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Thursday, Nov 21, 2019

Securing the State

For years we have gone scurrying all over the world complaining about Pak involvement in infiltration in India, but are unwilling to battle ourselves, writes Vikram Sood.

india Updated: Aug 02, 2006 00:51 IST

Nearly sixty years of uninterrupted Pakistani interference in India’s internal affairs, from the time of infiltrating Afridi tribesmen into Kashmir accompanied by Pak troops, assistance to Phizo, assistance to Sikh terrorists and down to Kashmir today, nearly 40,000 killed, innumerable assassinations, 70,000 wounded, 25,000 AK-47/56/74s, 50,000 grenades, 4,000 rockets and 5,000 kg of RDX captured, and much more, yet the US asks India for evidence about Pak complicity. Ironically, for years we went scurrying all over the world complaining about Pakistani involvement but were unwilling to do battle ourselves.

Instead, India is now being unceremoniously asked to restrain itself despite far greater evidence than for which Iraq continues to be ravaged. The evidence is also the mindset of the various jehadi organisations and their leaders’ relentless campaign against Jews, Christians and Hindus. They stand in the open in Rawalpindi, the headquarters of the all-knowing Pakistani army and openly command their followers to a jehad against Jews and Hindus. The evidence is in the newspapers and periodicals of these organisations that sell openly in which they spew venom on those from other religions. It is this that explains relations between India and Pakistan. This and the army’s vast corporate interests and its own mindset are the core issue. Kashmir is the excuse not the core issue.

Anyone interested in finding out more should read Ghazwa Times or Mujalla al Dawa for blood-curdling experiences, although quite frequently even mainstream Urdu papers Nawa-e-Waqt and Jung can be pretty nasty. Jehadi indoctrination begins early in Pakistan. The evidence is in the curriculum of the mainstream schools of Pakistan where jehad is still taught as a subject, not just in the madrasas. The Lashkar-e-Tayyeba has a special magazine for the young called Nanhe Mujahid that teaches hatred to the young. The evidence is in the continued activity of the jehadi or sectarian organisations with titles like Lashkar, Jaish or Mujahideen dropped and reborn with new nameplates. The list is endless. They are not short of funds, weapons or manpower. Hamid Gul, the former ISI chief, has described the Lashkar-e-Tayyeba as Pakistan’s frontline soldiers in Kashmir. If this is not Slam Dunk, Mr President, then what is?

All this is being ignored because Pakistan is a useful piece of real estate available on rent to the highest bidder with an endless supply of cheap labour. Pakistan is today led by a group that lies to the US, cheats Indians and Afghans. Yet, there is no fairy godmother who is going to come and wave her wand for terrorism to disappear from India. On the contrary, the fairy godmother will show impatience and command that we get back to the negotiating table fast and ‘stop all this shit’.

Meanwhile, the US will arm and equip her favourite with new gleaming weapons. These arms are not for equipping Pakistan in the so-called war against terror but are a reward to Pak rulers for helping the US in the fight against terror, for services and instructions carried out. Weapons like Advanced Medium Range Air to Air Missiles, 2,000-pound bombs (bunker busters) and guided bombs are of no use against terrorists. Instead, they are extremely handy against the Indian Army and Air Force. And, of course, the F-16s, the Awacs and the Harpoon missiles. It is immaterial to the US if, in the bargain, the Pakistanis get the periodic itch to use this equipment against India.

The anomaly of the situation is that we want to have soft borders and still accuse Pakistan of cross-border terrorism. The former only means that we are not serious about the latter. Consequently, Musharraf of Kargil is today asking us for proof after all these years of jehadi activity, with terrorists wanted in India kept in Pakistani safe havens. Musharraf is comfortable today with the backing he will continue to receive from the US. He will not be condemned, reprimanded or disciplined so long as he has his uses.

For Musharraf, it is enough to merely keep the peace process going with new absurd, unworkable ideas thrown at India while he rearms and relocates the jehadis. In this context, Mumbai was a new upgradation of the jehad and more such attacks are inevitable. Terrorists have struck at our democratic institutions, communications networks, at our financial capital, at our transport systems — air, bus and rail. Only the maritime option remains. As Musharraf’s domestic troubles and uncertainties mount, recourse to diversionary adventurism will always be a tempting option for him.

Meanwhile, we have to do quite a few things simultaneously. India has to show itself as a caring State. Caring not because the politician turns up offering platitudes but by hunting for terrorists ruthlessly, for only then can the common citizen be protected.  Instead, inadequate intelligence and incomplete data banks lead to indiscriminate hunts after every incident giving the entire episode a communal colour. It is like tainting the entire Hindu community with suspicion after allegations of moles and spies in high places.

We have to increase our deterrence capability against terrorists and make terrorism more difficult and expensive in every way; sharpen the reprisal and the covert option so that it begins to hurt the opposition where it hurts most; curb the urge to seek assistance from external sources; improve the policing and morale of the security forces; empower the intelligence services; provide good and fair governance; and reform the judicial process so that delays in justice are minimal. If our courts could reduce the present delay of justice from six to seven years in the lower courts to a year as it used to be some years ago, a lot of our problems would be solved. For this, the number of courts has to double every five years. This may not automatically improve the quality of justice but the number of disgruntled and disaffected would reduce dramatically and the swamp for the various militant, communal and unscrupulous groups would shrink. Our media must resist the urge to have a breaking story out of every event; this hyper-coverage is what the terrorist wants but there is life beyond TRP ratings. None of this easy or instant; it will take time and will be arduous and has to cut across party and religious lines.

We insult our own Muslims whenever we soften our reactions to Pakistan’s actions for the unfounded fear that this will hurt sentiments here. This is not how it works. Instead, we should learn to treat Pakistan just as another country and not be forever conscious about their religion. This two-nation stuff is their business; in India it is ‘my religion but our country’, while in Pakistan it is ‘my religion therefore my country’.

One word and that is the gulf between us and them. This is the world of difference between the mindset of the likes of Hafeez Saeed, LeT’s mentor and Abdul Batin Nomani, the imam of Gyanvapi Mosque in Varanasi. Pakistani rulers just cannot afford to have a successful and secular neighbour (not perfect, flawed but still secular) because then the slogan in that country ‘Forever Pakistan’ becomes ‘Why Pakistan’.

As Pakistan’s rulers and mullahs push their reluctant people to medieval obscurantism, in the process killing more Muslims in India, Afghanistan and their own country, Pakistan has forfeited the self-proclaimed title of being a home for the subcontinent’s Muslims. It also suffers from the effects of blowback — ‘the unanticipated consequences of unacknowledged actions in other people’s countries’, (Chalmers Johnson, The Sorrows of Empire).