Senior Indian officials took umbrage to US comments absolving Pakistan on the
7/11 Mumbai blasts and said they have actionable intelligence that the
was behind the terrorist attack and of plans to attack sensitive spots. The National Security Advisor M.K. Narayanan said that India had more concrete evidence on the 7/11 blasts than the US had on the 9/11 attack. Defense Minister Pranab Mukherjee informed the Parliament that LeT is planning to carry out strikes on sensitive spots such as critical infrastructure including nuclear installations, military targets, and religious places while admitting that “the scope of such terrorist activities is on the increase.” He disclosed “A series of special security measures have already been taken” and other actions “are under consideration to prevent any such attempts from succeeding” but, for obvious reasons, did not reveal what they were.
Mukherjee tried to convince the opposition that the activities of the LeT have been “continuously and carefully” monitored by security and intelligence agencies using “information that is available with security agencies.” Interestingly, the Home Ministry has been saying the opposite. The Minister of State for Home Sriprakash Jaiswal spoke to media and surprised everyone, contradicting Narayanan, saying that there was no threat at all. Speaker Somnath Chatterjee said he wished that “the statement had been made here and not outside” but closed the matter saying that “the Government had responded.” That was an interesting abrupt closure of the debate because of the wide disparity of views between the Defense and Home Ministry.
Meanwhile, Railways Minister Lalu Prasad Yadav suggested that he might disallow
non-passengers onto platforms as airports do to improve security on
Indian Railways. This is the sort of naive trivialization that is most dangerous in the war on terrorism because of the ridiculous nature of this suggestion. Firstly, the number of passengers traveling on the Indian Railways is perhaps several thousand times more than air passengers. Secondly, railways stations are not a single entry and controlled exit situations as airports are—to transform them to such controlled environments will requires billions of dollars of investment, years to complete, and hordes of security personnel. Thirdly, terrorists are not always suicide bombers—as in the Mumbai and New Delhi incidents, they leave behind innocuous looking baggage that contained timer controlled explosives. There is absolutely no way that the Railways could monitor every bag that goes in or what leaves. Fourthly, the corruption of Railways staff is so high that it is essentially irresponsible to only consider terrorists among passengers and not have infiltrated employees as they have the police and defense infrastructure.
The Home Minister Shivraj Patil says that the war on terrorism is black-balling the Islamic community and he warns that this is a wrong conclusion. He is absolutely correct. To assume that all Muslims are criminals because the captured terrorists are is to derive the wrong conclusion that the US and the UK are accused of making and India is certainly capable of a better conclusion than that. At the same time, being afraid to target Islamic groups, investigating criminals who are Muslims, and arresting criminals who preach violence because of political considerations or wanting to appear “secular” or non-communal is putting the rest of the country in jeopardy.
The fact of the matter is that there are groups based on Whhabbi cult who consider non-Muslims infidels worthy of being killed. These groups with a deranged interpretation of Islam glorify violence on innocent civilians as means to attain martyrdom. These groups, funded, trained, and armed by Pakistan recruit disenfranchised and disaffected Indian nationals to carry out their diabolical schemes. With Taliban-run Afghanistan out of bounds for outsourcing terror, Pakistan has now managed to co-opt Bangladesh to host all anti-Indian terror activities. There is increasing evidence that anti-Indian terrorism is funded from Dubai, managed by Pakistani operatives, and official Bangladeshi help for terrorist training, infiltration, arms and ammunitions smuggling, currency counterfeiting, and infusing narcotics to handover execution to operatives in Mumbai. Islamic terrorists with deep grounding in Bollywood pick up contraband and terrorists dumped by Bangladesh in Barak Valley and Karimganj in Assam, Kailasahar and Dharam Nagar in north Tripura, and some border villages in West Bengal and take them to cities. Often, the terrorists and handlers in India do not know the operation or targets till the last minute. The Indo-Bangla border is an open stretch of 2,653 km and runs along Assam, Tripura, Meghalaya and West Bengal and a very conservative estimated value of counterfeit currency via this route is Rs. 326,962 crores (USD 71.07 billion).
Despite such patterns and evidence, the US continues with its Cold War attitude of shielding Pakistan from reproach. Interestingly, the US Government presented satellite imagery and produced expert witness to prove the existence of jihadi camps in Pakistan to prove that a Pakistani father-and-son duo were involved in terrorism. Several US officials have actually supported Indian position on Pakistani complicity.
The US State Department Coordinator for Counter Terrorism Henry Crumpton acknowledged
Afghanistan’s accusation that
Pakistan is not doing enough on terrorism . The US Assistant Secretary of State for Central and South Asia Richard Boucher publicly accepted that although Musharraf has made a "fundamental decision" to stamp out terrorism in Pakistan,
several terrorist camps exist near the Line of Control (LoC) . The US National Intelligence Director John Negroponte said that
Pakistan-based terrorists active in Kashmir pose a persistent threat to regional security and some are a "potential threat" to US interests worldwide. The
Washington Post accused Pakistan President Pervez Musharraf of being “counted as a U.S. ally while avoiding an all-out campaign against the Islamic extremists in his country.” Hoover Institution Fellow Paul Sperry who is now in Quetta, called the new capital of the Taliban, says that the
Pakistani Army is actively providing Improvised Explosive Devices (IED) and shoulder fire Stringer Missiles to the Taliban to attack convoys. With huge pressure mounted on US President George Bush, he delivered a harsh message to Musharraf on democracy, non-proliferation, and terrorism.
Even while the peace process is in progress, senior Indian political, bureaucratic, and defense officials have been accusing Pakistan of not doing enough to contain terrorism. The Indian Army Chief J.J. Singh had previously accused Pakistan of taking advantage of the earthquake to
facilitate the infiltration of terrorists. Narayanan had earlier revealed Pakistan’s Jihadi
policy variation through a
“very distinct attempt to alter the mix” through the active recruitment of Indians for terrorist operations within India and training them in Bangladesh, Bangkok, West Asia, or Pakistan. Counter terrorism experts have also said that Pakistan’s
Inter Services Intelligence (ISI) is
targeting individuals who oppose Pakistan President Pervez Musharraf. India handed over a
list of 38 most wanted criminals to Pakistan including Dawood Ibrahim, LeT Chief Mohammed Hafez Sayeed, and Jaish-e-Mohammed Maulana Masoor Azhar. A high-level security panel reviewed the recent increase in infiltration from Pakistan and concluded that there was
continued support for terror infrastructure in Pakistan Occupied Kashmir and terrorists were increasingly using human rights as means to distract attention. Meanwhile, 12 terrorists from 4 outfits surrendered in Jammu & Kashmir with a huge cache of deadly arms and explosives citing disillusionment, frustration, and strong desire to return to their homes. The surrendered cadre revealed the ISI’s role in the Valley and said many Kashmiri youth committed suicide in ISI training camps while others were doing menial jobs to earn a living.
Despite overwhelming evidence, Pakistan continues to have a negative attitude towards terrorism. Responding to criticisms from the Indian policy crowd, Secretary Riaz Mohammad Khan used platitudes to deflect attention. Characterizing India’s accusation as “instinctive reactions” he rejected making Pakistan a “convenient scapegoat.” Khan said “Please help us to help yourself” and demanded specific information on the blasts and not mere “pointing the finger” at Islamabad.
India is grappling with measures to handle internal security. Patil says that he needs 200 battalions of paramilitary forces, more money, a modernization drive, changes to “some laws,” and aerial surveys via helicopters. These are vague and political replies but not real steps to curb terrorism menace. What is required is an unambiguous political message, concerted action, less politicking, and quick justice.
The other plan that is being discussed is to pursuing terrorists back to Pakistan. The concept of “hot pursuit” works when terrorists fire rockets and missiles into Indian territory and Indian commando action is required to silence them—just as what Israel is trying to do in Lebanon. The Indian case is much different as the terrorists are not only Pakistanis who infiltrate deep into India but also disgruntled Indian nationals. Therefore, the only commando action that India can do is to infiltrate into Pakistan and capture or kill militants at training camps which will not be taken lightly by that nation.
Pakistan has already warned of nuclear war if Indian troops cross the Line of Control (LoC).
Against this context, India and Pakistan are exploring ways to resume the peace process on hold since the Mumbai blasts. India needs to make strong diplomatic moves to ensure that the world and most importantly Pakistan gets the message that business will not be as usual. India should continue with Secretary-level dialogue but the sessions must be focused on terrorism and not confidence building measures (CBMs). There can be no CBMs if Pakistan cannot be trusted to keep its word of 2004 that it will curb terrorism against India. The nation needs to create a timeline, an architecture, and framework to curb terrorism. The only thing that needs to be reviewed is this plan