A bad bargain again.
The Afghan transitional government has released 48 prisoners of the Taliban, it was reported by the Pakistani daily Dawn on Friday.
According to the paper, the Afghan transitional government has given 50 million Afghanis besides releasing 48 Taliban in exchange of the two Indian engineers, who were released a couple of days back.
Terrorists kidnapping civilians for ransom count on a rational response by democratic states to negotiate (and yield). They count on public pressure to coerce governments to bow to their terrorist will.
The state has to convey a different message to the terrorists – one of strength and resolve or one of an irrational resort to use of its power. Responding with strength and resolve involves sending in security forces to storm the terrorists and hopefully rescue the hostages. The irrational means would be taking “ten eyes for an eye” and persecute other soft interests of the kidnappers.
Submitting to the demands of terrorists and kidnappers signals that the state is down on its knees and is unable to fight the terrorists. Kabul and New Delhi should have taken the fight to the Taliban, but in this case all they have shown is sheer impotence.
Update: 31 Dec 2003 – Brahma Chellaney asks why India seems to have forgotten the IC-814 hijacking