India’s Security Challenges
Fall Prey to Politicization
India’s political leaders and politicians can never arise up and overcome the propensity to politicize every conceivable issue that falls in their path. But what is reprehensible is that they do not restrain themselves from politicizing external security and internal security issues. Three issues that recently have been sprung on the consciousness of the Indian public; (the credit for this goes to Indian English TV networks especially Times Now) are the impact of the Indian Army troop withdrawals from the Kashmir Valley on the security situation in this proxy war arena of Pakistan, the prolonged delay in the hanging of the Parliament House convicted mastermind Afzal Guru and the recent killings of CRPF police forces personnel in the Dantewada area of Chattisgarh.
Touched in earlier Columns was the Government’s decision to withdraw nearly 30,000 Indian Army troops from the Kashmir Valley when the security situation in the Valley had not returned to normal. Nor had Pakistani infiltration decreased and nor had the number of incidents of border clashes on the LOC. The pressure to make sizeable withdrawal of Indian Army troops was made under political pressure of coalition politics as the Congress- supported Government in Srinagar was under pressure from the main opposition party there on this issue who presumably wanted to please the Pakistan lobby. To stave off this political pressure on its political partner in Srinagar, the Congress Government in New Delhi ordered the withdrawal of 30,000 troops endangering the security grid in Kashmir.
The other significant reason was that Dr. Manmohan Singh as per media reports was under intense United States pressure for troop withdrawals from Kashmir as the Pakistan Army Chief had made conditional that Pak Army forces would not be moved to the Afghan border till USA prevailed on India for thinning out of Indian Army presence in Kashmir.
Here we have a classic case of the Congress Government succumbing to compromises on India’s external security imperatives and internal security imperatives for political reasons. The net result has been an increase in Pakistan’s proxy war activities in the Valley and especially in the hotbed area of Sopore. This was acknowledged on TV by a senior Indian Army officer a few days back Was the Indian Army hierarchy taken into the decision-making loop before such a withdrawal of troops was ordered?
Coming to the Afzal Guru hanging case the record of the Congress Government has been the most deplorable. It would be recalled that Afzal Guru was sentenced to death by hanging for his mastermind role and facilitating the heinous attack on the Indian Parliament in December 2001. The Supreme Court had rejected Afzal Guru’s appeal petition and he should have been hanged four years back. In a shocking display of abdication of the Congress Government’s responsibility and duty to implement swift punishment on Terrorism Attacks against India, the Government of the day has on political grounds sought to delay carrying out the Supreme Court’s sentence on one flimsy excuse or the other. Congress spokespersons adopted a crude line of excuse that Afzal Guru’s case was 29th in the list of those to be hanged and that his turn is to be awaited.
Preposterously naive and inexcusable, the Congress spokespersons and even Ministers, expected the Indian people to swallow this blasphemy of equating those who waged war on India with common murderers and equating an attack on the Indian Parliament to a normal crime. The Congress needs to be reminded how swift was the retribution to the killers of late Indira Gandhi .
The first politicization of Afzal Guru’s hanging was made by the Congress Chief Minister of J&K Ghulam Nabi who raised the issue of law and order problem following the hanging. It was recently echoed by the Delhi Chief Minister and Chief Minister Omar Abdullah of Kashmir.
Is India to be led to believe that terrorists will not be hanged either because they are Kashmiris or Moslems? The Congress seems to have woken up as it has now to face the hanging of Mumbai 26/11 terrorist Kasab and muted calls from within the Congress have started pouring out that Afzal Guru should be hanged. Why were they silent all these years? Obviously vote bank considerations were in play.
What is to be noted is that on both the first two issues the propensity of the Congress Government to soft-pedal Kashmir issues or Kashmir-related issues becomes glaringly evident.
Coming to the last issue of the Maoist attacks on CRPF personnel and their inability to defend themselves. This arises basically from long years of neglect of the Congress Government in equipping, training and providing the right type of leadership to the forces in the field. When it comes to non-Congress ruled states the common refrain from Congress leaders is that law and order are State subjects and hence the Central Government can do nothing much. That may be technically and politically correct but then the CRPF is a Central armed police force and the provision of modern weapons and equipment is the responsibility of the Central Government and so also training in counter-insurgency roles. The senior appointments in this Force are garnered by Indian Police Officers who come on deputations and who neither have the determination to provide dynamic leadership nor are they so inclined. They need to be weeded out as they are reluctant to lead from the front the men they command.
How deleterious all this is to India’s image can be gauged from readings from the Pakistani media where satisfaction is derived that India despite all the strength and resources at its command is like Pakistan similarly incapable of meeting threats to its security. One cannot blame them; it is India’s political leaders and politicians who provide such images.
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Dr. Subhash Kapila
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