Capitulating to terrorists

Joginder Singh ji
( Former Director – CBI)

India is under siege from several nefarious forces. In the north of the country, terrorists funded and supported by Pakistan are playing havoc, while in the North-East, forces such as the United Liberation Front of Asom and its ilk are leaving no stone unturned to separate that region from the motherland. Terrorism, in its various forms, is literally bleeding us dry.

US Defence Secretary Robert Gates has said on more than one occasion that the ISI is playing both sides. That though Pakistan has committed itself to be part of the US-led war on terrorism, it continues to maintain links with the jihadis. Further, Mr Gates has asserted that the relationship Islamabad shares with terrorist groups is a “strategic hedge” as it is unsure who is going to win in Afghanistan.

Pakistani President Asif Ali Zardari has confessed that the Taliban was jointly created by the Inter-Services Intelligence and the Central Intelligence Agency. He has been absolutely candid in telling the Americans, “I think it was part of your past and our past, and the ISI and the CIA created them (the Taliban) together. We got together, we created this cancer to fight the superpower (the Soviet Union) and then we went away, rather, you went away without finding a cure for it. And now we’ve both come together to find a cure for it, and we’re looking for one.”

A US Congressional report, titled ‘Al Qaeda and Affiliates: Historical Perspective, Global Presence, and Implications for US Policy,’ released in the first week of February says, “US officials remain concerned that Al Qaeda terrorists operate with impunity in Pakistani territory, and that the group appears to have increased its influence among the myriad militant groups operating along the Pak-Afghan border, as well as in the densely populated Punjab province. Al Qaeda is widely believed to maintain camps in western Pakistan where foreign extremists receive training in terrorist operations… By one account, up to 150 westerners (Muslims) went to western Pakistan to receive terrorism training in 2009.”

US Vice-President Joe Biden, when asked as to which country worries him the most among Iraq, Iran, Afghanistan, and Pakistan, forcefully said Pakistan. His reasoning was that Pakistan had nuclear weapons that could easily be deployed. That it had a real significant minority of radicalised people and its democratic institutions were weak. Pakistan’s policy, right from its birth, has been to show India down. It has tried several tricks, like the four wars it has fought against India, sponsoring terrorism, whipping up communal hysteria and inciting the Muslim population in our country, etc. Even the hand of friendship that has been extended by New Delhi to Islamabad in the form of the scheduled Foreign Secretary-level talks is being misconstrued by the latter as a sign of weakness. India’s biggest problem is that we have no consistent policy towards dealing with Pakistan, except for ad-hocism.

The principal issue, as far as India is concerned, is the export of Pakistani terrorism to this country. Incidentally, Islamabad is trying to convince the Americans that this is a good thing! As skewed as it is, the logic that the Pakistanis are dishing out is that by diverting terrorism to India, they are actually helping the US cause in Afghanistan.

We are all aware that the biggest theatre of terror infiltration into India is the Kashmir Valley. Various hare-brained schemes have been tried by our Government to appease the terrorists and their supporters. Even compensation has been doled out to the relatives of slain terrorists. Needless to say, none of these schemes have worked. In yet another ridiculous move, the Government has endorsed a new surrender policy mooted by the Jammu & Kashmir Chief Minister. It is a sort of amnesty scheme under which Kashmiri terrorists in Pakistan-occupied Kashmir will be allowed to return home.

A former Chief Minister and the present Union Health Minister has raised objections to this policy on the ground that the decision, if implemented, will cause havoc if some people with ill motives came back to India. Indeed, attempts have been made even to use the bus service between Pakistan-occupied Kashmir and India to smuggle weapons.

On the other hand, no such scheme has been contemplated to rehabilitate the 3.7 lakh Hindus and Sikhs who were forced by the terrorists to leave the Kashmir Valley. Thus, in other words, our politicians are playing into Pakistani hands. There is no doubt that Islamabad’s main objective is to create a volatile communal situation in Jammu & Kashmir to the point that the voice of separatism in the State once again reaches fever pitch.

The Government prides itself in reiterating time and again that the principle of secularism is non-negotiable but has no qualms about following a policy of appeasing Pakistan and its agents fomenting trouble in India. Why can’t we be clear that those who do not accept the basic values enshrined in our Constitution and have voluntarily left the country to train themselves in anti-India activities have no place in our society? Meanwhile, over 200 Sikhs settled abroad are on the negative list and are regularly denied visas for visiting India on the ground that they protested against Operation Bluestar in 1984. The Government is ready to welcome dreaded terrorists who have settled in Pakistan-occupied Kashmir but refuses to give visas to NRIs whose action of peaceful protest 26 years ago it did not like.

Leaving all these issues aside, it should be clear to the Government of the day that one simply cannot deal with terrorism through a policy of appeasement. One has to break the backs of the terrorists and their masters before exploring negotiations. At present, the jihadis feel that they have the upper hand and that is why the Government of India is begging on bending knees for peace talks. There have been no takers for the Prime Minister’s offer of talks which was aimed at the separatist forces in Jammu & Kashmir.

When force is necessary, it must be applied boldly, decisively and completely. There is no better case and better time to apply it now. It is an undeniable truth that force rules the world, and not opinion; but opinion is that which enables use of force. Let the Government work on both.