Friday, October 08, 2004

Assam: The American Hubris

[ What has come as an intriguing affair is the keenness of the Assam government to accept the American offer.The offer is coming in the first place from a country( the lone superpower) which has failed to curb terrorism in the lands it has invaded or occupied with the express aim of fighting terrorism. In spite of presence of super sleuths of FBI and CIA in Iraq, the Bush administration has not succeeded in smashing the terrorist cells there. The US ambassador to India, Mr David C Mulford claimed in his offer to the Assam Chief Minister, Mr Tarun Gogoi that America possessed 'considerable experience in investigative techniques', while the fact remains that the key information about the activities and whereabouts of the Taliban terrorists and their leader Osama bin Laden was supplied by Indian intelligence sleuths.]

The American Hubris

THE US offer to help India in countering terrorist insurgency in Assam is, to say the least, ominous. The offer is coming in the first place from a country( the lone superpower) which has failed to curb terrorism in the lands it has invaded or occupied with the express aim of fighting terrorism. In spite of presence of super sleuths of FBI and CIA in Iraq, the Bush administration has not succeeded in smashing the terrorist cells there. The US ambassador to India, Mr David C Mulford claimed in his offer to the Assam Chief Minister, Mr Tarun Gogoi that America possessed 'considerable experience in investigative techniques', while the fact remains that the key information about the activities and whereabouts of the Taliban terrorists and their leader Osama bin Laden was supplied by Indian intelligence sleuths.

What has come as an intriguing affair is the keenness of the Assam government to accept the American offer. However, the government of India was cautious in its approach. The Assam government?s prompt response underlines its abject failure to reorganise its own house and also reflects its incapability to take the challenge head on. It is not that terrorism has struck in Assam or North-East for the first time. In fact India has been fighting the menace of terrorism for more than 20 years. And although complaints of the violations of human rights were galore, the fact is the government of India and in states, wholly with their own investigative and intelligence and operational expertise, managed to smash terrorism in Punjab which enjoyed the patronage of Pakistan and other hostile forces.

Though it was of political nature and content, the government also fought against the powerful Naxalites in West Bengal in early seventies. In recent times the government has been fighting the terrorists in Jammu and Kashmir on its own. The USA, in spite of its innumerable 'meaningful' promises to India to help it in its mission, never bothered to keep those promises. This sentiment was echoed by the international fraternity. Every country, France, Germany and Russia, urged the Bush administration to prevail upon its close ally Pakistan to disband the terrorist outfits operating from Pakistani soil. Had the American government been really concerned about liquidating terrorism, it would certainly have put its feet down and told Pakistan: Enough is enough.

The Assam Chief Minister, instead of coming out with nice-sounding words 'national security would not be compromised', should try to go deep into the offer. What are its implications? Mr Tarun Gogoi must be aware that America is keen for finding a base in this region and is also contemplating military intervention in Southeast Asia for more than a decade. And it got a major breakthrough when Nepal's King Gyanendra sought US arms for countering the Maoists. Only a fortnight back the USA sent a huge cache of arms and ammunition to Nepal, that too surreptitiously. Its offer to India is a part of the same military intervention design. Otherwise too the region of the Seven Sisters has been quite sensitive in entire Southeast Asia.

With a base in Nepal and India, the US can carry out its operations smoothly in the entire Southeast Asia. The urgency to have depth in the region has also been prompted by the challenge it had to face at the Cancun convention of WTO from the Southeast Asian countries. In the face of their resistance, the American design to control the agricultural scene in this region was foiled. Interestingly Mr Mulford has offered FBI help to probe the blasts. It is ridiculous that a country which is incapable of preventing blasts in its own areas of control is offering its expertise to India. This is nothing but a simple ploy to create a depth for American presence in the Northeast region. Mr Gogoi must ponder over these facts.

It is a well-known fact that a battle is fought on one's own strength, not on the borrowed strength of somebody else. There is no harm in adopting the new techniques or borrowing the ideas. But it is an entirely different proposition to allow America to operate on our own ground. The government of India can benefit from a intelligence-sharing relationship, which it already has with the US on terrorism. India should ask America to put pressure on Bangladesh which is its close ally. Incidentally on October 5, the Bangladesh Prime Minister outrightly rejected the Indian demand to flush out the terrorists and disband the terrorist camps in its territory. If America is really serious about eradicating terrorism in India's Northeast it should impose sanctions on Bangladesh and force it to wipe out the terrorist camps and shelters.

Navhid Times 07/10/2004