Soft-hearted is soft-headed
When Osama bin Laden’s followers carried out a terrorist attack on the World Trade Center, the United States did not immediately indulge in fluffy talk about a long-term strategy for coordinated action against al Qaeda, its Taliban hosts and its Pakistani supporters. Instead, it read out the riot act to Musharraf and Mullah Omar, and took stern action against the latter when he refused to accede to its demands. Osama bin Laden and his bunch are no longer the threat they once were and General Musharraf’s has willingly converted himself into an ally against his one-time comrades.
The attacks by NFDB and ULFA terrorists in the north-east are nothing if not a result of the Manmohan Singh’s government’s soft-hearted approach to fighting terrorism. These very same terrorists were almost crushed late last year in a joint operation between India and Bhutan; the new Indian government did nothing to finish off the job the previous one started. Instead, it got caught up in the politically motivated, lofty-softy debate over whether POTA, the tough anti-terrorist act indeed has a place in a civilised, democratic India. It sent mixed signals over the act which gave the armed forces special powers to tackle insurgents in the north eastern states, emboldening rebels and terrorists and demoralising the security forces fighting them. The recent surge in attacks are quite clearly an attempt by the revitalised Bodo and ULFA terrorists to take advantage of the Central government’s dithering over the Manipur unrest.
Indeed, it is quite apparent that Bangladesh will remain in a state of denial with regard to the terrorist camps in its territory. That position is quite similar to Mullah Omar’s in the month of September 2001. Unless India articulates what it is likely to do in case Bangladesh continues to refuse to cooperate, it is likely to continue to maintain its position. The current government in Bangladesh is in denial about a lot many things, and its about time India placed a wake up call. It is a fallacy to claim that India must first concentrate on fighting the terrorists in its own territory because it is across the border that they regroup, re-arm and take refuge. A similar message should go out to the leader of the Myanmar junta who is scheduled to visit New Delhi this month.
Kashmir is the best example of failing to nip terrorism in the bud. Weak leadership from a weak government sent weak signals about India’s resolve to hit back against terrorists. To avoid a repeat of that sorry story, the Indian government must do what the Americans did – hit the terrorists and their hosts hard.