The Emasculated State
The death of Osama Bin Laden has sent ripples across the globe. Governments around the world breathed a sigh of relief. The leader of the deadliest terrorist organization was finally put to rest after ten grueling years and billions of dollars spent to capture or kill him.
The Indian government in a formal statement underscored the importance of eliminating terrorism stemming from Pakistan. For once the world knew that New Delhi was right all along. Pakistan is a sanctuary for terrorists and will continue to be one.
I certainly can’t speak for the rest, but every time India’s terribly uninspiring leaders call upon Pakistan to put an end to terrorism ‘emanating from its soil’ it gets me agitated. I distinctly remember the days after 26/11. Pranab Mukherjee, in an articulate and peremptory tone, gave stern warnings to Pakistan. If I remember correctly, his words were ‘all options are open’.
The public was quite confident that India would take some serious action and bring the perpetrators to justice. But nothing really happened. It is always the same story. Be it Parliament attack in 2001 or the carnage caused by the train bombings in 2006.
Forget terrorists in neighbouring states. Afzal Guru, the mastermind of the Parliament attack, has been convicted by the Supreme Court to death, but the government is still mulling over his fate. All this portrays India as a very weak state. Pakistan continues to harbour terrorists and foment a terror campaign against India. Post 26/11, when the scars were fresh, terrorism continued to assume a very central position in our engagement with Pakistan. But it seems to me that the issue has been diluted considerably. Time passed and our memories faded. The worst attack on our soil slipped into oblivion.
India and Pakistan began their ‘rounds’ of talks after months. Why are we negotiating on bigger issues when we can’t reach a consensus on 26/11? Such overtures are futile. Our patient leaders and our overly moralistic approach have severely constrained our policy options against Pakistan. It is quite clear now that Prime Minister Manmohan Singh is only interested in leaving a legacy of sorts before his tenure comes to and end. Terrorism seems to be the least of his concerns. His only agenda is to provide ballast in the Indo-Pak relationship.
Our Pakistan policy is quite incoherent and has yielded zilch. Perpetrators of past terror attacks move freely in Pakistan, but our leadership still wrongly believes that repeating the same words will solve the problem. India’s Pakistan policy is in dire need for change. It is bankrupt, as some observers choose to describe it. This might just be the right time to harness the anti-Pakistan sentiment world wide to achieve our goals. India should engage in some arm-twisting and begin making some tough demands.
Important questions are being asked by everyone these days. Why can’t India send its elite commandoes to raid terror camps or conduct limited air strikes in Pakistan Occupied Kashmir (POK)? Why does RAW limit its operation to Balochistan and not strike deep inside enemy territory? Or why can’t we engage in coercive diplomacy?
We certainly have the capability and RAW most definitely has the intelligence. What we lack is the political will to pursue such a course of action. No doubt there are serious strategic issues to be taken into consideration. After all, India and Pakistan share a tumultuous history of shared animosity. But of late our government seems very inept and almost disinterested. Our policies lack even a semblance of resolve. It is vital that we rearticulate our Pakistan policy. This must also be tempered with a focus on the bigger picture.
Once America does decide to withdraw forces from Afghanistan, the onus of ensuring stability in South Asia will fall on India. Our action must be symptomatic of a growing economic power which clearly understands its goals and acts accordingly. This might even require us to adopt draconian policies which are a reflection of the security situation in South Asia.
From corruption, scams, and an incoherent foreign policy, the Manmohan Singh government is floundering in many areas. The government is struggling to sustain its image. This might just be the right time to for the Prime Minister to act decisively in order to salvage a rapidly deteriorating political image.
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