This summer, a different Pakistan?

The new civilian government in Pakistan is negotiating a truce with the Taliban and al-Qaeda in the North West Frontier Province. When the cease-fire goes into effect, the Pakistan army will no longer be under too much pressure. In such a scenario, it is likely to once again turn its attention towards Kashmir. Unless the presence of security forces is maintained and the people in the rural areas are simultaneously empowered to organise themselves to ensure their own security, Jammu and Kashmir may be in for another “hot” summer of militancy leading up to the elections to the state assembly. 
 Pervez Musharraf’s military regime had declared: “Pakistan would continue to support with moral, political and diplomatic backing militants seeking independence of Kashmir from India.” The army’s new chief of staff has reiterated Pakistan’s support for the struggle in Kashmir and could be expected to continue the pursuit of the military strategy to bleed India. The real problem between India and Pakistan is the Pakistan army and its abnormal influence in Pakistan’s affairs, and not the Kashmir issue or any other issue. 
While the Pakistan army will remain preoccupied with the emerging scourge of terrorism within Pakistan, India can ill-afford to let its guard slacken. Pakistani generals will invariably attempt to again enlarge the scope of the proxy war. In keeping with its tradition of doing things on a grand scale without due thought being given to the consequences, the Pakistan army, aided by the ISI, may attempt to get its mercenary marauders to “seize” a small town in Kashmir and proclaim that it has been liberated by the mujahideen . Such attempts need to be guarded against through effective intelligence networks and vigorous counter-insurgency operations by the security forces. 
Further moves to resolve the Kashmir issue will remain on the back-burner for some more time. However, the Pakistani generals may not be averse to discussing additional confidence-building measures in the military field and it would be in India’s interest to agree to do so. As the spectre of a Taliban backlash is gradually receding in Pakistan, the army can be expected to persist with its policy of running with the hares and hunting with the hounds in Afghanistan in covert aid of the Taliban militia. India must continue its efforts to build international consensus for an amicable resolution of that war-torn country’s nightmarish problems. 
The clearest lesson to emerge from the civil-military imbroglio in Pakistan is that, as long as the Pakistani armed forces remain far more powerful than the country’s legitimate security considerations warrant, repeated military coups will continue to haunt Pakistan’s fledgling democracy. Premier think-tanks in the West, like the Council for Foreign Relations and the Brookings Institution, which have consistently but rather naïvely been supporting the Pakistan army, ostensibly in order to strengthen democracy, need to re-assess their warped analyses. 
Pakistan is now recognised as the mother nation for spreading extremism through state sponsorship. Concerted international efforts must be made, in the interest of Pakistani democracy and regional stability, to ensure that the army cannot further build itself into an even more powerful force. India must influence the West to refrain from conducting business as usual with the Pakistan military and from encouraging it in any manner, despite the so-called global war on terrorism. 
With an elected civilian government once again in power, Pakistan now has an opportunity to redeem itself. It remains to be seen whether the Zardari-Sharif coalition will take effective measures to set Pakistan firmly on a democratic course or fritter away its mandate in petty political machinations. In case the new civilian government fails to assert its moral and legal authority to guide Pakistan’s foreign policy, peace and stability in the Indian subcontinent will remain a distant dream. 
The writer is director, Centre for Land Warfare Studies, New Delhi