Get Articles in your Inbox!


India Watch Out!
Sreeram Chaulia


'America Under Attack', scream the newspaper headlines today after mysteriously hijacked planes hurtled down to shear off whole storeys of the World Trade Centre in New York and more projectiles and bombs hit the Pentagon and other important official emblems in a case of perfect timing. Blink twice because this is not the climax scene of a James Bond thriller. It is reality. There cannot be anything but a grand conspiracy at play that so many pointed attacks at seats of power took place synchronously. 'Global Jihad' is delivering blows in ever-new unimaginably ghastly forms.

Don't the New York alarms ring a bell among Indians and those who follow the subcontinent's recent history? Do the date 1993 and the venue Mumbai not remind of a similar cataclysm? Consecutive bomb blasts on March 12th 1993 killed 257 persons, maimed 713 and razed to ruins property worth Rs.30 crore (including the Bombay Stock Exchange) in the worst terrorist attack on independent India These blows came courtesy Dawood Ibrahim and his henchman Tiger Memon, now safely sheltered in Karachi with a sprawling mansion in Clifton and the blessings of the Pakistani military regime. When the General visited Agra two months ago, Home Minister LK Advani demanded arrest and extradition of this notoriously lethal drug and arms trafficker, only to be met with calm and confident avowals that he was 'not there'.

Pakistan believes in being a frontline state to offer 'moral diplomatic and political' (and terrorist, which is evident to all open-eyed observers!) support for the Kashmiri 'struggle for independence' and Dawood is important in this scheme. He is the nodal point-man for South Asia in the international Islamic Jihad masterminded by Osama bin Laden, hailing from another pro-Pakistan element in West Asia, Saudi Arabia, and operating under the aegis of...yes you all know...Islamabad's puppets in Afghanistan, the Taliban or 'holy students'. Bin Laden, in a modernised version of the Ayatollah of Iran's hate-list, has come up with a trinity of Satans he wants to wipe off the face of the earth: USA -- Great Satan; Israel -- Little Satan; India -- 'Hindu Satan'. Russia is slightly downgraded in the dossier after the flames of Chechnya-Daghestan were doused but a renewed campaign for secession is never far from the horizon. Ask Georgian border officials how arms shipments and logistics reach the Chechen rebels and they will lead you into a maze of clandestine arrangements leading up to these very same Bin Ladens, Musharrafs and Dawoods (incidentally, as Commander of Pakistan intelligence's Special Operations Group in Afghanistan, Pervez Musharraf was famed for closeness to Bin Laden). What an irony of history to watch the same Musharraf on CNN vowing to 'crush terrorism' and cooperate with the forces of democracy!

Even the Chinese -- traditional suppliers of nuclear and fissile materials and fit-for-battle tanks and fighter planes to Pakistan- are now feeling the heat of this global monster in Sinkiang. The crux of the problem is that Beijing can 'moderate' and massage the threats to national security because of their extraordinary 'special relationship' with all the forces of destabilisation in Central Asia and South Asia, but India doesn't have the same carry with Al-Qaida, Lashkar-e-Tayyaba or Hizbul-Mujahideen. We trade dreaded terrorists for the lives of hijacked civilians (And where were they hijacked to? Of course Kandahar, the Taliban stronghold!) and endeavour to cocoon the conflict in Kashmir from internationalisation despite recurrent massacres and communal cleansing by 'guest militants' in the valley. America has a right to cry foul that its civilians are the target of a demonical invisible enemy (today's shocking developments confirm it) and I am sure Washington will react with swift and immoderate force like it did by bombing Afghanistan and Sudan in 1998. But why is India hiding in a shell and not publicising the terrible tragedy of Kashmir and the global network of Jihadi tanzeems which are fuelling it?

When Advani talked of 'hot pursuit' of militants into POK in 1998, he was citing the US 'missile revenge' for Bin Laden's bombing of Kenya and Tanzania but lo behold, America understands terrorism only when it is inflicted upon it and its constantly shifting 'national interests'. The US expressed 'deep concerns' about Indian 'hawkishness' that may escalate into a full-fledged conflict, this time with nuclear weapons, and Washington almost certainly scuppered any pre-emptive strikes. As a great American diplomat, scholar and friend of India, Daniel Patrick Moynihan divulged, “Somehow we always manage to be surprised when the Indians are exasperated” at this exercise of double standards! Whatever 'common ground' our diplomats are crooning about on Indo-US ties, there is none but a rhetorical commitment to fight the forces of Jihadi fundamentalism. Joint working groups and military exercises on counter-terrorism are fine, but the ground level situation is that both India and the US, not to mention numerous other threatened countries, are at the receiving end of a deadly virus that is consuming innocent lives like a torrent and the present level of preparedness and training for common citizens against such unforeseen dangers is low everywhere.

A 'national strategic culture' awaits and one only hopes that it is not delayed, especially in India, where terrorism is tied to a territorial dispute and could end up partitioning the entire subcontinent a third time around (Syed Salahuddin once said that Kashmir is not the issue, but a bridge to complete Balkanisation of a “monstrosity called India”). We are often accused of practicing a 'reactive' foreign and security policy, wherein precautions are taken after the serial blasts or the Purulia arms droppings. We waited until Bubonic plague came out of thin air and pulverised Gujarat before launching a general cleanliness drive. The coming plague will not be carried by earthquake-infected rats but by a worldwide conspiracy against stable multi-ethnic societies. The need of the hour is contingency planning and perennial red alerting of the populace against dangers to public safety and property that are lurching around every corner and not just the Prime Minister's Office in Delhi. India, wake up and watch out!