Turmoil in Bangladesh, Sri Lanka, Pakistan and Nepal?countries whose domestic troubles have a serious bearing on our security?is a big challenge to Indian diplomacy particularly at this point of time when the nation is in the process of electing a new government.
Given the UPA Government'strack record, it is unlikely to take bold decisions on the pretext of impending elections. Electing a new government is a serious business but this can?t, and shouldn?t, be allowed to disable the government of the day to take appropriate and timely action. Dr. Manmohan Singh is not too well after a major heart surgery but is reported to be recovering satisfactorily. He is most unlikely to be a candidate in the parliamentary elections and is, by no means, a major campaigner for his party. He can, therefore, afford to have the luxury of focusing his entire energies on dealing with the situation.
It is for him to take into confidence the principal opposition party?a serious contender for power at the Centre?to evolve a broad national consensus on how to deal with the emerging situation in South Asia to protect our supreme national interest and peace in the region.
No serious student of strategic affairs is willing to believe that the mutiny by sections of BDR was merely a violent response against denial of the soldiers? demand for better wages and promotional avenues. The role played by Islamists, who suffered a severe blow in the recently held parliamentary elections, and the notorious ISI?that has over the years set up a network of agents and promoted jehadi elements in the country?in the turmoil can'tbe ruled out.
The role of Khalida Zia-led BNP is also suspect. The aim of those who planned and executed the mutiny obviously was to destabilise the newly elected government and undermine the authority of the Army Chief General Mooen U. Ahmed, perceived to be liberal and apolitical. Certain easily recognisable elements in Bangladesh are angered as well as scared by the Government'sdecision to set up war crime tribunals to bring to justice those who collaborated with the Pakistan army in 1971, opposed the creation of Bangladesh and perpetrated worst crimes against humanity that left 2.5 million people dead.
Another target may have been General Ahmed who is credited with investing professionalism in the Bangladesh army ? a force that has elements that are known to be sympathetic to jehadis and Islamists.
On her part, Hasina calmed nerves of the army by promising to bring to justice conspirators and all those involved in the killings. More than 1000 BDR men suspected to be involved in the crime are on the hit list. Attempts are underway to arrest and prosecute them. New Delhi can'tjust stand by and helplessly watch anti-India elements play havoc in our immediate neighbourhood. We need to nuance our response and let the friendly government across the border know that we are deeply concerned and would be willing to extend whatever assistance Bangladesh may need. We need to be more alert of the Indo-Bangladesh borders to prevent jehadis crossing over to India to evade retribution of their criminal acts at the hands of the Bangladesh Government.
Bangladesh'sintelligence agency?Directorate General of Forces Intelligence?is like the ISI a rogue agency, whose involvement in the domestic politics is cause for worry. Over the years, it has been under attack for human rights abuses and funding terror. The DGFI utterly failed to provide any intelligence to the Prime Minister about the deep rooted conspiracy in which a large number of outfits and persons were involved. It is for Sheikh Hasina to decide how and when to revamp the agency to reduce its interference in domestic politics, cleanse it of elements sympathetic to Islamists and prevent it from funding terrorism in Bangladesh and India. General H M Arashad, a former President and Army Chief of Bangladesh has urged the Government to disband BDR in line with the military practice of disbanding units marred by mutiny.
Sri Lanka Government that has been fighting a grim war against separatists led by LTTE ? one of the most powerful terrorist outfit in the world. The Government now appears to be on the verge of winning the war. Cornered and unable to retrieve the ground lost by it, LTTE has offered a ceasefire. Describing the offer as ?hilarious?, the Government rejected the offer as it is convinced that any ceasefire at this juncture would provide LTTE a breathing space and an opportunity to regroup. External Affairs Minister Pranab Mukherjee'sreported statement urging Sri Lanka Government to agree to ceasefire goes against nation'sdeclared policy and may have been prompted by ruling party'selectoral considerations. India is deeply concerned about the safety of civilians trapped in the conflict zone and has all along demanded a fair deal and share in power for Tamils in Lanka. But New Delhi shouldn'tgive the impression as if we are trying to help out LTTE. Any wrong move at this juncture is bound to sour Indo-Sri Lanka relations and weaken India'sfight against international terrorism.
Earlier we clarify our position the better it would be for warm friendly relations with Sri Lanka and peace in the region.
Pakistan is once again in deep trouble following the judicial coup against Nawaz Sharief and his brother Shahbaz Sharief. The Supreme Court decision disqualifying the Sharief brothers from holding public offices has deeply divided the Pakistani society and has cast a shadow over the shaky democratic set up in that country. Mr. Ten per cent seems to have forgotten that the army with whose support he is ruling the country is dominated by Punjabis who are by and large supportive of the Sharief brothers. Lawyers? nationwide movement that brought down the dictator is being revived against the apex court? judgment that is perceived to be manipulated. Nawaz Sharief has given a call for jehad against Zaradari to set up a truly democratic polity in Pakistan. Islamabad'sflip flap on Mumbai terror attack and March 3, 2009 attack on Sri Lanka cricket team in Lahore are manifestation of a deep malaise from which Pakistan suffer. No one wants war, but war can be averted only if one has the will to take head on elements that are bent upon bleeding India by a million cuts.
Situation in Nepal is no less fluid. Maoists have left no one in doubt about their intention to clamp a single party system in the erstwhile kingdom. Democratic forces in that country are divided and weak but have not given up. People in the Terai region bordering India are in turmoil and want autonomous self-governing states. Prime Minister Parchanda is pushing the country into the Chinese lap.
New Delhi should be ready to handle rough weather in Nepal in coming months.