Pak talk should not lull us into inaction

Sh. Joginder Singh ji
(Former Director – C.B.I.)
Pakistan, Under pressure from the United States and India, has finally confessed, albeit half-heartedly, to the involvement of their citizens and terrorist groups in the Mumbai attacks.
But let us not jump to the conclusion that the dossier full of proof, which India had furnished to Pakistan, would in any way deter the super Pakistani arbiter — the Army and the ISI — from their long-term objective of “bleeding India with thousand cuts and proxy war”. The Army is still the main player there and the Pakistani generals must be feeling uncomfortable about what Taliban has called Pakistan’s second “surrender to India” after 1971.
The Al Qaeda has already threatened that they would carry out more Mumbai-style attacks if India attacks Pakistan. The only people who have ever been successful against the Afghan were the Sikhs, under the leadership of Hari Singh Nalwa, during the regime of Maharaja Ranjit Singh of Punjab.
The Americans, who gave full support in money and weapons to Taliban, considered their cadres freedom fighters when they were fighting the Soviets. The clout of the Taliban can be perceived from the fact that on May 21, 2008, Pakistan Prime Minister Yousuf Raza Gilani signed a peace deal with the Taliban in Pakistan’s north-western valley calling for, among other things, the withdrawal of Pakistani troops from the tourist region of Swat and the imposition of Sharia or Islamic law there. In return, Taliban promised to close camps, hand over foreign fighters and halt suicide attacks on government posts and security forces.
It’s regrettable that “Talibanisation” is creeping in one form or another on almost all Muslim states — from Morocco to the Far East to Central Asia. Another common aspect is anti-American and anti-West sentiment in almost all the countries where fundamentalists have an edge.
It is more so in democracies like India where different parties depend upon minority vote-banks. India cannot help being concerned about its neighbours becoming a haven and sanctuary for fundamentalists and terrorists. If they continue to thrive in Pakistan and Bangladesh, it is bound to impact us.
Pakistan President Asif Ali Zardari claims that Pakistan is fighting a war for its survival against the Taliban who already have a presence in large parts of the country but want to overtake the entire state of Pakistan. Taliban’s growing might was reflected in India when certain Muslims groups in Srinagar banned beauty parlours and video parlours which they term “un-Islamic”. And recently, the Uttar Pradesh Board of Madrassa Education banned co-education in madrasas.
The fact is that our battle against terror and terrorists has to be fought and won by us and not by the US or any other Western nations. All countries are basically concerned with their own problems. They become interested in others only when it starts pinching them.
Therefore, let us not raise our expectations too high from the new dispensation in the US or, for that matter, any other country. The US will pressurise Pakistan to the extent they feel is appropriate, without reaching break-point or coming anywhere near confrontation. They will not push Pakistan to the wall for the sake of India.
No terrorist organisation in Pakistan can survive, or even exist, overtly or covertly, without the government turning a blind eye to what’s going on. By whatever name you call them — Al Qaeda, Laskhar or Mujahideen, their objective is to decimate India, referred to as “their common enemy”.
This fits with Pakistan’s policy so far. All these organisations have a common handler, the ISI, which provides them hideouts, sanctuaries and training centres. There is no fixed or sure method of crushing terrorism except to use offence as the best form of defence, especially in our territory.
But one thing is certain — the magnitude of the strikes in Mumbai on 26/11, the Parliament attack on December 13, 2001, bomb blasts in Bengaluru, Surat, Ahmedabad, Hyderabad and Jaipur, could not have been carried out without extensive planning, reconnaissance and knowledge of getaways.
How Pakistan deals with its internal problem, of first rearing terrorists and then wanting to crush them when these terrorists want to overthrow the government, is their outlook. If Taliban wants to overrun the government and take over, it is for the regime there to decide how it should tackle the problem.
Once bitten is twice shy. But in the case of our country, we have been bitten often. India cannot afford to take the assurances given by Pakistan on face value. There have been several such assurances and politically-correct statements in the past, only to be broken by declarations that Pakistan would always stand by terrorists, whom it calls “freedom fighters”.
While debating Pakistan’s statement about the perpetrators of the Mumbai attacks, we must not forget that the basic element of terrorism is surprise. Therefore, we must not drop our guard. We must not be lulled into inaction at a time when terrorists may be preparing for another spectacular strike in India.
Our intelligence agencies should pull up their socks as such elements are best eliminated at the entry point. Unless we can reduce or destroy their supply chains, we will be in danger of being overwhelmed by them.