Friday, 19 June 2015

Pakistan’s terror tactics - It is time for India to act

Pakistan’s terror tactics - It is time for India to act
What does a country do when its neighbour’s entire reason to exist is to bring mayhem and destruction on this country? Pakistan’s terror tactics against India is just this. Can we keep seeking peace when our soldiers are killed regularly; our parliament attacked; our cities bombed and hundreds of innocent lives are lost every year?
After the latest attacks in the Kashmir Valley, which left 19 people dead, including six militants who came armed with grenades, rocket launchers, assault rifles, night vision goggles and everything that is needed to wage war against a country, we are still trying to think of a fitting reply. All-out war is not an option, not when nuclear arms are involved and Pakistan is suicidal enough to use them. So what option have we left?
We do have one massive factor working in our favour thanks to Prime Minister Modi and that is clout. After his successful trips to Japan, USA, and Australia and at major world forums, we do have a window on opportunity to put forward our case firmly, tenaciously and consistently in every country that we have a presence in. It is now time to pull out all stops and start shouting from the rooftops.
This will mean that we need to retell chapter and verse of all the terror attacks that have taken place in India fomented by Pakistan. We will need to do this by every available means through the foreign media via our high commissions and embassies; at every world forum; at the United Nations; and finally through getting offensive not defensive about the story of Pakistan’s never ending and continuous attacks against us.
Unlike Pakistan, India is recognized as a democratic country that has never proliferated nuclear technology and is considered secular, strong and reliable. Most importantly we have never been in bed with terrorists and Osama Bin Laden was not discovered in our backyard. Pakistan has forever been playing a cat and mouse game with the US and other countries that give it huge amounts of aid. Its Army and the ISI are not to be trusted. At one time Pakistan was on the verge of being declared a Terrorist State. All this has been reported endlessly by not only media outside Pakistan but also by its own people example: Husain Haqquani in Magnificent Delusions a book that is candid about Pakistan and its Army and ISI and he should know since he was once Pakistan’s Ambassador to the USA; and Descent into Chaosby Ahmed Rashid, a brave and candid journalist cum author who puts his life on the line to tell the truth about Pakistan.
Today, we have an election in Kashmir in spite of threats of Separatists urging the populace to boycott the elections, along with Hafiz Saeed—a known terrorist—sending in highly trained and equipped militants with the help of the Army and ISI to spread fear and disharmony in the valley.
Kashmir was not always like this. It was a very peaceful hospitable valley in the 1950s, 1960s and 1970s.  And I have first-hand experience to prove this. My travels to Kashmir started as early as 1956, when as a young girl I was taken to Srinagar and Gulmarg for summer holidays.  The Kashmiris we met and who invited us to their homes did not for one moment think they belonged to Pakistan. We went on Shikaras and were given gourmet food by our hosts, most of them Muslims; it was quite the paradise on earth.
Fifteen years later my father was posted in Kashmir and nothing had changed for me. I still met my Kashmiri friends; I still went to Gulmarg and took the same horse that belonged to my Kashmiri/Muslim friend who had actually taught me how to ride. The fact that my parents allowed him to teach me riding and let me take the horse alone with him overseeing is an indicator of the faith they had in him. Never for one moment did I think that the kindly gentlemen selling shawls or carpets or paper Mache actually hated me and wanted to be a part of Pakistan. Frankly, I don’t think they thought that either.
The Kashmiris both Hindu and Muslim were living in peace and there was no feeling of a separate Muslim agenda. I recall a valley where the army command was not a gated community and we shopped in Kashmiri stores and went all over the valley without fear. The army and the population lived in amity as there was no fear of Pakistani militants creating terror or fear and dividing the people of Kashmir. The army in Kashmir actually worked with the local state government to set up schools and sensitize the soldiers, who came from all over India, on the needs of the people.
But those were the days before Pakistan actively started creating mayhem in the valley. For Amnesty International and Human Rights Watch and all the myriad Non-Governmental Organizations, who are shown and told stories of human rights abuse, I would like them to note that the distrust only set in after Pakistani propaganda and deception, which India was slow to perceive and as a matter of fact is still not able to match. These groups need to seriously get to know why half a million Kashmiri Pundits had to leave their homes in the valley and also talk to local army and police personnel to understand the difficult and often deadly circumstances they have to work under due to separatists coddled for years by the Congress government and youth turning militant because of Pakistan’s constant drumbeat of propaganda through every available channel whether it be doctored videos, the internet or media.
The 1971 War that created Bangladesh was something that Pakistan and its army could never get over. It was in 1977, when Zia ul Haq became the President of Pakistan, that he brought in a very, insular Islamic government and was known to have said that he would bleed India with a thousand cuts and promptly went on to try and achieve it. He used every trick in the book from militancy, to disinformation to indoctrination. Unfortunately, India was unable or unwilling to recognize this till it was too late.
Once started it was difficult to put the genie back in the bottle and Pakistan’s military dictators who needed a reason to survive and flourish continued the drumbeat against India even infiltrating into Kashmir and leading to the Kargil War.
More recently, Hafiz Saeed, responsible for 26/11 in India, and with a 10 million dollar bounty by the US on his head is allowed not only to move around freely but also incite hatred against India at huge public rallies in Lahore.
This should not be condoned anymore. Even if it means reminding the US on a daily basis that the world is aware that the mastermind of terrorism is openly flaunting hate in a country that they are continuing to give billions of dollars in aid and arms to.  In spite of an ever-growing body of evidence that Pakistan in actively supporting terror groups, it seems the world has a short memory. Thus India needs to up the ante and tell the US and other countries that we will not take this anymore. Pakistan has to be punished be it through sanctions or by cutting off aid or UN pressure censure. Pakistan has been getting arms and dollars by telling the same lie again and again that they are at the forefront of fighting terror. Surely, India can tell the world the truth again and again and convince countries that Pakistan is a state sponsoring terror. Our government needs to finally expose Pakistan’s game resolutely and persistently at every world forum.

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