The latest criticism which comes from a long-term benefactor and ally is something that Pakistan can ill-afford to ignore. In a candid assessment of Pakistan’s role in terrorist safe havens within the country, the Pentagon told the US Congress that Pakistan was using militant groups as proxies to counter India’s military superiority. While this will not succeed in the long run, it is a perennial thorn in the side of relations between both the subcontinental nuclear neighbours. Pakistan is also using these proxies to counter its loss of influence in Aghanistan. The recent attempts by Pakistan to raise the Kashmir issue in international forums too have come a cropper and it has itself been the victim of a vicious terror attack by a Taliban group. All this should serve as a wake-up call to Pakistan’s army and its intelligence wing that this policy of bleeding India through a thousand cuts may annoy New Delhi but in the long run, many such initiatives could rebound on Pakistan itself.
The main problem for Pakistan is the lack of a coherent leadership structure. What has changed in the subcontinent is a government in India which, while willing to meet Pakistan halfway, is in no mood to pander to Islamabad’s unrealistic demands or its attempts to raise the ‘K’ word in all forums. As for the rantings by the likes of the PPP chief Bilawal Bhutto and discredited former president and army chief General Pervez Musharraf, India has hardly responded. In other words, despite constant provocations by Pakistan, India is moving on with other business and is engaging other countries on a variety of issues. Pakistan stands to benefit enormously, as does India, from cordial relations.
The terror tactics unleashed by Pakistan have only made the region volatile and dangerous and frightened investors away. The biggest loser in this is Pakistan itself. Mr Modi did make a big gesture in inviting the Pakistani prime minister to his swearing-in despite the attack on the Indian consulate in Herat a few days before the event. Much of the world, the US included, is weary of Pakistan’s deleterious strategies. It has, by this ruinous path, also done a singular disservice to its own people, the majority of whom live in poverty and fear. It is still not too late for Pakistan to turn back from this path. India must resist the temptation to spurn any gesture of goodwill from Pakistan. In fact, being the bigger and more powerful country, India can go the extra mile if there is reciprocity. The Pentagon’s remarks show that US patience with Pakistan is at an all-time low. With fewer friends and many enemies within, it is time for Pakistan’s leaders to effect a paradigm shift in its internal and external strategies.