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THE sudden eruption of violence in Jammu and Kashmir strengthens fears that terrorists from across the border have started sneaking into the state. The worst incident was the suicide attack on the Raghunath temple in Jammu in which seven people were killed and many more injured. While the pro-Pakistani outfit, Jamiat-ul-Mujahideen, has claimed responsibility for the attack on a BSF post the same day, there is enough evidence to link the indiscriminate firing in the temple area to the Pakistanis themselves. Their purpose was not merely to kill some innocent people and thereby spread terror but to provoke a retaliation of the kind witnessed in Gujarat to destroy peace in the country. It is this macabre strategy of the terrorists that needs to be fought and defeated. An all-out search for the killers to bring them to justice and the beefing up of security are what needs to be done urgently. This presupposes strengthening the intelligence gathering mechanism in the state, which is obviously in a bad shape.

These incidents once again buttress the point that Pakistani President General Pervez Musharraf’s claim about reining in the militants is nothing but hogwash. If at all there was a lull in terrorist activities in the recent past, it was on account of factors other than Islamabad’s much-publicised onslaught against terrorism — winter conditions and the ongoing American war against terrorism were mainly to account for the lull. The reported refusal by Musharraf to hand over Omar Sheikh, accused of masterminding the kidnap and eventual murder of the American journalist, Daniel Pearl, to stand trial in the US indicates that it is futile to expect him to deliver on the promises he made on fighting terrorism. Let it be recognised, India’s demand for extraditing 20 wanted criminals, now enjoying secure protection in Pakistan, is as good as rejected. Thus, it is puerile to expect Pakistan to take any step that will have an effective and long-lasting impact on India’s efforts to control terrorism in J&K. Obviously, the time has come to take decisive action against terrorism and those sponsoring it.

With a large number of Al-Qaeda and Taliban fighters taking shelter in Pakistan, the danger of at least some of them undertaking assignments on the Indian side of the border or setting up camps on the Pakistani side of Kashmir is too real to be dismissed. It is not known to what extent Musharraf exerts control on such agencies as the Inter-Service Intelligence (ISI), particularly when the Pakistan Human Rights Commission is compelled to remind him about the need to control ‘misguided’ army officers as much as the ‘misguided’ clerics. With the kind of bloodletting that occurs in J&K, India cannot afford to wait till Musharraf addresses these internal problems. Meanwhile India has no choice but to use all its resources — diplomatic, economic, political and even military — to let Pakistan know that it cannot, will not, get away with its misguided project.
Published in ExpressIndia