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Delhi waits for US to shed Pervez blinkers

New Delhi, Sept. 1: India hopes America would soon see through Pervez Musharraf’s gameplan of keeping alive the threat of terrorism to maintain his relevance to the West.

The US now sees the Pakistan President as a “stalwart ally” as he is cooperating in the fight against global terrorism, particularly Osama bin Laden’s al Qaida network. The need to have him on its side has made the Bush administration give him a longer rope on the Kashmir issue.

Washington has been urging Musharraf to take immediate steps to stop infiltration across the Line of Control and dismantle the terror network in Pakistani territory.

But it has not really exerted the amount of pressure that would force him to do so.

According to South Block’s assessment, this is mainly because America and other western powers are not directly involved in Kashmir.

On the other hand, they require his support if the fight against the al Qaida is to be taken to its logical conclusion. This can be possible only when bin Laden or other senior members of his outfit are either caught or killed by American troops who are jointly conducting operations in Afghanistan and in parts of Pakistan.

The Indian leadership is aware that to maintain his relevance to the Americans, Musharraf is keeping alive the threat of terrorism in Pakistan. On the face of it, he has a lot to show. Terrorist outfits opposed to his decision to join the international coalition have been targeting western assets in Pakistan.

This has also helped the Pakistan President in shifting many of the terrorists to Pakistan-occupied Kashmir, from where they are either conducting forays into India or directing those already in the Valley and other parts of the state.

The Indian establishment feels that the US and its western allies would, before long, see through this ruse and start exerting pressure on Musharraf to dismantle the terror structure in his country and territories under Pakistan’s control.

On top of that, the issue of democracy, though kept aside for the time being, has not been forgotten by the West. Delhi believes that this, too, will be brought to the forefront soon.

There are enough indications that western commentators have started raising serious doubts as to whether Musharraf should continue to be Washington’s best bet. Indian officials feel that this may also be factored into the Bush administration’s policy on Pakistan.

Once that happens, a lot of fundamental changes are expected in Pakistan, and much of it will be in India’s interest.

For the time being, however, the signals that India is getting from across the border are not very encouraging. Indian officials say that even after elections in Jammu and Kashmir are over, Delhi will not withdraw troops deployed along the border unless there is a significant change in Pakistan’s policy towards India.

The Indian leadership has factored in the morale of the troops in its policy and is keen that they remain there to maintain the pressure on Pakistan.

Officials in the foreign ministry say they are under no illusion that everything will be “hunky-dory” once elections in Kashmir are over.

According to them, no major de-escalatory step will be taken as long as Delhi is not convinced that Islamabad has dismantled its terror structure and is keen on bringing about a change in its hostile policy.

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