The horrendous and cowardly killing of innocent families travelling in a bus from Kulu to Jammu and the army camp only re-emphasises the escalation in terrorism in spite of the promises of the man who heads Pakistan.
Four months after General Musharraf made a public commitment to wind down terrorism from Pakistani soil we have become the target of one of the worst terrorist attacks in a long while, one that the visiting US Assistant Secretary of State Christina Rocca described as ‘‘barbaric’’.
The jehadi organisations that undertake terrorism in India have been built up over the years by the army in Pakistan and the ISI to provide the ‘‘low cost option’’ to take Kashmir and, at the very minimum, bleed India with ‘‘a thousand cuts’’. Two terrorist groups have separately claimed responsibility. Al-Masooran appears to be a shadow group of the Pakistan-based Lashkar-e Tayyiba, possibly created after the Lashkar was banned by the US. Jamiat-ul-Mujahideen also claimed responsibility, identifying three killed terrorists with Arabic names.
It would be naive to dismiss the attack as the reaction of the radical jehadi organisations, not under Pakistani control, even though their mentors are located in Pakistan. Nothing could be more telling than last week’s statement of former director general of Pakistan’s Intelligence Bureau, Masood Sharif Khattak, that the Pakistani ‘‘government which is run exclusively by the Army’’ has failed to control terrorism even within Pakistan when the ‘‘wherewithal to fight terrorism’’ is entirely available to it and to ‘‘seek refuge in lame excuses amounts to running away from the problem’’.
It might be recalled that Pakistan’s chairman of the joint chiefs of staff, General Mohammed Aziz, who as the chief of general staff to General Pervez Musharraf in the middle of the Kargil war three years ago, had categorically stated that ‘‘we (the army) control their (Mujahideen) tap’’.
Former heads of ISI have often publicly called for escalation of terrorism in India, even arguing that the mujahideen should be supplied with weapons like the Stinger missile.
If Pakistan is sincere about working for peace then it must reverse terrorism, rather than promote its escalation. Musharraf has made many promises. What is needed is progress on the ground in keeping with those promises so that we can move beyond them. The actual experience is to the reverse. Islamabad would be making a fundamental error if it believes that the current war against terrorism has provided it opportunities to raise the stakes and get the international community to intervene on its side. Or that Indian military mobilisation is only for domestic political reasons.
New Delhi must unambiguously convey the message that it has many options to increase the costs of waging a war through sponsoring terrorism. The military option, of course, must be reserved for the very last. It may be time for further political-economic measures and to signal that we have those options available and are ready to exercise them.
In the face of escalating terrorism the meeting of the joint commission on Indus Waters Treaty scheduled for May 29 should be postponed as an initial step. Our piety in sticking to agreements is meaningless if Pakistan is unwilling to honour its commitments.
Published in KashmirLive of ExpressIndia