Don’t act in haste Back   Home  
Even as India ponders over its next move to deal with the fidayeen attack in Jammu and Kashmir, it has to take into account the various changes that have taken place in the world of terrorists in recent months.

For a start, Pakistan, the ‘epicentre’ of Islamic fundamentalism, as described by a defence ministry report, is now in a much weaker position than before. A measure of its weakness was the manner in which it ‘blinked’, in the words of a Pakistani commentator, when India ‘glared’ at it by moving its troops to the border after December 13. Pervez Musharraf’s response was to announce a crackdown on the jehadis who, till then, had a free run in Pakistan. Even if a number of them were released in the run-up to Gen. Musharraf’s referendum, presumably to please the religious parties, the fidayeen attack on a Karachi hotel exposed the folly of that leniency.

Clearly, Pakistan is very much on the backfoot at the moment where aiding the terrorists is concerned. It may — and does — have all the will in the world to continue helping the jehadis, but Big Brother’s very presence in Pakistan must be a huge disincentive. It is entirely possible, therefore, that the attack on the army camp was an act of desperation. It isn’t only the loss of overt Pakistani sponsorship and their Afghan bases which may have introduced an element of desperation among the terrorists. They must also be aware of the change in mood inside Kashmir. As the rifts within the Hurriyat Conference and Hizbul Mujahideen show, the electoral option in Kashmir has induced second thoughts in the ranks of the rebels.

Where India is concerned, therefore, there has been a distinct improvement in the Kashmir situation. The terrorists have been partly defanged, their patrons in Islamabad are being compelled to act — even if reluctantly — against them and the people of Kashmir are realising that ballot may well be the answer to their problems instead of the bullet. Given these favourable factors, India must resist the temptation of acting in haste, especially when the US is now fully aware of Pakistan’s complicity in the Kashmir insurgency. Big Brother can be expected, therefore, to force his wayward protege to rein in the terrorists with greater vigour.
Editorial published in May 16th issue of HindustanTimes