the world at large.
    It is time for Pakistan to shed all those twisted ideologies and adopt rationality, so that we South Asians can live in peace and progress together in every aspect of life.Recommend

  • K. Khan
    Dec 22, 2010 - 4:11AM

    @ Priya…some good points Priya. But I do believe that there are entities within Pakistan (from outside or within) that conduct such covert operations which is design to blame, malign, and destabilized Pakistan and its religious groups. Majority of militant who get caught are from well known middle east countries. But one thing is very odd that I don’t hear bomb going off in their countries like we do in Pakistan. Even though they have their own bags of fanatic. My guess is when billions of investment in stake in those middle east countries by westerners you will not see bomb going off there only poor countries like Pakistan and next target Yamen will pay the price.Recommend

  • vasan
    Dec 22, 2010 - 6:40AM

    The only solution is for Pakistan to come out of terrorist mentality which has come out of the hate ideology preached in madressahs and taught in the schools using distorted history books. If pakistan corrects its curriculam, which in effect means accepting the guilt for past deeds and no anti hindu agenda, then next generation may talk peace to India,.Till then I dont have hopes.Recommend

  • Ashwin
    Dec 22, 2010 - 8:11AM

    A sad picture, what about the educated and well groomed pakistani’s. i see so many of them here on tribune commenting on various issues.I guess these educated class should take up the cause of pakistan and maybe try being selfless in the process.For the sake of the pakistan and it’s neighbors i hope pakistan see sense in peace not wars.Recommend

  • Ajaya K Dutt
    Dec 22, 2010 - 9:45AM

    It has nothing to do wit right or wrong. It has to do with what God tells you to do. Good Gd has clearly said “Kafir is evil”. Except for a minority (of Intelligentia), Pakistan has propensity for this doctrine.

    It is wrong to say that world sides with India. “International Community” (read US and western Euorpe) has repriminded India, even when India was right. Recommend

  • ashoksai
    Dec 22, 2010 - 10:21AM

    It is as simple as this,

    The Pakistan military simply black-mailing the entire world with ‘we have nukes and we have nothing to loose, so give us money otherwise we will sink entire world with us ‘.

    There is no morality, see, the world’s patients is running thin now, so no longer Pakistani military can continue with its blackmailing attitude, if the world’s decides close the chapter.. I am just feeling for ordinary Pakistani citizens who are sane and deserves better treatment by the world.

    May God bless Pakistani people.Recommend

  • Raju
    Dec 22, 2010 - 10:27AM

    E T rocks again by writing unbiased article . Keep it up !!!Recommend

  • Arijit+Sharma
    Dec 22, 2010 - 10:31AM

    What I am hearing from certain circles is that Iran is beginning to consider Pakistan a direct threat to its ascendancy in the Muslim world. Iran is the only power that can challenge Pakistan in the Muslim world.Recommend

  • Dec 22, 2010 - 10:54AM

    Dear Editor, We are fed up with your Pro-Bha-rat editorials. Recommend

  • Someone
    Dec 22, 2010 - 12:17PM

    The Saudi monarch ironically said when the head is rotten, the whole body is rotten. Give me one sensible and rational leader this country has had in its history of 63 years. Its not fair; Pakistanis deserve better. Recommend

  • Someone
    Dec 22, 2010 - 12:19PM

    @Chashma….its not the editor. In fact lots of Pakistanis feel like this. The decisions our leaders have made have left us isolated. There’s hardly anything optimistic about this country any moreRecommend

  • amoghavarsha.ii
    Dec 22, 2010 - 3:02PM

    Yes, Very few of the news papers have been saying that Pakistan has provide no proof of India’s hand in Balouchistan.
    Tribune, Is surely one of the most candid and unbiased news papers in Pakistan.
    Good for pakistan, I hope you people have a urdu or local language version of tribune in Pak.

    I find the main reason being, very few people in high and powerful places who love pakistan more than their religion/self interest.
    Pakistan was very very unlucky not to have Jinha or some top leaders for more years at the time of the birth of pakistan.
    India in contrast had nehru and co., who where very good thinkers and were patriotic to the core.

    Apart from the political/govt/military people, Press(journals) and other intelectuals have to share the blame for failing there week and illiterate countrymen.


  • G. Din
    Dec 22, 2010 - 5:58PM

    “…Pakistan was very very unlucky not to have Jinha or some top leaders for more years at the time of the birth of pakistan.”
    Soon after Pakistan was formed, Jinnah was sidelined by his chief lieutenant and the man who persuaded him to return from UK where he had gone after being disillusioned by the political scene in India. Muslim League needed a bright, brilliant individual to be able to articulate their cause. It is one thing to agitate and generally make a lot of hangama and quite another to credibly promote your case. Jinnah was an ideal person to do so. But, when Pakistan had been accomplished, there was not much use left for this man. There were several assassination attempts made on his life. The security for him was so tight that floodlights were ordered kept lit at his presidential palace 24×7. In his interview with Jumna Das Akhtar (“Political Conspiracies in Pakistan”), he longingly confesses to a desire to go back to his “home” in India. (He had a house built for himself in Mumbai.)
    Soon after his death, Liaqat Ali Khan was lynched in a public meeting.
    So, history of Pakistan would not have changed even a little bit had Jinnah or Liaqat Khan endured because those who started and ran Muslim League took over soon after Pakistan was formed.
    I would suggest that Jinnah would in all likelihood died a horrible death had he lived. As it is, tuberculosis gnawed on his insides leading to his death in an ambulance in Karachi.Recommend

  • MilesToGo
    Dec 22, 2010 - 6:02PM

    In some ways the ancestors of Pakistani were smarter than the current pakistanis. They survived the invasions and let the Sufi Islam thrive. They maintained their culture, language and value system.

    Current generation even without the difficult conditions of the past seems to be giving up and letting their culture, language and values die.Recommend

  • Anoop
    Dec 22, 2010 - 7:14PM

    Very nice analysis.

    Iran will prove to be a crucial member as a result in the future of Afghanistan.Recommend

  • Sabir H
    Dec 22, 2010 - 7:54PM

    Nice article, But
    The author should not point out any specific community, he should see the whole phenomena, than talk about all.Recommend

  • GG
    Dec 22, 2010 - 8:20PM

    not at all surprising to see the defening silence from our Pakistani brothers/sisters on this sensible article…Recommend

  • Sara
    Dec 22, 2010 - 8:22PM

    Pakistan is stuck in this situation just due to its important geographical location. unfortunately in spite making it our power we made it our weakness, and also we have lack of commitment not only with our country but with every thing.Recommend

  • Dec 22, 2010 - 8:41PM

    The reason India has more credibility than Pakistan is not because of evidence or lack of it. Its because a lot more of the world has economic interests in India. They are naturally going to be reluctant to spoil relations with them. Pakistan is on a weak wicket, not because it sponsors militant causes, but because its instability does not make it an ally worth fighting for. We do not live in a black and white world where justice is foremost on everyones mind.

    Kashmir is one issue where Pakistan has the moral highground. How can there be a mutual interest by establishing trade? It will just result in the status quo, something India would obviously be happy with.

    That all countries are involved in supporting insurgencies in enemy territories is also a fact. Even the peace loving Indians have been at it throughout history. I fail to understand this wave of Uncle Tom-ism. When we were younger, we suffered from such an inferiority complex that the white man could do no wrong. Today, apparently, neither can the Indians!Recommend

  • Sikandar
    Dec 22, 2010 - 10:11PM

    nevermind I give that for you the last Line “I fail to understand this wave of Uncle Tom-ism. When we were younger, we suffered from such an inferiority complex that the white man could do no wrong. Today, apparently, neither can the Indians!”

    Yes that could spell disaster for the Indian if they are complacent.

    But then we cannot disagree with India for their capabilities to come out successful. Let us at least pray that our Pak politicians do take active role in curbing terrorism & religious fanaticism.Recommend

  • look-east-2-find-a-friend
    Dec 22, 2010 - 10:59PM

    On a recent train journey from Rome to Amsterdam I could not help noticing how much care has been invested to ensure that an ordinary train passenger can travel in great comfort and security with a remarkable absence of any intrusive or exhausting intl. border crossings while transiting between neighboring nations in Europe. Borders in Europe have been rendered transparent! It is impossible to imagine that this very region saw some of the worst violence in human history in WWI & WWII over territory. Today all past differences seem mostly forgotten in pursuit of a common goal – the prosperity and well being of ordinary citizens.

    Both India and Pakistan as well sister nations of South Asia can draw vital lessons from modern day Europe. We have wasted 63 precious years in spilling each others blood in doing the dubious bidding of outsiders and zealots, bigots, psychotics and sycophants within our own ranks. It is time our wisdom prevails and we turn our attention to our own children, our brothers and sisters and neighbors who are suffering from neglect – hungry or homeless or illiterate or jobless or diseased or dying or all or some of the above, especially the children. We cannot open our hearts unless we are at peace. I know that there are millions on both sides of this blood soaked border who feel the same. To proceed we need to temporarily set all our differences aside and build on our shared assets in our common history, culture, languages, religions, sports, commerce, music, dance etc.

    India’s trade with just China exceeded $60 billion, this should be the case with India and Pakistan had we developed normal trade and mutual investment strategy. Today’s world runs on $$$’s. No two nations can crank up their trade volume to such high levels without sufficient mutual trust ensuring their investments are safe with each other. This excellent ET editorial’s concluding emphasis on trade is well placed. Even without official sanction unofficial trade is taking place across the border in uncounted billions of $$$ – it is only natural for two nations whose hearts beat so close to each other. India is ready for peace and friendship with Pakistan. May the good people of Pakistan prevail.Recommend

  • Alee Siddiqui
    Dec 23, 2010 - 2:47PM

    I agree to the facts given by writer but we do not forget that we are in state of war with America. All the anti-American forces from Afghanistan and within Pakistan are working to somehow cut down the supply line of American soldier and those who supports them. In between other agencies are also working in different ways to complete their goals for disturbing our neighbors so that Pakistan should not concentrate on this war against terror. We must not also forget the fact that Pakistan does not have enough recourse to encounter each activity in a parallel basis. The only thing we pray is America should win and end this war, because we hear every day a bomb blast and lots of innocent people deaths. Recommend

  • Talha
    Dec 23, 2010 - 5:42PM

    @ Priya Suraj,

    Please keep your uninformed views to yourself, Pakistan and China mutually had the border redrawn favourably for Pakistan.

    In December Ayub readily accepted China’s offer to redraw the border between China’s Sinkiang region and the Pakistan-controlled portion of Kashmir in a way favorable to Pakistan.

    Pakistan: Courtship in the Air

    It’s a common trait amongst Indians to have either partial information or exaggerated account. I am busy now but will rebuke your other nonsense points.Recommend

  • PriyaSuraj
    Dec 23, 2010 - 6:38PM

    @Talha, looking forward to more enlightment from you – my comments are basis what I have read but then may be you are right and I am wrong. “Pakistan had concluded a Border Agreement with China on December 26, 1962.The Agreement itself was signed much later on Mar. 2, 1963 in Beijing. Later, Ayub Khan claimed that the Chinese had tricked him by timing the announcement of the border agreement to wreck the peace talks. The talks which started in Beijing in May, 1962 had stalled immediately because neither side had any legal records to claim their border alignment. Later, when the talks resumed in Pakistan this time on October 12, 1962, Ayub Khan records in his book, Friends not Masters, how the Chinese were ‘very difficult’ by claiming several areas on the Pakistan side including the Khunjerab Valley and the K-2 mountain peak. The Indo-China War was still more than a week away, October 20, 1962. After the India-China war ended abruptly on November 20, 1962, the Pakistanis were able to immediately find an innovative solution to their vexatious border problem with the Chinese based on the principle of using the watershed of the Indus basin rivers and the traditional grazing grounds used by the Hunza shepherds. Thus, Pakistan conceded vast portions to China, including the Shaksgam Valley. The Official Pakistan Map of 1962 in this area included 11000 Sq. Miles of territory (to the north of the ‘Traditional Frontier’)which has been totally lost by Pakistan to China. Pakistan never staked its claim to these areas in c. 1962, choosing rather to go by the ‘Traditional Frontier’ several hundred Kms. to the South of the Official Frontier. This is the area bordering Xinjiang (Sinkiang) where the British had built a road all the way from Gilgit in Hunza to Kashgar in Sinkiang where they had a Consulate. In addition, Pakistan conceded another about 3200 Sq. Miles to the south of the ‘Traditional Frontier’ to arrive at the new boundary alignment (out of the 3700 Sq. Miles claimed by China, it was ‘gracious’ enough to give 500 Sq. Miles of cattle grazing ground to Pakistan).”
    I sincerely hope you are right and I am wrong.Recommend

  • Saima
    Dec 24, 2010 - 1:45AM

    Solution is simple. Clean up the terrorists. How would you feel if a neighbor of yours sends terrorists after terrorists to kill you? Pakistan already has very strained and historically difficult relationship with two of its four neighbors namely India and Afghanistan. China has lately been more interested to take over Pakistan markets and get hold of mineral reserves without much regard for long term Pakistani interests. Additionally China is a communist non-muslim country whose culture is very much different from Pakistan. That leaves us Iran which is again getting upset day by day because of the game US and its puppet Arab regimes are playing against it using Pakistan territory. It is very bad for Pakistan as in future Pakistan might not have a single honest friend on its borders. Pakistan should remember how these same Arab regimes were hiding when floods came. The aid Iran gave to Pakistan was larger than the Arab regimes combined. Pak should set priorities on strategic level instead of renting itself for quick money. Pakistan needs to revise its thinking. You can keep enmity with one of your neighbors but you can not be enemies for all of them forever without finishing yourself off. Iran is extremely important to Pakistani future. From trade, transit to Europe, Central Asia and Africa energy (gas, oil, electricity), supply route in case of war with India (eg. 65, 71 wars), culture history etc. Pakistan can not do without Iran. But Pakistan can do without Dubai and Saudi Arabia which are both puppets. Lets keep in mind that the wahabi mentality imported from Saudi Arabia is killing Pakistan today and closer relations with Iran can cure it. Lets hope for some sense amongst Pakistani leaders.Recommend

  • Talha
    Dec 24, 2010 - 2:40AM

    Wow, where is the source Priya, or is it too much of a biased one to be disclosed.

    Read my Time Magazine reference clearly, it isn’t like Pakistan watch, where your quote was pasted from.Recommend

  • Talha
    Dec 24, 2010 - 2:43AM

    I really don’t know what ‘enlightment’ is but I am going to save my comments for a worthy debater.Recommend

  • G.Din
    Dec 24, 2010 - 3:55AM


    We are waiting!Recommend

  • PriyaSuraj
    Dec 24, 2010 - 1:30PM

    @Talha, thanks for your response, however pls do not get emotional and personal. You are entitled to your views as I am entitled to mine. I guess time will tell which one of us is correct. I for one never the wrote the comment to initiate a debate. Wish you and all Pakistanis best of luck. God save your country.Recommend

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