Monday, December 15, 2008

Practice what you preach

Last month's terrorist attacks in Mumbai shocked everyone. Nearly two hundred innocent men and women lost their precious lives and many more were injured. In anger over Mumbai attacks, while the nation was grieving the loss, Indian media and politicians, as usual, tirelessly vilified and pointed the finger at Pakistan. Blaming the usual suspect, Pakistan, began even before evidences were gathered and the lone surviving terrorist was interrogated.

Although the notoriety of Pakistan's Intelligence Agency, ISI in providing aid and comfort to Islamofascists that want to inflict harm on India cannot be denied based on its past activities, India should also take responsibility for its own security lapses and failure to address issues that are fuelling the rise of Islamic fundamentalism in the Indian subcontinent. Is it because of India's rigid posture on Kashmiri issues or is it due to India's inability to lift the status of millions of Muslims that are at the bottom of the pyramid, to whom, the prosperity of the last two decades has failed to bring about any real changes? What actually is it that is luring young men and women in Indian subcontinent towards radical Islam?

By attacking landmarks in the financial capital of India, Mumbai, jihadist juggernauts wanted to do two things: expose India's vulnerabilities and slow down India's economic progress. The recent terrorist attacks in Indian subcontinent also signal shift in venue of global terrorism. Lately, South Asia has become a focal point for terrorism directed against the western nations. By targeting westerners in Mumbai, Islamic radicals wanted to send a message about shift in venue for holy jihad. It clearly shows how the trends in terrorism continue to shift from the Middle East to South Asia. With Afghanistan slipping into chaos and Nepal on freefall, jihadists have more than needed space to operate in South Asia. If terrorism is to be wiped out from South Asia, along with Pakistan, India too, has substantial homework to do.

First and foremost, India should work on its definition of “terrorism.” For India, groups that are waging armed struggle for the liberation of Kashmir from Pakistani soil are terrorists, and it wants Pakistani government to go after them, but when it comes to India's turn to act, it simply looks the other way. While India blames Pakistan for providing aid and comfort to the anti-Indian elements, India's own record is not as clean as it wants others to believe. It is an open secret about where the Maoists ideologues, who raised arms against the state, and whom Indian government unilaterally branded as terrorists lived for the most part of the decade long insurgency. The Maoists movement that brought Nepal to its knees would not have been succeeded without India's generosity. India not only provided the Maoists a safe heaven to operate, but also forced democratic forces to bed with them, whose ugly repercussions are unfolding slowly.

India's soft corner for those that raise arms against Nepali state did not end with its generosity towards the Maoists. It continues to provide safe heaven to armed secessionist groups that want to disintegrate Nepal. How is Pakistan's support to Jihadists that want to free Kashmir different from India's turning blind eyes on groups that have raised arms to seek secession? Armed struggle in Nepal will not survive without Indian benevolence.

What India as a nation should understand is that, it can only progress the way it wants to, when South Asia as a regions is, stable and peaceful. It cannot and will not remain insulated from the pouring in of negative externalities if its neighbors fail. It should, thus, stop providing safe heaven to groups that raise arms against its neighbors. Only then, India will have moral authority to ask Pakistan to go after the groups that carry out anti-Indian activities in Pakistani soil.

If India continues to provide safe heaven to the armed groups that raise arms against Nepal, armed struggle in Nepal will never wane. Bunch of incompetent but ambitious individuals that lack patience and caliber to win the hearts and mind of Nepali people through peaceful democratic means will keep on waging wars in the name of fighting oppression. Looking at honeymoon period of the Maoist government, it becomes evident that rhetoric alone is not enough to bring changes. For change to come, the rulers should have a vision and competence. Is India ready to be held accountable, if the so called revolutionaries, to whom it provides safe heaven, fail to deliver, like the Maoists, and bring about positive changes?

The Maoists in Nepal had an excellent opportunity bring about changes. There was no need to create rogue institution like Young Communist League (YCL). They had already created a political space for themselves. The defeat of stalwarts of the United Marxist Leninist Party (UML) at the hands of the obscure Maoists figures clearly showed that the UML's grassroots operatives had mass-migrated to the Maoists Party. Instead of trying to capitalize their gains and focusing on providing services to the people, the Maoists remained glued to their red book, which states terror as a method social control.

With the honeymoon period over, the excitement generated by Maoists' revolution has dissipated. With waning of euphoria, Puspa Kamal Dahal finds himself under fire. His next step? If worst comes, step down and wreck havoc till the next government is overwhelmed. The Nepali politics is sure to get confrontational in days to come. The way things are unfolding, it appears that, we will once again witness a bloody conflict, whereby the very same people who declared the Maoists terrorists will be at the helm of affairs, and the Maoists at offensive. Who gains from this, if this is to really happen? Not Nepali people for sure!

India, when it comes to its own security, aggressively calls for wiping out groups that act against India's national security, but when it is India's turn to reciprocate, its record has been pretty dismal. If nothing, what India can and should learn from the failure of the Maoist government in Nepal is that, there are tons of incompetent and ambitious politicians in Nepal, who are ready to wage war against the state. How do you identify true revolutionaries that can change the face of Nation from phonies, who pose as revolutionaries and wage wars against the state to forward their political agendas? And, will the justification for armed struggle ever get over if a neighbor keeps on rewarding armed insurgencies targeted at its neighbor?

There will always be complaints about injustice caused by the state. No country has ever been fully able to satisfy its citizens. But that cannot simply be the reason for armed struggle. India should force various armed groups that are waging wars against its neighbor to shut down their shops if it really wants Pakistan to go after jihadists that are waging holy war against India.

India cannot win the war against terrorism on its own. If it really wants to win this war, it has to stop the blame game and cooperate with its neighbors.

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