NEW DELHI: Last week’s bomb blast in Lahore could have become a diplomatic incident if a little known Taliban group had not
However, the incident has many security officials worried, because in the coming days and weeks, there could be other such “incidents” manufactured by the over-active Pakistani establishment to “blame” India.
The fear is that the process could go to the extreme of triggering bigger blasts at institutions and then describing them as “Indian surgical strikes” which could then “invite” Pakistani retaliation.
There is a general conclusion in India that the Pakistan army is spoiling for a fight. That has resulted in a lot of diversionary tactics including hoax calls, air force alerts and moving troops towards the Indian border, to leave the western border unattended.
The Lahore blast last week, which killed one person, prompted the Pakistani establishment to blame India, even saying that they had arrested an Indian. This could have had implications if it hadn’t been for some Taliban group in Waziristan claiming responsibility.
Subsequently, India was concerned enough to issue a rare travel advisory to its citizens, asking them to get out of Pakistan forthwith to avoid being implicated in some strange event there.
Sources said the strategic reason for Pakistan army and jihadis trying to provoke a conflict with India is not far to see. It suits them if India reacts like it did in 2001-02 with Operation Parakram, the mass mobilisation exercise. The Pakistan army and the jihadis don’t want security forces in the FATA and NWFP areas. This would give the Taliban a free hand to take positions in Afghanistan and make the resurgence of Taliban into a regime change game. Or at the very least, have their forces in position before new US president Barack Obama sends his 30,000-strong “surge” in Afghanistan by spring. In many ways, it would be the decisive war for Afghanistan.
But this is a dangerous strategy, analysts said, because the blowback on Pakistan could be equally huge. It could create the space for Pashtuns and Taliban to create a swathe of “Talibanistan” in the tribal areas.
The first signs of this is already being seen. Pakistani media is already apprehensive of the implications of the fall of Swat and Orakzai agencies to the Taliban this week. In Swat, the announcement to close girls schools by January 15 is being seen as the tipping point.
An editorial in The News said, “The notion that somehow the militants are our allies runs as a strong and deep current through elements of the army and intelligence services, the bureaucracy and the politicians themselves. There are powerful forces that provide tacit if not overt support to them, forces which would like to see the Taliban triumphant in the rest of Pakistan and not just Swat. The caliphate of Swat is becoming a reality before our eyes. Where next?”