India must wage its own war

Joginder Singh ji
( Former Director – CBI)

There is justifiable frustration, disappointment and rage over the repeated terrorist attacks sponsored by Pakistan on Indian soil. In its anti-India efforts, Pakistan is assisted by motley Indian groups which are known by various names like Indian Mujahideen, or Muslim students organisations, for instance SIMI which has been banned. Most terrorists, their masters and sympathisers are confident that if caught, inadequate, outdated Indian laws will enable them to escape punishment. Perhaps they are not mistaken. How can you have an independent witness to their crime when the Army is fighting terrorists from across the border and the Line of Control in thick forests or at on mountains?

Even assuming that there is a witness who was present, nobody is that stupid to come forward and depose in the court and risk his life. The dreaded terrorists and/or their supporters are bound to track down such witnesses. This is not only true in cases dealing with terrorists, but also those involving disruptionist and separatist forces like the Maoists or insurgents in the North-East.

So great is the love for ‘human rights’ of terrorists and their ilk among some Indians, that the human rights of the innocent victims of terrorism and violence unleashed by insurgents are not only forgotten but brushed aside. What we also witness at times is the outrageous attempt by some rights activists to equate victims of terror and the perpetrators of terror, as if the violated and the violator are one and the same!

In many situations, forget about an independent witness, there are no human beings around. Then, how do you prove a case in a court of law? Surely our Government and the criminal justice system do not expect the Pakistani Government or its representatives to depose in an Indian court and admit that they had trained terrorists and sent them to Mumbai, Pune, Delhi and various other cities to indulge in mass killings?

Solutions to India’s problems have to be found in India. India has been pleading with Pakistan all this while to put an end to cross-border terrorism. Now the Government of India has sought Saudi Arabia’s help. Are we so weak that we cannot make the cost of Pakistan-sponsored terrorism so prohibitive that anybody entering our country with a nefarious objective would not only think twice but a hundred times? This can be done — by neutralising them at the entry point.

It is true that India is a democracy and should therefore respect the rule of law. But we need to ask a simple question: What law do the terrorists observe except the ‘law’ of killing civilians and security forces?

The police in many States does enjoy the dubious reputation of being trigger-happy and cutting corners while collecting evidence or taking short-cuts for the disposal of cases by disposing of criminals. But it is also true that policemen, like millions of Indians, feel frustrated as they see known terrorists and/or criminals get away with their crimes on purely technical grounds, thus undoing all the labour they had put in to secure conviction within the ambit of the law. Human rights should be guaranteed only to our citizens and not non-citizens whose sole objective is to destroy the country and its unity.

Our folly is further illustrated by our unthinking diplomacy. The India-Pakistan Foreign Secretary-level talks, which were supposed to break the ice and goad Islamabad into taking action against terrorists operating from territory under Pakistan’s control, have predictably ended in a deadlock. Pakistan has described the evidence provided by India on the role of Pakistanis in the 26/11 and other terrorist attacks as “literature”. Criticising India on Indian soil, the Pakistani Foreign Secretary said, “Pakistan does not believe that India should lecture us and demand that Pakistan should do this or that.”

The world believes that Pakistan is the epicentre of terrorism and its Government has been promoting jihadi terror. Pakistan’s foundation rests on hating India; this hatred is particularly directed at India’s majority community of Hindus. First total ethnic cleansing was done in Pakistan by driving out non-Muslims from that country and now an effort is on to drive out the few remaining Hindus by harassing and humiliating them and Sikhs by beheading them. Pakistan-based terrorists have been openly saying that “one Mumbai is not enough”. With such knowledge, what forgiveness? Our war on terrorism and terrorists cannot be half-hearted.

When it is a question of the survival of our country, we should learn lessons from countries like Israel. It is believed that Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu authorised Mossad, the country’s external intelligence agency, to kill senior Hamas commander Mahmoud al-Mahbouh in Dubai. No tears have been shed in Israel over the targeted killing. Such covert operations are authorised by the political executive, though no official records exist. Israel, unlike India, has an awesome reputation of tracking down and assassinating terrorists, no matter wherever they may be hiding in the world.

It is a well-known and well-established fact that given the impossible-to-meet standards of proof required for convictions in a court of law, rare is the terrorist who has been convicted under the law. The only option left is to repay terrorists in their own coin and with compounded interest.

Covert counter-terrorism operations are integral to the undeclared policy of all countries. India’s record of covert operations has been colourless or nil. Instead of fighting or acting against terrorism, we have been reacting to it. We have never bothered to ensure that terrorists get the retribution they deserve. Terrorism is not going to end because of sweet talk at any level.

The Prime Minister has admitted that the Government does not know whom to talk to in Pakistan as there are many power centres and nobody knows who is in control of that country. Theoretically there is a civilian Government in Pakistan, but in practice, power and authority are not vested in this Government. Hence the dilemma of the Prime Minister. Our self-respect demands that we should stop begging Pakistan to put an end to cross-border terrorism. Instead our message, through deed and not word, should be: “Do your worst, but do not blame us for the consequences.”

We should mean business in tackling terrorism and the war against terror to its logical conclusion. Our security forces and and intelligence agencies can do it, provided the Government wills it and means it. To win this war the Government will have to stand firm.