( Article prepared for "Eternal India", a monthly published from New Delhi )
There were eight jihadi terrorist strikes in Indian territory outside Jammu & Kashmir (J&K) between 2000 and 2003 involving a total of 129 fatalities including civilians, members of the security forces and terrorists. The break-up of these strikes is given below. The identities of the terrorists involved in two of these strikes could not be established. In the remaining six strikes the suspects were from either the Lashkar-e-Toiba (LET) or the Jaish-e-Mohammad (JEM) or the Harkat-ul-Jihad-al Islami (HUJI), all of them Pakistani organisations sponsored by the Inter-Services Intelligence (ISI). There was also evidence of local involvement from the Students" Islamic Movement of India (SIMI). In one incident at Kolkata an organisation called the Asif Reza Commando Force (ARCF) was also involved.
Year strikes fatalities
2000 ONE NINE
2001 3 17
2002 2 39
2003 2 64
2. During his visit to IsIalamabad in January 2004 to attend the SAARC summit, Shri Atal Behari Vajpayee, the then Prime Minister, took up with Pervez Musharraf, the then Pakistani President, the question of continued Pakistani sponsorship of jihadi terrorism in Indian territory and reportedly made it clear that any talks between the two countries on pending bilateral issues would depend on Pakistan stopping theuse of its territory for launching terrorist strikes against India in Indian territory. Musharraf made a formal commitment that he would not allow Pakistani territory or territory controlled by Pakistan to be used by Pakistan-based terrorists for mounting acts of terrorism in Indian territory.
3. A joint statement issued on January 6,2004, at the end of Shri Vajpayee's talks with Musharraf said inter alia : "Prime Minister Vajpayee said that in order to take forward and sustain the dialogue process, violence, hostility and terrorism must be prevented. President Musharraf reassured Prime Minister Vajpayee that he will not permit any territory under Pakistan's control to be used to support terrorism in anymanner. President Musharraf emphasised that a sustained and productive dialogue addressing all issues would lead to positive results.To carry the process of normalisation forward, the President of Pakistan and the Prime Minister of India agreed to commence the process of the composite dialogue in February 2004. The two leaders are confident that the resumption of the composite dialogue will lead to peaceful settlement of all bilateral issues, including Jammu and Kashmir, to the satisfaction of both sides. The two leaders agreed that constructive dialogue would promote progress towards the common objective of peace, security and economic development for our peoples and forfuture generations."
4. A careful reading of the statement would show that while de jure Shri Vajpayee had linked the dialogue process to Pakistan carrying out its commitment to end the use of its territory for terrorist strikes in India, de facto he had agreed to the dialogue process starting in February 2004, without waiting to verify whether Musharraf carried out his commitment. He decided to commence the dialogue in February2004, believing in Musharraf's good faith.
5. Musharraf did keep his de jure commitment as would be evident from the fact that there was no act of jihadi terrorism in Indian territory outside J&K between January 2004 and July 2005. After Dr.Manmohan Singh had taken over as the Prime Minister in May,2004,Musharraf visited India from April 16 to 18, 2005 at his invitation for bilateral talks. There were two significant sentences in the joint statement issuedby the two leaders at the end of their talks. Firstly, "they determined that the peace process was now irreversible." Secondly,"they condemned attempts to disrupt the Srinagar-Muzaffarabad bus service and welcomed its successful operationalisation. The two leaders pledged that they would not allow terrorism to impede the peace process."
6. This meant a separation of terrorism from the dialogue process and an understanding between the two leaders that periodic acts of terrorism should not be allowed to disrupt the bilateral dialogue on various issues. Thus, Dr.Manmohan Singh had carried out the de facto and the de jure separation of terrorism and the dialogue process as early as April 2005.Hardly anybody in India noticed it or commented upon it. Why? The talks between Gen. Musharraf and Dr.Manmohan Singh were held against a back-drop of 18 months of respite from Pakistan-sponsored jihadi terrorism in Indian territory outside J&K. Indian public opinion was, therefore, not highly agitated over Dr.Manmohan Singh's action in removing the linkage between terrorism and progress in the dialogue process which Shri Vajpayee had introduced by inserting the condition " in order to take forward and sustain the dialogue process."
7.Shri Vajpayee, while expressing his belief in the good faith of Gen. Musharraf, had kept a Damocle's Sword hanging over Pakistan's head by making it clear that India would not hesitate to use a military or a para-military option if Pakistan-sponsored terrorists continued to indulge in terrorism in Indian territory and that India's continued participation in the dialogue process would depend upon Musharraf's honouring his commitment of January 6,2004. His mobilisation of the Indian Armed forces after the Pakistan-sponsored jihadi terrorist attack on the Indian Parliament on December 13,2001, was meant to underline India's readiness to use the military option if left with no other alternative to put a stop to Pakistan-sponsored terrorism.
8. What Dr. Manmohan Singh did in April 2005, was to remove this Damocle's Sword from the head of Pakistan. Pakistan interpreted the concessions made by Dr. Manmohan Singh at New Delhi in April 2005, to mean that if it resumed the acts of terrorism sponsored by the ISI there would be no disruption of the dialogue process, which would be "irreversible" and that it did not have to fear any military orpara-military retaliation by India.
9. This newly-acquired confidence of Pakistan that it did not have to worry about the dangers of any retaliation by Dr.Manmohan Singh had its immediate effect. ISI-sponsored Pakistani jihadi terrorist organisations as well as organisations of Indian Muslims supported by the ISI such as the SIMI and the so-called Indian Mujahideen (IM), which came into the picture subsequently in 2006, resumed their acts of terrorism in the Indian territory outside J&K from July 2005--- hardly two months after Dr.Manmohan Singh removed the Damocle's Sword from the head of Pakistan by deleting the conditionality dictated by Shri Vajpayee to Gen.Musharraf in January,2004.
10.On July 5, 2005, a group of unidentified terrorists unsuccessfully tried to attack the disputed temple complex in Ayodhya in Uttar Pradesh. Their attempt was beaten back by the security forces guarding it. Since then, there has been a sharp surge in acts of jihadi terrorism in Indian territory outside J&K by ISI-sponsored Pakistani terrorist organisations such as the LET and the HUJI as well as byPakistan-helped Indian jihadi terrorists such as those of the SIMI and the Indian Mujahideen. The break-up figures are given below:
Year strikes Fatalities
2005 3 63
2006 3 241
2007 5 141
2008 7 335
11. A comparison of jihadi terrorist strikes outside J&K between 2000 and 2004 under Shri Vajpayee and between 2004 and 2009 under Dr.Manmohan Singh would be as follows:Under Shri Vajpayee there were eight strikes involving 129 fatalities.Of these, two remained undetected. Under Dr.Manmohan Singh there were 18 strikes involving 780 fatalities. Of these,10 remained undetected.
12. Since Dr.Manmohan Singh removed the Damocle's Sword from the head of Pakistan in April 2005, there has been a revival of jihadi terrorist strikes in Indian territory outside J&K after a respite of 18 months.The number of jihadi strikes has more than doubled, the number of fatalities has increased by more than six times and the number of undetected cases has increased by five times. The percentage of detected cases came down from 75 under Shri Vajpayee to less than 50 under Dr.Manmohan Singh. Dr.Manmohan Singh's tenure has been marked by the largest number of jihadi terrorist strikes since 2000 and two acts of mass casualty terrorism by any terrorist group jihadi or otherwise involving fatalities of more than 150 as against one each under Rajiv Gandhi ( the Kanishka explosion ) and Narasimha Rao (theMumbai blasts of March ,1993).
13. After the act of mass casualty terrorism directed at some suburban trains of Mumbai on July 11,2006, in which 182 innocent civilians were killed, one thought that he would reverse his post-April 2005 policy of a soft approach to Pakistani-sponsorship of terrorism in Indian territory and take a stronger line to make Pakistan pay a price for going back on its solemn commitment of January 6,2004, and for resuming the use of its terrorist groups in Indian territory. He did not do so. Instead, his attitude became even softer. A joint statement issued after his meeting with Gen. Musharraf at Havana in the margins of a non-aligned summit on September 16,2006, said: "The leaders agreed that the peace process must be maintained and its success was important for both countries and the future of the entire region. In this context, they directed their Foreign Secretaries to resume the composite dialogue at the earliest possible. The two leaders met in theaftermath of the Mumbai blasts. They strongly condemned all acts of terrorism and agreed that terrorism is a scourge that needs to be effectively dealt with. They decided to put in place an India-Pakistan anti-terrorism institutional mechanism to identify and implement counter-terrorism initiatives and investigations."
14.The focus of the discussions at Havana and the joint statement was against " all terrorism" without specifying the Pakistan-sponsored terrorism. The reference to the act of mass casualty terrorism was merely in passing where it should have occupied the main attention. Despite the death of 182 civilians, Dr.Manmohan Singh stuck to his line of "the irreversibility of the peace process" even if the ISI and itsjihadi surrogates such as the LET, the JEM and the HUJI continued with their orgy of killings in Indian territory. Worse still, he agreed to a suggestion, which reportedly emanated from the US, for setting up a joint anti-terrorism institutional mechansim with Pakistan, which is behind all acts of jihadi terrorism against Indian nationals.
15. Even the July 7,2008, explosion of a vehicle with explosives outside the Indian Embassy in Kabul would not make him re-consider his policy towards Pakistan despite intelligence reportedly collected by the US agencies that the ISI was involved in the explosion. His reluctance to act vigorously against Pakistan after the Mumbai suburban train attack of July,2006, and the Kabul attack of July,2008,against the Indian Embassy strengthened the impression in the Pakistani military-intelligence establishment as well as among the Pakistani jihadi terrorist organisations that he did not have the stomach for retaliation against Pakistan. The more the number of Indians attacked and killed by the Pakistan sponsored and assisted jihadi terrorists, the more helpless he looked and the softer became his approach toPakistan. At least, that was the perception he created in the minds of the military and intelligence officers in Pakistan and the terrorists sponsored by them.
16. The inexorable result of Dr.Manmohan Singh's failure to act: The commando-style attack by 10 Pakistani terrorists of the LET, trained,armed and equipped in Pakistan on two hotels, a Jewish religious-cum-cultural centre and other public places in Mumbai, which started on November 26, 2008, and continued till November 28,2008.It was an army-style operation involving the use of hand-held weapons,explosives, sophisticated communication equipment and modern internet telephony facilities, which shocked the world and created feelings of anger and outrage in India.
17. The enormity of the public anger against Pakistan forced Dr.Manmohan Singh to freeze the composite dialogue process without disrupting the normal diplomatic relations between the two countries. He did so not because he was convinced that his earlier policy of appeasement of Pakistan had failed, but because he and his Congress (I) party were worried that if they did not give the impression of taking strong action against Pakistan, it might affect the party adversely in the elections of April-May,2009, to the Lok Sabha, the lower House of the Indian Parliament. The resumption of the composite dialogue was made conditional on Pakistan acting strongly against the LET, its operatives based in Pakistan who had planned and got executed the terrorist attack in Mumbai and its terrorist infrastructure in Pakistani territory.
18. The Pakistani Government headed by President Asif Ali Zardari, under US pressure to act against the LET, gave the impression of acting against it and its operatives. It placed Hafeez Mohammad Sayeed, the Amir of the Jamaat-ud-Dawa(JUD), the political front organisation of the LET, under house arrest, registered a case under the Anti-Terrorism Act against five operatives of the LET named by India as the mainconspirators of the Mumbai attack and certain others, arrested five of them, started its own investigation of the conspiracy and shared its findings with the public and the Government of India.
19.The Indian expectations from Pakistan fell into three categories:
Firstly, mutual legal assistance in the investigation and prosecution of the Pakistan-based LET conspirators involved in the Mumbai errorist strike.
Secondly, action against the main leaders of the JUD and the LET, whether they were directly involved in the terrorist strike or not.India was particularly keen that effective legal action should be taken against Hafeez Mohammad Sayeed.
Thirdly, action against the anti-India terrorist infrastructure in Pakistani territory----particularly against that of the LET_-- in order to ensure that there would be no more terrorism in Indian territory emanating from Pakistan.
20. Of these expectations, the only forward movement ---though halting and only partially satisfactory--- has been in respect of the mutual legal assistance. While Pakistan has arrested five LET conspirators who, according to Indian investigators, were involved in planning the terrorist strike and having it carried out, it has not yet started their prosecution. The Pakistani authorities have been blaming their Indian counterparts for the delay. Only if and when the case is prosecuted and it ends in conviction can India be satisfied that there has been a genuine change for the better in Pakistan’s stand on the question of mutual legal assistance.
21. There was a seeming forward movement in respect of action against Sayeed. He was placed under house arrest immediately after the Mumbai attack. However, the case for his continued detention was not prepared and pursued in a vigorous manner---- as if the heart of the Pakistani investigators was not in his continued detention. The result: he was ordered to be released by the Lahore High Court before which he had challenged the legality of his detention. The Federal and the Punjab Governments have filed an appeal against his release, but have not been pursuing it vigorously on the ground that India has not provided any firm evidence of his involvement in the conspiracy relating to the Mumbai attack.
22. There has been no forward movement at all in respect of action against the anti-India terrorist infrastructure in Pakistani territory. Of all the pro-Al Qaeda jihadi terrorist organizations operating from Pakistani territory, the LET is the closest to the Pakistan Army and the ISI,which look upon it as a strategic asset in their operations against India. In the past, they had always avoided taking action against the LET under some pretext or the other and there has been no change in this policy.
23. Even though the US and the European nations are increasingly concerned over the links of the LET with Al Qaeda, its capability for acts of terrorism, which is second only to that of Al Qaeda, and the presence of its sleeper cells among the Pakistani-origin diaspora in many countries, they still look upon it as a looming and not an imminent threat to their nationals and interests. For them, the imminent threat is from Al Qaeda and the Taliban. Their present efforts are focused on making Pakistan act against the imminent threats while exercising only proforma pressure---- to reassure India of their solidarity--- on Pakistan to act against the LET. As a result, Pakistan’s inaction against the LET tends to be overlooked by the West so long as it is acting against the Taliban and helping the US in its actions against Al Qaeda.
24. Thus, India finds itself in an unenviable position. It is not in a position to make the US and the rest of the Western world act against Pakistan for its inaction against the LET. At the same time, it is not in a position to act by itself because it has denied to itself a deniable retaliatory capability ever since the fatal decision taken by Inder Gujral, the then Prime Minister, in 1997 to wind up any retaliatory capability as a mark of unilateral gesture to Pakistan---despite remonstrations by senior officers of our security bureaucracy that Pakistan has never been known to appreciate and reciprocate such unilateral gestures.
25 The Pakistani leaders----political or military--- know the constraints on India and are taking full advantage of them to persist with their present policy of seeming to act against the LET without actually acting against it. One of the major problems faced by us in dealing with the LET’s acts of terrorism in different parts of the country has been due to the failure of our political leadership and the Ministry of External Affairs (MEA) to make it clear to the world through facts and figures ---- and not through rhetoric--- that the LET’s acts have a much largeragenda and have no longer much to do with the Kashmir issue. Unfortunately, Pakistan has once again almost succeeded in making the US and the UK look at the LET activities through the Kashmir prism.
26. The Mumbai terrorist strike---the attacks on Israelis and other Jewish people, the targeted killings of nationals of countries having troops in Afghanistan, attacks on Western businessmen etc--- clearly illustrated the global agenda of the LET, but our political leadership and diplomacy failed to clearly draw attention to the much larger agenda. As a result, we are once again seeing references to the so-called linkages between the Kashmir issue and the LET’s acts of terrorism. Pakistan has profited from our inaction or inept action.
27. In the meanwhile, in the elections to the Lok Sabha held in April-May,2009, the Congress (I) led coalition retained power with the Congress (I) itself improving its performance as compared to the previous elections of 2004. After the elections, Dr.Manmohan Singh showed signs of wanting to return to his pre-November,2008 policy of separating terrorism from the dialogue process and treating the process asirreversible whatever be the acts of jihadi terrorism against innocent Indians.
28.It was against this background that Dr. Manmohan Singh met President Asif Ali Zardari at Yekaterinburg in Russia on June 16, 2009.The two were in Yekaterinburg as the heads of their respective delegations to attend the summit of the Shanghai Co-operation Organisation (SCO) of which India and Pakistan are observers and not full-fledged members. In an assessment prepared by me before this meeting, I had stated as follows:"Manmohan Singh is not a man of confrontation. He took the decision to freeze the composite dialogue mainly because of the fears of a likely adverse impact on the voting in the recently-held elections to the Parliament if he did not take a seemingly hard line against Pakistan. Now that the Congress (I)-led coalition has come back to power----with the Congress (I) improving its own individual position in the Lok Sabha, the lower House of the Parliament--- he is unlikely to feel the need for maintaining the present hardline position on the composite dialogue...... Manmohan Singh would find it difficult to reject suggestions from the US for a political gesture to the Government in Islamabad by way of a resumption of the composite dialogue.... The question is no longer whether it will be resumed, butwhen and how it will be projected to save the faces of both India and Pakistan."
29.The Manmohan Singh-Zardari meeting did not lead to a decision to resume the composite dialogue. It merely led to an agreement for a meeting between the Foreign Secretaries of the two countries to discuss the action taken by Pakistan after the Mumbai attack. It was stated that any decision on the resumption of the composite dialogue would depend on the outcome of this meeting.
30.It was also reportedly agreed that the two leaders would meet again in the margins of a non-aligned summit at Sharm-el-Sheikh in Egypt in July,2009. Zardari, on returning to Pakistan, decided to send his Prime Minister Yousez Raza Gilani to Sharm-el-Sheikh. The Pakistani press attributed Zardari's decision not to attend the NAM summit to his unhappiness over some blunt remarks of Dr.Manmohan Singh on theissue of terrorism at Yekaterinburg in the presence of the media before the two started their private talks.
31. Dr.Manmohan Singh's meeting with Mr. Gilani took place at Sharm-el-Sheikh on July 16,2009. The entire nation was expecting that the Prime Minister would stick to his firm line that there can be no resumption of the composite dialogue unless and until Pakistan gave satisfaction to the Indian demands in respect of unconditional Pakistani co-operation in the arrest and prosecution of the LET operativesinvolved in the planning and execution of the Mumbai attack and action against the anti-India terrorist infrastructure in Pakistani territory.
32.Public opinion in India was shocked when the joint statement issued at the end of the meeting indicated that the Prime Minister had once again succumbed to the Pakistani position that acts of terrorism in Indian territory should not be allowed to disrupt the composite dialogue and that the issue of Pakistani action against terrorism should be separated from the issue of the composite dialogue. The statement said: ".Both leaders agreed that terrorism is the main threat to both countries. Both leaders affirmed their resolve to fight terrorism and to cooperate with each other to this end.Prime Minister Singh reiterated the need to bring the perpetrators of the Mumbai attacks to justice. Prime Minister Gilani assured that Pakistan will do everything in its power in this regard. He said that Pakistan has provided an updated status dossier on the investigations of the Mumbai attacks and had sought additional information/evidence. Prime Minister Singh said that the dossier is being reviewed.Both leaders agreed that the two countries will share real time, credible and actionable information on any future terrorist threats".
33.What was disturbing was not so much the reported agreement of Dr.Manmohan Singh that "India was ready to discuss all issues with Pakistan, including all outstanding issues" as the phraseology relating to terrorism in the joint statement, which would enable Pakistan once again to wriggle out of any negative consequences arising from its involvement in the Mumbai terrorist strike of November 26, 2008.
34. The relevant question is not whether Pakistan is against terrorism. All Pakistani leaders had said that they are against terrorism. But, not one of them had ever agreed that the LET is a terrorist organisation. Even the Pakistani judiciary has already pronounced that the Zardari Government has not been able to produce any evidence linking the LET or the Jamaat-ud-Dawa (JUD) with any terrorist movement.The Lahore High Court judgement of June 6, 2009, explaining the decision to release Sayeed from house arrest,clearly said as reported by the "Daily Times" of Lahore: "About the Dawa leaders’ involvement in the Mumbai attacks, the bench observed that not a single document had been brought on the record that Dawa or the petitioners were involved in the said incident. There was no evidence that the petitioners had any links with Al Qaeda or any terrorist movement.”
35. The oral observations made subsequently in the Pakistan Supreme Court by Chief Justice Iftikhar Mohammad Chaudhury during the preliminary arguments on the appeals sought to be filed by the Punjab and the Federal Governments against the release of Sayeed made more or less similar observations and expressed considerable skepticism over the case against Sayeed and the JUD.
36. When senior judges of the Lahore High Court and the Supreme Court have already expressed their skepticism in open court over Indian allegations of the involvement of the JUD, the political wing of the LET, in the Mumbai attack, to expect that justice will be done to the memory of the 166 persons killed in Mumbai-----123 Indian civilians, 25 foreign civilians and 18 brave officers and other ranks of the security forces--- by the terrorists of the LET as promised by the Pakistani co-operation against terrorism will be naivete of a very high order comparable to the naivete of Neville Chamberlain, the predecessor of Winston Churchill as the British Prime Minister.
37. One would have been at least satisfied if the two Prime Ministers had specifically stated that the two countries would co-operate against the LET instead of just saying that they would co-operate against terrorism. If the Prime Minister's advisers had properly briefed him before his meeting with Gilani, they would have drawn his attention to the following facts: ·
While even Musharraf banned the LET for some months after the December, 2001, attack on the Indian Parliament, Zardari has till today not formally banned the JUD, through a Gazette notification though his Interior Minister Rehman Malik has claimed that it has been banned. If it has been banned, why Sayeed has not been arrested for leading a banned organisation?
Zardari and his advisers have been saying that they had to act against Sayeed and his associates because of the declaration of the anti-terrorism committee of the UN Security Council that the JUD is a terrorist organization and not because they had any independent evidence against it. It was on this ground that Sayeed was ordered to be released.
38. Not a single reference to the LET. Not a single reference to its continuing terrorist infrastructure. And, we have provided dignity to Pakistan's baseless allegations against Baloch freedom-fighters by agreeing to make a reference to Balochistan in the joint statement in the context of terrorism by indirectly bringing on record, without naming them, in an official statement Pakistan’s projection of the late Nawab Akbar Khan Bugti and other Baloch leaders as terrorists. Hafiz Mohammed Sayeed is not a terrorist, but Bugti and other Baloch leaders were or are. That has been Pakistan’s contention and we have let this figure in the joint statement in an implicit manner.
39. This agreement, which seeks to white-wash years of Pakistani sponsorship of terrorism against Indian civilians and security forces, will make all those who died at the hands of the terrorists shed tears in heaven. The public uproar in India over the volte face by Dr.Manmohan Singh at Sharm-el-Sheikh and reports of unhappiness in his own party over the implications of his volte face made Dr.Mammohan Singh and his advisers go on the defensive. Dr.Manmohan Singh denied that there had been any change in India's position of not agreeing to a resumption of the composite dialogue till Pakistan gave satisfaction on the question of action against terrorism. The Foreign Secretary, Shri Shivshankar Menon, sought to blame poor drafting for the misunderstanding that a concession had been made. Shri Shashi Tharoor, the Minister of State For External Affairs, tried to play down the significance of the joint statement by creating an impression that it had no legalvalue. The reference to Balochistan was sought to be explained away as indicating India's clear conscience since it had nothing to do with the happenings in Balochistan.
40.The explanation of the Prime Ministerin the Lok Sabha on July 29, 2009, on the subject skillfully sought to control the damage done by the ill-advised and ill-drafted joint statement. It was ill-advised because it has enabled Pakistan to claim to the international community that our PM was satisfied with the action taken by it against some Pakistan-based members of the LET for their involvement in the Mumbaiterrorist attack , in the hope that this would result in a relaxation of the international pressure to act against the LET.
41. The international pressure on Pakistan to act against the LET has been there since the attack on the Indian Parliament on December 13,2001. It was because of this pressure that Musharraf banned the LET through a gazette notification on January 15, 2002. The ban is still in force, but has not been implemented effectively by either the previous Government of Musharraf or by the present Government of Asif Ali Zardari.There was intensified international pressure on Pakistan after Mumbai 26/11 because among those killed were 25 foreign civilians. Itwas this pressure and not the bilateral diplomacy of the Government of India, which made Pakistan register an offence against five members of the LET and investigate their involvement and place Sayeed under house arrest.
42. As a result of the unwarranted certificate of good neighbourly co-operation given by Dr. Manmohan Singh to Pakistan, there are already signs of this pressure being relaxed. This would be evident from the absence of forceful international reaction to the farce of the legal proceedings against Sayeed, which has resulted in his being released from house arrest.
43. The joint statement was also ill-advised because it has unwittingly conveyed an impression to Pakistan’s political leadership and military-intelligence establishment that a terrorism fatigue has set in among our political leadership and that continued use of terrorism by the ISI against Indian civilians and economic infrastructure could ultimately make India amenable to a change of the status quo in Jammu & Kashmir.
44. The Prime Minister is right in wanting peace and good-neighbourly relations with Pakistan, but unwise in giving an impression to Pakistani leaders that he is over-keen for peace with Pakistan and that he does not have the stomach for a prolonged confrontation with Pakistan on the terrorism issue----whether the confrontation is political, economic, military or covert. That was the impression which Gilaniand his advisers would have got at Sharm-el-Sheikh and the Prime Minister’s statement in the Lok Sabha has not been able to dissipate that impression.
45. The Prime Minister made use of the dossier given by Pakistan before Sharm-el-Sheikh on the investigation made by it so far against the LET in two ways. He tried to project this dossier as justifying the action taken by him at Sharm-el-Sheikh. He also tried to score a debating point against the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) led opposition coalition by claiming that his Government through pressure had been able to make Pakistan concede the LET involvement whereas the BJP-led Government was not able to do this.
46. If the BJP members had carefully studied and mastered facts and figures, they could have effectively countered the PM’s claim of credit by pointing out the following:
There have been four acts of mass casualty terrorism since 1981. All the four were carried out when the Congress (I) was in power in New Delhi.
There have been three instances of targeted attacks on foreigners since 1991----two in J&K and one in Mumbai. All the three were carried out when the Congress (I) was in power.
There have been seven acts of ISI-sponsored aircraft hijackings since 1971. Six of them were carried out when the Congress (I) and one when the BJP was in power.
There has been one instance of an Air India plane being blown up in mid-air killing over 250 persons. This took place when the Congress (I) was in power.
The LET was banned by the Musharraf Government as a terrorist organization through a Gazette notification on January 15, 2002. The Manmohan Singh Government has not been able to get the JUD banned by the Zardari Government through a Gazette notification even nine months after the Mumbai attack.
Indira Gandhi was assassinated when the Congress (I) was in power in New Delhi. Rajiv Gandhi was assassinated when an ally of the Congress (I) was in power in New Delhi and another ally in Chennai.
The Indian Mujahideen came into existence when the Congress (I) was in power.
The first commando-style complex terrorist attack in Indian territory by a group of terrorists, all hailing from Pakistan, has taken place when the Congress (I) is in power.
47. The PM used the dossier against the LET received from Pakistan in justification of his action at Sharm-el-Sheikh. A close examination of the dossier as published in the media and a study of the various statements made since February,2009, by Rehman Malik, the Pakistani Interior Minister, would bring out the following:
The Pakistani authorities continue to make a distinction between the LET and the JUD, projecting the LET as a defunct organization in view of the January 15, 2002, ban still in force and the JUD as a legitimate organization despite the declaration of the anti-terrorism committee of the UN Security Council calling it a terrorist organization.
Their action has been confined to those who hold position in the LET and not to those who hold position in the JUD.
Till now, their action has been focused on the logistics cell of the LET in Karachi and not against the planning and training cell of the LET based in Muridke in Punjab and in Pakistan-Occupied Kashmir.
They continue to project the Mumbai attack as the outcome of a multi-national conspiracy involving elements in Pakistan, India, Europe, the US and Russia.
They have been trying to claim that the role of the Indian elements has not been fully investigated by the Mumbai Police.
48. As a result of the pressure from the Governments of countries whose nationals were killed in Mumbai, Pakistan has embarked on an elaborate exercise of seeming co-operation with India in the investigation, but the sincerity of this co-operation is yet to be established. We should have waited till this sincerity was established. What was the need for the indecent hurry shown by Dr.Manmohan Singh at Sharm-el-Sheikh for fresh talks with Pakistan?If we had waited for a few months more till a clearer picture emerged from the proceedings of the Anti-Terrorism Court, will the heavens have fallen on our heads? A convincing answer to this has not been forthcoming from the Prime Minister.
49. The Prime Minister used former President Ronald Reagan of the US as a prop by quoting his remark: “Trust, but verify”. Yes, he had said it. In 1986 some US soldiers were killed by an explosion in a West Berlin discotheque. The US investigators established that the terrorists had come from Libya. After verification, he ordered the US Air Force to bomb the training centre in Libya.Indian investigators have clearly verified and established that the terrorists who attacked Mumbai were trained in the POK. Will the Prime Minister emulate Reagan?
50. By posing this rhetorical question, I am not advocating a military strike against Pakistan if there is another Mumbai 26/11.There is a basket of retaliatory options available before one is forced to consider a military retaliation---political, economic, diplomatic, covert action etc. Instead of considering these options, the Prime Minister keeps on repeating that there is no alternative between talks and a war. This is the typical argument of an appeaser who wants to avoid having to take firm action and to retaliate. It is not surprising that the Pakistanis have come to the conclusion that Dr.Manmohan Singh does not have the stomach for retaliation or a confrontation on the terrorism issue and so they can continue using terrorism against India.This impression of helplessness also encourages the terrorists.
51. In a study of the Mumbai attack, the prestigious Rand Corporation of the US has stated that more such terrorist attacks are possible because the jihadi terrorists have found out that India has neither an adequate preventive capability nor an effective retaliatory capability.All Prime Ministers after Shri Gujral have neglected this vital task of building up a retaliatory capability. Even if we have one today, of what use will it be when the Prime Minister of this country does not have the will for retaliation and would rather appease the state-sponsor ofterrorism than retaliate against it?
52. The Balochistan issue has not been properly understood by any party or even by the strategic analysts community. There has been a freedom struggle going on in Balochistan for nearly three years. Many Baloch nationalists are living in political exile in the UK, the US and other countries.The Pakistan Government has been trying to have them deported by projecting the freedom struggle as terrorism. No country in the world has recognised it as terrorism.By allowing a reference to Balochistan in the context of the references to action against terrorism, we have become unwitting accomplices of Pakistan to demonise the Baloch freedom struggle as terrorism.Balochistan is Pakistan's internal affairs. It is for Pakistan to sort out its problems with the Baloch people. There is no question of our helping the Balochfreedom-fighters.But we must not harm their cause by allowing Pakistan to use a joint statement with India for projecting the Baloch nationalists as terrorists.
53. Pakistan does not agree with us that the indigenous Kashmiri organisations such as the J&K Liberation Front and the Hizbul Mujahideen, whose leader operates from Pakistani territory, are terrorist organisations. It projects them as freedom-fighters. Why should we agree to any reference to the Balochs in a bilateral statement on terrorism? The question is not so simple as our having a clear conscience and hence not objecting to the reference to Balochistan. The issue is that in a bilateral statement on Pakistani-sponsored terrorism in Indian territory, Balochistan is irrelevant. ( 19-8-09)
( The writer is Additional Secretary (retd), Cabinet Secretariat, Govt. of India, New Delhi, and, presently, Director, Institute For Topical Studies, Chennai. E-mail: email@example.com )