There have been several comments in the media on how to tackle terrorism. Gearing up the police, improving intelligence, and urging Pakistan to curb cross-border infiltration were the standard suggestions. All this is old hat. It has not worked. It will not work. None of these suggestions addresses the heart of the problem. So first recognize the problem. If we do that we will realize that India is not kneeling. It is actually crawling.
The situation is as follows.
There is a genuine Kashmir problem.
There is a genuine Naga problem.
There is a genuine Sri Lanka Tamil problem.
Indeed there is a host of genuine problems. Problems can be solved through amicable discussion and by give and take. Undoubtedly, successive governments have been insensitive and unimaginative in addressing them. But to conclude that terrorism grew due to only official shortcomings is pure poppycock. In each case terrorism is inspired and aided by external forces that have their own agendas distinct from what the terrorist movements propagate. The stupidity of governments lies in allowing problems to fester which foreign enemies can exploit. Foreign enemies take advantage to create terrorist modules that weaken and destabilize the state. This is happening not just in India. It happens worldwide. This is happening not just today. It has been happening through history. There is enough evidence to attest this truth.
To tackle terrorism therefore two strategies are required.
First, the government must formulate a solution to problems that terrorists exploit. Has our government formulated any solution of its own to resolve the Kashmir problem? This columnist has repeatedly offered one possible basis for a solution: Self-determination for all segments of undivided Kashmir giving options of joining Pakistan, India or achieving independence on the precondition that India, Pakistan and Kashmir form an association modeled on the European Union having joint defence, common market, no visas and the right to citizens of all member nations to work or do business in every member nation. This formula may be open to criticism. It could be impractical. But at least it is explicit. What formula does the government have? It seems to have none.
Secondly, the government must identify and neutralize the foreign source that assists terrorists. Obviously a solution to the problem can be pursued only if terrorism stops. The terrorists claim that terrorism can stop only if the solution is found. No reasonable or credible dialogue in search of a solution can take place as long as terrorist violence persists. It is this paradox which foreign enemies exploit. Whenever peace talks make headway, terrorist violence escalates. This frustrates both the government and the aggrieved who seek a solution. Therefore no steps to defuse terrorism will succeed unless its foreign source is identified and neutralized.
What is the foreign source of terrorism in India? The government has always pointed its finger at Jihadi and Islamist elements inside Pakistan ' both within and outside its government. This view is endorsed by American, European and Russian official sources. Where the official American, Russian and European sources draw the line is in refusing to name China as the fountainhead sustaining terrorist networks in both Pakistan and Afghanistan. The reluctance to name China persists despite official agencies of these governments having presented evidence of China's complicity in aiding terrorism.
The case of Dr AQ Khan and Pakistan's nuclear proliferation is glaring. The West's loud protests against Pakistan contrast sharply to its studied silence regarding China which is known to have been the original source of nuclear proliferation. Possibly, America's own compromised past inhibits it: America abetted China in endeavors which have only now become unacceptable. Indians will appreciate that yesterday's initiative can become today's headache. They have only to recall India's role with the LTTE.
The confusion regarding China and Pakistan is compounded by an additional factor. While it is clear, and is even proudly acknowledged, that the Pakistan army draws inspiration and strength from China's Peoples' Liberation Army (PLA), it is doubtful how much influence the Pakistan government exercises over its own army. Nor is it clear how much influence China's government exercises over the PLA. This doubt arises from mixed signals emanating from both Pakistan and China. Thus President Musharraf offers out-of-the-box peace proposals while Pakistan-inspired terrorist violence escalates.
Similarly Prime Minister Wen Jiabao sternly advised North Korea in late June to refrain from testing an intercontinental missile. Nevertheless North Korea went ahead. Authoritative sources state that China, if it wants to, can paralyze North Korea within 48 hours. North Korea therefore cannot defy China and survive. So do both China and Pakistan adopt a diabolically clever dual approach to confuse the world and maximize tactical national advantage? Or is there a rift in the highest echelons of power in both nations? These questions were best left for history to answer. Our government must focus on results.
Will China and Pakistan change course?
Unless India is willing to surrender and accept permanently damaging solutions it must first identify the enemy by calling a spade a spade. Distancing itself from China and Pakistan will not cripple India. Instead, Pakistan as a failed state could disintegrate. Neither this nor any earlier government has had enough courage to confront the truth. Consider the unanimous resolution, supported by even the Left parties, which stands unaltered in the parliamentary record. It rules out any truck with Beijing unless and until China vacates each inch of territory forcibly seized from India. This month we signed a Memorandum of Understanding with China's army. In 1976 Indira Gandhi revived diplomatic relations with China. What happened between 1962 and 1976 persuading her to renege on the unanimous parliamentary pledge to redress Beijing's betrayal of her father? Just one thing. America changed its policy. It opened up to China. Like a puppet on a string our government did likewise.
India will never become a great Democracy through any number of missiles, bombs or GDP growth rates. It needs policies based on honor, vision and courage. No Indian government so far has had these.