New Delhi, Dec.2 : This is probably one of the last crises that U.S. Secretary of State Condoleeza Rice has been tasked to handle, and it is a fruitless task.
She brings little to the table and she can take back nothing. Rice will ask India to practice restraint and believe Islamabad when it says that it will cooperate on terror.
And exercising restraint is something that the Congress coalition can ill afford to do, seeing the public sentiment. Dr Singh's government has to be seen to be taking action, not just acting.
And, action not in providing aircraft to the NSG and a few more boats to the coast guard.
It will have to turn aggressive towards Pakistan, if it wants to assuage public sentiment and of course keep in mind votes. Whether it moves troops to the border or tells the world community that it will conduct some kind of hot pursuit of terrorists into Pakistan is anybody's guess at this stage.
Either step would obviously be taken after careful consideration of various factors. Pakistan will not tolerate any transgression of its borders by India, and it will be viewed as an act of war. The United States sending drones and aggressively targeting AQ elements deep into Pakistan territory is a different matter. Islamabad will not tolerate Indian drones/foot soldiers/missiles. So will India, outsource this job to the US? Will that be on the table for Rice?
If it isn't, it ought to be. It would be in the interest of India, the US and even Pakistan. For India, because it will stop the inflow of funds, manpower and ammo from the source. The remnant domestic cells will wither away or be crushed by the local police.
For the US it is beneficial because these terror camps are the breeding ground for foot soldiers whose aim is to attack the US, India just happens to be the soft belly. It will benefit Pakistan because these terror cells are the cancer that is eating away at its civil society. The Mumbai attack was planned and executed so as to destabilize the Zardari government and bring back to power those radical elements of the Pakistani Army/ISI who had been marginalized in the last couple of months.
It is possible the Zardari was clueless about the exact nature of the planning and timing of this attack. The Army/ISI operate on a 'need to know' basis with the civilian leadership. But there was enough chatter in Islamabad for New York Times columnist Nicholas Kristof to write "I heard during my trip to Pakistan that the government of Asif Ali Zardari has again allowed more of these infiltrations of militants into Indian Kashmir; it's not clear to me if that's because Zardari wants to put pressure on India or create a foreign scapegoat for his own problems, or if he just doesn't want to spend his political capital tackling jihadis in Pakistan (there's a view in the Pakistani security forces that it's best to redirect hotheads toward India so that they don't bother Pakistani targets)."
Once you let out a jihadi from your land to go an attack an 'enemy', he is going to go find a target which is vulnerable and that was Mumbai...there are far too many levels of security forces in Kashmir because of elections there. So these jihadis did what they were told to do, either by the LET or by the ISI or both. This is what India believes and this is what will be told to Ms Rice. In all likelihood the bilateral engagements between India and Pakistan will be put on hold. She will be told this too.
New Delhi does not believe Islamabad, though Washington apparently does. White House spokeswoman Dana Perino said yesterday "We have no reason not to trust Pakistan right now." The US can continue its trusting attitude with Pakistan, so long as it is not sending its emissary to make us do the same. India knows better. By Smita Prakash