World blind to nurseries of terror
Reader comment on item: Still Asleep After Mumbai
Submitted by BR (India), Jan 8, 2009 at 04:24
The shame is not India's but the world's that a democratic, law-abiding country can be attacked by a neighbour with terrorism and receive no strong international support
India's Government faces difficult choices and no one should interfere in that hard process. Still, it is worth describing the alternatives New Delhi must ponder and what it might ask the rest of the world to do.
First, of course, no one should criticise India or draw conclusions too quickly. The Indian Government will investigate and confer with friendly states. An official conclusion will be reached. Rumours and newspaper articles are not sufficient: The security and intelligence forces must examine the evidence; Government must speak.
What is most interesting is the conclusion that elements in Pakistan were involved. This does not necessarily mean that the Pakistani Government officially ordered the attack or knew about it. The Indian Government, however, has made the following points:
# Pakistan hosts terrorist groups that carried out the attack.
# Pakistani intelligence knew the attack was being planned.
# Some Pakistani agencies or officials helped the terrorists obtain weapons, training, equipment, and to travel freely in and out of the country.
So, what can India do? It has asked Pakistan to cooperate fully in the investigation, to respond to specific questions, to expel Indian nationals involved and to punish any Pakistanis involved. The Pakistani response has been lukewarm. In such circumstances, India has several normal options given world history, political reality, and diplomatic practice:
# Make threats and carry out sanctions. This is relatively easy but India does not have much leverage over Pakistan. These may be necessary but will change nothing.
# India goes to the international community and asks for help. This should be the solution. The Indian Government presents evidence, the international community is appalled, and Pakistan is not only denounced but faces sanctions and pressures.
The problem here is that the international community is not exactly courageous. There are those who sympathise with the terrorists, those who apologise for the terrorists, and those who are afraid of the terrorists.
What is truly frightening is how much the world is afraid of the terrorists. An example: In 2006 the Israel-Hizbullah war ended with a UN ceasefire resolution. The UN, meaning more than 180 countries, pledged to patrol southern Lebanon and keep Hizbullah forces from returning there. It also promised to help stop arms smuggling from Iran and Syria to Hizbullah. In fact, after two years the UN armed soldiers in Lebanon have done nothing. Hizbullah has returned and rearmed. What happened? Hizbullah, and Syria, hinted that if the UN forces did their job they would be attacked. The entire world surrendered to Hizbullah.
But India does have some interesting options here:
# It can present evidence to the new US Administration and ask Pakistan be added to the State Department list of terrorism-supporting states, which automatically incurs certain sanctions.
# It can do the same with the EU and ask that the groups attacking India, now and in the past, be found to be terrorist organisations, which means their assets can be confiscated and their members refused entry or deported.
In each case, India could lobby with the US Congress and EU Parliament to press for action.
Obviously, India would prefer strong sanctions and diplomatic pressures. In Israel's case, however, the United States has pushed Syria to close terrorism offices there for more than 20 years with no success. America keeps getting either sidetracked or fooled by the Syrians. Now, it is Syria's pretended moderation that will perhaps make Washington forget about the fact that Damascus is daily sponsoring terrorism!
The shame is not India's but the world's that a democratic, law-abiding country can be attacked by a neighbour with terrorism and receive no strong material international support, as opposed to condolences. What signal does this send to radical regimes and to terrorist groups? That they can attack and get away with it! And so they will attack, again and again.
Should we be surprised, then, that there is so much international terrorism.
# The third option is military and yet that is difficult enough even without the fact that Pakistan has nuclear weapons. And note that Pakistan is setting a precedent for what Iran can do when it has nuclear weapons: Anything it wants without paying a price in retaliation or real international pressure.
This is truly tragic. For if Pakistan can blatantly allow or encourage a terrorist attack on India, then ignore complaints and threats; if Syria and Iran can sponsor terrorism on Israel; if Russia can invade Georgia and face no international response, what kind of a world is the 21st century giving us?
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