( Former CBI director )
To suggest that what happens in Pakistan is a matter of concern to that country alone is flawed. On the face of it, such a suggestion may be both reasonable and logical. But those who do not remember history are condemned to repeat it. By understating a problem we can’t wish it away. Going back in history, the creation of Pakistan itself was the direct result of Talibanisation of another kind.
Pakistan was born as a result of emphasis on Islamic theocracy. Otherwise, how do you explain that India, having the second largest Muslim population in the world and having elected three Muslim Presidents since independence, is still a target of jihadi terrorism? It is true that there are only a handful of Muslim clerics in India and a very small number of Muslims who are sympathetic towards these jihadis. The mainstream Indian Muslim community is against such elements and has spoken out time and again.
According to the US, the Pakistani Army has “too often been a law unto itself and (Pakistani) intelligence services seem far more loyal to the extremists than their own Government”. The Bush Administration had showered Pakistan with more than $ 7 billion in military aid over six years with little of it actually being used for counter-insurgency purposes. Over the same period, Washington, DC provided another $ 3 billion in other forms of assistance to Pakistan.
The Obama Administration plans to dramatically increase civilian aid to Pakistan as part of its new ‘AfPak’ policy, hoping that it will lead to more effective steps by the Pakistani military establishment to shut down terrorist sanctuaries.
This increase in civilian aid comes on top of more than $ 10 billion in mostly military assistance since 2001. Under the present plan, the US will boost Pakistani civilian aid to $ 1.5 billion a year or more. According to American’s diagnosis, money is the solution to all the problems in the world. However, any amount of money pumped into Pakistan only goes towards strengthening its anti-India policy.
The Indian Army arrested a Pakistani terrorist in the last week of April who confessed that he was part of a 120-strong group, with 31 terrorists and porters with guides and snow-beaters making up the rest. He said that he had crossed over to the Indian side of the LoC to take part in jihad.
A huge amount of arms and ammunition, including 10 AK-47s, 13,000 AK-47 rounds, five grenade-launchers, 480 grenades and 32 kg of explosives was recovered on the basis of the information provided by him. But the remaining 30 terrorists are yet to be apprehended.
Things will be much worse when the Taliban take over Pakistan, and take over they shall. Regrettably, the Taliban have become the role model for fundamentalist Muslims all over the world. As of today the Taliban control something like a quarter of the country of Afghanistan and large tracts of northern Pakistan. They are only a 100 km from Islamabad and have established bases in Pakistani Punjab, as was demonstrated by the attack on the Sri Lankan cricket team in Lahore in March.
The Pakistani Army, unfortunately, continues to underestimate the threat posed by the Taliban. It also remains in denial about the other extremist groups that have been active in other parts of Pakistan — in the south and in the centre of the country. A large part of the Pakistani Army is sympathetic to and supportive of the Taliban and Al Qaeda.
India cannot afford to sit back and let the situation get worse, as the fallout of any fundamentalist group taking charge in Islamabad is likely to have a direct repercussion on our country. Already, Sikhs have had to flee Taliban-controlled areas of Pakistan. Their houses have been destroyed for not paying jizya.
Unfortunately, Pakistan, from day one, has been following a policy of antagonism towards India, blaming it for all the ills in this part of the world. It even tried to sell this idea to Mr Richard Holbrooke, the US envoy for Afghanistan and Pakistan, who replied that there is no evidence at all to bear out the Pakistani claim.
As of today India’s main worry is the possibility of Pakistan’s nuclear arsenal falling into the hands of the Taliban as they continue their steady march on Islamabad. Pakistan’s nuclear arsenal is dispersed over Chaklala, Sargodha, Quetta and Karachi. Nonetheless, if the Taliban were to take over Islamabad tomorrow, it wouldn’t matter if the nuclear weapons were not concentrated in one place. We cannot depend on miracles to rescue us from the dangerous situation developing in our neighbourhood. We must defeat our enemies before they attack us and lay our country to waste.
Since 2003, India’s homegrown Islamist terrorists have struck with growing frequency. They have terrorised cities like Mumbai, Jaipur, Bangalore, Hyderabad, Guwahati, Ahmedabad and New Delhi. However, we have been dealing with this terror without waging war on terrorism.
Our intelligence agencies, more often than not, have failed to provide precise intelligence about terror networks, jihadi or otherwise. Our response to the threat has been far from effective. There is nothing to prevent us from hitting terror networks hard, whether they are on foreign soil or here at home.
Those who are out to destroy our country deserve no compassion. In dealing with the sympathisers of the Taliban we should not follow the carrot-and-stick policy, it should only be the stick. If we want to be free and maintain our independence, then we should defend our country tooth and nail. We must defeat our enemies before they attack us and lay our country to waste.