Event ReportsPublished on Mar 11, 2009
Most experts who attended the focus group discussion on the situation in Pakistan at ORF felt that South Punjab is going to be next stronghold of terrorism in Pakistan
Understanding the situation in Pakistan
India, and the world, will have to deal with an unstable Pakistan for the next several years. The instability will seriously undermine regional stability and promote the growth and influence of radical groups. These were some of the conclusions which emerged during a focus group discussion on ‘The Situation in Pakistan’ organised by the Observer Research Foundation on November 3, 2009.

The meeting was attended by Mr Vikram Sood, Vice President, ORF Centre for International Relations and former chief of Research and Analysis Wing (RAW), Amb. Kanwal Sibal, former Foreign Secretary, Amb. TCA Rangachari, former Ambassador to China and France, Amb. KC Singh, former Ambassador & Secretary, MEA, Prof. Kalim Bahadur, expert on Pakistan who retired from teaching at the School of International Studies, Jawaharlal Nehru University, Amb. Dilip Lahiri, ORF Distinguished Fellow and former Ambassador to France and Spain and Mr Saeed Naqvi, ORF Distinguished Fellow and a well-known journalist.

Of the observations made at the meeting, some important ones are as follows:

• Pakistan Army retains its dominant role in policy matters in Pakistan.
• South Punjab is the next stronghold of terrorism in Pakistan. The reason why the state is reluctant to address this issue urgently is that first, most of the former and current proxy groups also draw their support from this region and second, increasingly, South Punjab has become the major base of recruitment of the army. Given that a narrow geographic profile makes it difficult for Pakistan to contain certain favorable terror groups. And hence, picking and choosing is not going to help.
• Strategic location, presence of nuclear weapons and interests makes the stakes of regional players too high to see Pakistan fail. US, China has invested in Pakistan heavily. On the other hand, Pakistan assumes an important place in the Muslim world and the ummah cannot face the humiliation of one of its prominent members being dismembered.
• It was also agreed that India has very little credibility in Pakistan. With little trade, commerce, aid, the only talking point resolves around Kashmir, where the stance of India and Pakistan is non-inclusive.
• Looking into the future, it may well happen that many of the terror groups that currently enjoy state support by way of commission or omission may well forge strong alliances with al-Qaeda. If this happens when the very notion that solving Kashmir will solve terrorism will be effectively negated.
• The experts also agreed that the current offensive in South Waziristan is unlikely to yield the desired results as the offensive will only serve the purpose of dispersing the insurgents into other areas and not destroying these groups.
• Some experts also mentioned that India should not keep its cards close to the chest and should take part in peace talks with Pakistan and play a greater role in Afghanistan.
• Most of experts said that there are a large number of options for both India and Pakistan between the two extremes of going to war and resuming the composite dialogue.

Others who participated in the discussion included Mr Ali Ahmed, Researcher, Institute of Defence Studies and Analyses, Mr Kaustav Dhar Chakrabarti, Research Assistant, ORF and Mr Wilson John, Senior Fellow, ORF.

A detailed report on the deliberations will be published shortly

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