The recent capitulation by the Pakistan government in the face of Islamist elements in the Swat valley has had led to worried talk of a hardline Islamist eastward creep towards India’s western borders. StratPost finds out if India really has something to worry about.
Dr. Ajai Sahni of the Institute for Conflict Management doesn’t see any threat coming from the pro-Taliban groups in Pakistan, explaining, “This is symbolic of the further imminent collapse of the Pakistani establishment. The implications of this for India have to be worked out by the Indian establishment. You see, there is an inverse relationship between instability in Pakistan and acts of terrorism in India. The more the stability, the greater has been the violence directed against India.”
Brushing off talk of imminent threats to India, Sahni adds, “The Pakistani state has constituted a far greater threat to India. This actually works to diminish the direct threat from Pakistan. There is no grave danger from this. Instead, the more people are seeing the events in Pakistan play out, the less likely they are to be inspired by what’s happening in Pakistan. Even in Kashmir, if you talk to people now, events in Pakistan are no longer a model and Pakistan is no longer an aspiration for them, irrespective of what they might say about azadi.”
Dr Suba Chandran of the Institute for Peace and Conflict Studies also doesn’t think India needs to be too concerned ‘as yet’. “See if you look at a map of Pakistan, you’ll see the Taliban influence is actually creeping towards the north not the east. I also think it unlikely to grow east-wards towards the Indus because so far the Taliban hasn’t had all that much influence there. The locals have opposed them even in Swat.”
But Chandran marks out when India would need to be more concerned about this. “If and when Punjab falls to them, that’s when India needs to sit up and start worrying. The Indus should be our red line. But the bigger threat is Laskar really. They have far more influence in Punjab than the Taliban does.
Sahni also adds India’s challenges are elsewhere. “What India has to look at is its own internal security apparatus. Most of out problems are because of poor governance than anything else. It is not the strength of the enemy at work here, but the infirmity of our own system. India needs to address the challenges of setting up a strong security system. We need to put our own house in order in that sense.”