Indians Aiming At Strikes
On Pakistani Nukes
By Nusrat Javeed
The News - Pakistan

ISLAMABAD - With winks and nods from the hawkish pro-Israel and rabidly anti-China quarters of the US, The News found out after chatting with some reliable sources in India on the net, some psychological-war planners in New Delhi are desperate to play a dangerous game. They want India to deploy and mobilise its troops and other military assets very close to international boundary with Pakistan, for the purpose of creating the illusion of preparations for an all-out assault.
Such an aggressive profile, they are confident, would compel Islamabad to "bring out its nuclear assets into the open." That, in return, "should compel the international community (read the USA and Israel) to exfiltrate these assets" in the name of "pre-empting a nuclear showdown in South Asia."
In a widely quoted, reproduced and discussed piece, which the renowned US journalist, Seymour Hersh, wrote for New Yorker on October 29, the possibility of such an "exfiltration" had already been disclosed. Hersh quoted a "senior military officer (of the USA)" to claim that "an elite American military unit is preparing for possible incursion into Pakistan in order to steal its nuclear weapons arsenal." Members of Israel's Unit 262, Sayaret Matkel, which staged many clock and dagger acts for the Zionist state, were also reported to have joined the same exercise on the US soil.
Neither the US nor the Israeli authorities ever bothered to refute the sensational story as told by Hersh. Though "revealing" the "intense planning" for stealing Pakistan's nuclear assets Hersh did express the doubt "whether the CIA -or any other intelligence agency- knows the exact location of Pakistan's warheads."
Some other stories in the Western media later claimed that immediately after the ominous events of September 11, Islamabad remained hecticly busy, for almost a week, in "dismantling and spreading its nuclear assets to safer places," which could still not be located even by "on the spot satellite devices" of the USA and its allies. They are now expected to get out into the open, if India really appears preparing for an all-out war with Pakistan.
The suspicions that India wants Pakistan to show its nuclear hand also were provided with some substance to our sources through an article C. Raja Mohan wrote for the prestigious Indian newspaper, The Hindu, on Thursday. Mohan relishes an active access to defence and foreign policy establishment in New Delhi. That also makes him a formidable mover and shaker on the so-called track-II, which pretends pursuing the "lasting peace" between India and Pakistan through "informal channels."
And Mohan wrote: "There is a growing belief in New Delhi that the time has come to call Pakistan's nuclear bluff. If it does not, India places itself in permanent vulnerability to cross-border terrorism from Pakistan."
He claimed that since "the nuclearisation of the subcontinent in the 1980s, India has exercised considerable military restraint vis-a-vis Pakistan." New Delhi's "limiting" the military operations to "its own territory" during the Kargil crisis of mid-1999 and fighting "the war with one hand tied behind the back" are projected as if the culminating point of the said restraint. But, Mohan goes on, "India is now confronted with the possibility that its restraint in the face of nuclear escalation is taken as a fundamental weakness. India must deal with the possible assessment in Pakistan that its nuclear capability has foreclosed all conventional military options."
Mohan is not alone who is discussing "the restraining effects" of a nuclearised South Asia in Indian media these days. A very popular news portal, Tehelka, is also flooded with articles which seriously question BJP government's decision of getting out of the nuclear closet in May 1998 in the context of consequences "we confront now."
The demand is becoming louder that New Delhi must do something to "foil the nuclear blackmail, Pakistan indulges in every other day." Indian army is engaged in hostile build-up on its borders with Pakistan in the background of these noises. Even the dispassionate observers from afar are getting upset about it. Professor Stephen P Cohen, the weighty scholar of South Asia, is one of them.
Speaking at a seminar in Washington early this week, he virtually hit the panic button. "South Asia may have reached a point," said he, "where the two countries (India and Pakistan) are really bent on hurting each other one way or another and it may be time to consider more unilateral, more forceful American steps -- diplomatically and economically forceful -- to get compliance from India and Pakistan separately on some vital concerns. Clearly, we may have reached a point where the peace process is simply too little, too late, and we may have to turn to other forms of diplomacy."
Cohen strongly believed that "the language and the rhetoric", India and Pakistan are using these days, "is extremely harsh." There could be another crisis "sometimes this year." Like the ones, India and Pakistan went through in 1987, 1990 and 1999. They had to be pulled off the brink by outside mediators.
Little wonder, Cohen urged the US administration to "prepare a crisis team, get ready to go out there (South Asia), get a good understanding of the personalities you will be dealing with because there may be a sudden crisis blowing up very quickly. This could come out of a misperception of one side or the other side in terms of troop movements or possibly movement of nuclear forces around the country."
Contrary to distant observers, the spin doctors of the Musharraf government are working overtime to churn the feel good stories. So much space of the print media and time on the electronic media is wasted in drumming the self-serving theme that like many "half-baked dramas," stage managed by the cloak and dagger boys of the Indian security outfits, the recent attack on the Indian parliament was also a mock affair. And the so-called international community had realised that. It's also presumed that since the USA is fighting its 'war on terrorism' from Pakistan's soil, India would dare not contemplate an adventure against it.
This hackneyed line fails to appreciate as to why President General Musharraf took no time in condemning the attack on the Indian parliament in strongest possible words. And, why is he so keen to find out the whole truth about Dec 13 incident through credible probes and investigations.
The obvious objective of the assault on the parliament house in New Delhi was to provoke an all-out war between India and Pakistan. Even the rabid elements of Hindu-Right would hate to confront that provocative situation at this stage, when the American ground troops are physically present and engaged in the region.
The desperate remnants of al-Qaeda are the obvious suspects. We must expose them and their dirty, lethal and suicidal games. An Indian participant of the seminar, which Professor Cohen addressed, was very annoyed with the USA for not using the same language with Gen Musharraf, after the attack on the parliament house in New Delhi; like the one "it is using with Arafat." Cohen bluntly told him: "Musharraf is not Arafat. We happen to need Pakistan right now. There are American troops based in Pakistan, literally based there for some military purpose connected to Afghanistan and perhaps beyond that. For all I know, they're going to stay there for some indefinite period of time. That's an extraordinary thing for a country to do, especially a Muslim country, to allow American troops to be based on their territory. So in a sense he (Musharraf) can offer us much more than Arafat has been able to offer us."
Saying this, however, did not stop the same professor to wonder: "While we do need Musharraf for the short term, the question is do we need him for the long term? Do we need a Musharraf who is supporting what I would call terrorist groups in India and (its) administered Kashmir." And, this precisely is "the eventuality," Musharraf and his spin doctors should prepare for now.
The News International, Pakistan
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