SHAFAQNA (Shia International News Association)
Lieutenant-General Rizwan Akhtar, the newly appointed Director General of the Inter-Services Intelligence (ISI), in 2008 argued that peace between Pakistan and India was imperative in the broader regional picture, calling for the country to “aggressively pursue rapprochement with India”.
Rizwan was recently appointed by the government as next chief of the ISI and he will take charge when his predecessor Lt-Gen Zaheerul Islam retires on November 7.
In a research report for his Masters degree at the US Army War College, Carlisle Barracks, Pennsylvania, on “US-Pakistan trust deficit and the war on terror”, Akhtar had argued that peaceful relations with India not only improved regional stability but would also alleviate international concerns.
In recent years, ties between India and Pakistan have been tricky at best with India accusing Pakistani intelligence for helping to plan the attacks on Mumbai in 2008 that killed over 160. Akhtar wrote this report prior to the Mumbai attacks when Pervez Musharraf was in power and Pakistan and India were engaged in high-level exchanges for building closer ties.
Akhtar’s research at the time highlights that Pakistan’s stability is majorly dependent on long-lasting peace with India, adding that this would allow Pakistani military forces to be deployed in other areas for operations against Al Qaeda/Taliban or other terrorist organisations threatening the country.
Akhtar’s paper goes on to elucidate that Pakistan has seen healthy relations with the US as parallel to its general security framework, focusing primarily on the apparent threat from the Indian military. However, as things stand, the security relationship between US and Pakistan has been periodically unsteady by America’s approaches to India, Akhtar says, adding that this has led to the perception that the US may not be a reliable ally of Pakistan if ties between the two neighbours reach a point of clash.
The paper calls for bridging the trust gap between India and Pakistan and while Akhtar will not be calling all the shots, he is likely to have a voice that can create a difference.
With peace between New Delhi and Islamabad, an externally secure and stable Pakistan can focus on its economic well-being and ultimately serve as an example of a democratic and successful Islamic state both regionally and internationally, he wrote.
Akhtar had also stated that more conscious and serious efforts by the US with the two countries could lead to a resolution of the Kashmir issue, building the foundation for Indian-Pakistani rapprochement that would also dramatically improve ties between US and Pakistan.
Akhtar has held important assignments with a recent one being DG Rangers Sindh during which he was tasked to lead the Karachi operation. He is also regarded as having extensive counter-insurgency experience from a previous posting in South Waziristan. His appointment has moreover come at a time when a military operation in underway in North Waziristan and the US is also set to drawdown from Afghanistan.