Millennium Post

Pakistan's consistency

An army Major and three soldiers were killed on Tuesday in a gunbattle with a group of militants who were trying to infiltrate into Indian territory near the Line of Control in Gurez sector in north Kashmir's Bandipore district. A group of seven to eight armed infiltrators were spotted by the Army's search team in the densely forested area of Baktoor leading to the gunbattle. Army intelligence had received an input about the presence of militants in the forested area, which happens to be an old infiltration route close to Pakistan Occupied Kashmir (PoK). The latest infiltration bid that the Army personnel successfully foiled suggests that there is no change in policy as far as Pakistan's support to militants and unrest in the Kashmir valley are concerned. Despite a change of regime in Pakistan in which an entirely new political entity Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI) is to rule the country, its policy to support and sponsor militant activities in India has not changed. This is in sharp contrast to the peace overtures made by PTI chief and PM-elect Imran Khan in his first press conference after the election results showed a landslide victory for his party in the July 25 National Assembly elections. But more importantly, the question is if Pakistan decides to mend its policy and stop giving support to terrorist organisations, what will it do with the thousands of already trained terrorists it has.

Not long ago Pakistan was put on the grey list of Paris-based FATF (Financial Action Task Force) for not taking action to curb terror financing. This has put the country under strict surveillance and scrutiny of international financial institutions besides making international borrowings even more difficult. Pakistan is already in the middle of a financial crisis and is actively considering to approach IMF for a bail-out plan. On top of this, the Donald Trump administration is particularly enraged with Pakistan for its support to Taliban elements in Afghanistan and not doing enough to root out terror infrastructure within the country. It has already suspended civil and military aids to Pakistan and is also likely to oppose the IMF bail-out plan that the country is looking to avail in order to tide over the current financial crisis. With falling exports and rising unemployment, the economic condition in Pakistan is in an extremely bad shape. China has not only emerged as the biggest lender to the country but is also working on China-Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC) that envisages building a whole host of infrastructure project worth $50 billion. A major part of the investment comes in the form of loans from the Chinese government and the banks. And Pakistan is having trouble to service these loans. A major portion of the bail-out that is likely to seek from IMF will go to service the loans it has taken from the Chinese banks, also to fund the CPEC projects. The US has said that it is watching the Pakistani move to seek a bail-out from the IMF to pay the Chinese lenders. The US may oppose such lending by IMF to Pakistan.

Imran Khan who is scheduled to be sworn in as the next Prime Minister of Pakistan on August 14 is entirely new to running a government. Though his party has been in power in one of the provinces, Khyber Pakhtunkhwa, he is said to have never taken any interest in administrative or developmental activities of the provincial government. He was driven by the dream of becoming the Prime Minister of Pakistan and thanks to a number of factors including the alleged support he received from the powerful military, he is finally at the helm of affairs. But far from being in control of the situation, Khan is likely to become a puppet in the hands of those running the government from behind the scenes. The military is the most powerful section of the Pakistani establishment and it has its tentacles spread all over the administrative machinery. The large number of terrorists who find a safe haven in Pakistan apart from necessary logistics to carry out militant activities in India and Afghanistan has the support of the Pakistan military. Without their support, the militants cannot cross the international border and enter into India. And, as long as the militants cross over to India, there is little chance that the Indian government would engage with Pakistan on meaningful terms. Imran Khan as the new Prime Minister of Pakistan can herald an overall change in the policy that the country has pursued so far. But that does not seem likely as the latest infiltration bid by Pakistani militants shows.

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