The view from Pakistan: what Taliban?

by Andrew Sprung

As Dish readers know, Joe Klein recently spotlighted the extreme nature of Pakistani mistrust of India and its importance in U.S. strategic calculus. Klein suggested that the key to regional stability may be "the diplomatic efforts to lower the temperature between Pakistan and India."

The depth Pakistani paranoia about India was on evidence last week in the wake of a series of terrorist bombings in Pakistan.  Former Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif visited Lahore after the bombings there and came out with this:

India's involvement in terror attacks in Pak 'regrettable': Nawaz

Lahore, Dec.9 (ANI): Demanding the government to table proof regarding India’s involvement in terror activities in the country, Pakistan Muslim League- Nawaz (PML-N) Nawaz Sharif has said that it is ‘regrettable’ if New Delhi is fanning extremisms inside the country.

Interacting with media persons after visiting the people injured in Monday’s bomb blast at the Moon market here, Sharif said Prime Minister Yousuf Raza Gilani has told him about India’s hand in terror attacks in Balochistan and other parts of Pakistan. 

“If India is involved, the government should make public proof of its involvement,” Sharif

The Christian Science Monitor adds some perspective:

According to security analyst Hassan Askari-Rizvi, the idea that India may be behind the terror attacks is "a very widely shared perception, but there's hardly any evidence to substantiate that. They [the militants] have attacked civilians in the past. I think the government consciously creates that confusion."

 "It is easy to communicate [this idea to] people who are already somehow convinced because of religious arguments that everyone is against Pakistan because we're the only Muslim nuclear power," says Mr. Askari-Rizvi. "This is a faith-based argument, not an argument based on reason."

That view is shared by Badar Alam, a senior editor at Herald magazine, a leading Pakistani monthly.

Both the intelligentsia and the government are behind the latest trend [of blaming India] because it absolves them of responsibility of doing anything to stop it," he says.

The Monitor further explores the range of Pakistani suspicions:

"What can one say about these people? May God guide them and show them the true path. Suicide bombings are not lslamic," says Zarina Ali, a housewife. But, she adds, India or America may be funding the militants.

Others go further still, like Ghulam Mustafa, a banker, who suggests that the Taliban "don't really exist" and that the bombers are "Indians in disguise."