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Issue:January' 2018

REALPOLITIK

When will Delhi fight terror in Kashmir ?

Jagdish N Singh

The February 14 Pulwama fidayeen attack offers yet another evidence that the saffron party’s Narendra Modi-led government at our Centre is no better than its predecessors in fighting terror in India’s Kashmir and making the Valley safe to return for its own citizens-- m i n o r i t i e s Hindus and Sikhs, in particular— who had to flee the state in the wake of Islamist violence in the 1990s.
The scenario seems to have r a t h e r d e t e r i o r a t e d after Modi came to power . According to knowledgeable sources, more of our civilians and security personnel have been killed in the state in the last four and a half years . In 2018 there were around 614 terrorist-related incidents in J&K. It claimed a total of 91 security personnel.

I wonder why the Modi government has not taken appropriate steps to put in place an effective intelligence and security mechanism to foil such terror attacks. What the Pakistan-based Jaish-e-Mohammad (JeM), headed by Masood Azhar, claimed to have done on February 14 was not a first one. The sources say it was its second fidayeen attack in Pulwama. On December 31, 2017, the JeM employed a local youth to carry out a fidayeen attack on a CRPF camp. The JeM introduced first ever fidayeen or suicide attack in the state on November 3, 1999, when a Srinagar boy, along with another militant, drove an improvised explosive device-laden car into the Badamibagh Cantonment in Srinagar. In 2001, it killed at least 38 people when a car full of explosives drove into the J&K Legislative Assembly complex.

The outfit has carried more attacks on the security forces than the Lashkar-e-Taiba (LeT) and the Hizbul Mujahideen (HM)outfits in the past two months. If our intelligence were effective , it would have been impossible for a Jaish fidayeen sports utility vehicle, laden with a huge quantity of explosives, to target the convoy of 78 buses carrying about 2,500 soldiers from Jammu to Kashmir on February 14.

If New Delhi really wants to fight terror, it must discard its continuing political paralysis, embrace the tool of self-defence to protect our Nation and target all anti-India terror masterminds, wherever they may be hiding . New Delhi can do so by imparting a functional autonomy to our intelligence and security mechanism . New Delhi does not need not to look to other world capitals for this. Experience is they never really backed our fight against terror.

It would be naive to expect anything better today. Washington, arguably the most important world capital , is unlikely to be tough with Islamabad-sponsored terrorism in India. It is seeking Islamabad’ help in clinching a deal with the Afghan Taliban. Beijing, an important world power player in our neighbourhood, continues to defeat our efforts at the United Nations to put Azhar on the list of banned terrorists.

Shielding the terror source

A clear message from Saudi Arabia’s Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman’s visit to Pakistan and India last month is : Islamabad is still far dearer to Riyadh than New Delhi is . During his Pakistan visit , Salman declared himself an “ambassador of Pakistan.” He signed $20 billion in investment deals with Islamabad. And the Crown Prince truly proved himself to be Pakistan’s ambassador when he was later in India.
The Prince took no cognizance of India’s fight against Pakistan-sponsored terror that seeks to destroy our composite culture , particularly in Kashmir. At a joint press conference with Modi, Salman just referred to “common goals” in the energy, agriculture and other sectors. Modi said, “In Pulwama, we saw an instance of heinous terrorism and according to us terrorists and supporters of terrorism should face all out pressure from the international community.”

In his statement, Salman evaded the Modi focus and just said his country would cooperate with India in tackling terrorism, including sharing of intelligence.

Observers say Riyadh’s bias in favour of Islamabad is hardly surprising . Salman needs to keep the Pakistan Army in good humour for the Kingdom’s internal security and foreign policy objectives in the emerging Afghan scenario and in the context of its continuing race with Iran for influence across the changing Muslim world.

Struggle for reforms

Muhammad Mossadegh Last month, Iran celebrated the 40th anniversary of its February 11 , 1979 Revolution. One saw the images of the huge rallies on television in celebration of the occasion. Is the Islamic Republic as strong as one may imagine from such images? Or the rallies were just regime-orchestrated ones?
Knowledgeable sources say that in 1953 the British and Americanbacked coup overthrew Iran’s democratically elected Prime Minister Muhammad Mossadegh and restored the Shah to power. Since then a struggle for greater democratic freedoms has never ceased in the country.
The Ayatollah Ruhollah Khomeiniled government isolated, jailed or executed most of the progressive elements in society. In 2009 the Iranian regime rigged the presidential election to sideline the reformist Mir-Hossein Mousavi and keep in place then incumbent Mahmoud Ahmadinejad. This led to the Green Movement. The regime silenced that too. But the movement has not died down.

Progressive elements are unlikely to rest until they have full reforms. The literacy rate among Iran’s adult population today is around 93%. This is likely to help the movement for reforms. Women have recently come out against the mandatory headscarf.