If terror groups are to be defeated, it is national governments that will have to do so. In nations like India, governments will have to call on the patriotism of citizens to fight the terrorists. In a nation like Pakistan, the government will have to be persuaded to deal with those in their midst who are complicit.
—William Kristol, an American political analyst and commentator. He is the founder and editor of the political magazine, The Weekly Standard.
When the surprise diplomacy was on in December, the sceptics were raising the alarming voices. Pakistan did not prove them wrong. Yet again, Bharat gave try to peace diplomacy and received with terror offensive from Pakistan side. Pathankot attack on critical base has certainly posed many diplomatic and strategic challenges for Bharat, at the same time it has put the ball in Pakistan’s court to take decisive action based on evidence provided by Bharat.
‘Terror and talks cannot go together’ has been the consistent rhetoric of Bharat, irrespective of which party in power. The expectations of people from a nationalist government with strong leadership on security front are also understandable. In democracy, we undoubtedly have a right to ask right questions to the right people. There were certain lapses in the Pathankot operation, as accepted by the Defence Minister himself. Therefore, neither mere blaming Pakistan as perpetrator of cross-border terrorism nor cornering government for the sake of opposition will yield any results.
Despite some gaps it is certain that critical assets could be saved due to swift action by the armed forces. The worrying factor is the alleged complacency by the Punjab police and possibility of illicit assistance from within. The same infiltration route which was use for Gurudaspur attack used again which highlights the need to strengthen the need for effective border management. Other measures suggested by the Kargil review committee, including defence modernisation, have to be priority to save precious lives. This operation has again underlines the need for a unified command in border areas for better coordination and execution. Ensuring self-sufficiency in defence sector is the right approach adopted by the government but to recover the lag created due to lack of decision making and corruption charges during the earlier government has to be quickly filled up in acquisition process.
Right communication is a critical factor in emergency situations. During Paris attack, as France could rally internal and international public opinion, which we should emulate. Using all possible means to alter the Pakistani policy of promoting terrorism is must to save the humanity now. Now ‘talk the terror first’ should be the line Bharat should adopt, which this government is trying to establish for quite some time.
On the other hand, after Bharat providing credible and actionable intelligence, Pakistan has to deliver on terror front to justify the diplomatic cliché ‘we are also a victim of terror’. Unfortunately, equipments, uniforms and handlers of Pathankot attack and links with parallel attack on the Consulate of Bharat in Mazar-e-Sharif apparently does not support that claim. It is not a secret that Pakistan as State, including the military establishment, is under tremendous pressure to talk with Bharat. It is also possible that some of the elements are operating independently. Still, these rogue elements are creation of Pakistan’s Bharat policy is an undisputable fact. If Pakistan can deliver to China on Red Mosque episode in 2007 after abduction of Chinese citizens by radical elements or allow Abotabad operation to take place on its land by the US to kill the hero of all terrorists, it can certainly show some tangible actions to take any dialogue process with Bharat further. The threat of terrorism is equal for Pakistan as a nation has to be reflected in action now.
Non-state actors operate within boundaries of state with overt or covert support of some elements within. Therefore, national governments have to make a firm resolve to defeat them, without that no composite dialogue can take place. Resultantly, non-state actors become state themselves, as happened in case of the IS. Hope Pakistan does not move in the same direction.