The recent terror blasts in Mumbai reveal desperation. If policymakers remain steadfast to their goal the attack even offers hope. The absence of high intensity blasts resulted in the number of casualties being considerably less than achievable in such crowded locations. Also, from the manner in which bombs were planted, authorities suspect the hand of the Indian Mujahideen. But who precisely was responsible for the blasts is less important than the motive behind the terror. In the war against terror the agenda furthered by terrorism needs to be understood even more vitally than the identity of terror’s immediate perpetrators. The crucial significance of the latest attacks of course lies in their timing. Why now?
The timing suggests that a set pattern is being followed. Whenever there is significant movement towards a breakthrough in Indo-Pakistan peace talks, an event occurs to derail the process. That is why there is hope if policymakers stick to their goals. The bomb blasts suggest that the enemy perceives real possibility of a breakthrough occurring in the peace talks. The history of the Indo-Pakistan peace efforts in recent decades testifies to the existence of the aforesaid pattern.
A little after former Prime Ministers Vajpayee and Nawaz Sharif made a breakthrough for peace in Lahore, the enemy struck. Inexplicably diverse political elements such as CPI-M’s late leader HS Surjeet, Sonia Gandhi, Jayalalithaa and Subramaniam Swamy joined forces to topple the Vajpayee government by a single vote. But Sonia Gandhi failed to become PM. Vajpayee continued as caretaker PM.
Subsequently the Kargil attack took place. But the Indian army repulsed the attack. In the ensuing poll strenuous efforts were made to discredit India’s performance at Kargil. It was of no avail. Vajpayee won the election. But before Vajpayee could resume the peace process, the enemy struck in Pakistan. A military coup toppled Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif. General Musharraf, the perpetrator of Kargil ruled Pakistan.
As mentioned earlier the foot soldiers of the basic policy agenda are unimportant. Politicians are manipulated by the transnational lobbies that pursue rival agendas. Human beliefs change. Human greed and ambition remain constant. The same Musharraf who scuttled the peace process during Sharif’s tenure now resumed the peace process through the Agra Summit. Should it surprise that Musharraf too was toppled after making a near breakthrough on Kashmir after talking with Prime Minister Manmohan Singh?
After democracy was established in Pakistan Benazir Bhutto arrived in Karachi from the US to participate in the polls. Before arriving in Pakistan, Benazir made a statement. She said: ‘Learning from Europe following World War II, we will build democracies and common markets, we will open up markets, we will open up roads and we will open up endless opportunities for the people of South Asia.’ In other words she was outlining a future South Asian Union inspired by the European Union.
This diametrically opposed Al Qaeda plans to create an Islamic state from areas of Pakistan and Afghanistan to become the launching pad for global jihad. That is why Benazir was killed. On December 27, 2007 I had written: “No South Asian leader apart from Benazir had expressed these views (of a consolidated South Asia) as explicitly. She must have been perceived as an unacceptable threat. She had to go.”
Now with some token US withdrawal from Afghanistan imminent, the context again throws up possibilities. Peace in Afghanistan appears unlikely without peace between India and Pakistan. Peace in South Asia is indivisible. That is why a flurry of activity between India and Pakistan to achieve lasting peace is being witnessed. Part of such activity was the speeches made in the recently held SAARC conference of Speakers and Parliamentarians in Delhi. As pointed out earlier this week the speech by the Pakistan Speaker, Ms Fehmida Mirza was crucial. She proposed the creation of a South Asian Parliament and the conversion of SAARC into a body like the European Union. She gave the game away. Just days later terrorists have struck in Mumbai. Is the timing a coincidence? How will public opinion react? How will the government handle it? What will be the fate of the Indo-Pakistan Foreign Secretaries meeting scheduled for later this month?
That is why at the start of this article it was stated that policymakers should remain steadfast to their goals. Very likely the recent terror attacks may have been inspired by elements based in Pakistan. That is irrelevant. We are not fighting simply perverse human beings. We are fighting an agenda. We have to defeat the enemy’s agenda with whatever we decide is our own agenda. There are powerful enemies of India in Pakistan. There are also committed friends. We have to bond across borders with allies to fight enemies who have bonded with each other across borders.
Who is behind the agenda to divide India and Pakistan? There would be various groups. The proponents of global jihad are one such group. The Maoists could be another such group. In March this year the Coordination Committee of Maoist Parties and Organizations of South Asia (CCOMPOSA) resolved to work with sister outfits in other South Asian countries to fight the “Indian expansionist hegemony” and make South Asia a base for the “world proletarian revolution.” The resolution was adopted at their fifth international conference somewhere in Nepal. It is amusing that India which is ringed by hostile insurgencies given sanctuary in neighbouring countries is described as being hegemonic!
Therefore for the purpose of policymakers too much time should not be wasted on identifying the immediate sources of terrorism. What matters is the agenda they further. What do matter are the invisible global transnational lobbies that pursue agendas to create the world order of their dreams. The government should stay focused on that. It must stay focused on its own agenda. The fact that once again a desperate attempt is being made to derail Indo-Pakistan peace talks indicates that the hope of a breakthrough exists. The government must do everything possible to seize it and clinch it.
By Rajinder Puri