EVERYONE speaks of terrorism but no one seems to have a solution to the problem. In part because those in power in India are fully aware of how terrorism has come to pass in South Asia, but realise that the party guilty of having fomented it cannot be brought to book. And there’s the rub. Let us begin at the beginning. There are two kinds of terrorism, so far as India is concerned. One is domestic terrorism, the terrorism of the Marxist Naxalites, and that has a history of its own. The other is Islamic terrorism that has become global.
Naxalite terrorism has grown in recent years mostly in Vanvasi areas. For years, if not centuries, Vanvasis lived their own lives, more or less in contented harmony, mostly in jungles. Over the years, as the Indian economy has grown, there has been a steady but unrecorded ‘invasion’ of Vanvasi land by urban forces, largely enterpreneurial which has disturbed their Vanvasi ways of life and created psychic disturbances. These are currently being exploited by urban intellectuals who are providing leadership to the Vanvasis to enable them to fights for their rights, not in a Gandhian non-violent way, but with Kalashnikov rifles. This violence is not aimed at the state as such, but is none-the-less a menace, that has to be dealt with sternly.
What is state-aimed and for that reason more dangerous is the global terrorism unleashed by Islamic forces and for that, one has to be thankful to the United States which fathered it for its own, selfish purposes. It began with the Soviet Union, with Moscow eyeing for a close presence to the Indian Ocean and the Persian Gulf through Afghanistan, presumably to make its presence felt in the oil-exporting areas under control of western powers, notably the US and the UK Frightened at what they thought were Soviet designs to challenge their thitherto unchallenged exploitation of the oil-bearing areas, the United States decided that the best way to safeguard its presence in the Gulf areas was to dislodge the Soviets from Afghanistan where they had ensconced themselves.
Washington’s strategy was to encourage Islamic forces to fight the Soviets through naked terrorism. Pakistan came in handy. Billions of dollars were invested in Pakistan to build Islamic terrorist forces that could be unleashed against the Soviets. Muslims from all over the world were recruited to do the dirty job. For Moscow to remain in Kabul turned out to be a costly proposition and it wisely quit the area. The task completed, the US also withdrew and this is when the sponsored terrorists who had been fully backed by Pakistan looked to Islamabad for help. The “unemployed terrorists came to be used against India with Jammu & Kashmir as the intermediate target. The reign of terror had begun. And this is where Dr Shetty’s extensive study of the role of terrorism against India begins.
The US used Pakistan to fight the Soviets. Pakistan has happily begun to use the same terrorists, the “left-overs, against India. The progenitors of terrorists thus are the US primarily, and the Saudi Arabians, secondarily. The latter’s aim is to establish Islamic hegemony in South Asia. For both the nations Pakistan turned out to be an ideal conduit. The country which has most been hurt is, of course, India. “We (the US) are creating a big problem for India…. We have created a monster on steroids in Pakistan” recently admitted former US Senator Larry Pressler in an interview to Indian Express (4 February).
This book, Reign of Terror, is divided into six chapters. Chapter I (73 pages) discusses the causative factors and political dimensions of terrorism and the role of religion-specifically, Islam) in spreading it. Chapter II (127 pages) deals with Pakistan as an epicentre of terrorism and the anti-India (actually ‘hate India’) bias of the Pakistan Armed Forces and how it is increasingly becoming a failed state and a victim of the very forces it helped raise. Chapter III (78 pages) and Chapter IV (157 pages) are India-centric. They analyse why India has been suffering from terrorism for so long and what are the causes – certainly, the most important chapters in this brilliantly analytical work.
Shetty spares none, and very rightly so. As he sharply put it, “India has earned the dubious fame as the weakest on anti-terror policy and implementation. People have lost their faith in the political leadership due to its inaction”. That is certainly a damning indictment. Dr Shetty is extremely critical of Dr Manmohan Singh and ‘Indian apologists’ for not taking a tough stand. Pakistani-sponsored terrorists are not only targeting many “soft spots” in India, Islamabad itself is known to have planted an estimated amount of Rs 90,000 crore of fake currency in the Indian market to destroy the country’s economy and to support local Muslim terrorists like SIMI. And all this, in the full knowledge of the United States whose military, and even economic, aid to Pakistan has always been misused by Islamabad to damage India with “a thousand cuts”. Shetty does not mince words when he calls the US behaviour as “hypocritic”. He also condemns the United Nations for its “insensitivity” in the matter of defeating terrorism.
Chapter V (78 pages) is distinguished for its unabashed condemnation of the US, the UN, the role of international community and more specifically of the India-US disconnect. There has hardly been another book in recent times of this caliber which tells it as it is. Shetty quotes a wide range of sources to make his point. He is especially sharp in his criticism of past US Secretaries of State like Madeline Albright and Condoleezza Rice who have been frankly pro-Pakistan. Shetty is clear when he says that “inspite of admission by top functionaries of US administration, none in the US would dare to take punitice action against Pakistan” or ISI.
America’s despicable role in supporting terrorism lies fully exposed. Shetty has suggestions on how India on its own can fight terrorism. But who is going to listen to him? The US? The best thing India can do is to distribute a copy each of this book to US Senators, Congressmen, media chiefs, policy-makers, think tanks and the like in the US and to their counterparts in the UK and European Union, so they know what the truth is and how India sees it. No greater service could have been done by Shetty to India than to get the facts of terrorism placed on the table for all to see. But what can one expect from the US, a victim of its own criminality? President Obama can be of no help either to India. The Pakistan Army has him firmly under its grip. And surely he knows it.
(Dr K Shanker Shetty, 1321, Double Road, Indira Nagar, II Stage, Bangalore-560 038)