Post-Mumbai: Will India's
soft-power diplomacy work?
By John Stanly
Delhi, Dec 13 (IANS) Did someone expect a 'stronger' response
from India after the Nov 26-28 terrorist attack on Mumbai?
international media wasted no time in calling it India's Sep
11, drawing parallels between the Mumbai siege and the terror
attacks on the World Trade Centre in New York. US president-elect
Barack Obama said India had the "right to defend itself".
Republican Senator John Mccain said in Lahore that India would
launch an aerial strike "if Pakistan fails to act against
still, the official Indian response was less rhetorical. Those
who witnessed the aggressive diplomacy and military mobilisation
after the parliament attack of Dec 13, 2001, might have been
amused over the way India dealt with Pakistan post-Mumbai.
The Economist weekly put it, India showed "laudable restraint"
and was wary of not attacking the weak civilian government
in Pakistan. It, however, painstakingly focussed on the terror
cells operating in that country and the support they receive
from the Pakistani army and other agencies.
Indian government has already alluded to ISI's (Inter Service
Intelligence) support for terror elements operating out of
Pakistan. It has built up pressure by postponing composite
talks and sharing intelligence with other international spy
agencies. This has been carefully done keeping in mind Pakistan's
reluctance to accept any evidence from India," Ashok
K. Behuria, a research fellow and Pakistan expert at the Institute
of Defence Studies and Analyses (IDSA), told IANS.
to Behuria, India's reluctance to bring in enough pressure
on the weak civilian government was perhaps "guided by
the reasoning that the government has absolutely no control
over the security apparatus".
(India) do not want to create a situation which will bring
the (Pakistani) army back on to the centre stage," he
is worth noting that even after the months-long troops mobilisation
(called Operation Parakram) following the parliament attack,
India gained nothing great, neither diplomatically nor militarily.
Though the Musharraf government banned the Lashkar-e-Taiba
(LeT) in January 2002, the terror outfit continued to enjoy
the support of Pakistan's notorious spy agency.
the governments in the Middle East and East Asia took strong
measures to crack down on the terror groups operating in their
territories, LeT "flourished" in Pakistan with the
help of ISI and a huge fund-raising organisation, Jamat-ud-Dawa,
the New York Times reported recently, quoting unnamed American
Mumbai terror attacks took place against this background.
Any policy level decision from India should have taken at
least two things into consideration - the widening chasm between
the army and the civilian government in Pakistan and a growing
LeT that enjoys the support of the security establishment.
use of the hard power would have brought the Pakistani army
back on to the centre stage. Carefully avoiding that, India
adopted a realistic approach to win international support
to force Pakistan to act against the militants.
am making it quite clear that it (war) is not a solution,"
External Affairs Minister Pranab Mukherjee told parliament
Thursday, adding "controllers of Mumbai attacks were
in Pakistan. Islamabad should act against them."
post-Mumbai situation is providing an opportunity to New Delhi
to test its soft power at the international level. It is a
major crisis the country is facing after cementing its strategic
tie-up with the US through the civilian nuclear deal.
New Delhi use this "strategic advantage" effectively
to force Pakistan act?
has reportedly cracked down on the Jamaat-ud-Dawa's office
in Muzaffarabad and placed restrictions on the movement of
many militant leaders, including Maulana Masood Azhar of Jaish-e-Mohammad
(JeM), LeT's founder leader Hafiz Muhammed Saeed and its operational
level head Zaki ur-Rehman Lakhvi.
the futility of similar detentions of militant leaders following
the parliament attack and the 2006 Mumbai train bombing, India
has reasons to remain sceptical.
made the position clear while asking Pakistan to act. "Mere
expression of intention is not adequate."
wants Pakistan to destroy the terror cells operating in its
territory. That is where the soft-power diplomacy faces its
real test. Is it realistic to expect the Pakistani army, which
gives overt support to anti-India militants, to take military
action against them? Could the civilian government that has
little muscle go against the wishes of the military?
questions remain to be answered. But India's delicate engagement
has made advances on two fronts - it denied the Pakistani
army that is bogged down in a dirty war in the Afghan border
an opportunity to come back to the eastern border and it brought
the civilian government directly under severe international
Pakistan has to find a way out. If not, as Mukherjee said,
it will not be "business as usual" for that country.
Stanly can be contacted at email@example.com)