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World Affairs







 World Affairs

Global Powers should behave as Global Powers

Not even two hours had elapsed after terrorists launched 10 daring attacks on Mumbai, the financial hub of emergent India, when the bearded and staid Sikh Prime Minister Manmohan Singh appeared on Indian TV to condemn the outrage.

Singh, an economist of repute and a former vice president of the World Bank usually makes very sober assessments in measured tones. But on that night he threw caution to the winds and while the terrorist guns were rattling and bombs booming, categorically declared that these terrorist attacks come from beyond India's borders.

Singh did not single out Pakistan by name in his allegations but to those familiar with the Indo-Pak rhetoric it was all too obvious that he was pointing his finger at Pakistan and possibly Bangladesh.

Seething Indians

The terrorist attacks had obviously shocked the Indian nation. Indians were seething with anger if we were to go by the TV commentators and it was being directed at Pakistan. Going by the usual knee-jerk reactions, finger pointing at Islamabad was traditional, the two countries having waged war thrice in 60 years and many such incursions that had taken place nearly resulting in them going to war.

But India today is ranked as the regional power and even a Global Power. It is a nuclear power as well as an emerging economic power.

Pakistan despite all its woes too is today a nuclear power. Thus, however provocative and embarrassing the attacks were, a certain amount of restraint was called on the part of the Indian leader and national TV anchormen and anchorwomen in making allegations without having substantial proof.

Proof needed

Pakistani President Asif Zardari and Prime Minister Gilani have condemned the attacks in the severest of terms and vowed to take punitive measures against any Pakistani if found guilty. They want proof of Pakistani involvement as alleged, not mere allegations.

The Indian allegations have grown sharper from the  initial allegations of 'Urdu speaking attackers with Pakistani Punjabi accents' to the capture of one of the attackers whom they claim had confessed that he was a Pakistani trained in Pakistan for this kind of terrorist attacks.

The Indians claim they have a GPS telephone used by attackers from which they have traced calls made from Pakistan to the terrorists in Mumbai while they were on the offensive. Pakistan has taken up the position that all this 'evidence' should be examined by officials from both sides to determine their validity.

There was also the  fear of both countries amassing their troops on the eastern borders but this threat had receded after Pakistan threatened to move their troops from the western borders to the east to meet a threat from India.

US Secretary of State, Condoleezza Rice who visited both countries last week, appears to have defused the situation.

India's problems

The UPA government of India is no doubt in a difficult situation being unable to control terrorism within the entire sub-continent with over a billion people. Terrorism is raging - be it of internal or external origin - and terrorists have delivered massive blows on several of its key cities.

The Mumbai attacks blew the lid off and people took to the streets demanding firm action. All this is happening with elections to several key state assemblies close at hand the results of which would influence to a great extent elections to the Lok Sabha which has to take place in the first half of next year

Mixing politics and terrorism

Making external sources responsible for terrorist attacks within Indian borders may go down well and calm the irate Indian public but if attacks continue that would be of no avail. The UPA government cannot turn a blind eye to the growth of Islamic fundamentalist organisations within India itself.

India has been for long the country with the second biggest Muslim population. The August 2008 issue of Frontline (published by the group that publishes The Hindu) gives a detailed account of some of these embryonic jihadist Muslim organisations that have sprung up in many states.

They are known to have connections with the Lashkar-e-Taliba (LeT), a fundamentalist Islamic organisation that was based in Lahore which has been banned by the Pakistan government. It is alleged that LeT is actively promoting terrorist activities in India. There are other organisations that have sprung up like the Student Islamic Movement of India (SIMI) having links with the Taliban and Indian Mujahideen.

Even Indian analysts have said that the recent attacks on some of the key Indian cities could not have been the work solely of external forces but would have needed internal collaboration. India's recently established strategic relationship with the United States must also be tempting for Osama bin Laden

Double standards

The Indian attitude towards terrorism has been one of double standards as evident from the days of Indira Gandhi. We need not repeat the history of the birth of northern and eastern terrorism in Sri Lanka, courtesy New Delhi and Tamil Nadu.

'Tamil Nadu compulsions' was the excuse trotted out in the '80s for promotion of terrorism in this country. We are now witnessing an attempt to bail out the cornered LTTE by the coalition government of Sonia Gandhi by pressurising the Sri Lanka government to agree to a ceasefire with the LTTE.

Mutual life saving pact

Tamil Nadu Chief M. Karunanidhi, the godfather of the LTTE has twisted the arm of Manmohan Singh to send his Foreign Minister Pranab Mukherjee to Sri Lanka to pressurise the Rajapakse government to call off the military offensive, agree to a ceasefire and give the LTTE which India has banned, another life!

If the Tamil Nadu parties withdraw support from the ruling Congress Party government, it will be a dead duck soon. This appears to be a mutual life saving pact.

It was only last month a tribunal set up by the Indian government under the Unlawful Activities (Prevention) Act that held that the LTTE continues to be an extremely potent and most lethal well organised terrorist outfit in Sri Lanka. Delhi High Court's Justice Vikramjit Sen who was on the tribunal agreed with the Indian government's submission that Kalpakkam and Koodankulm in Tamil Nadu, where some of the major (Indian) nuclear plants are located, are close to LTTE bases in Sri Lanka and unless the ban on the LTTE continues, terrorist acts on Indian soil are likely to occur.

The Indian government accepted the recommendation of the tribunal and extended the ban on the LTTE which was first banned in 1992.

But this same government now does a complete somersault and is sending its foreign Minister this week to Sri Lanka to save the neck of Velupillai Pirapaharan who has been found guilty of the murder of Rajiv Gandhi, the beloved husband of Congress Party Chief Sonia Gandhi.

Political survival may be held as more important than justice delivered on behalf of one's beloved political leader but it should also be realised that thousands of valiant soldiers both Sri Lankan and Indian have made the supreme sacrifice in their attempts to bring this monstrous terrorist to justice.

Global Powers should learn to behave as Global Powers and not perpetrate injustice on little nations.     

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