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 Hari Jaisingh
Hari Jaisingh
Opinion

Fighting the menace of terrorism: The challenges before India

Hari Jaisingh

If there is any country which has suffered the most from Pakistan-sponsored terrorism in Jammu and Kashmir and elsewhere, it is India. For nearly three decades, New Delhi has fought a virtual war against cross-border terrorism all alone with its hands tied at the back. Except for the recent air strike in Pak-occupied areas in retaliation for the Pulwama killings of 40 CRPF jawans, India never tried striking at the main centres of terrorism.

Yet today the world has got itself better organized to fight global terrorism after America’s 9/11 terror attack on the Twin Towers in New York. The US and China recently got engaged in a bitter showdown at the UN Security Council over the tagging of Jaish-e-Mohammad chief Masood Azhar as a “global terrorist”. Never before has a terrorist of prime interest to India been targeted at the UN Council in this firm manner.

Barring China, the other Council members, including France and the UK, are supporting the proposed ban. But Beijing asked Washington to tread “cautiously” in this matter. It is somewhat intriguing that while China denies even basic human rights to Uyghur Muslims in its Xinjiang province, it has been solidly behind Pakistan in support of its dreaded terrorist Masood Azhar even at the UN Council.

Islamabad has, of late, been denying his presence in its areas. But the latest reports suggest that he has resurfaced in Bahawatpur and started his mischievous games of giving hate India speeches. He is also meeting youngsters who might be keen to join the Jaish-e-Mohammed. It is no secret that this master-terrorist has been working under Pakistan’s ISI and the army. How come Beijing is supporting terrorists on behalf of Islamabad? Has it anything to do with the legality of China’s occupation of PoK territory ceded by Pakistan which is vital for its CPEC-BRI project? Probably yes.

That apart, Pak terrorists’ anti-India tirade suits China to keep India under check, strategically, economically and politically. In fact, the Sino-Pak axis has become a key factor in the changing geopolitical realities in Asia and Europe, especially in view of growing Moscow ties with Islamabad. It needs to be appreciated that India right now is caught in a complex geo-political situation. China’s power is looming on the horizon. So does the Imran Khan government’s sugar-coated jingoism. It is also a hard fact that China does concede that India is a great power along with it in Asia. A number of Chinese scholars and leaders. I met during my visits to that country acknowledged this.

The Chinese leadership does not relish the very idea of India gaining military muscle. That means Beijing wants New Delhi to remain a second major power so that it could enjoy the sole privilege of rubbing shoulders with the other global big powers. The question here is not mistrust or distrust. Beijing has its own crude calculations vis-à-vis India despite PM Modi’s attempts to keep the Chinese leadership in good humour. Beijing knows the art of hiding its real face while pursuing its diplomatic goals with a smile. It may be recalled that President Eisenhower had offered to Prime Minister Jawaharlal Nehru a permanent seat in the Security Council.

But Nehru politely said “no” on the plea that “China deserves it more than India”. The Chinese have apparently no sense of gratitude towards India. It has conveniently forgotten New Delhi’s numerous gestures of goodwill on Tibet and the Panchsheel accord. It has hardly cared to respect the sensitivities of this country, which Beijing knows has strong civilisational roots dating back to more than 2500 years. As it is, there are no shortcuts to fighting terrorism. This is a long-term battle which has to be fought with full determination and resources at our command. Moreover, it is essential to evolve a new dynamic democratic ideology to deal with fundamentalism both at the policy level and on the ground.

South Block has to work out a new strategic mantra to fight the menace of Pak-sponsored terrorism so that our liberal, independent and secular values are not overrun by fundamentalist forces and terrorists. Equally vital in this battle is the concept of shared prosperity and technological advancements. In this context, religion has to be kept as a purely personal matter in order to be a success in the terrorism-ridden global reality of today. In the circumstances, what is needed is a clear perception of whatever Pakistan and China do. India needs a cool, calculated and honest assessment of the Sino-Pak axis and its game plans vis-a-vis India.

Of course, the changing ground realities ought to be constantly kept in mind. Equally crucial is the firming of varied options to meet the challenges of changing global situations. In this context, it needs to be clearly stated that New Delhi must give up the policy of adhocism in dealing with Islamabad and Beijing. Second, India needs to evolve short-term and long-term policies and strategies and accordingly firm up its priorities in the overall national interest.

Third, it is absolutely necessary for our ministers and diplomats to give up their habit of giving lopsided statements on cross-border terrorism and Chinese response thereto. The idea is to give the right signal and message to Pakistan, China and the rest of the world. There is no need for South Block to be apologetic about what India stands for. We must have a sense of pride in the values of liberalism and secularism that the country stands for. I expect Prime Minister Modi to give a serious thought to varied aberrations that we see in the wayward functioning of Sangh Parivar activists who are dividing our society. What is regrettable is that both the Government and the Opposition parties have politicized the various issues and problems to the
detriment of the country’s interests.

For, lopsided postures will only weaken the nation’s resolve to fight cross-border terrorism firmly by the security forces. In fact, India will have to find its own answers to break the Sino-Pak axis as well as their nexus with militants to the disadvantage of India. We must be politically and otherwise remain united to take on the terrorist monster and their sponsors. Fortunately, the global powers, in a way, are with India to put Masood Azhar, the Sino-Pak-terrorist face, in its place. Of course, the challenges are not simple, but highly complex. Here the main challenge for the Indian leadership is to widen and consolidate the India’s secular base as well as national commitments to the common cause of fighting terrorism along with like-minded nations.