If Imran Khan is serious about ‘peace’, Pakistan must hand Hafiz Saeed, Dawood Ibrahim, Masood Azhar over to India

November 30, 2018

Pakistan will do what it must but the point that remains inexplicable is why do Indians appear so naïve while dealing with a revisionist state that sees ‘eternal enmity’ against India as the core reason for its survival. What new treachery on Pakistan’s part will take for us to understand that bilateral “peace” is impossible? How many more times shall Indian media, commentators and delusional peaceniks fall for Pakistan leaders’ words instead of verifying its actions on the ground?

Imran Khan, the Rawalpindi minion who now sits on the prime minister’s chair, still looks handsome and speaks impeccable English (better than he does Urdu), though he may have ditched Oxford for an earthier accent. Are these reasons enough for gullible Indians to believe that he really “wants peace”? Even a perfunctory glance at his statements during the interaction with visiting Indian journalists reveal a mismatch between Khan’s lofty rhetoric and slippery commitments.

And yet, seasoned journalists who should know better have shelved their armour of cynicism for misty-eyed optimism. The headlines in Indian newspapers appear as if the only thing that obstructs peace between the two nuclear neighbours is obduracy from Indian leadership. Pakistan’s politicians, military and its pet jihadists must be laughing their bottoms off.

We do not have to dig for evidence that India’s Kartarpur naivete has generated quite a bit of mirth across the border. Just a day after the groundbreaking ceremony where Khan made a “passionate appeal” for peace with India, his foreign minister was busy gloating before a public gathering — where Khan was seated at the front row — that Pakistan PM’s “googly” has stumped India.

Speaking on the occasion of PTI government’s completion of 100 days in power, Shah Mehmood Qureshi quipped: “The entire world saw, Pakistan saw that that yesterday Imran Khan threw the Kartarpur googly at India. What was the result? India, which was hesitant to engage, had to send across two of their ministers.” His boast was met with raucous laughter from the audience.

Qureshi knows what he is talking about. Indians may be gullible, but Pakistan isn’t. Islamabad is aware of the high religious value of the project among Sikhs. That neither the ruling party (BJP) or the Opposition (Congress) can afford to disassociate itself or play down the importance of a visa-free corridor for Kartarpur pilgrims in the middle of a busy election season meant that a green signal from Pakistan would compel the Indian government to send its ministers to show its solidarity with Sikh sentiments.

India should note with alarm the manipulative nature of the Imran Khan government that decided to exploit this opportunity of gaming India’s internal political dynamics, and Kartarpur Sahib corridor was used as a handy tool.

Khan, who was seated at the front row and enjoyed every bit of the sycophancy, had earlier met members of an Indian media delegation and proclaimed that “it is not in Pakistan’s interest that our soil be used for terrorism against others”. Not for the first time has a Pakistan premier made those solemn and empty declarations.

This ‘apostle of peace’ routine is getting a bit boring. On crucial, specific questions regarding this “peace” rhetoric, Khan tried to wriggle his way out with obfuscations and non-committal answers. On handing over Dawood Ibrahim to India, he told NDTV, incredibly, that “he can’t be held responsible for the past” and reminded India that “we also have a list of wanted in India”.

On Lashkar-e-Taiba founder and Mumbai attacks mastermind Hafiz Saeed, the UN-designated terrorist who carries a bounty of $10 million on his head, Khan talked about “legal process,” “UN sanctions”, “clampdown” and finally washed his hands off by saying: “These are the issues we have inherited.” When asked by India Today if Pakistan was willing to make a “grand gesture” on Saeed or Dawood, Khan said gestures can be one-sided “only up to a point” and “India must reciprocate…we understand till your elections in six months but after that, we need a response.”

Khan needs to be reminded that killing the snakes in its backyard cannot be incumbent on any “reciprocal action” from anyone. It is Pakistan’s duty to hand over Dawood and Saeed to India — who are guilty of grave crimes against the state and its people — instead of indulging in fake whataboutery. Not just India, the world recognises Pakistan as the epicentre of jihadist terror that uses violent extremism as a state policy to destabilise the neighbourhood. It is Khan’s duty and responsibility — if he is serious about peace — to hand over these terror assets to India as a starting point without demanding any give-and-take. We don’t hide terrorists in our backyard.

That, of course, is beyond Khan’s mandate. The army puppet cannot guarantee any action against LeT chief or Dawood because he has no power to do so. These terror assets are employed by Pakistan’s military-intelligence complex that sets Pakistan’s security and foreign policy. As long as Pakistan’s military has Saeed or Jaish-e-Mohammed chief Masood Azhar’s back, Khan is powerless to touch them even if he wishes to do so. Nawaz Sharif tried, and for his arrogance now lies rotting in jail.

Which is why when Khan pitches for “talks” with India we should ignore it with the disdain that such a meaningless offer deserves.

Source : First Post

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