Wanted: PM Modi Push for US Congress Action Against Pakistan Terror, Not Madison Garden Events
Jawaharlal Nehru addressing a massive crowd in California. PM Modi certainly not the first.
Sometimes I wonder why we go overboard in claiming US support, when there is none, to some of our pet priorities. On September 24 one English TV channel went on claiming the whole day and night that US has agreed to nab Dawood Ibrahim. It described the development as a “slap on Pakistan”. On 25th some other channels picked this up saying that this agreement was reached during the First US-India Strategic & Commercial Dialogue which ended on September 22. On 26th a national daily claimed that they have in their possession a copy of the Kerry-Swaraj joint declaration which “reiterated the threat posed by al-Qaeda, LeT, “D” company and Haqqani network”.
I have downloaded the 2,571 word Joint Statement released by US State department on September 22. It is a typical diplomatic document with didactic prose reiterating common subjects which were aired ad nauseam during each high level visit. But nowhere does it mention “D” Company (Dawood) or any of these terror outfits. On the subject of terrorism it merely says: “Honoring the memory of victims of terrorism from around the globe, including citizens of India and United States on 26/11 and on 9/11, the Sides resolved to deepen cooperation to prevent terrorism, endorsing a Joint Declaration on Combating Terrorism to expand our partnership”. How then did our media get the idea that US has agreed to nab Dawood?
This is not the first time that we had heard about US agreeing to help us in nabbing Dawood. On January 9, 2014 our former Home Minister Sushil Kumar Shinde claimed that he had discussed the Dawood issue with US Attorney General Eric Holder during his 2013 visit: "I talked to him and we decided that we will pass whatever information we have on Dawood amongst each other. We decided we will make joint efforts". I checked the US Justice Department posting on this meeting on May 21, 2013. It looked like a mere photo-opportunity with no contents. Our Press Information Bureau (PIB)’s release of May 23 said that terrorism was discussed and also extradition, execution of pending letters rogatory and Red Corner notices. There was no mention of “joint efforts”. The Shinde claim was contradicted on January 14 by former Union Home Secretary R.K.Singh who had by then joined the BJP.
NDA-1 had also indulged in such theatrics. On Oct 16, 2003 the US Treasury Department added 3 more names, including Dawood to their list of “Terrorist Financiers”. Our media and government concluded that this step was because the US was convinced of our complaint that Pakistan was harbouring Dawood. Dy.Prime Minister Lal Krishna Advani then asked US to “prevail upon Pak to hand over Dawood”. As a matter of fact the US List of “Specially designated nationals and blocked persons” under the Office of Foreign Assets Control, Department of Treasury contained 127 pages in Oct 2003, each page containing 42 names, and Dawood’s inclusion among 5334 names was not an earthshaking event. Our policy makers also forgot that the then US Treasury Secretary John Snow had lauded Pakistan’s anti terror effort just a month ago, on Sep 19, 2003!
It is high time our politicians and media realized that such routine expressions of mutual agreement on bilateral or multilateral security issues do not mean that US would send their Delta Force to Pakistan to nab Dawood Ibrahim. US or that matter any other country will commit overt or covert forces only if their security is threatened. There is as yet no indication that Dawood has posed any such threat. Joint operations, which is a unique and exceptional form of counter-terrorist action is undertaken only under special bilateral agreement like the US-Afghanistan Partnership Agreement. Or it could be under a multi-lateral umbrella like the NATO’s “Operation Active Endeavour” to disrupt terrorism in the Mediterranean immediately after 9/11.
Come September, it is the annual Indo-Pak slugfest at the United Nations. Traditionally the common feature of diplomatic efforts of both countries has been to impress their home audience on their success in airing contentious issues to convince US and UN. Thus Maleeha Lodhi, Pakistan’s ambassador to UN wrote to UNSC alleging that India was constructing a 10 metre high 135 feet wide wall along the 197 km boundary between J&K and Pakistan. An additional feature this year is a report by Geo TV that Pakistan has prepared a plan of action to deny India membership in an expanded Security Council by citing Indian interference in Pakistan and non-compliance of UN resolutions on Kashmir. Anticipating the India convened G-4 summit in New York on 26 September, Pakistan had said on September 15 that “those who have long sought to use procedural manoeuvres to advance their positions on Security Council reform should be aware that such efforts will not and cannot succeed”.
All these dramatics do not achieve anything. The compelling force which will prevail upon Pakistan to stop exporting terrorism to India is neither bilateral dialogue nor UN theatrics but US Congressional action. The 2009 Kerry-Lugar Bill (Enhanced Partnership Act) had said that US aid to Pakistan since 2001 was US $ 15 billion of which 10 billion was for security related assistance. As against this, US aid to India has been steadily dropping from 126.7 million in 2010 to 91 in 2014 fiscal. The lapsed Kerry-Lugar bill had included a stipulation that Lashkar-e-Taiba and Jaish-e-Mohammed should not operate from Pakistan for cross border attacks into neighboring countries. Pakistan Counter-Insurgency Fund (PCF) and Counter-Insurgency Capability Fund (PCCF) also require certification which is usually waived. There is also the Coalition Support Fund (CSF). “Dawn” (August 20, 2015) had said that US would not be certifying to the Congress that Pakistan’s counter-terrorism operation in North Waziristan had damaged the Haqqani network and hence not be releasing CSF. There is however a strong Congressional lobby in favour of Pakistan which bails out Islamabad from certification as long as US interests are protected.
Thus the real test for Modi government will be to produce some solid Congressional action by suspending different forms of US aid to Pakistan as long it sends droves of terrorists into India. Only that would result in positive impact in America rather than the glittering rallies at Madison Square Garden or San Jose’s “Shark Tank’ sports arena which would only impress the pro-India segment of US population, who have not been able to influence the decision makers.