- Views 4315
Chidanand Rajghatta| TNN
WASHINGTON: Pakistan’s decision to celebrate a self-confessed Kashmiri militant from the United Nations pulpit may comeback to haunt Islamabad. A US lawmaker who has proposed legislation seeking determination on Pakistan’s sponsorship of terrorism takes a dim view of it and could use it as evidence to press his case.
“Disappointed to see the Pakistan PM use the @UN to praise a militant group that uses violence to promote its cause,” Texas Representative Ted Poe, who also chairs the House subcommittee on terrorism and Homeland Security, tweeted on Wednesday. He was referring to Nawaz Sharif‘s praise for the slain Hizbul militantBurhan Wani, whose death at the hands of Indian security forces triggered the latest round of unrest in Kashmir.
In his address to the UN General Assembly, Sharif described Wani as “the young leader murdered by Indian forces” and said he has “emerged as the symbol of the latest Kashmiri Intifada, a popular and peaceful freedom movement.”
The small problem with the description is that no matter what Pakistan and separatist Kashmiris think, Wani acknowledged belonging to Hizbul Mujaheddin, a proscribed terrorist organization, whose agenda is far from peaceful, and by publicly endorsing him, Sharif has acknowledged himself and Pakistan are accomplices to terrorism. Wani also publicly posted photos and videos of himself armed and threatening violence.
In a separate letter to Prime Minister Modi, two other influential Senators, Mark Warner and John Cornyn, said they were “greatly concerned about initial indication that the perpetrators of this (Uri) attack were Pakistani and that the attack emanated from Pakistan” and “Pakistan’s possible involvement in this attack underscores out broader concerns about its use of terrorism as a pillar of its foreign policy towards Afghanistan and India.”
Noting that groups such as LeT, TTP, and JeM not only launched attacks on India but also on US personnel and interests in Afghanistan, they warned that this is “unacceptable.”
Despite such humiliating public deprecation, Pakistan’s official narrative fed to a pliant media is how gloriously the country is doing in raising the profile of the Kashmir struggle and how success is imminent. On Tuesday, the country’s defense minister Khwaja Asif, who once taunted the Pakistan Army as “losers” in the National Assembly, once again threatened use of the country’s nuclear weapons against India.
Such periodic assertions has led Washington to conclude that Pakistan is an “unstable” nuclear power, compared to the responsibility India exercises with regards to nuclear policy.
In fact, Pakistan is having trouble establishing its bonafides as a peace-seeking country while rattling its nuclear arsenal, amid broad recognition that among serious analysts that it has long used it nuclear shield to initiate terrorist attacks on India – a bluff that New Delhi is only now calling with its surgical strikes across the border.
Islamabad has banked on its traditional allies, China and Saudi Arabia, to provide a modicum of support, but even that is not forthcoming.
As it turns out, China is circumspectly sticking to its position of asking both Pakistan and India to resolve issues bilaterally. In fact, Beijing distanced itself from Pakistani media reports that claimed that Premier Li Keqiang had conveyed China’s backing to Pakistan on the Kashmir issue during his meeting with Sharif.
“The issue of Kashmir is an issue leftover from history. Our stance on that is consistent. We hope that parties concerned will pursue a peaceful settlement through dialogue,” Chinese spokesman Lu Kang said last week when asked about the Pakistani media reports.
The US statement on the Rice-Doval call leaves no doubt where Washington stands on the latest developments in the region, with none of the comforting crumbs that lower level US officials throw out for Pakistanis to feast on, such as asking both sides to engage, recognizing Pakistan’s sacrifices etc.
In fact, Indian officials scoffed at reports that US secretary of state John Kerry had twice called his Indian counterpart Sushma Swaraj over the latest row, saying the only conversation the two had was in New York on the margins of the UNGA.
“The White House National Security Council statement should put all speculation to rest,” a senior Indian diplomat told ToI.
In fact, the phone Rice-Doval conversation, coming after New Delhi’s call to torpedo the SAARC meet, virtually endorses India’s decision to scupper the summit.
“In the context of the robust US-India partnership, Ambassador Rice discussed our shared commitment with India,” the readout said, with no reference to the SAARC boycott by India and three other countries, including Bangladesh and Afghanistan, both affected by Pakistan’s sponsorship of terrorism.
The US has an observer status in Saarc, as do Australia, China, European Union, Iran, Japan, South Korea, Mauritius and Myanmar.
Here is the text of the statement from the White House National Security Council:
National Security Advisor Susan E. Rice spoke today by phone with Indian National Security Advisor Ajit Doval. Ambassador Rice strongly condemned the September 18 cross-border attack on the Indian Army Brigade headquarters in Uri and offered condolences to the victims and their families. Ambassador Rice affirmed President Obama’s commitment to redouble our efforts to bring to justice the perpetrators of terrorism throughout the world. Highlighting the danger that cross-border terrorism poses to the region, Ambassador Rice reiterated our expectation that Pakistan take effective action to combat and delegitimize United Nations-designated terrorist individuals and entities, including Lashkar-e-Tayyiba, Jaish-e-Muhammad, and their affiliates. In the context of the robust US.-India partnership, Ambassador Rice discussed our shared commitment with India to pursuing peace and regional stability and pledged to deepen collaboration on counterterrorism matters including on UN terrorist designations.