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Sharif’s Rhetoric

 

During his visit to Washington, Nawaz Sharif, Prime Minister of Pakistan, held out a package of assurances. Evidently, the Obama administration, with Afghanistan on its mind, put pressure on him to say that Pakistan’s territory would not be used against any country and that attacks across the Pakistan-Afghanistan border would not be allowed. Sharif also told Barack Obama that his government would be proactive in taking action against Lashkar-e-Taiba and its affiliates. That will convince Washington of Islamabad’s resolve to participate in the offensive to counter terrorism. At the same time, Sharif is reported to have produced evidence of Indian complicity in stirring up violence in the federally administered Tribal Areas, Baluchistan and Karachi. Nawaz Sharif emphasised that eradicating terrorism was an obligation of all countries in the region. The US was called upon to mediate, on such contentious issues as Kashmir which was a matter of bilateral concern. No doubt New Delhi’s conditioned reflex has so far stymied negotiations on this prickly issue. India has however, reason to be upset about the US nod to a hydro-electric project in Gilgit-Balochistan. Sharif’s unfounded charges against India have sharpened the antagonism. There is, however, evidence of a tilt towards Pakistan on the part of Washington. The US talks to the civilian government in Islamabad. But it should not be blind to the fact that the army headed by General Raheel Sharif is the real power in the troika ruling Pakistan. It cannot be unaware either of the secret link between the ISI of Pakistan and the terror groups operating on its soil . US efforts to persuade Pakistan to talk peace with the Taliban also create misgivings. The Haqqanis have long been at war with US and NATO forces. It is time the US pressured the Pakistani army into seriously joining a peace effort. Only that will soften New Delhi’s face-off with Islamabad.

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