The killing of Osama bin Laden on Pakistan’s soil has given a major jolt to the whole world, while Islamabad has been put in the dock. The death of Osama at Abbottabad has affected the equations of South Asia and hit the balance of Indo-Pak relations as well. Former Foreign Secretary and Ambassador Kanwal Sibal expressed surprise to learn why India is giving political lease of life to Pakistan instead of creating pressure on it in the context of terrorism. Here is excerpt of extensive talks of Dainik Jagran with Sibal:

What’s the impact of the Abbottabad operation on South Asia politics, particularly Indo-Pak relation?

The US Army landed in Afghanistan in hot pursuit of Osama after the attack on WTC. After Osama was killed, there would be a demand within America to leave Afghanistan at once. It is well known that military intervention is not viable in Afghanistan. President Obama has already announced to cut down the Army’s presence in Afghanistan by July 2011 and rolled back NATO Army by 2014. In such a situation, if America moves off Afghanistan, they need to develop a friendly ambience between Taliban and other warring factions. As far as Indo-Pak relation is concerned, we should get ready to face more aggressive Pakistan.

If road ahead for India is tough, why were Indian reactions so soft?

This is beyond my understanding that why are we giving Pakistan a lease of life especially when Pakistan is already in the dock? It is an irony that we treat Pakistan as reliable one for continuing dialogue.  

Do you envisage any problem going on inside the government?

The statement of Home Minster was not hard rather it was apt. The government’s demand is justified that perpetrators of the Mumbai attack should be punished. However, the statements from Foreign Ministry and PMO indicate that they consider continuing dialogue with Pakistan is more significant.

How do you read the inner situation in Pakistan in the aftermath of Osama’s death?

According to the cables of WikiLeaks, President Asif Ali Zardari has misgivings that the Army wants to bundle him off to UAE. In current situation, Zardari does not have many options. With the inclusion of PML-Q, known to be closer to the Army, in the coalition government, Zardari feels cornered. Nawaz Sharif’s party, PML-N, an ally of the government, is against Zardari and it is a fact that Pakistan Judiciary too does not like him. Though, the capability and integrity of Pakistan Army is under scanner after Osama’s killing in Abbottabad, it is unlikely that the ruling establishment will take control on them.

What’s the probability of activeness of terror outfits like Lashkar-e-Taiba and Jaish, which are involved in anti-India activities, after Osama’s death?

I don’t think that they will intensify their activities against India, because the operation against Osama was executed by the US, so may be terror outfits are angry with America and Pakistan. They will be only active against India, when the Pakistani Army tries to turn them Indo-Pak tension in order to distract the attention.

America too is raising finger at the role of Pakistan in fight against terrorism. Do you think that the US will cut military and financial aid to Pakistan?

Now there are dissenting voices against the help being extended to Pakistan in America, but when the US cools down and feels the requirement of Pakistan’s help in Afghanistan, it will be difficult for America to back out from its promises of giving financial help to Pakistan.

How can India cash in on the situation so that it could create a pressure of taking action against Pakistan?

We can exert pressure on Pakistan, but we don’t want to do so. Our policies are instead aimed at reducing pressure on Pakistan. Had we been willing to pile up pressure on Pakistan, we would not have taken steps to give it a cozy position in the current situation.  So, until we change our policy, we should not expect any solid result.

So, from Havana to Sharm el-Sheikh and Thimphu meetings, all the decisions taken were not conducive?

Yes, true. In past too, the government has shown its laxity. The Centre went on saying that it would continue dialogues. India preferred to keep mum even on the statements of Salman Bashir, Foreign Secretary of Pakistan.

There is no dearth of people who think that India can ever do operation like Abbottabad to punish culprits?

As far as India’s capability is concerned, it is quite possible. If any incident like Mumbai happens, we can launch operation in Pakistan occupied Kashmir, and it must be done.