Pakistan doesn’t quite seem to be playing ball with the US and India when it comes to cooperation on counter-terrorism. There’s no doubt that India’s and America’s interests converge—both want to see Pakistan free of terrorism. But both countries differ in their perception about Pakistan’s seriousness in rooting out terrorism from its soil.
India believes Pakistan, particularly its security establishment, continues to distinguish between the various terrorist groups that operate from its soil. Islamabad has been taking action against the Tehreek-e-Taliban Pakistan (TTP), which has challenged the Pakistan army and American interests, but isn’t willing to defang anti-India groups such as the Lashkar and Jaish-e-Mohammed.
India’s argument, however, has found little resonance in the US establishment till now. US officials feel the Pakistan army’s operation in South Waziristan has a serious intent, worthy of commendation. The Obama administration, in fact, sees Pakistan as a victim of terrorism, citing the dramatic increase in terror attacks over the last three years in Pakistan as compared to India.
More importantly, Obama can’t pressure Islamabad to the point where it covertly begins to oppose his quest to stabilise Afghanistan—a goal he is keen to achieve at the earliest, so as to pull out American troops from there.
Many Indians thus feel that their country should not outsource its Pakistan problem to the US. They feel that India needs to recognise that its and America’s interests on Pakistan don’t always square up. They remain sceptical that the US will do what we require it to do on Pakistan; and think that Pakistan admitted to the role of its citizens in Mumbai only because it’s simply “undeniable”. Where is there any real, substantive action against Hafiz Saeed’s network or dismantling of the terror apparatus, they ask. They think the US is not putting enough pressure on Pakistan.
Yet, beyond India’s eagerness to tame Pakistan, there’s also the possibility of Pakistan collapsing. A failed Pakistani state is neither in India nor in America’s interest. Many in the US feel India must factor this into its policy, and accommodate Pakistan to nudge it on to the right track. For instance, Michael Krepon of the Henry L. Stimson Center says, “The bloodletting in Pakistan shows no sign of waning. More mass casualty attacks in Pakistan can be expected, as well as on Indian soil…. Under these circumstances, further delays in the resumption of the Indo-Pak dialogue because Islamabad must ‘do more’ against extremist groups or bring Hafiz Saeed to trial seem questionable, at best.”