Join the terror dots

Feb.19 : Union home minister P. Chidambaram might be a better and dynamic captain of the ship at the North Block compared to his dour and uninspiring predecessors, but I am sure even he would agree that the back-to-back strikes — bomb blast in Pune and the Maoist destruction of a security force camp in West Bengal’s Paschim Mednipur district, have some connection. It would do the country much good if he views these issues as connected — planned together as part of a larger conspiracy to destroy India.

The timing of the two operations is significant. According to media reports, an unknown Pakistan-based jihadi group Lashkar-e-Tayyaba al-Almi has claimed responsibility for the Pune attack. It is clear that Pakistan’s military-mosque combine (a phrase used by Pakistani policy expert Dr Husain Haqqani in his book Pakistan Between Mosque And Military, he is now Islamabad’s envoy to Washington) inspired the blast in Pune. This combine has now got a shot in the arm for its mission to target India from the outcome of the recently-concluded London Conference.The West is now weary of its war in Afghanistan and even the Obama administration is dithering in its goal of eliminating terrorism and Islamic fundamentalism. This is happening when the Karzai government in Kabul, wracked by corruption as narco-dollars are generated from the widespread poppy cultivation, is unsure of itself. As the confidence of the Afghans in their government begins to shake, the surge of Taliban extremism would gain more ground. The Pakistan military is now telling the Obama administration to leave Afghanistan to it, force India to cede Kashmir to it and take a guarantee against the Al Qaeda targeting the US. And the US President, facing precipitous fall in his popularity, a budget deficit of $2 trillion is considering the proposition.No policy towards Pakistan should be formulated without understanding the analysis in Mr Haqqani’s book. He says that it is not the devotion of ordinary citizens to Islam that has driven the development of Pakistan’s state ideology but rather the “military’s desire to dominate the political system and define Pakistan’s national security priorities”. This ideology conferred legitimacy on the military’s right to rule Pakistan. This also explains why democracy in that country has always been fragile and been repeatedly challenged by the military.Even after democracy was restored, its fragility has remained a distinct feature of Pakistan’s politics. When politicians quarrelled, the present Pakistan Army Chief General Kayani warned them of dire consequences if they did not patch up. Also, whenever tough decisions were to be taken, the US — without whose support Pakistan cannot survive financially even for a second — had to talk to General Kayani rather than Pakistani President or Prime Minister.The question then arises why is our government reviving talks with the political establishment of Pakistan when we know that the Army and extremist, organisations that are its extension, are the final arbiter. At a recent conference of extremists and militants organised openly in Pakistan-occupied Kashmir, specific threats were hurled at India. The hand of Pakistan’s Army behind this show was evident. The Pune incident shows how the Pakistani military-mosque combination is using its fifth column, Indian Mujahideen (IM), in India rather than sending its own people to wreak havoc in India. This fifth column was allowed to grow under the Centre’s votebank politics, by the Congress governments in Andhra Pradesh and Maharashtra and the Left governments in Kerala and West Bengal. The exposure of the ramification of this policy, in Kerala’s Kannur district, in Hyderabad and elsewhere, is proof of this flourishing fifth column.The LeT is using its sleeper cells for carrying out mayhem. How is it that Mr Chidambaram’s National Investigation Agency is unable to round up all the existing sleeper cells? Who are the protesters whenever a suspected fifth column is picked up? Didn’t the Congress general secretary Digvijay Singh’s visit and statements in Azamgarh after a specific lead led the anti-terrorism squad to one Azamgarh resident, an IM activist, act as an encouragement to the fifth column? Pakistan must be enjoying such activities by our leaders as it helps Islamabad to claim that terrorist activities that take place in India are home-grown.The Naxalites hacking into the security forces camp in West Bengal is another example of the patronage they are getting from the Left government of West Bengal. The Left, particularly the Communist Party of India (Marxist), claims it has a powerful network of cadres throughout the state. How is it then that this cadre seems unable to smell out Naxals’ conspiracy? The attack comes barely a few days after Union home minister held a four-state chief ministers conference in Kolkata to revamp the anti-Naxal strategy. Senior Naxal leader Kishanji has openly said that this attack is his answer to Mr Chidambaram’s anti-Naxal strategy.After it was admitted both by Maoist leaders in India and Nepal that they have mutual links, the Centre should have known that the grand strategy of both Islamabad and Beijing is to weaken and destroy India. This is an undeclared war, nothing else. Recall how once again the Nepal Maoists renewed their anti-India campaign and Beijing was giving pinpricks to India at every international meeting. Altogether there is little doubt that an international conspiracy is brewing with India as the target. So far the Central government has treated the series of bomb attacks, supply of sophisticated arms to Naxalites and explosive material to the IM, as localised events. It never felt the need to cry foul over the international conspiracy involving Pakistan and China or acquaint our own people of the nature and dimensions of this conspiracy.The debate in New Delhi’s government and political circles is whether India should resume talks with Pakistan or not. Sensitising people about all sides of his debate, within the country and on the international level, should be a top priority for the United Progressive Alliance (UPA) government. Sadly it cannot do so because of the demand to placate votebanks and the influence of some human rights activists.When Indian Navy Chief spoke about China’s growing naval power that was aimed at surrounding India, he was asked to shut up. When our Army Chief expressed concern over China’s ability to reach out troops across the border, he was silenced. The UPA government’s repeated attempt to underplay the conspiratorial nature of the threat of jihadis, Naxals and others may be its political strategy. But it is an exercise in self-defeat perhaps borne out of the delusion that the Congress has suffered from the days of “Hindi-Chini bhai bhai”.Balbir K. Punj can be contacted at

Balbir K. Punj

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