Did you know that over the past 14 years 54,969 Indians have been killed by Indian militants? Incredible. That translates into roughly 4,000 Indians getting killed per year by India’s own militant entities. Did you know that of the 608 districts in India at least 231 districts are “currently afflicted, at differing intensities, by various insurgent and terrorist movements?” Incredible. And, that translates into roughly 40 per cent of the entire country being afflicted with some kind of militancy.
Did you know that RDX that killed 68 Samjhauta Express passengers was stolen from the Indian army by Indian army’s Lt-Col Shrikant Purohit (RDX is explosive nitroamine used by militaries around the world)? Incredible. In 1985, National Security Guards or ‘Black Cats’ was formed to respond to terrorist activities. Do you know where the ‘Black Cats’ were on the night of November 26? Well, Black Cats were on VIP security duties. Sounds just like Pakistan, doesn’t it? Guess who was arrested by India’s Anti-Terror Squad (ATS) after a series of bomb blasts that killed 37 people in Malegaon (290 kilometres from Mumbai). It was Indian army’s Lt Col Purohit. Do you know that the Students Islamic Movement of India (SIMI) had accepted responsibility for the 2008 Ahmedabad bombing, the 2008 Japipur bombing and the 2008 Delhi bombing?
Clearly, the incidence of corruption within the Indian army is high. Clearly, the Intelligence Bureau (IB) is in a coma, RAW was caught snoring, the Joint Intelligence Committee has been caught sleeping and the Joint Cipher Bureau was nabbed napping.
Did you know that India suffers a $100 billion trade deficit? Did you know that this year the Bombay Stock Exchange has come down from 21,000 points to around 8,000; a loss of 60 per cent? Did you know that India is heavily dependent on foreign direct investment (FDI) to fill its external deficit?
These are all facts. Three more facts: one, the Indian State of Mizoram goes to polls on December 2. Two, the Indian State of Rajasthan goes to polls on December 4. Three, India must call general elections by April 2009. Now let us move to perceptions. The overwhelming perception, not just in India but around the world, is that there was some Pakistani connection to the Mumbai tragedy. The Indian National Congress (INC) has a serious political need to retaliate. And, India’s national security apparatus would want to make sure that the Mumbai mishap is not repeated. At the same time, it is not in the interest of America’s ‘war on terror’ that Pakistan’s attention is diverted from FATA to the eastern border.
Intelligence Bureau (IB), India’s internal intelligence agency, has already identified 270 home-grown militant entities operating within India. India’s militants are out of control. So are Pakistan’s.
The Indian army has absolutely no surgical strike capability and a very limited inventory of infrared-guided or laser-guided ‘smart bombs’ or precision guided munitions. Introducing combat projectiles (BM-30 Smerchs with a firing range of 90km, for instance), heavy munitions, BrahMos cruise missiles (from Brahmaputra of India and Moskva river of Russia) or Indian Air Force’s (IAF) Jaguar IS, MiG-27s or Sukhoi Su-30s, ground attack aircraft, would achieve no national security objective — and may in effect prove counterproductive. The INC is therefore using the US to pressurise Pakistan into producing substance that is politically sellable to voters in Delhi. The Pakistan army is already heavily burdened by battles in Bajaur, Swat, FATA and frequent drone attacks. Can it realistically afford to open up additional fronts?
Why is there a global perception that there was some Pakistani connection to the Mumbai tragedy? We must indeed be doing something wrong. Ronald Reagan used jihadis to defeat Russia. George Bush used the Northern Alliance to bring down the Taliban. India uses the Balochistan Liberation Army and the Baloch Students Organisation. In realpolitik, countries use non-state actors to bolster their foreign policy aims. So does Pakistan. But, our ex-proxies are going out and undertaking operations that are not in our strategic interest — and those operations are giving us a bad name the world over.
Perceptions can be more powerful than facts. Pakistan must therefore redress global perceptions — and crackdown on all sources of such perceptions. “Will Pakistan succumb to Washington’s pressure to meaningfully clamp down…..” wrote Syed Saleem Shahzad, the best strategic analyst around in these most difficult of days. That in fact amounts to tightrope walking — domestic turmoil or an international crisis. Which one would it be?
The writer is an Islamabad-based freelance columnist. Email: firstname.lastname@example.org