Friday, October 29, 2004

India: Big Talking with "small" neighbours


Of late there are unmistakable signals that Bangladesh too is being chased by the evil shadow of the terror. Hopefully it would realise soon that it does not pay to act as big brother to those who know only the language of the gun. With this background in view, it is to the collective benefit of all these countries that they join hands to wipe out terrorism not only from their soil but also the entire zone lock, stock and barrel. Our neighbouring countries would do well to take note of Prime Minister Manmohan Singh’s offer to carry out ‘joint or coordinated action’ against Indian insurgent groups active anywhere in the region. The proposal serves a dual purpose. Undoubtedly it takes care of India’s immediate interests. At the same time it rids the other countries of any moral dilemma that they may face on account of having become by intent or otherwise a safe refuge for those itching to destroy peace and normalcy in this land.

Take it seriously

Our neighbouring countries would do well to take note of Prime Minister Manmohan Singh’s offer to carry out ‘joint or coordinated action’ against Indian insurgent groups active anywhere in the region. The proposal serves a dual purpose. Undoubtedly it takes care of India’s immediate interests. At the same time it rids the other countries of any moral dilemma that they may face on account of having become by intent or otherwise a safe refuge for those itching to destroy peace and normalcy in this land.

In the recent past Bhutan has set a splendid example in this behalf. The spirited drive by the little Himalayan kingdom against United Liberation Front of Assam (ULFA) militants operating from its territory after all its attempts to persuade them to leave had failed is something that the supposedly bigger countries should follow for the sake of harmonious ties in the neighbourhood.

Certainly India would not like that any terror group finds what the Prime Minister has rightly described as ‘willing sanctuaries’ and ‘supply and transit routes’. How can it be to the advantage of the other countries as well to give protection to the perpetrators of murder and mayhem? The experience all over has shown that they gradually become a headache for their hosts too.

Nobody can deny that India has genuine concerns. While Pakistan has explicitly extended patronage to the Kashmiri militant groups Bangladesh and Myanmar have also unfortunately been exposed to the charge of encouraging anti-India elements their denials notwithstanding.

In this context it is quite relevant that there is no let-up in the support being extended by Pakistan to terrorist organisations. It is as active behind the scene as it was earlier. This is confirmed by certain significant details just publicised by the Jammu-based 16 Corps. At least 50 soldiers of this distinguished wing of the Army alone have lost their lives in counter-insurgency operations till this month during the current year. Of them five were killed in operations along the Line of Control and 41 in interior areas.

On the other hand, more than 300 militants have been eliminated during the corresponding period. There are an alarming number of 3000 militants being given training across the LoC. According to the Army, they are just waiting to be pushed into this side but are finding it difficult in view of the fencing of the border. How does one see these developments behind the veil of the present truce and peace efforts?

On account of this knowledge many observers would feel edgy: they can’t perhaps be blamed if those choose to keep their fingers crossed about developing situation in the sub-continent.

The lesson for India in this may be to remain vigilant. But, what can’t be overlooked is that every country in its vicinity is a victim of terrorism. Pakistan is learning to its enormous cost that it can no more afford to flirt with the militancy and extremism. Nepal is reeling under the Maoist violence. Sri Lanka is not yet free from its serious ethnic problems and the resultant violence.

Of late there are unmistakable signals that Bangladesh too is being chased by the evil shadow of the terror. Hopefully it would realise soon that it does not pay to act as big brother to those who know only the language of the gun. With this background in view, it is to the collective benefit of all these countries that they join hands to wipe out terrorism not only from their soil but also the entire zone lock, stock and barrel.

Any further delay on this count will be disastrous in the long run.

Daily Excelsior 29/10/2004