NEW DELHI: India may be frustrated and even outwitted by Pakistan over the Mumbai attacks, after placing its faith in the support of the United States.
New Delhi has responded to the attacks on its soil with a diplomatic offensive, trusting Washington and ultimately US president-elect Barack Obama to pressure Pakistan, but with Obama and the West depending on Pakistani support for a planned troop surge in Afghanistan, there are limits to how far they can go.
“Pakistan has been able to obfuscate the issue,” said Indian security analyst Uday Bhaskar. “India will have to lessen its own expectation of what the international community can deliver.”
India has asked Pakistan to hand over the suspected organisers of the attack to the ‘Indian justice system’, saying it is a demand South Asian regional agreements back – that terrorist acts should be prosecuted in the nation where they occur – but not one many analysts or diplomats expect to be met.
“Handing over Pakistani nationals to Indian custody, I don’t think the Pakistani government can survive that humiliating demand,” said Rasul Bakhsh Rais, a professor at the Lahore University of Management Sciences.
“I don’t think that the United States is going to succeed to put pressure on Pakistan, because what India wants Pakistan to do is politically, and otherwise, not possible at all – and India knows that very well.”
Siddharth Varadarajan, strategic affairs editor of the Hindu newspaper, says Obama will not want to grapple with the issue of the alleged links between the Pakistani army and any militants so soon after taking office.
“The Pentagon is still in denial,” he added. “It still looks at the Pakistani military as part of the solution, not as part of the problem.”
The Indian government realises a military strike on Pakistan would be counterproductive, and only serve to strengthen the hawks and extremists. That leaves it with few alternatives, apart from formally suspending the peace process.
All bets are off, though, if there is another attack on Indian soil. “The Indian government would be forced to react in a symbolic way. It would not lead to strategic gains, but I don’t think the restraint we are now talking about could be maintained,” Varadarajan said. reuters