Narendra Modi cannot counter terror with theatrics

Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s reaction to the terror attack has been theatrical and melodramatic on the one hand and callous and indifferent on the other

Narendra Modi cannot counter terror with theatrics

Atul Cowshish

How many times have we heard Narendra Modi and his ministers warning to Pakistan that India would teach a lesson it would not forget in a hurry for continuously exporting terror to Kashmir and other parts of the country?

After the ghastly Pulwama tragedy that took the lives of over 40 CRPF personnel, Modi and the team of blustering braggarts have again raged tumultuously that Pakistan would be taught a lesson of its life. With the families of the martyrs in mind, Modi declared there was a fire, apparently for revenge, that was raging in his heart.

It is time somebody told him that it all sounds repetitive, shallow and insulting to the families of those whose dear ones sacrificed their lives for the nation. Though it is not his habit, if Modi can ask himself, he should reflect upon the words he spoke when he was chief minister of Gujarat and building himself up as the Hindutva mascot through some very reprehensible acts. Was he not raving and ranting regularly against the ‘weak’—groveling—Pakistan policy of the UPA government? He had promised to replace it, after coming to power, with a befittingly muscular approach that would eliminate terrorism and inflict a thousand cuts on Pakistan.

The Pulwama terror attack is a manifestation of the alienation of the local populace taking deep roots because of the foolhardy manner in which the Modi ‘Sarkar’ has dealt with Jammu and Kashmir. The Modi-led government has shown an astounding indifference to any effort to win the hearts and minds of the Kashmiris and an even more shocking display of dishonesty by claiming that the ‘situation’ in the state was ‘improving’.

The whole country will solidly back any move to eliminate terrorism in Jammu and Kashmir—and any other part of the country. But it is frightening that no sign of waging a successful war on terror is visible, unless we have to accept the misleading, exaggerated, self-congratulatory blowing of trumpet as a sign of triumph.

Many knowledgeable persons have questioned the wisdom of going to town about ‘surgical strikes’. But for a government that thrives on publicity the urge for publicity—and milking it for political mileage—must have been irresistible.

Even a child can tell that taking the adversary by surprise is the best way to deal a telling blow to him. The current ruling dispensation of myopic and antediluvian men and women has still not realised the harmful consequences of its publicity seeking, attention grabbing acts.

There is no shortage of bragging men and women in Modi’s team. They are talking about the various ‘options’ they have of ‘teaching a lesson’ to Pakistan. It could be dismissed as a joke had the matter been not so serious, involving precious human lives and integrity of the nation. Is India ruled by people who are like frogs in the well—unaware of the world outside?

For if they are indeed aware of the world, they would know that when you broadcast your ‘options’, designed for ‘punitive’ retaliation, you are alerting the adversary and completely foregoing the advantage of a surprise, swift retaliation. It is ridiculous to believe that when one of the Indian ‘options’ under consideration is hitting targets beyond the border, the adversary would be caught unawares. Not surprisingly, a media report says that Pakistan has already shifted the terrorist camps from near the border in Kashmir.

Is it possible to ‘isolate’ Pakistan diplomatically at a time when the great powers are seeking its help to end the Afghan war? The US is courting Pakistan again; China will thwart all Indian efforts to ‘isolate’ its ‘all-weather friend’. The warmth and steadiness in India’s relations with Russia has disappeared. The geo-political reality has placed Pakistan at an advantageous position that India can only envy.

Almost at the same time as the Jaish-e-Mohammed suicidal attack on the CRPF convoy in Kashmir on February 14, a militant group, widely known to be supported by Pakistan, had killed 27 members of the Iranian Revolutionary Guards in the Sistan-Baluchistan province bordering Pakistan. Iran has blamed Pakistan for the attack and taken it up with Pakistan.

There is no letup in Pakistan-based terror groups attacking Afghans, to the constant annoyance of Ashraf Ghani, head of the Afghan government. It needs to be remembered that when he took over, he had made several conciliatory gestures towards Pakistan, arousing suspicion in India. But Ghani has ended up as a bitter critic of Pakistan because of the latter’s refusal to curb terror groups operating from its soil to attack Afghanistan.

It is clear that the trio of India, Afghanistan and Iran suffer from terrorism that originates from Pakistan. Will it not be worthwhile for the three regional countries to join hands and take up cudgels at the diplomatic and other forums against Pakistan?

The US might create hurdles because of the presence of Iran, but why can’t India prevail upon the US that a joint approach against made-in-Pakistan terror is in the best interest of the region and its peace and stability?

Though a mercurial and unpredictable US president may indeed prove to be an obstacle, the success or lack of it via a triangular approach will also measure the depth of Indo-US ties which Modi claims to have taken to unprecedented heights.

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