Governments clueless on tackling terror

via Pradeep Ayroor published on July 26, 2009

The very same team of Prime Minister and his ministers, who were at the helm when the nation was subjected to a horrendous terror outrage in Mumbai on 26th November 2008, is ruling the country now. Surprisingly, the utterances of the Prime Minister reflect little precaution and he never echoes the sentiments of a nation that has been continuously bleeding from terrorist attacks. Adding insult to injury, he has extended the olive branch of unconditional peace talks to a treacherous neighbour who has never reciprocated the goodwill gestures shown by India in the past. Hitherto the Indian stand was that Pakistan must bring to book the masterminds of the 26/11 attack before any peace talks could start. This has been a consensual view across the political spectrum in India. In a quick somersault the PM now says talks can begin with Pakistan and he is satisfied with a lame assurance from that country that they would initiate action against the terrorists.

Is not the Prime Minister doing a disservice to the martyrs of 26/11 by adopting a soft stand towards a terrorist country like Pakistan?

Only a very meek and soft state like India can have such a head of state, who suffers from such quick bouts of amnesia when dealing with a virulent neighbour that has been exploiting India’s weak policies and heavy doses of uncalled for magnanimity.

Alas, one can only call it a travesty of democratic wisdom that the very same UPA regime that has a very miserable track record in ensuring internal security has romped home with a comfortable majority. The UPA has been somewhat successful in concealing the gross failures of the security and intelligence apparatus in preventing the terror attacks on India. Poor average Indian voter just went with the UPA thinking that it is a better choice than the hydra-headed combination of small regional parties each with a prime ministerial aspirant. The electorate inadvertently endorsed the UPA regime in an attempt to steer the country in a stable and development-oriented direction. In the run-up to the general elections the media was abuzz with the prospects of another hung parliament and the spectre of power hungry politicians pulling in different directions. These things would have definitely swayed a sizable number of votes in favour of the UPA.

However , the new regime has let down the nation as a whole. By delinking terror from the composite dialogue with Pakistan, Manmohan Singh has sent some wrong signals to Pakistan. Islamabad will definitely take this gesture as yet another sign of India’s weakness, not as a genuine measure aimed at boosting relations.

The saddest aspect in India’s approach to terrorism is that our approach has been on a piecemeal basis. We as a nation, does not have a long-term consistent approach to tackle terrorism which is taking precious lives apart from being a heavy drain on the state exchequer. Shivaraj Patil’s replacement with Chidambaram does not seem to have yielded any tangible result on the ground with the UPA government’s approach to internal security remaining the same lackadaisical one.

After every terrorist attack, our leadership indulge themselves in ritualistic public relation exercises and make some noises about coordination among states and Center on security issues, beefing up the intelligence machinery, so on and so forth; but as weeks and months pass, we find that decisions taken are not implemented with the result that we have the same old problems and security loopholes on hand. The implementation part is often delayed due to bureaucratic hurdles and to top it up the leaders themselves often lack the determination to take their decisions to their logical conclusions.

It is often argued by security experts that tackling terror would need stringent laws. Then we had the controversial POTA. Despite the arguments against POTA, the fact remains that normal law is too inadequate to comprehensively pin down the culprits in terror cases. There are just a number of loopholes in our laws that criminals and terrorists have always exploited to their utmost advantage. It is high time the political parties reach a consensus on the need of strict common laws that can deal with terrorism effectively.

Down south in Kerala, a sate long held to be insular from the rest of the country for its so called communally friendly and terror-free society, the spate of terrorist arrest is alarming. Both UDF and LDF who have been ruling the state by turns for decades are playing the blame game and they just want to protect themselves in the eyes of the public. Nowadays with the advent of electronic media, with half a dozen Malayalam TV channels each vying for their own pie in the public domain, people are fed with interesting information as how both the fronts pampered the terrorists from time to time. It is quite easy for a discerning Keralite to trace the genesis and evolution of the terror saga in Kerala straight into the vote bank politics of UDF and LDF. If the LDF had aligned with Madani’s PDP, the UDF was keen to equal the LDF with an alliance with NDF. Both the fronts have had open and discreet electoral pacts with minority communal outfits which have proved to be the main source of terrorist recruitment. It is ludicrous that Congress leaders of Kerala are putting the blame of the current terror-communal cauldron solely on the shoulders of the LDF – both are equally responsible.

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