Overreaction is the necessary reaction
It is wrong to jump to conclusions. But there can hardly be any doubt that four years after being routed by American and Northern Alliance troops the existence and resurgence of the Taliban in Afghanistan is explained only by the very same reason they were created in the first place — to serve Pakistan’s strategic interests in Afghanistan. So the cold-blooded murder of an Indian citizen, working on an Indian-sponsored redevelopment project, can only be seen as the Taliban’s attempt to throw a spanner in the good works. Even without further consideration, it is not incorrect to conclude that Pakistan is, at least indirectly, responsible for the killing of Maniappan Raman Kutty.
Pakistan, and by extension the Taliban, see Indian presence in Afghanistan as a strategic threat. Indeed, despite knowledge of Pakistan’s support for the Taliban even after 9/11, the United States has been either too busy or too unwilling to confront Pakistan. That its own troops are constantly under fire has not been enough to persuade the Bush administration that though the battle against the Taliban can be fought in border provinces of Afghanistan, it can only be won if its taken to Pakistan. But that is America’s problem.
India’s problem is that despite committing more than US$500m for redevelopment projects in Afghanistan, it relies on American and international forces to secure its citizens and assets. The Afghan forces under President Hamid Karzai are too weak and too thinly spread out securing their own citizens to protect Indian workers. It is not sufficient for the Indian prime minister to announce that India will not be deterred by attacks on its citizens. He must immediately dispatch troops to safeguard the lives of Indian and foreign workers working on development projects that India is carrying out. If India were to do anything less, it would be callously putting the lives of its citizens to undue risk. Sending troops will deliver a strong message to the Taliban and its Pakistani sponsors that further provocation will be costly affairs for them.
Unless the Indian state has the will and commitment to hunt down and punish his killers, it will be guilty of sending the Maniappan Raman Kuttys of the world to their undeserved deaths.