Wednesday, December 9, 2015

India's War on Terror: Solution is Self-Defense, Not Consensus - Jagdish N. Singh



by Jagdish N. Singh

  • Instead of eliminating the invaders, Nehru made a deadly mistake: He took the matter for mediation to the United Nations.
  • UN member states have never even been able to agree on a definition of terrorism. Some of the states, such as Pakistan, Iran and Saudi Arabia, overtly or covertly practice, promote or fund terrorism.
  • Emboldened by international and Indian inaction, Pakistan has continued masterminding terror strikes against India.
  • New Delhi might do well bear in mind a central message from the history of wars: The dialogue of peace and non-violence alone is futile with those who understand only the language of power and punishment.
  • India, like Israel, would do better to fight its own war on terror.
In the wake of the recent coordinated terror strikes in Paris on November 13, India's Prime Minister, Narendra Modi, has made a fresh appeal for a concerted global strategy to fight terrorism. In his opening remarks at the ASEAN-India Summit in Kuala Lumpur on November 21, he said, "Terrorism has emerged as a major global challenge. ... we should see how we can enhance our cooperation at the regional and international level, including through support for adoption of Comprehensive Convention on International Terrorism."

The previous week, addressing the G20 leaders at Antalya on November 15, Modi had lamented, "We don't have a comprehensive global strategy to combat terrorism... we tend to be selective in using the instruments that we have... We should strengthen efforts to prevent supply of arms to terrorists, disrupt terrorist movements and curb and criminalize terror financing."

Sadly, there is nothing new in Modi's appeal to combat terror. Such an appeal has also been made by India's previous leaders. In 2005 then-Prime Minister Manmohan Singh said to the media on his arrival from the United Kingdom: "Terrorism is a global phenomenon. We have faced this scourge for the last 20-25 years. The incident (London transit bombings) calls for joint efforts to combat the scourge."

While possibly sounding profound, such an appeal makes little practical sense. A United Nations consensus against terrorism looks far-fetched. In the immediate post-9/11 landscape, the UN passed various resolutions. They underlined moral and legal obligations on the part of all UN member-states to fight terror together. There is no evidence, however, that they ever coordinated intelligence or devised a concerted strategy to combat anything other than Israel -- the only transparent, accountable and pluralistic democracy in the Middle East. UN member states have never even been able to agree on a definition of terrorism. Some of the states, such as Pakistan, Iran and Saudi Arabia, overtly or covertly practice, to promote or fund terrorism.[1]

In the post-9/11 landscape, the world's major powers have preferred to focus on strengthening their own homeland security, notwithstanding their fashionable diplomatic postures of consensus at major international forums.

Given this reality, India, with all its moral, legal, diplomatic and military strength, would do better to fight its own war on terror.

Terrorism in India, in its current form, dates back to 1947. It on October 26, 1947 that Pakistan came up with the ideology of Islamist terrorism and dispatched its warriors -- Pakistani soldiers in guise of Pakhtoon raiders -- into India's Kashmir to capture it. The Indian Prime Minister, Jawaharlal Nehru, could have crushed the invaders then and there.[2]

Instead of eliminating the invaders, however, Nehru made a deadly mistake: He took the matter for mediation to the United Nations. India has paid heavy price for this ever since. The Indian state of Jammu and Kashmir has remained deprived of two fifths of its territory -- Pakistan-occupied Kashmir. The United Nations passed a ceasefire resolution on December 31, 1948 that merely divided the state. A 1951 UN resolution provided for a referendum under the UN supervision after Pakistan withdrew its troops from the part of Kashmir (PoK) that Pakistan captured in 1947. But the United Nations never pressured Pakistan to honor the resolution and vacate the PoK.

Thereafter, emboldened by international and Indian inaction, Pakistan has continued masterminding terror strikes against India from time to time. According to an August 11, 2008 report in the magazine India Today, between 1980 to 2008, terrorism claimed around 150,000 lives in India.[3] The former Chief Minister of Himachal Pradesh, Shanta Kumar, wrote on August 23, 2011 in the New Delhi newspaper Punjab Kesari that in 1989, the Kashmir Valley had a population of over half a million Pandits, the only Hindu natives of Kashmir. Their number stands reduced to about four thousand today. By 2000, terrorists had killed over 34,252 citizens and wounded another 17,484. They set fire to over 10,000 houses and destroyed huge amounts of individual and public property in the state. This has left the minorities in the Kashmir Valley with no choice but to flee their homes.

American Congressman Frank Pallone's letter of August 23, 2004 to India's Prime Minister, Manmohan Singh at that time reads:
"The Pandits [Hindus of Kashmir] have suffered more than any group as a result of the conflict in Kashmir, and violence continues to threaten their existence. This group is under constant threat of attack from Islamic terrorists, and many have fled the region as a result of these threats. For the last 15 years, Kashmiri Pandits have been refugees in their own country. What was once a population of nearly 350,000 in the Kashmir valley has now been reduced to a paltry 8,000-person populace. The ethnic cleansing of Pandits from Kashmir started as a result of targeted assassinations leading to forced exile of the entire minority community in the early stages of insurgency. Such horrible events were then repeated in the last few years when Islamic insurgents committed mass massacres of Pandits in villages and hamlets throughout Kashmir."
Left: Indian soldiers carry the coffin of Indian Army Colonel M N Rai, who was killed in January 2015 by terrorists in Kashmir. Right: Masked Islamist radicals in Kashmir display a version of the black flag of jihad.

Such harsh realities demand that India's leaders cease looking for any imagined, miasmic global " consensus" -- which never appears -- and develop a more workable, realistic policy to combat terror.

India could learn from other democracies, such as Israel, which has also suffered many years of terrorism, and has resorted, for its national security, to a policy of self-defense.

At bottom, modern-day terrorism seems to be a new tool of certain self-styled Islamists to invoke a violent interpretation of their widely practiced religion. They appear to use it to try to capture power and establish an absolutist, theocratic regime.

Needless to say, the patriotism of Muslim community, or that of any other religious community in India is beyond doubt. In an interview with CNN, Prime Minister Modi rightly said, "Indian Muslims will live for India. They will die for India."

New Delhi could use such a welcome social asset to focus on boosting its own defense and security capabilities to crush terrorism. New Delhi might do well bear in mind a central message from the history of wars: The dialogue of peace and non-violence alone is futile with those who understand only the language of power and punishment.

India might consider a "frank talk" with the forces of terrorism both within and outside the Pakistani establishment. Fortunately, India has remained blessed with an apolitical military. There is also no dearth of highly professional elements in its security and intelligence agencies. India also possesses a broad tradition of different cultural and religious streams, both foreign and domestic, and relative communal harmony[4], including in its Muslim community. It is with assets such as these, as well as an increasing military prowess, that New Delhi should be fighting terror.
Jagdish N. Singh is a senior Indian journalist based in New Delhi.

[1] for instance, Pakistan's attacks on Mumbai in 2008; the listing of Iran on the U.S. Department of State's 2014 State Sponsors of Terrorism; and, for Saudi Arabia, support for terror. According to Clinton's leaked memo, Saudi donors constituted "the most significant source of funding to Sunni terrorist groups worldwide".
[2] The state of Jammu and Kashmir had become an integral part of India after its Maharaja at the time, Hari Singh, signed the Instruments of Accession to India (October 27, 1947). The Indian Army was capable of eliminating the problem from India's territory. Mahatma Gandhi also apparently foresaw the consequence of the invasion and advised Prime Minister Nehru to drive the raiders out. (Durga Das, India from Curzon to Nehru and After, New Delhi: Rupa& Co, 1977), p.270; Also, V Ramamurthy, Mahatma Gandhi:The Last 200 Days, Chennai: Kasturi & Sons, 2004, p.289.
[3] Between 2000 and 2008, 69 terrorist attacks caused 1,120 deaths. During the period from January 2004 to March 2007, it claimed 3,674 lives.
[4] Jawaharlal Nehru, The Discovery of India, Oxford University Press, 1961.


Jagdish N. Singh is a senior Indian journalist based in New Delhi.

Source: http://www.gatestoneinstitute.org/7019/india-terrorism

Copyright - Original materials copyright (c) by the authors.

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