Decommissioning the human weapons

Bala Ambati at Daylight's Mark wonders why India and the US can't seize the moment to get Pakistan to turn over its menagerie of nasties. This would prove more than anything else, how really serious Islamabad is in cracking down on terrorism. Ambati writes:

So what do we do? Some would say India should behave as America did after 9/11 and go to war. At a gut level, I would probably concur. But at a cerebral level, realistically India should not risk nuclear war over this. But India can and should demand Pakistan extradite the known kingpins of terror in Pakistan ... While India is at it, America should demand the hand-over of A.Q. Khan, the wheeler-and-dealer of nuclear technology to North Korea, Libya, and who knows who else. When Pakistan refuses all of these, India should pursue an escalating response set.

These are eminently logical and reasonable steps. In fact, India has already demanded that Pakistan show good faith by handing over some of the most wanted fugitives. The BBC reports that:

India has asked Pakistan to hand over 20 fugitives from Indian law who it believes are settled in Pakistan. Foreign Minister Pranab Mukherjee said the names were given on Monday as India protested to the high commissioner of Pakistan over the attacks in Mumbai. Pakistan said it would "frame a formal response" once it received the list. It was unclear what links the fugitives had to the Mumbai attacks.

Whoever added the phrase "it was unclear what links the fugitives had to the Mumbai attacks" doesn't really get it. The Mumbai attacks were not some kind of ordinary crime; but to all intents and purposes an something akin to an act of war, which if Islamabad is to be believed, was waged entirely by private parties. So handing over these criminals is not the same as complying with a request for extradition; it is embarking on an act of military necessity to save peace on the subcontinent.

For the point of view of justice, these criminals have records longer than the arm of a gorilla and should be rounded up in any case. Whether or not they are specifically guilty of the Mumbai attacks is beside the point. If Pakistan wishes to dismantle the infrastructure of terror then it cannot do better than to start with turning people like Dawood Ibrahim over to the Indians.

But will the Pakistanis do it? There are discouraging hints that Islamabad will insist on handling the matter themselves, which is to say, not handle it at all, if the past is any indication of the future. The BBC article continues, "Pakistan's Prime Minister, Syed Yousuf Raza Gilani, has said his country 'would itself take action against the miscreants if there is any evidence against a Pakistani national'." Once the word "evidence" is used to qualify what should be a straightforward and necessary act of state it suggests the Pakistanis are having second thoughts.

More worrisome are sounds from Washington that Pakistan's tender sensibilities should be respected. An Associated Press article suggests that future Secretary of State Hillary Clinton may be tainted because she is too friendly with India. The AP quotes experts and saying that says "Secretary of State-nominee Hillary Rodham Clinton's close ties with India forged during her years as a U.S. senator and presidential candidate could complicate diplomatic perceptions of her ability to serve as a neutral broker between India and its nuclear neighbor, Pakistan." It recalled that during the recent Presidential campaign,

the Obama camp prepared, but then disavowed, a campaign memo that carried the headline "Hillary Clinton (D-Punjab)," a mocking play on the standard reference to a candidates' party and constituency.

The memo, which created a furor in India and the Indian-American community, also referred to the Clintons' investments in India, Sen. Clinton's fundraising among Indian-Americans and the former president's $300,000 in speech fees from Cisco, a company that has moved U.S. jobs to India.

Obama called the memo "a dumb mistake" and "not reflective of the long-standing relationship I have had with the Indian-American community."

And then of course there are America's logistical needs in Afghanistan, which will only increase if Obama's plans to deploy 20,000 more men materialize. Ninety percent of US logistics go through the port of Karachi, where it said, Dawood Ibrahim lives.

Will India press ahead while the fires are hot? Will Barack Obama tighten the screws on Islamabad? Or are we going to see more "even handed honest brokering"? The next few weeks will tell.