For ten years and more the serenity of the Kashmir Valley has been disturbed by gunfire and the access to some of the most beautiful spots in the world has been denied to tourists from within the country and abroad. Worse still, enemies from across the border sowed the seeds of discord and hatred between communities in the name of religion, driving the Hindu Pandits out of their moorings to seek sanctuary elsewhere in India.
People have lost count of the killings, massacres, lootings, kidnappings and other heinous crimes in the course of the last ten years, all perpetrated by the hardcore militants trained, armed and transported by India’s neighbour Pakistan which has now become a de facto “terrorist” state, though its allies refuse to recognise its demure status as the signboard of international terrorism due to their own enlightened self-interest.
Hundreds of civilians and members of India’s security forces the BSF and the CRPF have paid with their lives for the proxy war waged by Pakistan.
The Kargil war was the grand climax of the systematic and sustained campaign of terrorism. Pakistan has been waging against India even during the war and therefore there has been no let up in the scale of violence and bloodshed let loose by the Pak trained terrorists. For over a decade, India has been crying hoarse about international terrorism, but none paid any heed to her complaints.
Things are now slowly changing and even USA and Russia are now veering round to India’s view point that they should mount a united front against terrorists training their guns at the heart of the stability of their countries. The US concerns were triggered by June 1996 bomb attack on its military personnel in Daharan in Saudi Arabia.
The bomb attacks on the US Embassies in Nairobi and Dar-es-Sallam in 1998 and explosion in US base in the gulf in 2000 and the latest terrorist blitz on World Trade Tower and Pentagon on September 11,2001 resulting in loss of property worth billions of dollars as also more than 6000 lives. Allegedly masterminded by the Saudi millionaire, Osama Bin Laden from his hideouts in Afghanistan convinced Washington that international co-operation is a prerequisite to curbing state sponsored terrorism.
Next to India, the worst country to bear the brunt of terrorism has been Russia that lost more than 300 people in the bomb blasts that destroyed many apartment blocks in Moscow and other urban areas.
Russia traced the hotbed of terrorism as originating from the bases of disgruntled elements in Chechanya and Dagestan; on closer scrutiny, Russia found that it was all the handiwork of mercenaries trained in Pakistan and Afghanistan and the mastermind was once again the dreaded Osama Bin Laden. Russia protested to Pakistan in vain.
A desperate Russia took things seriously and launched both combined air and land assault on Chechanya to flush out the terrorists presumably shielded by the government of the breakaway Chechanya.
On September 17, 1999 Osama Bin Laden added India to USA as the two countries against which he and his followers have declared ‘Jehad’. A press release issued in Jalalabad said India and USA were the mujahidin’s “biggest enemies” and they would target these ‘imperialist’ forces wherever possible.
He has been also extending all sorts of supports in the form of trained Islamic zealots, material, arms and equipment to secessionist Islamic rebels in Dagistan and Chechanya; thus posing a threat to Russian federation.
He said he was ready to help the Kashmir mujahedeen and he did ‘help’ them during the Kargil war. India can ill afford to ignore the threat of Osama Bin Laden. India is taking ever step to meet any eventuality.
Defense sources in India are aware that Osama Bin Laden has an unspecified number of US stinger missiles, the Russian made SAM 7 surface to air missiles and vast quantities of sophisticated small arms and when he has the backing of Pakistan, why on earth bin Laden should worry at all about the arms for his ‘holy war there is now enough flourishing business in drugs trade and they have enough money to buy arms.
Against this background, glowing tributes should be paid to the farsightedness of the Prime Minister Mr. Atal Bihari Vajpayee and the astute diplomacy of Mr. Jaswant Singh in taking up the diplomat initiative to forge concerted action to fight international terrorism with its ‘deadly cocktail of violence, religious extremism and narcotics trafficking.’ On September 17, 1999 India and the United States began high consultations to find ways of countering the looming specter of terrorism across the world.
The US coordinator for counter terrorism, Mr. Michael Sheehan met Indian, officials to decide common parameters for bilateral cooperation to prevent terrorist bombings. USA is keen on evolving an international legal framework to punish terrorists. This includes proposals for extraditing suspects or the right to prosecute them in third countries.
Both India and USA also discussed the terrorism in Kashmir and the rapid spread of extremist violence from Afghanistan into the central Asian states, which include Kirgyzstan and Tajikistan and the Moscow blasts all seen as part of the terror network spreading across the globe from Afghanistan and Pakistan.
USA has reprimanded Pakistan at least behind the scene, over its naked support for terrorists in Kashmir. It is an open secret that the terrorists could not have held Kashmir to ransom for so long without the material support of Pakistan. How far USA is prepared to take on Pakistan in its’ war on terrorism without jeopardising its traditional relations with Islamabad remains to be seen.
The issue of terrorism and how to fight it through fore like the UN security council was a major item in the agenda of the discussions held between India’s external affairs minister, Mr. Jaswant Singh and his Russian counterpart, Mr. Igor Ivanov, during the UN general assembly deliberations in New York in September, 1999. At the UN itself India signed on September 18, 1999 the international convention for suppression of terrorist Bombings.
Once rectified, the convention will enable the countries to either prosecute or extradite those accused of terrorist bombings. India is the 47th country to sign the convention, which has been so far ratified by only six nations. It needs ratification by 22 countries to come into force. The convention was adopted by the UN general assembly in December 1997.
It is now India’s finest hour with the growing worldwide awareness on the dangers of international terrorism. No country can afford to remain complacent with the mad exporters of terrorism; even daring to steal nuclear material to do their dirty and heinous job.
One should hope that USA and Russia, together with other permanent members of the UN security council (including China which is also facing threat from Islamic fundamentalists in its Xinjiang province) would join together to tackle the international blackmail at its very source but it is regretted that China, because of its narrow interests to befriend Pakistan, has failed to condemn international terrorism.
It even opposed arms embargo and sanctions imposed against Taliban by UN at the behest of USA, Russia and others till they surrender Osama Bin Laden.