( Former Director – CBI)
The creation of Pakistan is the direct result of fundamentalism — it was Talibanisation of another kind, another brand based on the ideals that Hindus and Muslims cannot and should not live together. But the current Taliban, who destroyed the homes and shops of Sikhs living in Pakistan because they refused to pay Aurangzeb’s infamous jazia (a tax for not being a Muslim), are worse than their predecessors.
India has the third-largest Muslim population in the world, larger than the population of all West Asian countries (excluding Egypt) and twice the Muslim population of Egypt. India has also elected three Muslim Presidents since Independence.
Despite our very strong secular credentials, and the fact that most mainstream Muslims are deeply against such elements, India has always been on the radar of so-called jihadis who haven’t refrained from wreaking havoc on this country.
The US’ perception has always been that “the Pakistan Army has too often been a law unto itself and the country’s intelligence services seem far more loyal to the extremists than their own government”. So its current consideration to triple American aid to Pakistan to $1.5bn annually for the next five years indicates Washington’s conviction that their monetary assistance will help release Pakistan from the shackles of extremism and terrorism.
The US Enhanced Partnership with Pakistan Act of 2009, introduced by the Senate Foreign Relations Committee on May 5, includes conditional military aid on certification that Pakistani security forces are making concerted efforts that they are preventing Al Qaeda and associated terrorist groups from operating in the territory of Pakistan and to prevent the Taliban from using Pakistan as a haven to plot and launch attacks within Afghanistan.
This bill is much softer and more optimistic than the one moved by the House of Representatives in April 2009, the Pakistan Enduring Assistance and Cooperation Enhancement Act, which had made aid to Pakistan contingent on, among other things, stopping all Kashmiri militant groups from operating from Pakistan and on giving the US an undertaking that Pakistan will not allow its territory to be used for an armed attack against or inside India. The cause of unchecked terrorism in the epicentre of terrorism, that is Pakistan, is not for want of finances but because of a lack of political will.
But in the American diagnosis, money is the cure of all problems in the world, though all the money that has been pumped into Pakistan till now has only gone to strengthen its anti-India stance and terror outfits.
The Indian Army arrested a Pakistani terrorist in the last week of April who confessed that he was part of a 120-strong group, which included 31 terrorists and porters, with guides and snow-beaters making up the rest.
He said that he crossed over to the Indian side of the Line of Control (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 kilograms of explosives — was recovered on the basis of information provided by him.
Regrettably, the Taliban, under the patronage of Al Qaeda, have become the role model for fundamentalist Muslims all over the world. The Al Qaeda, along with the Taliban, today controls over a quarter of Afghanistan and large tracts of northern Pakistan.
This is no time for India to sit back and watch the situation in Pakistan worsen — the fallout of any fundamentalist group taking charge of Pakistan is likely to have a snowball effect on our country. And that’s why perhaps US special envoy Richard Holbrooke stepped recently and clarified that there is no evidence to suggest that India is backing extremists. “Now if the Indians were supporting those miscreants, that would be extraordinarily bad (and) really dangerous. But they’re not. Pakistanis have told me for a long time that India has hundreds of people in its consulate in Kandahar in Afghanistan. I asked Americans and the UN people how big the Indian consulate was in Kandahar and they said six or eight people. You know, I am not worried about that”, he said.
That’s reassuring but India’s main worry is the possibility of Pakistan’s nuclear arsenal falling into the hands of the Taliban. The nuclear weapons in Pakistan are dispersed at Chaklala, Sargodha, Quetta and Karachi. However, a failed and Talibanised Pakistan is extremely dangerous to India. We cannot bank on miracles to rescue us from the dangerous situation which is developing in our neighbourhood.
SINCE 2003, India’s home-grown Islamist terrorists have struck with growing frequency. They have terrorised Mumbai, Jaipur, Bengaluru, Hyderabad, Guwahati, Ahmedabad and New Delhi. In the last 20 years, about 64,000 people have been killed in terrorist violence.
In October 2003, 55 districts in nine states were affected by Naxalite violence. By October 2004 it had spread to 156 districts in 13 states. Now it affects 170 districts in 15 states. It seems as if the country is under siege, both internally and externally. And we have been dealing with terrorism without waging a war on it.
India’s reaction and preparation to fight extremists is far from effective. While it is true that we have to deal with terrorism without going to war, there is nothing preventing us from fighting the foreign and home-grown terrorists forcefully. For the preservation of the territorial integrity of the country, we need to give the benefit of doubt to the country, rather than to the terrorists to uphold the abstract concept of justice. People who are out to destroy the country deserve no compassion or sympathy. Those who sympathise with the Taliban and terrorists should not be dealt with kindly. If we want to be free and maintain our independence, then we should defend it without being apologetic about it.