India has been tolerating Pakistan-sponsored terror for far too long. It is time we put our foot down and show Pakistan that enough is enough. Not just Pakistan but the world at large has begun taking India’s diatribes against the neighbour for acts of terror as routine. We are being taken for granted.
We have not remonstrated enough with China for building a road connecting China and linking with Gwadar port in Pakistan while passing through Pakistan-occupied Kashmir. We cannot expect the world to take us seriously on seeking the return of the areas of Kashmir that are under the occupation of Pakistan if our own attitude is so passive and resigned to status quo.
The BJP is no longer in alliance with the People’s Democratic Front (PDF) for it to bother about what Mehbooba Mufti says while recommending to show the olive branch to the Pakistanis. Though it has been written and talked about ad nauseam, it is time we act on terror camps that train, arm and infiltrate terror recruits into Kashmir. Any country of India’s size and clout would do that to safeguard its interests and put a stop once for all to cross-border terror.
We cannot go on tom-tomming about the one-off ‘surgical strikes’ on terror camps in Pakistan-occupied Kashmir that we achieved with precision. What is needed is a comprehensive assault on all terror training sites in a lightning attack. The latest peg for launching an all-out assault is the greylisting of Pakistan as a conduit for terror funding by the Financial Action Task Force (FAFT) which amounts to recognition by the 37-member body that terror groups are operating freely in Pakistan with the government looking the other way.
We had befriended Israel appropriately but suddenly after that there was silence of the Israeli front. Why can’t we seek Israeli expertise in intelligence gathering and lightning strikes? Former Pakistani president Pervez Musharraf has belatedly conceded recently that his forces trained militant groups to fight India in Jammu and Kashmir. He confessed that the government turned a blind eye because it wanted to force India to enter into negotiations, as well as raise the issue internationally.
He also said Pakistani spies in the Inter-Services Intelligence directorate (ISI) cultivated the Taliban after 2001 because the Hamid Karzai government in Afghanistan was dominated by non-Pashtuns, who are the country’s largest ethnic group, and by officials who were thought to favour India.
Satellite imagery from the American FBI suggests the existence of several terrorist camps in Pakistan. Many non-partisan sources believe that officials within Pakistan’s military and ISI sympathise with and aid Islamic terrorists, saying that the ISI has provided covert but well-documented support to terrorist groups active in Kashmir, including the al-Qaeda affiliate Jaish-e-Mohammed.
Why are we then shying away from targeting these terror camps? Surely, the US has the wherewithal to ensure that when India bombs the terror camps, a close watch is kept on Pakistan’s nuclear installations. The hard fact that the US couldn’t care less what India thinks but with the economic clout that we wield now, we must assert our position. Pakistan’s so-called ‘Kashmir cause’ no longer carries conviction with countries around the world. A handful of Islamic bloc countries will doubtlessly make a hue and cry but we have managed to neutralise some among them to see our point of view.
The criteria on which the Financial Action Task Force will, in future, judge Pakistan will be on how sincerely the country combats money laundering, terror financing and other related threats to the integrity of the international financial system. That it has been found wanting on these criteria shows that Islamabad’s failure to respect international norms will face increasing heat.
Much as the civilian government of Pakistan may distance itself from Mumbai terror attacks mastermind Hafiz Saeed-led Jamaat ud Dawa, the cold reality is that he enjoys the support of the army in Pakistan which calls the shots there.
Whatever may be the stand of the FATF to choke the funding of Hafiz Saeed, the army would shoot down any attempt to bring him to book. In the circumstances, it should be India’s effort to have Pakistan blacklisted at the next FATF meeting for non-compliance with FATF diktats. If it lobbies hard, Pakistan can be further isolated in the international forum.
Recently, the Jammu and Kashmir police identified one of the killers of Rising Kashmir editor Shujaat Bukhari as a Pakistani belonging to the Lashkar e-Taiba, which is no different from Jamaat ud Dawa, showing that the terror outfit is pursuing its agenda of disruption and killings in India with characteristic ruthlessness.
While it is the government of Pakistan that is held accountable internationally, the real culprit — the army — gets away with murder. The world is indeed fed up of Pakistan and its terror machine. It must give expression to its disgust by declaring it a terror state and choking all its terror funding activities. That is what India must lobby for with vigour and vitality.
The list of terror strikes in India in which the ISI hand is strongly suspected is growing. Apart from terrorism in Kashmir, the 2001 Indian Parliament attack, the July 2006 Mumbai train bombings, the 2006 Varanasi bombings, the August 2007 Hyderabad bombings and the November 2008 Mumbai attacks are a few glaring ones. While planning the lightning strikes on Pakistan’s terror camps, India needs to sharpen its propaganda apparatus and go on a diplomatic offensive in world capitals. It is indeed time we act with precision and with telling effect.
Kamlendra Kanwar is a political commentator and columnist. He has authored four books.