By Vijay Darda | 10-08-2015
The last few weeks have been an extremely difficult period on the line of control and the international border with Pakistan. The brunt of Pakistan’s terror factory has been borne not just by the security forces but also by innocent unarmed civilians. The fact that there has been an accelerated activity after the two prime ministers resumed the stalled dialogue process through their interaction at Ufa on the sidelines of the meeting of the Shanghai Cooperation Organization in Russia tells us a lot more about Pakistani intentions and methods.
It is quite clear for all intents and purposes that for Pakistan the initiation of a dialogue process does not lead to a simultaneous cessation of hostilities with India. On the contrary elements within Pakistan try their level best to vitiate the atmosphere of dialogue with such activities. There is hardly any point in debating whether these acts of violence are done by state actors or non actors. In the Indian context such a distinction is meaningless because irrespective of the nature of these elements their only intent is to keep hurting India and Indians. What matters is that in the final analysis the lives of Indian citizens are lost.
However, alongside attacks by terrorists coming from Pakistan who have committed two serious incidents like the attack on Dinanagar police station in Gurdaspur district and the attacking on a BSF convoy in Udhampur, there have been two very significant developments in context of terror originating from across the border. Tariq Khosa a retired director general of Pakistan’s Federal Investigation Agency has confirmed that the 26/11 terror attacks on Mumbai were planned and executed from Pakistani soil. The second is success of the village defense committee in Udhampur district in nabbing the Pakistani terrorist Mohammad Naved alive and red handed.
There has never been any iota of doubt about the Pakistani hand in terror attacks, but these two unrelated developments now leave no room for Islamabad to escape from its responsibility and own up this reality. Any fig leaf of cover has now been blown into pieces. It is in this context that the wisdom of continuing with the dialogue process and not abandoning the proposed NSA levels talks now to be held on August 23rd and 24th becomes relevant. This meeting can actually lay down the route map for Pakistan to commit itself to substantive outcomes in the control of terror emanating from its soil. The earlier option of a flat denial now stands extinguished.
However, there is another matter of satisfaction from these two developments. Both these related to qualitative changes in Pakistan’s approach to the terror question vis-a-vis India. Now within its security establishment there are voices like Khosa that want a revision of the strategy. They do not want that their country should distinguish between good and bad terrorists on the basis of their capacity to harm India. The logical conclusion of such an approach has to be the renunciation of terror as an instrument of foreign policy for Pakistan. The fact that Pakistan has always been making such a distinction hurts the long interests of their country, and it has not served its interests not just in India but also in Afghanistan. The net impact being that Afghanistan is keen to cement its ties with India and enhance our involvement in development projects. We are building its new parliament building and this is just a sign of the welcome cooperation between the two countries.
The issue relates to the quality of terrorists coming out of the Pakistan’s terror factory. Naved is nowhere as deadly or skilled as Ajmal Kasab. It shows that there is a decline in the quality of persons available to Pakistan for launching them into India, and also the poor quality of their training. These two aspects must guide our deliberations with Pakistan in the days to come.
However, there is a domestic aspect to all these questions that needs to be dealt with better foresight and political understanding. Irrespective of the political colour of the party our Opposition parties have been very aggressive in their oral responses to the Pakistani terror attacks, but then the reality is that there is no readily available military or security solution to the terror attacks or incidents of cross border violations. There is long felt need to device a military/strategic solution that not only combats these attacks from across the border but also makes them pay for it. Right now we do have a lot of high decibel rhetoric but very little in terms of neutralising fire power.
Tackling Pakistan’s cross border terror factory or the violations of the border can never be an issue of partisan politics. The Modi government would get all kind of political support if it were to embark on a strategy that does not lead to escalation of tensions beyond manageable limits and yet neutralises Pakistan’s ability to inflict such intermittent damage. The issue is about the kind of initiatives that are taken by the government. To create the right atmosphere for such tactics to yield the right dividends, the government has to be bold and sagacious.
Engaging Pakistan in a dialogue process should now become a standard operating procedure and the need to isolate terror from other aspects of the relationship has to become an ingrained policy approach of the government . Or else the practice of one step forward and two steps backwards has hurt the sub-continent beyond measure.
Before I conclude…
If the deliberations in the joint select committee on the land bill are any indication, then despite the acrimonious nature of disruptions that have rocked the monsoon session of the Parliament, there is an element of sagacity on both the sides to move ahead on issues of national interest. However, the most important point in such situations is that there are no victors or losers here. The common winner is the ability to produce consensual decisions through the Parliament in the national interest.