Former Pakistan Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif’s admission that the 2008 Mumbai terror attacks were the handiwork of Pakistanis has embarrassed his country no end.
Considering that India has been consistently claiming that Pakistan’s Lashkar-e-Taiba outfit in collusion with the Inter-Services Intelligence (ISI) carried out the terror attacks that killed 166 people and injured many others, Sharif's admission confirms that Pakistan has been lying all along when its leaders washed their hands off the terror attacks.
In an interview to ‘Dawn’, Nawaz suggested recently that such strikes could have been prevented. The hard reality is that while he was aware of the conspiracy behind the attacks, he made no efforts for completion of 26/11-related cases in Pakistan during his tenure later as Prime Minister. For him to now turn around and implicitly plead helplessness is, to say the least, unconvincing.
Or is one to presume that he was helpless because his government was working under the command of the Pakistan Army and the ISI? With Pakistan being a nuclear state, it is a cause for worry for the international community if its prime ministers are puppets in the hands of an army that wields power without responsibility.
In the ‘Dawn’ interview, Sharif also lamented that Pakistan had isolated itself. He indicated that his country should look into why its narrative that it had been fighting terrorism had not been accepted by the international community "despite sacrifices". This truly is a home-truth that Pakistanis need to introspect on.
With elections in Pakistan due in 2019, Sharif, though debarred from holding public office by the apex court, is leaving no stone unturned in ensuring that his party, Pakistan Muslim League-N, returns to power.
The Mumbai terror attacks case is being tried in an anti-terrorism court in Pakistan since 2009, but the case isn't going anywhere. Indian officials say
Pakistan did not keep its end of the bargain and sent the case to court without really investigating the conspiracy that led to the attacks.
Islamabad, meanwhile, blamed setbacks during the trial on India, insisting that New Delhi had not given "solid evidence" against the alleged mastermind Hafiz Saeed and others.
When Saeed was ordered to be released after 10 months of house arrest in November last, the Pakistan Government had justified the move, saying the law was equal for all.
With Sharif’s new stance, it should be clear that there is reason for the Pakistan court to drag its feet on the trial since the high-ups in Islamabad are aware that the non-state actors like Saeed acted with the full knowledge of the ISI and consequently of the Pakistan Government.
Sharif was at his pretentious best when he said in the interview: "Militant organisations are active. Call them non-state actors, should we allow them to cross the border and kill 150 people in Mumbai? Explain it to me. Why can't we complete the trial?" Why ask now when he did nothing when he was at the helm.
With such an admission coming from a former prime minister who served in that capacity twice, it is outlandish for the ‘doves’ and other apologists in India to suggest that we hold talks with Islamabad to restore good neighbourly ties with Pakistan.
So long as the army holds the trumps in Pakistan it is utterly futile to engage with any administration in that country.
If durable peace is to be restored between India and Pakistan, it is vital that the Pakistani civilian administration be clothed with authority in the true sense to negotiate peace. As things appear, there is little possibility of that happening in the foreseeable future.
The likes of Sharif will come and go but the army will call the shots and it is silly to live under illusions that peace is possible with the Pakistan Army pulling the strings.