I am in total agreement with India’s Home Minister Rajnath Singh’s analysis of Islamist terrorism. The Minister said at an Indian newspaper summit the other day : “Terrorism here is not home-grown. It is externally aided. Pakistan blames non-state actors for it. I ask them whether the Inter Services Intelligence (ISI) is a non-state actor. If anyone is fully helping terrorists, it is the ISI…. They have not effectively acted on our request to hand over culprits ( Lashkar-e-Taiba leader Hafiz Saeed and mafia don Dawood Ibrahim) who planned the 26/11 attack on Mumbai [in 2008].” I hope his government will also be taking appropriate action to defend India against this evil.
Volumes have already been written as to how India has suffered on account of Islamist terrorism since Islamabad sent its armed forces in the guise of Pakhtoon tribals to capture Kashmir (October 22, 1947). According to verified studies, since 1980 alone jihadists have claimed 150,000 lives in India . The minorities – Hindus and Sikhs—in India’s Kashmir have been the worst victims of this jihadist war. The population of Kashmiri Pandits in the Valley in 1989 was 400,000. Today it is less than four thousand. By 2000 the Islamist terrorists killed more than 34,252 innocent citizens, wounded and decapitated 17484, set on fire 10,000 Hindu houses and destroyed state and individual properties worth 2000 crore rupees.
American Congressman Frank Pallone’s letter of August 23, 2004 to the then Prime Minister Manmohan Singh contains the best description of the Kashmir scenario today: “The Pandits have suffered more than any group as a result of the conflict in Kashmir…violence continues to threaten their existence. Kashmiri Pandits are on the verge of losing their identity, culture and homeland in Kashmir. The ethnic cleansing of Pandits from Kashmir started as a result of targeted assassinations leading to forced exile of the entire minority community in the early stages of insurgency. Horrible events have been repeated in recent years when Islamic insurgents committed mass massacres of Pandits in villages and hamlets throughout Kashmir”.
This state of affairs in the Valley has been a matter of shame indeed for the Indian Republic. The first and foremost function of a modern state is to take care of all its citizens. Since then Jammu and Kashmir Maharaja Hari Singh signed instruments of accession to India (October 27, 1947) it has been the duty of the Indian state to protect this province and its people. But New Delhi has continued to neglect this fundamental function despite so much of moral and military strength on its side.
It may be recalled that the Father of the Nation, Mahatma Gandhi, told Indian’s first Prime Minister Jawaharlal Nehru there should be no submission to the evil in Kashmir and the raiders had to be driven out. The Indian Army, too, was in a position to take care of India’s integrity. Yet New Delhi agreed to Lord Mountbatten’s suggestion (December 30, 1947) to refer the matter to the U N Security Council and, in the process, lost 2/5ths of our own state to Pakistan.
Ironically, New Delhi still seems to be in favour of developing a concerted global strategy to combat Islamist terrorism . At the Munich Security Group meeting, organised by the Observer Research Foundation, in New Delhi last month India’s National Security Advisor Ajit Doval said that the three major challenges in dealing with India’s security threats “ are invisible ‘cyber’ enemies, outdated intelligence-gathering techniques and a disunited approach to tackle terror” and suggested a Comprehensive Convention on International Terrorism– a call made by Prime Minister Narendra Modi at the United Nations General Assembly in September.Doval argued that the idea of such a convention was first mooted by the National Democratic Alliance government in 2001 but it did not take off, for countries such as Pakistan would not agree to describe groups they wanted to call “freedom fighters” as terrorists. He lamented that “ those days, no one saw India’s point of view on Afghanistan and Pakistan. Osama bin Laden’s capture in Pakistan has changed that.”
I wish New Delhi would not waste its time on any such idea . A global convention on terrorism is very unlikely to receive genuine support from most of the states – the Organization of Islamic Countries, in particular – in the world today . They have had a very backward, reactionary socio-economic and political agenda. They would never like a pluralist, democratic India to flourish in the world and be a model for their citizens to overthrow their own oppressive anti-rights regimes .
Experience in the United Nations—an international forum —- has not been a solution to Islamist terrorism in Kashmir or any other part of India. It has rather proved to be harmful to India on Kashmir. It passed a resolution of ceasefire ( December 31, 1948) dividing the state . The 1951 UN resolution provided for a referendum under the UN supervision after Pakistan withdrew its troops from the part of Kashmir under its control. But it never pressurized Pakistan to honour its part .
It may be recalled that even the legendary moralist Prime Minister Nehru got disillusioned over the conduct of the UN system . He wrote in a letter to his sister and Indian Ambassador to the then Soviet Union Vijaylakshmi Pandit in February 1948 : “I could not imagine that the Security Council could possibly behave in this trivial and partisan manner in which it functioned. These people are supposed to keep the world in order. It is not surprising that the world is going to pieces. The United States and Britain have played a dirty role, Britain probably being the chief actor behind the scenes.’
Finally, I would say , New Delhi, like Israel, must fight Islamist terrorism on the ground without any delay. To those who still argue for the path of dialogue to combat this evil, I would say it is a luxury New Delhi could hardly afford.