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Mainstream, Vol XLVIII, No 45, October 30, 2010

Terror Cauldron in Response to Policy Failures

Saturday 30 October 2010, by Rakesh Gupta


The drone attacks on the Afghan-Pak border killing civilians and terror alert in Europe fairly strongly link up with terror attacks by Mend in Nigeria, raising of the terror threat alert from red to scarlet in France and the stone-pelting youths and their consequent deaths in the Kashmir Valley inviting the all-party farcical visit to Srinagar. All these may have to deal with foreign policy and domestic policy. The level of violence is much deeper than the unprece-dented violence shown in the 1960s movie Bonnie and Clyde which made Tony Curtis a famous Hollywood actor. He passed away on September 28, 2010. This happens to be the date when the Movement for Emancipation of Nigerian Delta (MEND) under the arms smuggler, Henry Okah, caused explosions in the Nigerian capital on the occasion of celebrating the country’s indepen-dence.

The terror threat causes the leaderships to worry and the CIA head, Panetta, visits countries of South and East Asia. The partition films in India become something of serious cinema since the issue of partition is part of the realpolitik between India and Pakistan over Kashmir. Their stories are about human frailty and govern-mental foibles. Recently Pervez Musharraf said that he wants to have peace with India after all the outstanding issues get settled between India and Pakistan. The Pakistan Assembly, about two years ago, accused India for terror acts in Balochistan. This accusation came after years of carving of the Pakistan state that cannot manage its own provincial affairs in Punjab and Sindh apart from Balochistan and the FATA region. The threat of another military coup looms large in that country. India made democracy to be its foreign policy tale. Will it relish it or pick up cudgels against it?

Its own record shows realpolitik since it will deal with the issue as internal to Pakistan. The latter considers annexation of Kashmir to be the unfinished story of partition in a dedicated fashion, unlike India which is on the defensive. It faces the threat to democracy that is caused by insurgency and terror tactics in Kashmir. Solutions cannot be found from the hat as was underlined by Manmohan Singh, India’s Prime Minister. The hour to go beyond voicing such truism is well past. After practically ten years the Army and curfew were called into Kashmir. We need to address the real grievances of the people who are not terrorists but who are at the moment sympathetic to the cause of their youth in jail and not in jobs, especially in Baramullah and Pulwama. These two districts provided fifty per cent fo the terrorists at one stage.

THERE is thankfully no spill-over or cascading effect of Kashmir in other parts of the country. But unfortunately the State that had no communal riots at the time of partition has lost its Kashmiriyat profile of composite culture. Imagine its cascading effect lacing with the rest of India if we do not handle the Ayodhya issue beyond the pale of the present questioned judgment of the Allahabad High Court. The issue of the Sunni Board position being declared to be relevant is not playing to the vote-bank. Bhagwat’s ‘no one is a winner or loser’ statement is favourable to the Hindus. It is made in view of the cultural nationalism of secularism under the Hindutva brand. So the BJP supports it. The Congress needs to come out clearly on its version of secularism. For decades one has not heard of a serious discourse on secularism from the Congress leadership. Catch the bull by the horns. There is no need to hide behind the niceties of law.

The issue is that as in the past both communal politics and rioting helps terrorism and vice versa; this must be addressed by the government unless it embraces a conservative view only of maintaining peace by acquiescing to Hindutva juggernaut which will in all probability roll.

Conservative Sarkozy is using some of his cards to ward off his falling rating before the presidential elections in France. The issue of Roma and burqa are raised precisely to redirect public opinion. The foreign policy issue in the Af-Pak region, the fight against Aquim (the Al-Qaeda franchise in the Maghreb) in the North Africa regions of its former colonies, and the incapacity to face up to the unemployed Muslim youth on its city’s suburbs has already caused Bernard Squarcini, head of France’s Directorate of Internal Intelligence, to say that the terror threat has never been as high in the country as now. The Eifel Tower was evacuated on September 28 for such a scare was sounded. This was preceded by another scare in a train in Saint Lazare in central Paris.

The explosions in the Nigerian capital have been sounded by MEND against a leadership that is going to go in for presidential elections next year. Panetta has come to India as preparatory to Obama’s visit as the latter battles with the Republicans despite their tea-party reverses. One notices everywhere that all is not well with the dominant leaderships and their concerted attempts to remain in office are continuously being challenged by internal events as much as foreign policy issues are relevant. This strange globalistaion of the legitimacy crisis need not take the form of terror if policies are far-sighted, secular, humane and job-generating. Otherwise India post-Supreme Court judgment may be in for more trouble than is seen today. There may be a storm before this lull following the Ram Lalla decision. Ramlila may still have the last laugh on secular India. Muslims need their dignity as equal citizens of the country. Actualise the symbols of secular India by imparting dignity, jobs and security to all the communities.

The author is a former Professor, Centre for Political Studies, Jawaharlal Nehru University, New Delhi.

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