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World against terror?

World against terror?

Author: Editorial
Publication: The Indian Express
Date: May 21, 2002
URL: http://www.indian-express.com/full_story.php?content_id=3015

Compared to the high-profile efforts to build an international coalition against terrorism after September 11, the interest of the international community in terrorist violence, symbolised by the escalating transnational terrorism in India, seems to be remarkably subdued. One week after the barbaric killings of women and children, one has heard little from the US, which is leading the global war against terrorism. In the interim, the killings go on and India is being left with few options but to ratchet up its military options, knowing full well that there are risks involved. After the initial condemnation of the Jammu massacre, the US seems to have become pre-occupied with other issues like its nuclear deal with Russia. Either the West has not grasped the import of what is happening in the subcontinent, or it assumes - like Islamabad does - that New Delhi will respond with restraint, in accordance with its interests. The problem is compounded by the fact that Pakistanis appear to be gloating over the absence of action from Washington.

The hardliners here are beginning to claim that this lack of action could possibly be due to the US not being averse to India applying some military pressure, which would contribute to its own war against terrorism; a war that does not seem to be going very far now that it has been localised within Pakistan. US credibility has also suffered due to its media focus on the differences between its ambassador here and the State Department in Washington. If Pakistan has to act firmly against the jehadi system, the time to act is now, and not after a weak political system gets elected to hold partial power in that country later this year. Disrupting the democratic process and undermining the legitimacy of the election process in Jammu and Kashmir seems to be high on Pakistan's agenda. Even the so-called diplomatic support to separatist organisations to stay away from elections provides negative impulses to the political processes endangering peace. What India is facing is a dual-destabilising thrust - of terrorism and the undermining of the political processes through other means.

The US has numerous instrumentalities at its disposal, besides being in a position to persuade Islamabad through good advice. Unhindered economic assistance to Islamabad, which is not linked to progress on the promises made by President Musharraf, may also lead to the continued cynical use of terror as a tool of state policy. US policy makers must draw a balance between the incentives it provides Pakistan, with unambiguous disincentives for its failure to act. In substance, the US should review the economic assistance programmes to Islamabad, which only lead to greater intransigence in controlling jehadi terrorism. At the same time, Western democracies must support the election process in J&K. In fact, their advice for restraint would carry much more weight if it is accompanied by identifiable measures against terrorism.

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