With terrorism having gone global at a furious pace, India’s reaction to attacks has been spasmodic and heavily reliant on diplomacy. It needs to quickly draw up a comprehensive counter-terrorism strategy and then act on it. It’s time India deployed covert methods along with overt means to ensure peace and stability.
One option that has done the rounds in the past is that of ‘hot pursuit’. Hot pursuit has been practised by some nations for decades. Post 9/11, some legal experts insist that international law has come to recognise the right of ‘hot pursuit’. States are liable for letting their territory to be used to attack their neighbours. So, should a country like India be allowed to ‘temporarily’ violate another country’s sovereignty to go after ‘wanted’ terrorists like Maulana Masood Azhar or criminals like Dawood Ibrahim, or attack terror camps?
“Hot pursuit is an illegitimate use of force, plain and simple,” says former senior writer with the Council on Foreign Relations (CFR), Lionel Beehner. He adds that Pakistan does have a “legal imperative” to control non-State actors operating from its soil. But India getting into hot pursuit, according to Beehner, would be wrong and two wrongs do not make a right.
Hot pursuit is clearly not an option before India. Any such action by New Delhi would lead to a full-blown war. “The poor Palestinians cannot retaliate against the State of Israel. But do you think a nuclear-armed Pakistan will keep quiet?” says former Punjab Director General of Police Julio Ribeiro. “I know it is frustrating but the only way out is the diplomatic way.” Former Colonel M.P. Choudhary who has trained commandos of the Special Protection Group, agrees. “The US is doing hot pursuit because Pakistan and America are allies. Neither Pakistan nor Pakistan-Occupied Kashmir are India’s friends. There will be a full-scale war if India goes ahead and will entail international ramifications as well. Are we prepared for all that?” he asks.
So, what should India’s doctrine be? The new policy could be multi-layered, geared towards achieving one common goal: peace. An eye for an eye strategy should be part of the overall policy. India must examine ‘unconventional responses’ like intelligence, diplomacy and other means since the two nuclear-armed nations are not fighting a conventional battle. The Research and Analysis Wing (R&AW) should also be given more leverage like Pakistan’s Inter-Services Intelligence (ISI) along with the requisite funds to carry out activities to increase the internal strife in Baluchistan and the NWFP.
According to P. Chacko Joseph, publisher of the Frontier India Strategic and Defence, the solution lies in counter-infiltration of terrorist groups into Pakistan, diplomatic pressure and hard bargaining with the State of Pakistan. “We must also keep up the permanent diplomatic pressure by actively engaging Saudi Arabia, Iran and other critical Islamic nations and institutions,” he adds.
If Pakistan can’t stop terrorist groups, India has to step in and do it on its behalf.