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Army strongest political party in Pak: Sood

The former RAW chief says exclusion of the army from the proposed general election will lead Pakistan towards Talibanisation.

india Updated: Jan 30, 2007 14:00 IST

Describing Pakistan Army as the "strongest political party", a former RAW chief has said stifling of the mainstream democratic forces and their exclusion from the proposed general election would lead India's western neighbour towards Talibanisation.

"So long as its rulers keep the mainstream democratic forces stifled and lean heavily on the mullah nexus for their own survival, Pakistan will inevitably slip towards Talibanisation", Vikram Sood, former Secretary in the Cabinet Secretariat, has said.

Observing that the mullah-military tie-up "that stifles democracy" would remain a stumbling block in Indo-Pak relations, he said the army was the "strongest political party in Pakistan" and warned that anti-incumbency being a strong factor was bound the adversely affect the country.

"This is bound to happen in Pakistan one day and that would affect the entire country where the political systems have been cramped for so long", Sood said in an article in the forthcoming issue of the premier journal Indian Defence Review".

He referred to the spate of assassination attempts, suicide attacks and events in Balochistan, Wazsiristan and Bajaur were "not a happy signal for the Pak armed forces. The anti-incumbency factor as we call it here can afflict the Pakistan Army as well".

He warned that Pakistan getting closer to Russia and even Israel was also a possibility.

Pakistan must realise that Kashmir and India "may seem caught up in an unhappy marriage today but a marriage it is and it is not going to be annulled. This understanding and then acceptance is long way away in Pakistan", Sood said.

He said a booming Indian economy with its 300 million middle class would only lead to "greater integration of regions including Kashmir, draw the average Kashmiri into the Indian mainstream and lessen the appeal or fear of radical Islamic terrorist wishing to Talibanise Kashmir".

On Bangladesh, the officer expressed doubts about free and fair polls, its results, will these be the last elections, will the Army take over and will the country turn increasingly radical, pro-Pak and inimical to India.

"Bangladesh, surrounded on three sides by India and crucial to India's economic development, has the choice either to become the birthplace for the next Islamic revolution or a modern economic state", Sood said, adding that closer ties with New Delhi would generate economic benefits to Dhaka.

Observing that all of India's neighbours were among the top 25 on the Failed State Index for 2006 prepared by the Washington-based Fund for Peace, he said this did not augur well for India.

Demographic pressures, refugee influx, a legacy of groups seeking vengeance, a security apparatus operating like a state within a state and other problems would continue to affect it, Sood said warning that "the year ahead is not going to be easy" for India.

First Published: Jan 30, 2007 14:00 IST