I am a common Indian. I have never fought a war and I hope my country does not have to go to war. I have no relative, family, or friend who have been blown apart by a bomb. But I have seen others, who have lost friends and family, those who have been maimed for life, all for being at the wrong place at the wrong time. I hope no mother, father, brother, sister, husband and wife has to see their near and dear ones blown apart.
Over past three decades, India has seen terrorist attacks on her soil. Terrorists have refined their techniques, technologies and approaches to graduate from low value to high value targets, over time. In early days, terrorists would plant a bomb in a market place, or a temple or a court house. The blast would kill many, maim multiple others. Attacking commoners, it was realised, may not touch nerve centre of government administrative machinery. As a result, terrorists decided to attack high value targets like :
- Indian parliament,
- J&K assembly,
- a luxury hotel in Indian financial capital,
- military camps (Nagrota, Pathankot, Uri),
- paramilitary convoy
- hijacking airliner
Obvious question comes, how should India respond? After every attack TV channels conduct shrill debate. The debate can be broadly divided into two groups:
- One group that favor a hard stand by attacking the terrorist camps, their training centers, their money supply, their sympathisers and benefactors. Hard liners prefer one decise war. These people believe it is better to die once than getting humiliated many times over.
- A second group prefer soft approach. These people believe in winning hearts and minds of people who resort to terrorism. Talking to people that give shelter to terrorists. They argue war and hard approach only creates misery and heartache. War takes back economy and progress many years behind. Neighbor has nuclear weapon, they may unleash it on us, if we attack.
I think we have the following options to deal with terror. These are not standalone options, they should be used together and/or in different combinations:
- See that justice is being done. In a multicultural, pluralistic society there will be people who will feel alienated. It must be understood that it may not be possible to please every section of society.It is important to talk to their leaders. Explain government position. Use force on internal people only under extreme provocation. People should feel that justice is being done and no one is being subjected to injustice. Minimise the causes that make a person pick up a gun or explode himself in a suicide attack.
- Use diplomacy to put pressure on nations that harbor terrorists, give them support, shelter and freedom to operate. Name these nations, shame them, do not do business with them, isolate them. It has been seen that diplomacy alone is never effective. No country can hope to isolate any country. In a multipolar world every country has a big brother. After 26/11 attack in Mumbai, we have seen that diplomatic pressure alone is not sufficient.
- Use military to attack terrorist base. Be prepared to be attacked. Those who think military attack will provoke a reprisal, may be with nuclear arsenal, should understand that every conflict leads to casualty. For fear of getting hurt, we cannot stop from undertaking a military operation. If the adversary is mad enough to use nuclear weapon on us, then we should also respond in kind. If the prevailing sentiment suggest that we cannot hit back despite repeated attack, then I think we should dismantle Indian armed forces and spend the money for something more meaningful.
I have never fought a war. I do not want a war. I do not hate my neighbor. But what am I expected to do, if my neighbor unleashes terror on my country, on fellow Indians? If my neighbour feels the same, then it should work to dismantle terror factories. If he does not, then I have no choice but to do it on my own. If the consequence leads to a war, so be it.
Present post is written as part of Indispire prompt of Indiblogger. More posts in response to the prompt may be found here.
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