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(Talk delivered at the United Service Institution of India on August 2, 2006)

It is a natural law that when a vacuum is created somewhere in the atmosphere, at once a flow begins from an area of greater pressure. But while the flow starts from the area of greater pressure, the cause lies in the vacuum. It is the vacuum that creates the situation. (Bhagavad-Gita by Maharishi Mahesh Yogi, Page 220)
Taking off from the above commentary, while it may not be possible to classify it in the category of natural law, human experience over the millennia has shown, nevertheless, that whenever there is a vacuum in the affairs of humans it is invariably - and almost inevitably - malevolent forces that rush in to fill the vacuum. As to why that should be so is the basis of a separate essay. The existing state of affairs in most parts of the world is, however, no exception. Confining oneself to the present situation, vacuum in one or more countries in any given region is generally created under the following conditions:

- Collapse of the central governing a Whenever the collapse is sudden the ripples are felt much farther, as was the case with the collapse of the USSR).
- Inroads made by a new ideology. (Communism around the beginning of the last century; radical Islam coinciding with the advent of the new century).
- Ineffective governance.
- Corruption becoming so endemic as to make good governance a non-starter.
- Forces inimical to the national interest making inroads into the process of governance. (This process that has already overtaken several countries could, should it remain unchecked, reach alarming proportions in India as well).

There could be several other reasons that are not being included in this discussion.


When this presentation was first decided upon the coverage was meant to be almost exclusively global with a passing reference to the Indian situation. The blasts of 11 July 2006 reversed the priority for obvious reasons. The context still remains global, because practically the whole world's interest has been riveted on the Mumbai blasts coming full 13 years after the Bombay blasts of 1993. Mirroring the pattern of the London and Madrid bombings, the latest blasts indicated global continuity at the hands of perpetrators tempered in the furnace of Islamic jihad. The G-8 Summit held almost concurrently in St. Petersburg condemned the latest outrage in no uncertain terms.

India is incrementally being seen as a soft state on account of the government seemingly preferring vote bank politics at the cost of national security. Most responsible officials in the military, paramilitary and intelligence hierarchies hold this view and have brought it to the notice of the government ad nauseum. End result - it is water off a duck's back. Ordinary law-abiding Muslims as well as Hindus and other communities simply want to get on with their lives. They do not wish to have anything to do with the radical elements. It is the government policies of appeasement that strengthen the latter at the cost of the former. India is potentially a strong country. At this point in its history the gravest threats to its security are internal, not external. Bombay-ites and Indians as a whole have a lot of resilience. They have been living with terror on an unprecedented scale much longer than the countries that became alive to global terrorism after 9/11. Bombay-ites will resume their normal life in a matter of days. They do not really have a choice.

In the presentation that follows this vast subject will be covered under the following heads:


- Addressing a few Basic Issues at the Outset
- The Dangerous Drift
- The Psychic Dimension of India's Dilemma
- Some of the Essential Ingredients of a Successful War Against Terrorism in India
- Clear Enunciation of a No-Nonsense Policy to Deal with the Threat
- The Indian Army and Terrorism


- The Demographics of Global Terrorism
- US Response to Global Terrorism
- Afghanistan Revisited
- Waiting for the US to Restrain Pakistan OR Waiting for the Cows to Come Home
- Reappraising Pervez Musharraf



Addressing a few Basic Issues at the Outset

These can be tabulated as under:

- Democracy, with all its noise, chaos and attendant ills, remains dear to the people of India. The armed forces of India are guarantors of the Indian Constitution. For them it is sacrosanct and inviolable.

- All criticism of the functioning of the governing polity and other entities at the helm of affairs is in the form of a critique of the type that is carried out after a war game to improve functioning for the future. It should be taken in that light by all concerned. The criticism is not necessarily directed at any particular government. Various governments up to the present have shown similar pusillanimity in the face of grave threats to the country.

- It should be eminently clear that religious polarization is taking place across the globe at a frightening pace. Societies that were accommodating and tolerant have changed their outlook. The change is self-evident.

- The religious polarization that is taking place has not yet peaked. Each new terrorist attack, regardless of the motivation, exacerbates the divide.

- The polarization on the world canvas is generally between Muslim and non-Muslim communities and not so much between other denominations. Different countries may have ethnic or religious strife of equal or even greater intensity, but the term 'global terrorism' in today's setting is confined to Islamic jihad, which has acquired a global reach at par with the global reach of the superpower, though it cannot match the superpower's military or economic resources - at least not in the near future.

- By present indications, the invasiveness and global reach of Islamic jihad is increasing by the day, at a pace faster than the ability of their opponents to contain or quell it.

- India cannot exercise the very hard options open to countries like the USA, Russia, China and a few other countries to indulge in punitive strikes across borders.

- Nor is a full-fledged conventional war - regardless of whether it leads to a nuclear confrontation or not - an option for India. As mentioned in an earlier book: "Another war between India and Pakistan would be tantamount to: " a physical suicide for Pakistan, economic suicide for India and a catastrophe for the subcontinent."

- India has, however, several other options, not necessarily counter terror strikes, to bring neighbours to their senses in fairly quick time. These options had never been exercised before for several reasons, that included, inter alia: pusillanimity of the governments; crippling of India's external capability by one or more Prime Ministers of the day for values based on cherished traditions or in the mistaken belief that India being the bigger country, it could withstand repeated transgressions from neighbours and that forbearance on its part would sooner or later bring them to their senses.

- India does not have to indulge in foreign policy flip-flops due to pressures put on the government of the day by the minority community or the Left parties. The government has to shed its tentativeness and diffidence. It represents, or should represent the national interest of India. The majority community constitutes over 80 percent of the population of the country. If national security demands that the country improve its relations with Israel or the USA, the government does not have to be apologetic about it. For over 50 years the Indian government did not open diplomatic relations with Israel and went out of its way to condemn Israel and USA in every forum, irrespective whether its opinion was sought or not. The majority community, although it may have felt otherwise, went along with that decision in the national interest. The needs of national security or the sentiments of the majority cannot be indefinitely put on hold for the sake of vote bank politics or pressures brought to bear by less than 20 percent of the electorate. That way could lead to national disaster. (It would have been an altogether different matter had India remained non-aligned in the true sense of the word).

- Whatever other alignments or shifts in foreign policy that might take place in the coming decades India's strategic relationship with Russia remains inviolable. It is non-negotiable. Both countries have arrived at a comfortable understanding whereby each country pursues its own interest without allowing the strategic relationship to be impaired or eroded.

In the light of the foregoing unless countries like India, that are the most threatened by the scourge of Islamic jehad, start confronting the stark reality squarely and stop playing the vote bank card, they will undermine the efforts of the instrumentalities of the state designed to deal with the threat. For India this threat at the present juncture is greater than any external threat. There is a growing feeling in many circles that the government might have tied itself in knots by being held hostage to forces hostile to India. What else could explain the government's inexplicable action of bringing back the IMDT through the backdoor in the form of the amended Foreigner's Act merely to neutralize the effect of the Supreme Court's striking down the IMDT. The result is there for all to see. There has been deportation of only one Bangladeshi infiltrator in Assam after the Supreme Court struck down the controversial Illegal Migrants Determination by Tribunals Act a year ago.

It is indeed a very serious matter that the political class - or substantial elements thereof - appear, on the face of it, to be deliberately undermining national security. One cannot think of any other country where the nation's highest court gives direction for retrieving a dangerous national security drift to have it so brazenly undermined by the political class. The government's step was taken in the face of the Governor and security agencies bringing to the notice of the government that infiltrators in large numbers were crossing over daily from across the border. Should this trend continue, many people in the country and friends of India would be compelled to start wondering whether the governing process - or a part of it - had fallen into the hands of interests that were bent upon undermining the country's security.

Neither the misgivings of the President of India on national matters nor the decisions of the Supreme Court to strengthen good governance and national security seem to have any effect on the political class. According to a well-known editor of a national daily, "The blundering policy of cosying up to Naxalites was followed by a most shockingly cynical approach to negotiations that brought back to life a near-dead ULFA in Assam where, it seemed sometimes, the line between political and national interest had been washed away in a Brahmaputra flood". (Shekhar Gupta in The Indian Express, July 15, 2006).

That is not all. Just three days after the Bombay blasts a dawn-to-dusk general strike in Assam to protest the killing of six ULFA militants by security forces brought normal life to a halt. (The Pioneer,July 15, 2006). Who exactly is calling the shots in Assam? The government or interests across the border?

The people of India would then be impelled to pose the question:
"Does the Constitution of the country stand hijacked"?

Having seen the cavalier manner in which security of the nation is being handled - or mishandled - by the ruling dispensations it would be worthwhile taking a look at whether other countries are also taking threats to their national security as lightly. Since long the UK was in the forefront of condoning the activities of Islamists in UK and worldwide. It continued to harbour - even nurture - many of the radical Islamic organizations in its bosom; several of them had their headquarters in the UK. Yet after the London bombings the government lost no time in banning even those organizations that merely glorify terrorism. Recently it has banned organizations like Al Ghurabaa and the Saved Sect. In India, on the other hand, jehad is permitted to be glorified from any number of mosques and in numberless madrassas, even though the country has been at the receiving end of terror through this route for over two decades. That is why terrorists are now using youngsters by hiring them for Rs. 200 to 500 to throw grenades. This was stated by no less a person than the Director General, CRPF in an interview to a defence journal. (FORCE, Volume 3, No. 11, July 2006, Page no. 32).


The myth of Indian syncretism stands exploded. It remains a figment of the imagination of daydreamers. What is being talked about is the actual state of affairs and not what the desired state should be. The paper began with the suggestion of a vacuum being created. In this country the Hindu-Muslim divide was brought about by the political class in state after state and by the government's inability to act firmly and, in time, when the first signs of the reinforcement of orthodox ideology by outsiders became apparent. Even today the government policies tend to push the Muslims towards orthodoxy when it is seen to be giving in to elements that are the fountainhead of such orthodoxy, thus strengthening their position at the cost of segments opposed to them. In sum, Islamic orthodoxy in India is being reinforced as much by the policies or infirmities of the governments at the Centre and the States as by forces of radical Islam.

Even Islamic countries like Saudi Arabia, Egypt, Jordan, Morocco and Tunisia, having realized the potential of radical elements to disrupt the normal flow of life have now taken recourse to bolder steps to prevent further inroads by these orthodox groupings than is the case in India. The government at the Centre is itself so mired in vote bank politics that Chief Ministers of States are actually able to undermine the Centre's attempts to limit further damage by banning organizations like SIMI (Student Islamic Movement of India). It has emboldened the radicals to the extent that a Muslim leader in one of the provinces actually gave a call - later denied - for the setting up a Muslim Pradesh in Western UP. Such talk would have been unthinkable a few years ago. Here a caveat would be in order: The policies followed by the right wing Hindu parties are not the answer to India's problems.

There is a paradox working here. India is one of the countries most threatened by terrorism. Yet it has one of the weakest laws in the world to deal with the menace. It is a sobering - and frightening - thought that the great country India, potentially a world power, has allowed itself to sink in a political quagmire whereby a person suspected to have links with forces inimical to the well being of the country can hypothetically become the home or defence minister of the country or a chief minister of a state. Going by present trends, soon it might even be possible for a person with dubious credentials to become the Prime Minister. There do not seem to be foolproof mechanisms in place to counter this trend. Even a constitution bench of the Supreme Court has been constrained to point out to the government the limit to which this process can be carried to undermine the sanctity of the country.

The Hon'ble Court would like to know from the government that since the government has appointed ministers with criminal cases against them to take charge of important ministries would it then go on to appoint the Election Commissioners and even judges with similar backgrounds? The implication being that they can be blackmailed by elements inimical to India; some might even have been financed by such elements. There is a deafening silence from the government on this issue of paramount importance to national security. The line taken by the Supreme Court is meant to serve as a wake up call for India. Unfortunately, few people seem to have taken note of the gravity of the situation. It explains why the government is not able to act decisively against entities hostile to India, to the extent that it ignores and often goes against the advice of its own armed forces and intelligence agencies.

Therefore, if one takes the line of thinking opened up by the Honorable Supreme Court to its logical conclusion one comes up with the dreadful deduction that today the biggest threat to the security of India might be the political class, full 20 percent of whose members happen to have criminal cases registered against them. If the percentage as given out by the Election Commission is right then the criminal class that has entered Parliament is perhaps one of the single largest blocks, although affiliated to political parties across the political divide. As to why this should be the case is to an extent explained by the excerpt that follows. It relates to the Battle of Somme that took place in France and Flanders eighty years ago. On that first day on the Somme, 30 British officers of the rank of lieutenant colonel or above were killed. The excerpt below is from an international publication:

"Equality of sacrifice" is sometimes a convenient phrase, but no one could deny it then. When the war began, the prime minister was the Liberal, H.H. Asquith, and the Tory leader of the opposition was Andrew Bonar Law. Both would lose sons in action. Lord Salisbury was an earlier prime minister; five of his grandsons were killed. And several younger Members of Parliament, including William Gladstone, grandson of one more prime minister, joined up and were killed.

All that is a sharp contrast with a Blair government, not one of whom has ever performed any kind of military service, and a Bush administration whose senior members have never been much burdened by any sense of private honor incurred by privilege. (Emphasis added). (Honor and Carnage, Battle of the Somme by Geoffrey Wheatcroft International Herald Tribune, Saturday-Sunday, July 1-2, 2006).

What applies to the Blair and Bush governments in the excerpt above can be easily applied across the board to the political class in India with just the odd, very rare exception. Not only that, it is likely to continue to apply to the political class in the future as well. Their sons and daughters have better things to do than to volunteer for the Indian armed forces. Amongst other vocations they would like to legislate for the security of the country without having the faintest idea as to what security is all about. Leaving the rest of the country to fend for itself the political class cocoons itself in the security provided by gun-toting bodyguards paid for by the exchequer, irrespective of whether the persons so protected have a number of murder, dacoity or rape cases pending against them. Indian democracy is definitely on the march, in all its glory. The march is toward the abyss.

In all other countries the political class comes together in the face of national emergencies. In India they come together to undermine the decisions of the highest judicial bodies in the country. In no other country in the world are the decisions of the Supreme Court - the final arbiter - overturned or thwarted as summarily as is presently happening in India. One has only to study the behaviour of the politicians after the Bombay blasts of 11 July 2006. Instead of uniting to face a common foe, they are busy hurling missiles at each other, going for each other's jugular. Meanwhile, their priority in the weeks immediately following the blasts would be to yet again come together to fight the Supreme Court rather than the terror engulfing the land. How can the country effectively fight against the threat of terrorism with the type of behaviour that politicians at the helm of affairs are manifesting?


This aspect is best expressed by reproducing a comment from a French translator of this writer's pieces:

"What you write about the India-Pakistan situation reminds me very much of the asymmetric structure of the East-West confrontation during the cold war: a continental ideological power obliging the West to be on the defensive on all the continents. At that time, even at the end of the 80s, it was generally accepted that the international system was working to USSR's advantage: the consequences of colonial wars, imperialism, the repressive action of the USA on all the fronts, would always create more resentment and push entire peoples into the Soviet camp, the communist superpower just had to pluck the ripened fruit when it was ready. And there was no symmetry, for the West couldn't have access to the communist societies. It seemed there was no way for the USA to take the initiative and reverse the way the system was functioning. Yet, USSR collapsed suddenly. Analysing this abrupt and unpredicted turn of events, I found that the main factor of durable power between the two systems, occidental and Sovietic, was not ideological, nor geopolitical, nor economic, but systemic: it lay in the capacity to fight systemic disorder, entropia, that all systems know, by a superior capacity to create innovation, knowledge, enthusiasm, neguentropia. Let us note that this is just a modern way of saying that dharma builds up, while adharma destroys. USSR was a system of growing entropia, the West a system where neguentropia was (and still is) always stronger than all the internal disorders generated by its own functioning.
I find the same analysis applies to the Indian subcontinent: in terms of capacity to create disorder, Pakistan and Bangladesh are superior to India, but while they do that, they don't develop their internal capacities for social innovation, they don't dream their future, they don't create neguentropia. Their system becomes less and less able to perform within while India's becomes more and more (so). But still, couldn't India develop a strategy more offensive than the defensive one she has until now adopted? Here too, the American response to the ideological power of USSR is indicative: Z. Brezinsky under President Carter's administration was the first to make of the Human Rights an ideological weapon to be turned against the communist regimes in all the international forums and within the Soviet camp. This policy has developed more and more, and we can see it in Central Asia today, technicians of Revolution trained and financed by American foundations working out democratic changes of regime in the ex-USSR Republics! The question then would be: does India have an ideological weapon of her own (that) she could turn against her (radical) Islamic enemies? It is here that I find she conceals in her own culture a treasure that has not yet begun to be used. Maybe the time has come when India can require her neighbours to respect the law of tolerant diversity and an all-inclusive philosophy. After all, she doesn't need territories but she needs to live in a world where her values are respected, for they are universal and peace oriented.

For all these reasons, I feel a little frustrated that the strategic thought in India doesn't seem to go further than asserting that "we are a gentle people surrounded by nasty people, therefore we have a problem". If India cannot develop her own vision of what South Asia and the International System should be, and be determined to organize her surroundings according to that vision, it is natural that she attracts the hostility the weak ones always awaken in the aggressive ones. Her mission is naturally to restore a dharmic order in the Asiatic space where her spiritual and cultural influence had so strongly shaped societies around the highest ideals of Hinduism and Buddhism. Even her Islamism was more enlightened than that in the rest of the Muslim world. If the language needs not be one of the past, the spirit is the same: the world has to be governed by a principle that allows each country, each group and each individual to follow one's path of self-discovery and self-perfection, svadharma, for this is the very aim of human life to be offered to all men of all creed, equally. India is asserting herself in economy, science and technology; a luminous head needs to be added on this growing body of power. And from the greatness of the message would come out the greatness of India's action and position in the international system.

All this seemed to me to be implicitly contained in your paper, as I often find it in Indians who have served in the army: inwardly they know what they fight for, but it doesn't come out explicitly, maybe because it is the responsibility of the intellectuals and the political leaders to show the way and they don't. But don't you have a feeling that now the time has come? And could not something of it appear in your paper"? (Emphasis in the original) - Jean-Yves Lung

Well the time has come.


India is facing many types of insurgencies of differing magnitudes. This discussion is Islamic jihad specific for the simple reason that the country's ambivalence in taking a tough stand against this threat on its own soil stems from the size of the Muslim population on the subcontinent, an indeterminate portion of which, going by present trends, could fall under the sway of sophisticated hostile propaganda. In the case of Pakistan the vast majority of the people of that country would definitely be happy to see India go under. To a lesser extent something similar could be happening in Bangladesh. Both these countries are able to ferment trouble in India, putting the Government of India on the defensive due to the enormously large Muslim population in India - approximating 150 million or more, which would make it not very much below half the size of the existing population of the European Union and anywhere up to 50 percent of the population of the United States.

It is more important to state, however, that had the Indian governments, since Islamic jihad first reared its ugly head nearly two decades ago, dealt firmly with this menace ab initio well over 99 percent of the Muslim population would have had no difficulty in resisting Pakistani machinations on their own. They had shown their mettle as well as any other Indian in all the threats that India faced up till the new century. Things took a turn for the worse after 9/11 and on account of the wishy-washy policies of the government since then. Today Hindus feel threatened by Islamic jihad. In actual fact, the Muslim community is more threatened - because they are threatened - and abused -both psychologically and physically. They have watched with dismay the government's inability to ward off the sub rosa threat from Pakistan, and now Bangladesh as well. Within the country they see the leaders across the political spectrum meekly succumbing to the harangues of the very elements that are keeping the Muslim community backward and pushing them towards Islamic orthodoxy. It can be stated with near certainty that had the government or its agencies demonstrated the ability to protect the Hurriyat leaders from blackmail and threats from across the border quite a few of them would have been singing a different tune. The guilt complex in the Muslim community is engendered by the inability of the Government of India to weed out the elements that have undermined the security of India and the well being of the Muslim community. Whether the Act called POTA should be restored or not is an unending controversy. The irrefutable fact is that, "the most threatened country in the world has the least effective counter terrorist regulations".


The only constant in India's fight against global terrorism so far has been the urge to run to outsiders to urge them to condemn its neighbour for carrying out dastardly acts against India. In the absence of a clear articulation of its own policy no outsider can help India. It has to fight the internal menace resolutely and ruthlessly, irrespective of who or what sustains it from across the border. Lack of clear articulation of its policies confuses, in the first instance, its own agencies that have to fight the terror. After decades of being exposed to terror the talk is still mainly about coordination committees and the like between states and so on. Elementary mechanisms that should have been put in place ages ago have still not gotten off the ground.

Before going any further, the first act of the government after the recent Bombay blasts should have been to remove the single biggest impediment that had prevented the government from dealing firmly with the perpetrators of terror. Once again, India is perhaps the only country where law and order is a state subject. There is no Union List of federal crimes with inter-state or even international ramifications. That is why State governments either resist the Centre's mandates or drag their feet in implementing them, the effect in both cases being the same. Therefore, in the current session of Parliament the government should have given overriding priority to drawing up a list of federal crimes and bringing in an enactment to put these on the Concurrent List, if not exclusively on the Union List. For it to happen, the two leading parties in the country will have to overcome their differences and personal prejudices in the national interest to ensure smooth passage of an enabling legislation. In this context letter dated 18 February 2006 to all concerned by the author in his capacity as Convener MRGG (Movement for Restoration of Good Government) is reproduced below:

"The case relating to (name suppressed), the UP Minister who was caught in a sting operation, promising to carry drugs in his official car for a price cannot be construed as a mere law and order problem for the State of Uttar Pradesh. No doubt law and order is a state subject. In this particular case, and many others that did not receive national media attention, the ramifications for national security go far deeper. What was previously restricted generally to the northeast up to about the 1980s has now spread to many parts of India, most noticeably UP, Bihar and Maharashtra. Other states are fast catching up. The Intelligence agencies have been fully alive to this nefarious activity. Political considerations at the Centre and the concerned states as well as lack of a central enabling legislation have allowed the country's security to be severely compromised. It is not only narcotics. Gunrunning across borders with neighbouring countries has also been facilitated by several political dons who have remained above the law for decades on end, even after several criminal cases had been filed against them. The filing of cases at the state level hardly affected the activities of these political heavyweights.

In the present case the Chief Minister would have been most reluctant to take follow up action had it not been for the media glare at the national level. Even if the concerned minister had been immediately sacked the national security concern of the country would have remained un-addressed. The national leaderships of political parties as also the central government have been well aware of these national security vulnerabilities because the concerned agencies have been constantly highlighting them.

We are now writing to you to please give serious thought to this unacceptable vulnerability in our national defence, whereby while the frontiers are generally secure in the conventional military sense the nation is being hollowed by termites from within. The Centre, security agencies, armed forces and even the judiciary watch the decline with helplessness and dismay. The time has come, before it is too late, to enact an enabling legislation for the Centre to take appropriate action in all cases that have national security, interstate or extra-territorial ramifications. India is perhaps the only country in the world that has such a constitutional infirmity. Moreover, it has done nothing for nearly 60 years to overcome this lacuna. The matter is extremely urgent and needs to be remedied at the earliest. It is in the interest of both the central parties, the Congress and the BJP to come together to set matters right in this regard, while they have the combined parliamentary strength to do so and before legislators with criminal backgrounds or criminal associations are still not in the majority in the parliament. Bickering and opposed ideologies can continue between the two parties. They must, however, come together for this single piece of legislation in the supreme national interest".



There has been a growing tendency in the media to level unfounded charges against the Indian Army or to overplay the alleged violation. Human rights should be the concern of every right thinking person. It is certainly a concern of the Indian Army at the highest levels and at the operating levels as well. In spite of that individual aberrations are bound to occur in such a large-sized force. While most people in the country may not know it many other armies are studying the more humane fighting methods of the Indian Army, which has been continuously exposed to terrorist-type violence of one type or another for several decades running. Terrorism in India commenced well before the West and Russia, amongst many other countries, understood what being exposed to terrorism was all about. As to how most armies across the world deal with opponents or terrorists is well known. The American, Russian and Chinese forces have used extreme ruthlessness. The Pakistan Army raped half a million women and killed over a million Bengalis in Pakistan's East Bengal province in 1970-71, while it was still a part of that country. The same army has indulged in large-scale butchery in the restive provinces of Balochistan and Baltistan. Aircraft and helicopter gunships supplied to it for operations against al Qaeda have been diverted by the Pakistan Army for massacring its opponents within Pakistan, most recently in Baluchistan. One of the biggest land grabs in contemporary history is taking place in that hapless province. Baluchis are being deprived of their land and assets to allow for the Pakistan Army, Chinese interests, and the overpopulated Punjabi heartland to expand into Baluch areas.

The way in which the Indian Army has dealt with its opponents can be deemed to be exemplary by most humanitarian standards. So great is the care taken to avoid collateral damage that a very high number of young officers, sub-unit and even unit commanders lose their lives leading their forces against terrorists holed up in civilian areas. Even the Indian Courts seem to have gone to extremes in putting limits on the Indian Army. In one case, the Courts had decreed that hot food be provided to terrorists that had been surrounded in a mosque by the security forces, while they were negotiating their surrender.

That is not all. The Indian Army had captured nearly one hundred thousand Pakistani Army prisoners after the fall of Dhaka in 1971 as a consequence of the surrender by General Niazi. During their incarceration in PW camps in India there was not a single case of brutality - even mistreatment for that matter - reported by the returned prisoners. This was in spite of the fact that Pakistanis brutally torture and kill Indians taken prisoners. Perhaps the finest example of model conduct by any army was that of the Indian Army while liberating East Bengal in 1971 to form the independent country of Bangladesh. Throughout that operation and till the Indian Army withdrew from Bangladesh not a single case of rape was reported from anywhere in the country. Such restraint by a liberating army is without parallel in world history. To this day, the most respected peacekeeping force, anywhere in the world, remains the Indian Army. Hence, if the vicious cycle of violence in the treatment of captives has to be broken armies around the world, as a start, could make the Indian Army tactics in dealing with terrorists in built up or civilian pockets a case study. (Extracts from a speech read out by the author at a Law Seminar organized by ARTRAC in Bangalore in April 2006, followed by a keynote presentation at the Technical University of Eindhoven, The Netherlands on 25 April 2006).


It is both fashionable, and facile, to attribute rising Islamic radicalisation to marginalisation. While marginalisation might be an exacerbating factor it should not be allowed to become the justification for terrorism. There are other marginalized, downtrodden, and more destitute communities around the world who have not indulged in global terrorism of the Islamic Jihad variety. What is more, with the rapid demographic increase, continuing globalisation, and market economy calling the shots, marginalisation is likely to increase - within states and between states. Should Islamic Jihad not back off and continue on its violent path one of two outcomes are possible: Either it will succeed in seriously weakening the western economies, thereby bringing in a major power-shift toward Asia or it will end up by destroying Islam, by shaking it to its very foundations.
According to Amartya Sen, " the politicization of Islam has become a shared thing for both Al Qaeda and for those who say it must be a religion of peace. Both try to give religion a bigger role than it need have". (The Economic Times, 27 March 2006, Amartya Sen)

That could be one of the reasons why suicide bombing has gone transnational, often involving well-educated individuals who are motivated to respond not to their known immediate circumstances but to the wider circumstances of co-religionists. They are aided by the huge increase in information now available through satellite TV news channels and the internet. They may be prepared to travel substantial distances to undertake their actions. Dalai Lama, the 71-year-old spiritual leader believes that modern terrorism was born out of jealousy of Western lifestyles. "This new terrorism has been brewing for many years. Much of it is caused by jealousy and frustration at the West because it looks so highly developed and successful on television", he observed in a wide-ranging interview with the Daily Telegraph. The Dalai Lama told the paper "fundamentalism is terrifying because it is based purely on emotion, rather than intelligence…it prevents followers from thinking as individuals and about the good of the world." (The Sunday Tribune, April 2, 2006)


The single biggest factor sustaining Islamic jehad is the runaway population growth in Muslim societies, creating its own problems in the social domain for host countries and wherever else an expatriate base has been established. It is again a vast field, to which justice cannot be done in a single session. It has been addressed in the chapter on 'Demographic Dynamics of the 21st Century' in the author's book "Global Security Paradoxes: 2000-2020" (ISBN 817049194-0). A few aspects that need to be urgently highlighted are:

- Going by current trends Israel will cease to exist as a Jewish state well before 2050. The fertility rate for Palestinian women in Gaza is about 7.3, for the Arab Israelis in Israel it would not be much less, whereas for the Jews it would hardly ever exceed half that at the best of times.

- When an Israeli soldier gets killed or a soldier from the coalition forces in Afghanistan gets killed the chances are that he or she would be a single child or one of two children. In the case of their opponents several other siblings would be around to ensure that the parents are not left totally bereft. This is the stark reality, limited manpower supply on one side, inexhaustible supply on the other. No family, irrespective of denomination, would allow its children to go for jehad type of activities if the family size remained small as is fast becoming the norm for educated middle classes the world over.

- Presently Europe has about 15 million Muslims. By about 2050, if not before, the figure is likely to exceed 50 million. At that stage, even without the accession of Turkey, the Muslim population of Europe would have become large enough to face intractable existential problems.

- India and the UN agencies must undertake an investigation on the missing mass of Hindus in Pakistan, whose population has declined drastically from about 25 percent at the time of partition to just between one or two percent. The population of Pakistan at the time of partition was 30 million. It has increased five-fold since then to a current population of 150 million or so. So has the Muslim population of India increased manifold since partition to the present number. In like manner the Hindu population of Pakistan should have totaled 35 to 40 million by now. It is only about 1 to 2 million today. What became of the tens of millions of Hindus? Did they vanish into thin air? Besides large-scale killings and conversions such decline would be physically impossible unless Hindu girls were being routinely kidnapped in large numbers and forced to don the veil and be married off to Muslims. The practice continues to prevail. Something similar could be taking place in Bangladesh. Contrast this with the increase of the Muslim population in India since partition. The statistics speak for themselves.


The US has been roundly and soundly criticized by practically the whole world in the pattern of its response to global terrorism. The subject has been covered extensively, including by this author in several books. Here only one aspect is being highlighted, and that is, that while the criticism of the USA - both within the US and across the globe - may have been well-founded, there is no escaping the fact that should America choose to opt out of this fight at any stage and go into its shell in Fortress America the world would have to pay dearly for that seclusion; more so in Europe, India and Southeast Asia. With measures that could be even tougher than they are at the present, the USA has the ability and the wherewithal to make North America a Muslim exclusion zone to a large extent and then go about taking even harsher measures to deal with elements that threaten it from within the existing population. Europe and the other countries just mentioned have no such option available to them. Furthermore, without the US global reach and deployment Europe, Asia and parts of Africa have scant ability to deal with the growing threat. Take the example of just one country, Afghanistan. Should the US walk out of Afghanistan today, neither NATO nor any other group of countries would be able to prevent a resurgent Taliban from overrunning Afghanistan within weeks, if not days. So, while criticism of the US may be justified in some quarters, the ground reality as it exists in many parts of the world should not be lost sight of while criticizing the superpower.

India must quickly and efficiently put its house in order while the US is sitting on Pakistan's head, ensuring by its very presence that adventurism from that side does not get out of hand. Having said that, India should be prepared for any eventuality in spite of growing level of comfort in US- India relations. Should it come to a crunch the US could, under given circumstances, barter away India's interest in Kashmir, without batting an eyelid, in a trade off with Pakistan on other counts.


First, the ground reality. Northern Alliance, even the term itself, stands consigned to the dustbin of history as became apparent from the author's visit to Afghanistan last August (2005). Not only that, the components of the former Northern Alliance, including the late Ahmed Shah Masood's Panjshiris have been broken up as well. The result is that the only viable Afghan force capable of taking on the Taliban has ceased to be on account of coalition strategies of the earlier years, mainly to accommodate Pakistani concerns. ISAF and NATO must be ruing the day.

Just as it is abetting cross border terrorism in India, Pakistan is fuelling the resurgence of the Taliban in Afghanistan. It is time for NATO and the US to heed Hamid Karzai's warning. He knows what he is talking about. According to a recent statement by him, "the world must find a better way to tackle the terrorism afflicting Afghanistan or the West will suffer again…. The US-led "war on terror" launched after the September 11, 2001 Al-Qaeda attacks in the United States has largely been limited to Afghan soil but should be extended to the sources of terrorism. The international community needs to reassess the manner in which the war on terror is conducted. We can't tolerate it forever… in the past three weeks five, six hundred people have died in the country. We want an end to this, a basic end to this." (Excerpts from The Times of India, June 24, 2006).
Many years earlier a similar warning had been given by people within the CIA. The extract that follows is from a book by a well-known American author:

" The bin Laden unit's leader, an analyst known to his colleagues as Mike, argued with rising emotion that the CIA and the White House had become prisoners of their alliances with ………………Pakistani intelligence. America was in a war against a dangerous terrorist network. As it waged that war, it was placing far too much faith in unreliable allies. The CIA needed to break out of its lazy dependence on liaisons with corrupt, Islamist-riddled intelligence services such as the ISI. If it did not, he insisted, the CIA and the United States would pay a price. (Emphasis added). (The Kingdom's Interests, Page no. 415, Ghost Wars by Steve Coll).

Then again: "His enemies remained formidable, especially the suicide platoons of al Qaeda and the seemingly inexhaustible waves of Pakistani volunteers bused from madrassas to the northern battlefields. (Emphasis added). (Ibid, Page 519)

The same inexhaustible supplies from across the border are confronting ISAF/NATO forces in southern Afghanistan, clinching the argument put forward by the Afghan President that unless they decide to strike across the border at their bases, the Taliban will simply keep coming, an inexhaustible supply of suicide bombers and fighters, fresh out of Pak madrassas.


Pervez Musharraf and the US establishment are on the same side. Although there is hardly any love lost between them, neither side is in a position to walk away from the other. They are too closely linked by their activities in the past. A few more actors of yesteryear will have to fade away in the USA before matters are brought back on an even keel. The Pakistan government, through its embassy in Washington, reportedly paid several million dollars to Washington lobbyists to ensure that the role of Pakistan was kept out of the 9/11 Commission findings. The lobbyists were evidently successful. It should be possible for the Indian government to pay ten times that amount, if required, to bring the suppressed evidence to light. India has many other options that have not yet been exercised, because none of the Indian prime Ministers knew how to play hardball. Not even Indira Gandhi, the toughest of India's prime ministers, who after having masterminded a great victory in 1971threw away the advantages with Pakistan - as well as in Bangladesh.


The Pakistan President has stretched out his innings for six long years and more on the plea - now sounding increasingly specious - that he was the best bet for the West, failing which all sorts of disasters could befall Pakistan and the world. Implicit in this plea was the acceptance that Pakistan continues to be the epicenter for global terrorism and the biggest proliferator of weapons of mass destruction. The West, especially the USA took him at face value, even if his word did not count for much and bailed out Pakistan, which was fast becoming a basket case financially, and in the process strengthened Musharraf at the cost of the democratic parties that potentially were the only entities that could stave off the final cataclysm for Pakistan.

Musharraf continues with the same refrain. The West is no longer willing to put all eggs in the Musharraf basket. There are growing indications that people have started hedging their bets. Not so India. This could be a grave mistake. Musharraf had pledged to rein in the terrorist tanzeems and so much else in public broadcasts designed more to impress his Western supporters than the cynical Pakistani citizens, who had had experience of many military dictators before Musharraf. Unfortunately, India too fell for the rhetoric. Seven years is a long time for any government to show results. If anything, the militant groups are stronger today than before, the madrassas are growing in numbers and the students professing jehadi sentiments multiplying as never before. On the face of it he has deployed the Pakistan Army against the insurgents in FATA. However, the helicopter gunships and aircraft provisioned by the Americans have been diverted elsewhere. They are not deployed against Al Qaeda. They are busy killing the Baluchis, perhaps the only secular elements in the region. Yet Musharraf calls himself an enlightened moderate.

If, as he states, chaos would fall his removal from office it would be better to call his bluff and face the consequences now rather than a few years down the line. Going by present trends a few years more of Musharraf would actually have served to entrench the Islamists far more deeply than is the case at the present. Today, the two main political parties have been pushed to the sidelines of the political arena. They have not yet been emasculated. In a free and fair election supervised under foreign or UN dispensation they would still win over the Islamists, if not hands down, sufficiently handsomely to reverse the negative trend started by Musharraf. A few years later they would not be able to do so. The stakes for India and the world for the full restoration of democracy are much too high to fall under the sway of Musharraf doublespeak any longer. India has to be wary of a dialogue with a military dictator whose past history shows that he has reneged on practically every count, more importantly, with his own people - on solemn pledges made before national and global audiences.


The contours of the Islamic super state, re-forming from the struggle against the civilization-defiling West - this being their perception - can be clearly discerned through the fog of global terror let loose by Islamic Jihad and the global war on terror unleashed against them. The fact is that wherever there are Muslim populations in sizeable numbers subterranean currents are now carrying them in the direction of the global Muslim ummat. There is a seeming inevitability about it, from the enlarging Muslim pockets in Europe to the Middle East, Central and South Asia. It is the Salafi orthodoxy and not modernism that is gaining ground day by day in the Muslim street, practically everywhere in these countries, including Turkey.

The difference in outlook emerges from the furore over the Danish cartoons. Even after several world leaders, including Presidents Bush and Putin had condemned the publishing of the controversial cartoons the Muslim clergy-inspired mob fury continued unabated in many countries. One of the reasons was that they had smelled blood. They realized that Denmark was wilting and many in Europe were frightened of a heightened backlash. Were that not the case mass hysteria on a global scale across the Muslim world could not have been sustained for so long. The righteousness of the anger professed was also questionable, if not untenable. It may be recalled that just a few years ago a far worse sacrilege was carried out in the Muslim world. On a scale of 0 to 9 if the offense given by the cartoons is put at 4 or 5 the destruction of the Bamian Buddhas tips the scale well beyond the maximum 9 on any comparative basis - not that outrages can be compared or quantified. Yet no Budhhist asked for the head of the perpetrators, nor was any Muslim property burned anywhere in the world. No Muslim was harmed. What is more, no Muslim even felt afraid of a backlash from any quarter.

The announcement that the Bamian Buddhas would be destroyed was made several days before the threat was carried out. Pakistan, where the riots were spreading faster than elsewhere, had the capacity to intervene decisively to prevent the most abominable desecration that the world has witnessed in modern times. It did not intervene. Nor did Saudi Arabia or the OIC. The ulema in India put the highest price on the cartoonists' heads. Their protests spread to other cities in India. None of these worthies asked for the head of the Taliban leadership of the time. There was not a single riot after the destruction of the Bamian Buddhas.

The Muslim world should have realised that the anguish and gloom caused to the Buddhists in every corner of the globe, including the Koreas, Japan, China, Mongolia, Thailand and several other countries would have been infinitely more deep than that caused by the offensive cartoons. There are many denominations whose followers across the world number in the hundreds of millions or more than a billion. They feel sacrileges, slights and threats to kill (the infidels) as keenly as do Muslims. If they do not react in the fashion of the Muslims it is because they might have actually moved up civilisation's ladder. Their religions teach them that every life, regardless of whether it is that of a believer or non-believer, is sacred. The Buddhists who must have been knocked senseless by the sheer magnitude of their loss internalised their suffering and prayed for forgiveness to the perpetrators. There is a lesson in this for Muslims if they would still like to call Islam a religion of peace. Meanwhile the world cannot allow itself to be boxed in by a regressive interpretation of the theology of a single denomination just because it has demonstrated a capacity to activate mass hysteria supra-nationally for a well thought out long-term geopolitical quest.

India is not intrinsically weak. It is a strong country with an amazing will to succeed, if properly led. The country will soon have to exercise several hard options, once the realization takes hold that a bad situation cannot be wished away. The more the government tarries, the more difficult will the task become. Options that were available to India in the 1990s to deal with the situation are not available today. Similarly, options available in 2006 will almost certainly not be available much beyond 2010. The government will have to shed its indecisiveness sooner rather than later.

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