Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif is a practical politician who understands the anger in the streets of Karachi, Lahore, Rawalpindi and Peshawar at the lack of job opportunities for the young in Pakistan. In the past, such individuals were sent off by the Pakistan military to go to locations across the globe and fight established authorities. The Pakistan army has not even bothered to conceal the fact that it arms, trains and funds terror gangs set loose on India and Afghanistan, two neighbours who refuse to obey the dictates of the men in khaki who control foreign policy, security policy and so much else in Pakistan at the expense of the civilian government in that country. Unfortunately for the international community, major powers cosset and coddle the Pakistan army, preferring the men in uniform to the elected representatives of the people. An inexcusable example was the decision by the People’s Republic of China to protect Masood Azhar, whose links with terrorism are no secret, from the lash of UN sanctions. What would Beijing’s reaction be if India were to protect and give shelter to those Chinese citizens responsible for acts of violence against innocents in Xinjiang? Would Beijing accept its own excuse that “not enough information” was available about such individuals for India to initiate action against them, the way it unfailingly has to date? Unless the Chinese Communist Party leadership intervenes to ensure that China supports the forces against terror and not terrorists, the incomprehensible decision of Beijing to back the Pakistan military over the need of the global community to ensure accountability to terrorists may leave a permanent stain over Sino-Indian relations. This country will not forgive a neighbour who professes friendship and yet who stands between UN sanctions decided upon by every one of the 14 other members of the UN Security Council and a terrorist who has been the cause of countless deaths of innocents, including in Pakistan, a country where sectarian violence is spiking.
Whether it be protecting the LeT, the JuD and other such groups or continuing to foment unrest and violence in the Kashmir valley through its many proxies there, the Pakistan military under General Raheel Sharif has made known its continued opposition to a peaceful resolution of outstanding issues between Pakistan and India. It is clearly the military chief and not the Prime Minister of Pakistan who has (through the Pakistan High Commissioner to Delhi) announced the unilateral suspension of the India-Pakistan peace process. This is clearly intended to deflect the Narendra Modi government from its insistence that terrorism in its several manifestations form the centrepiece of discussions with Pakistan. Across the globe, Prime Minister Modi has been indefatigable in drawing attention to the scourge of terrorism and for the international community to refuse to give a free pass to any country that shelters terrorists and promotes unforgivable acts against neighbouring countries. The Pakistan people seek peace with India, the way the people of this country seek to have cordial relations with all its neighbours. Unfortunately, the Pakistan military believes that tensions with India, tensions that are the consequence of its own actions, are vital to ensuring the continuance of its dominance over the civilian establishment. This is a suicidal approach, but as is clear from recent actions from General Raheel Sharif, it is unlikely to be abandoned anytime soon. The Modi government will need to factor in the reality of continued hostility to India on the part of the Pakistan military and ensure that this country is protected against all such machinations.