India gets the bus going

India has shown admirable resolve against the terrorists. It must do the same against their sponsors

The Kashmir Bus Route - Picture from the 'BBC'

It is time for some hyperbole. Never in the history of the world were so many deployed to guard the lives of so few. Also, perhaps, never in the history of the world was so much gunpowder used by so many to threaten so few. But despite threats and actual terrorist attacks, the Indian government showed admirable resolve to face down the terrorists and get the bus out on time. The passengers too showed admirable resolve in getting on to the bus despite serious threats to their lives — and even as this is written, that threat has not passed yet. But the Kaarwan-e-Aman (Caravan of Peace) has begun its journey.

If terrorism is to be defeated such resolve is necessary. But limiting the resolve to the terrorists alone amounts to treating the symptoms while ignoring the cause. That cause lies across the border. It lies in Pakistan’s entreaties to spare the lives of innocent passengers, innocent because they are ordinary folk visiting relatives, not politicians. That’s not an unequivocal condemnation of terrorism — that’s just selective targeting. It lies in Musharraf’s continued indulgence of all the top jihadi leaders; if Musharraf wanted to make a strong statement against terrorism his government would do well to bring them to justice (even under Pakistani courts).

The charitable view is that the jihadis carried out these strikes despite Pakistan’s advice to the contrary. The other view is that this is a deliberate attempt not to allow India to completely succeed in its policy to win the hearts and minds of its alienated citizens. After the terrorist attack in Srinagar on the eve of the lauch of the bus service, India will find it difficult to shake off the perception that there are, at least, some jihadis who do not take their cue from Pakistan. Even if the jihadis did not follow their sponsor’s orders, they scored big points on their behalf.

Update: The bus was attacked by gunfire soon after it was flagged off. The Acorn got that one wrong. The rest of that analysis is, however, are no less relevant.

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