Truth, lies & Asif Ali Zardari

Truth, lies & Asif Ali Zardari

Pakistan never disappoints. Within days of defence minister A.K. Antony’s statement that India was not planning an attack on that country, President Asif Ali Zardari has denied any link between his country and the attackers in Mumbai. He may quibble about the language, but his intent is clear. So is that of his country.

In fact, Zardari went on to claim that Jamaat ud-Dawa, the legal front for Lashkar-e-Taiba, was banned in a “different context". Surely, the context was the UN Security Council resolution in response to the demand made by the global community in the wake of the Mumbai attacks. Zardari, however, wanted to give it a different spin.

There’s more. Pakistan’s high commissioner to India, Shahid Malik, has claimed that the whereabouts of Maulana Masood Azhar, a fugitive from law in India, are not known. This, after Azhar was put under house arrest in his home town.

This is not surprising. Pakistan has returned to its old 3D behaviour, the three Ds being deceit, disingenuity and dissimulation. What can one say about a nation whose head of state issues and retracts statements with unfailing regularity? Expectations of cooperation should have been tinged with realism. Under pressure from the US and sundry domestic concerns, optimism gave way to loss of realism.

What we are receiving from Pakistan are the wages of pusillanimity. So long as that country was held on a tight leash with the possibility of a military strike, it behaved itself. It launched a so-called crackdown on terrorists, made glib talk about desiring peace with India and even claimed itself to be a victim of terrorism. But no sooner had the pressure eased than it returned to its true nature.

There are lessons here. These are, however, unlikely to be learnt. For starters, our ministers, A.K. Antony for sure, should not issue statements without thinking about their consequences. More importantly, no option should be off the menu merely because it will be hard to implement. Finally, the old adage that those who forget the lessons of history are condemned to repeat it should be obvious in the Pakistani context.

The policy trade-off and lessons are clear: If you tighten the noose, it delivers results; if you loosen it, the creature will not only bark, but also bite.

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