A Reality Check on India, Pakistan
Image Credit: Tore Urnes

A Reality Check on India, Pakistan


On February 10, India and Pakistan announced that they would resume peace talks that were suspended after Pakistan-based terrorists attacked multiple sites in Mumbai in November 2008, killing 170 people. Washington welcomed the announcement, no doubt hoping that détente between the two nuclear neighbours might lead them to end their proxy war in Afghanistan, and leave Pakistan better able to fight the Taliban and al-Qaeda on its own soil.

But it’s much too early to get carried away. After all, diplomacy conducted under terrorism’s shadow can backfire, and should there be another attack on Indian soil, Indian policymakers—even those in favour of reconciliation—may well conclude they have no partner in Pakistan, bringing the prospect of conflict closer.

It’s also not at all clear that Pakistan really is sincere in its desire for rapprochement. The country has reportedly doubled its nuclear arsenal over the last four years, and is believed to be building its fourth plutonium reactor. Western nations should be troubled that a country that professes to be committed to fighting Islamic militants at home has decided to focus so much attention on developing its nuclear prowess instead. 

Indians should also be concerned.  On July 15, 2010,India and Pakistan’s foreign ministers met in Islamabad supposedly in order to ‘restore trust.’ But the talks collapsed in acrimony, with the Indian side claiming that Pakistan had failed to move to resolve differences over the prosecution of anti-India terrorist groups operating from its territory. Just ahead of these talks, Indian Home Secretary G. K. Pillai had claimed that Pakistan’s Inter-Services Intelligence (ISI) had played a ‘much more significant’ role in the Mumbai attacks than was initially thought, adding that he believed Pakistan was ‘coordinating it from the beginning till the end.’

Testimony by captured alleged Pakistani-American terrorist David Headley appeared to support Pillai’s claims, with Headley reportedly telling FBI interrogators that the ISI went so far as ‘choosing the weapons to be used in the attack.’

If all this is true, then there can be no serious diplomacy until Pakistan stops seeking to leverage Islamist militancy as a weapon in Kashmir and against India. Lashkar-e-Taiba (LeT) and similar groups continue to operate freely in Pakistan. Last February, for example, LeT’s leader Hafiz Saeed led a 10,000-strong procession in Lahore to mark ‘Kashmir Solidarity Day’ and warned India to ‘liberate’ Kashmir or face jihad. Indeed, he also signalled a possible expansion of conflict, suggesting that the group might broaden its operations to the southern Indian—and largely Muslim—district of Hyderabad.

February 17, 2013 at 03:02

A simple question :

Britain is perhaps the closest ally and mentor of Pakistan, the relations with the Pakistani muslims dating back to the pre partition era. Britain wields enormous influence on Pakistan, a large number of Pakistani politicians carrying British passport, and Musharraf sitting right in London to evade Pakistani legal system, not to speak of a huge British population of Pakistani origin.

Why is not Britain's role, although invisible and underplayed, in shaping Pakistan's behaviour and policies towards India, never discussed honestly in the media ……. ?

April 25, 2011 at 23:30

Pakistan has long been a failed state. It’s time they start educating their women, show a path of education to their children because ‘the terrorist’ is first born and bred at home when all mischief he does is forgiven by his parents. Pakistan needs an overhaul – until it agrees to this, it will always remain a problem child to it’s neighbors, to the wider world and to itself in its short lived lifespan.

March 2, 2011 at 14:13

The Pakistan’s political situation is a bit complicated as the extremists are still too powerful to be a big nuisance and every time an leader who tries to focus on society rather than military comes to power, he is assassinated. Pak’s arm race with India has had severe impact on its social infrastructure and the funds received for relief ops are utilized for military upgradation. I am not aware of any war that India started with Pakistan or any terrorist attack by Indians and this makes me wonder why is Pak so afraid of India? What exactly is the reason that Pak is ever in the state of war preparations while its social and economic infrastructure is crumbling around it?

February 18, 2011 at 01:07

U.S. diplomacy with Pakistan over the past ten years has failed. It is time for Mr. Obama to get tough with Pakistani leaders that harbor terrorism. Obama had said the time for blank checks was over. Really?

January 14, 2014 at 15:33

get tough with Pakistan? are you for real? I guess you are unaware Obama has been arming the “rebels” (read: al-Qaeda) in Syria, you don’t know anything about the Benghazi scandal, and you and missed the recent news about the fall of Fallujah to al-Qaeda.

Share your thoughts

Your Name
Your Email
required, but not published
Your Comment

Sign up for our weekly newsletter
The Diplomat Brief