India has been facing terror attacks for last more than 25 years and has suffered tremendous losses in terms of human lives and precious resources. In fact, it is kind of a proxy war going on relentlessly while our people have been watching this sordid drama as helpless spectators. It is important to remember that the perpetrators of terror attacks may be faceless persons, but those who plan, organise and execute these attacks are not only well-known but the camps they operate from are very well identified by our own and international intelligence agencies.
In fact, as late as July 29, 2006, the National Security Advisor of Government of India has categorically stated that violence in India is controlled from Pakistan and the government is in possession of ample evidence to substantiate this.
While India has been suffering and dealing with terrorism for more than two decades, it was only after the 9/11 attack in USA that gravity of the threat was realised and need was felt to forge international alliances to combat terrorism. But it is ironic that those who are responsible for aiding, abetting and controlling terror in India are paraded as important members of the international alliance to combat terror.
After the recent terror attacks in Mumbai, the statement made by Pakistan Foreign Minister linking the need to find early solution of the so-called Kashmir problem in order to put an end to violence removed all doubts, if there were any, about the hand behind the gruesome serial blasts. But it was surprising that US Assistant Secretary of State chose to remark suggesting that India had no evidence to blame Pakistan for Mumbai blasts that killed 200 people and injured more than 700 people. It becomes more intriguing in the face of continuing US fight against terror, which started after President Bush asserted that US had the right to resort to military action against any state that aided, harboured or supported international terrorists, regardless of sovereignty.
We as victim of terror crimes are sometimes rattled by the kind of response as mentioned above. Instead, we need to learn the basic fact that our national security is our own business and we alone are responsible to fight any and every threat to our security. Unless we have the will and capacity to stand to any threat?real and potential?we shall be failing in our basic duty to create a sense of security and safety. We can hardly afford a lackluster attitude in this regard.
In order to fight the menace of terrorism, we need to understand the source, inspiration, methodology and objectives of the terror establishment. The systematic and planned violence over the last more than two decades seeks to create a general ambience of fear among general public about a particular political objective. Now we must ask ourselves, what this political objective is. In eighties, terrorist backed by the same power were fighting for the cause of Punjab. When finally all the tactics of fear and hatred failed in Punjab, in nineties their focus shifted to Kashmir. Terrorists have succeeded marginally in creating an impression that the violence they unleashed is in some way connected with the solution of the Kashmir dispute.
This is not the place to discuss the Kashmir issue. But suppose there were no disputing claims over it, would India have been spared the ordeal of facing this mindless violence?
If we take a dispassionate view of the history, then the answer would be a resounding no. The problem was not rooted either in Punjab or in Kashmir. The problem is rooted in the internal situation of Pakistan. The events of 1971 leading to the fragmentation of Pakistan and creation of Bangladesh have impacted the mindset of the Pakistani establishment, particularly the army, tremendously. They hold India responsible for whatever happened. They have not been able to overcome that episode, particularly the fact that more than 90 thousands of their soldiers surrendered and were freed as a result of signing of Simla accord, which categorically recognised Kashmir as a bilateral issue to be sorted out through negotiations.
The goal of terrorism in India is not to help the so-called ?Kashmir cause? but to avenge the humiliation and fragmentation of Pakistan in 1971. Terrorism is the tool that is employed to generate fear by the use of violence to achieve political goals when direct military victory is not possible. This has led some social scientists to refer to guerilla warfare as the ?weapon of the weak? and terrorism as the ?weapon of the weakest?. The terror establishment operating in India is the outcome of the desire to avenge the humiliation of 1971 and the awareness of lack of strength to achieve what they wish to achieve. Once this becomes clear in our minds, it will help us devise a policy and strategy necessary to combat the threat of terrorism and will save us from those embarrassing moments when, on one side, we take care of our dead and injured and, on the other side, talk peace with those whom we accuse of aiding and abetting these crimes against humanity.
It is incumbent upon us that we try to build an environment of peace and security in the region. Our taking an initiative to build bridges and confidence building measures is welcome. But let there be no mistake. Peace like war cannot be treated casually. Peace like war requires full preparedness. Peace like war presupposes certain objective conditions to be fulfilled in order to succeed. Peace is necessity for growth and development therefore we need to address the factors that impede and obstruct peace. We must also remember that the only time there was peace for few long years between India and Pakistan was in 1971 following Simla agreement. The backdrop of Simla accord is too well known to emphasise the reasons why it worked.
There is not one of the terrorists and their abettors who hope to gain except to cripple and fragment India. There is nothing we can give them except our own demise. Any impression of being lenient with or soft in dealing with terrorism or its abettors can cause irreparable damage. Unfortunately, today we are being perceived not just soft and lenient but dithering and dilly-dallying on the issue. But the saving grace is that the people of India have repeatedly proved their mettle. They have shown that they can put a stop to the menace of terrorism; the only missing link is effective governmental action. The message after the Mumbai and other incidents is emphatically unambiguous. And the message is: Do what you like but you will not succeed in breaking India or breaking our will.
(The writer is a former Union Cabinet Minister and BJP leader.)