Addressing the Combined Commanders Conference in Delhi on October 20th Prime Minister Manmohan Singh said: "We must evolve a new paradigm of security cooperation relevant to an emerging multi-polar world in which global threats obtain global responses." But does the government even recognize global threats? Let the facts speak.
Last week Maoist forces equivalent to ten companies stormed Jehanabad jail, released their comrades, killed their enemies, and retreated with hundreds held hostage. Bihar has the smallest police force in relation to population. That was further depleted in sensitive Maoist-infected areas because of redeployment necessitated by electoral duty. In a previous election the Maoists had taken advantage of such depletion to strike. Intelligence agencies had given prior warning of a repeat performance. Police officials in charge of Maoist-infected districts had pleaded against transferring police personnel for election duty from areas under their jurisdiction. Their pleas were ignored. The top Maoist leader for whose release the raid was primarily organized was transferred to Jehanabad jail just weeks earlier. But documents recovered by police revealed the raid had been meticulously planned months earlier. Had the Maoists infiltrated the administration and obtained official collusion?
Bihar politicians charged each other with complicity in the raid. The allegations may have substance. Politicians are obsessed with immediate electoral gain. The Maoists seek long-term gain. And foreign powers that fund and arm them focus on their own aim to keep India weak and destabilized. The Maoists might dream of revolution. Their foreign backers are merely creating leverage to eventually dominate India on their own terms. The Maoists have created a corridor from Andhra to Nepal in which more or less their writ alone runs. The stretch from north Telengana to Chhattisgarh is so completely dominated by them that they consider it a liberated zone. The Nepal Maoists closely cooperate with their Indian counterparts. Nepal therefore is the Maoist sanctuary beyond the border. In July 2001 nine extremist units from India, Nepal, Bangladesh and Sri Lanka created a coordination committee. All these terrorist groups, whether fighting for separation or revolution, have links with China either through Pakistan's ISI or directly with China's PLA.
In 2004 India persuaded Washington to include Peoples' War and the Maoists Communist Centre in America's Terror Exclusion List. But India itself has no national policy or agency to deal with these extremists enjoying international support. Home Minister Shivraj Patil blandly stated that law and order is a state subject! The Congress-led government in Andhra actually called off anti-Maoist operations despite strenuous police objections. The CM sees future electoral advantage in appeasing Maoists. Without even a national policy to deal with Maoists what kind of intelligence inputs could be engaging policymakers at the Centre? It is largely due to efforts of intrepid journalists, notably Rakesh Sinha of Indian Express, that citizens have access to national dimensions of the problem.
On November 2 this columnist warned that appointing a Congress Chief Minister in Kashmir created a propitious time for enemies of India to escalate terrorism. Terrorist violence subsequently has escalated. Maoist violence should not be differentiated from Jehadi violence. Both are tentacles of the same octopus with the same design -- to paralyze India.
Yossef Bodansky, Director of the Task Force on Terrorism and Unconventional Warfare of the U.S. Congress wrote this in an official report: "Islamist subversion of several countries is intensified because of the strategic interests of a third party -- the Peoples' Republic of China (PRC) -- and, to a lesser extent, of its close allies. However, it is the close allies -- Pakistan and Iran -- who bear the brunt of the sponsorship of, and support for the terrorist escalation. They do so more because of the strategic calculations concerning the PRC. The intelligence services involved (are) the Iranian VEVAK and the Pakistani ISI. The ISI terrorism support infrastructure in Bangladesh not only supplies and trains on PRC-made weapons and explosives, but the Bangladeshi military officers acting as instructors had received special commando and mountain warfare training in the PRC. The deployment of these assets has increased markedly since the fall of 1994. The Chinese preparations for a regional escalation and major crisis under conditions short of a major war are thorough. Chinese instructors are directly involved in training Tamils and other Indians for terrorist, sabotage, and espionage operations."
The recent SAARC Summit exposed India's standing in the neighborhood. This columnist has long held that both King Gyanendra and the Nepal Maoists are supported by China. Decades before becoming King, Gyanendra had cordial links with the Chinese embassy in Nepal.
China's strategy most likely was to broker a compromise between the King and the Maoists after the democratic parties were squeezed out of reckoning. Recall Prince Norodom of Cambodia and his bloodthirsty adversary Pol Pot who were both simultaneously helped by Beijing. But Nepal's Maoists apparently have seen through the game. King Gyanendra in the recent SAARC summit strenuously linked Afghanistan's entry into SAARC with China's simultaneous entry. Pakistan and Bangladesh supported him. Both want China to enter SAARC for ending "India's domination". Both have defence agreements with China. The Indian government should ask itself: Against whom is China arming our South Asian neighbors? The government knows the answer. It is also aware of help by China and Pakistan to various insurrections inside India. In spite of that it continues engagement with both nations. Why? There are two reasons.
First, there is genuine confusion. China is one nation with two systems. There is the iron fist of dictatorship in the interior. There is glittering showpiece capitalism on the coastline and the cities. But apart from its two systems, does China have two heads? The PLA foments terrorism, the narcotics trade, and insurgency in other countries. The Chinese government expands commerce and talks against terrorism. Are both in conflict or cooperating? The same image is projected by Pakistan. Musharraf ostensibly fights the war against terrorism. But Pakistan-sponsored terrorism continues. Are Musharraf's professions genuine or false? The time has come to end confusion. India must cease differentiating between moderates and extremists in both nations. Even if the moderate is sincere, the short term advantage gained for his country by the policy of the extremist persuades him to overlook its long-term danger. India should deal with governments of both China and Pakistan as monoliths responsible for all actions emanating from their territories.
The second reason is more complex. India is conditioned by America's advice. America through the duplicity and corruption of its leaders for the past decades is now in a crisis. At worst America was a partner, at best a silent abettor, of all the terrorism, drug dealing and nuclear proliferation indulged in by China for decades. America and China comprised the real axis of evil. The Washington Post of November 13 commented: "Bush arrived in the White House deeply skeptical of China, calling it a "strategic competitor," not a "strategic partner." But the terrorist attacks of Sept. 11, 2001, shifted the relationship. China supported the U.S. struggle with terrorism, and Bush turned his attention to Afghanistan and Iraq." What the paper ignored was the strong circumstantial evidence suggesting direct or indirect complicity of the Sino-US lobby in the 9/11 attack. To survive, this lobby spread lies to divert attention from China and Al Qaeda to Iraq. Due to economic compulsions America desperately wants China to democratize itself. That was the purpose of President Bush's visit to Beijing last week. America's security establishment is now silently battling with its business establishment. President Bush is caught in the crossfire.
Would not America therefore gladly sell India short in an effort to buy China's cooperation? That is why the Indian government should think twice before accepting American advice related to China or Pakistan. It must evolve an independent security paradigm relying on its own strength.