Dismantling the coalition of the weak and the wicked for National Security

In my previous article I had written about how our PM Narendra Modi had put the security of the country as his first priority once he assumed the office of the Prime Minister at New Delhi. His invitation to SAARC leaders for the inauguration ceremony, followed quickly by visits to Bhutan and Japan were intended to build an atmosphere of trust and co-operation with India’s immediate neighborhood. The Chinese President too was, rather pointedly, received not in New Delhi, but in Mahatma Gandhi’s city, thereby stressing India’s commitment to Gandhiji’s creed of non-violence. The informal setting of the Sabarmati Ashram where the two leaders met could not but create an atmosphere of cordiality and an absence of hostility. The pundits have debated why the Chinese decided to make a rather deep incursion into Ladakh at the same time; but India’s firm and strong response would not have gone unnoticed in China’s corridors of power. The Australian PMs visit too assured his country’s co-operation on a number of issues, including in the supply of uranium required for the nuclear power plants.

narendra modi Our PM Narendra Modi Must Ensure Indias Foreign Policy

The PM’s first official visit to the U.S. has been analyzed threadbare, and apart from a few choleric malcontents like Mani Shankar Aiyar and news traders of the Rajdeep Sardesai and Barkha Dutt variety, the general consensus is that in his interactions with the Indian diaspora, the UN General Assembly, the captains of American industry and commerce, and above all, with the U.S. President, our PM Narendra Modi has more than exceeded the expectations of the people at home. Nawaz Sharif’s whining at the UNGA did not even merit a response from Modi, who completely ignored him at the summit. The Pakistani press also found it difficult to fault Modi on his approach and found nothing praiseworthy in their own PM’s speech and delivery.

Islamist Terrorist Threats

The September 12, 2014 issue of The Open magazine carried an article “Thankless India” written by P. R. Ramesh. It narrated, in minute detail, the story of the manhunt for the dreaded and most wanted terrorist, Yasin Bhatkal. The operation itself was launched on 13th August 2013 by the Bihar unit of the Special Operations Group (SOG), under the overall supervision of the Intelligence Bureau. Yasin Bhatkal was tracked to a house in Pokhra in neighboring Nepal, where he was living under an assumed identity of a Unani doctor and going by the name of Dr. Yusuf.

The “human assets” that the SOG had cultivated in Nepal had absolutely no doubts about the identity of the target. The only problem was how to extract the terrorist from Pokhra and take him across the border without making it into an international issue. How a few courageous officers, using their own funds and other resources, managed to bring the manhunt to a successful rendition, forms the substance of Ramesh’s narrative. It is a very well written story and makes for compelling reading. The author, in the concluding paragraphs aptly explains the title of the piece.

The recent fortuitous discovery of a terror cell in Burdwan, and the enormous quantity of explosive devices found by the NIA in various parts of West Bengal, has brought the issue of national security squarely into the central space. The unfurling of the ISIS flag by some Kashmiri and Tamil youth is extremely disturbing. The warning given by the head of the NSG that terror outfits like ISIS and al Qaeda could be combining their forces in India to commit atrocities on scales larger than what the LeT did on 26/11 in Mumbai, can be ignored only at extreme peril. Omar Abdullah’s vapid statement attributing the act to “misguided youth” just shows how out-of-touch he is with the reality of his own state.

A Chief Minister who admitted that his government was non-existent during the recent unprecedented floods has no right to express an opinion on grave national security issues. Mamata Bannerji of West Bengal is another CM who is quick to put her critics in jail while completely ignoring the existence of any terrorist threat. She has compromised the security of the country by giving party tickets and posts to known anti-nationals, all for the sake of vote-bank politics. Both Omar and Mamata are treading dangerous paths that could lead to wholesale bloodshed and terrible retribution.

The Artificial Peace of Cold War

The end of the Second World War in 1945 hastened the end of imperialism. Within two years the British withdrew from the subcontinent, leaving behind newly created independent nation-states that they hoped would evolve as democracies. America was the only superpower that had nuclear capability and had demonstrated the resolve to use that capability. The period of relative peace that lasted for about a decade allowed for the Marshall plan to kick in and help in the reconstruction of the devastated Europe. Meanwhile the Soviet Union too had acquired nuclear capability and the means to deliver it. The world was divided into two blocs with the iron curtain separating them. The era of Cold War that settled in took on the appearance of permanence.

Decade after decade it continued, and except for a few crises like the Berlin Blockade, the Cuban missile crisis, the massacre of Bengalis in East Pakistan followed by the war for Bangladesh, the Yom Kippur War of 1973, policy makers across the globe planned foreign policy on a vision that saw no end to the Cold War. Once the policy of Mutually Assured Destruction (MAD) kicked in, the Cold War’s nuclear standoff seemed to be the destiny of mankind. The action now moved into the corridors of the UN and its maze of negotiating forums. Superpower arms control negotiations as also talks on the Arab-Israel conflict went on for multiple decades in Geneva and elsewhere.

These marathon gabfests went on and on and seldom, if any, produced a result. Success was measured in terms of the continuation of discussions without any eagerness or desire for culmination. The Cold War provided the cushion of mutual safety in inaction. Nehru and a few other Third World leaders, who saw themselves as statesmen, chose to strike a different non-alignment path, patting themselves on the back and massaging their already overblown egos. Of course, their non-alignment was heavily biased against the West since it was more romantic to be a Leftist.

The Cold War also lulled the Indian policy makers into believing that this kind of ahistorical situation would prevail for all times to come. The Pakistani adventure of 1965 was more like shadow boxing and the war in Bangladesh was after all an internal matter of Pakistan. The LOC in Kashmir had, for all practical purposes, become the international boundary, and Pakistani leaders’ support for an independent Kashmir was more to keep their own public happy.

Mrs. Indira Gandhi could have used the comprehensive victory in 1971 to force Bhutto to sign a permanent agreement on Kashmir in Shimla. However, I suspect, the Cold War hangover prevailed over her and she missed out on this opportunity.

The end of the Cold War and the rise of Religious Extremism

In July 1977, Gen. Zia-ul-Haq dismissed Bhutto’s government and declared himself as Pakistan’s Martial Law Administrator. The next year he became the President. In 1979 the Soviet Union invaded Afghanistan in an occupation that eventually became the graveyard of Communist Russia as well as of the Cold War. In the Soviet invasion of Afghanistan Zia saw an opportunity to become the leader of the Muslims world. He dubbed the invasion as a war against Islam and the Afghan soldiers as holy warriors fighting for their faith against a godless enemy.

Providing strategic and material support to the mujahedin, he prevailed upon the Americans to invest heavily in this war against the only other superpower. The US Treasury and the CIA became willing accomplices in Afghanistan’s war against Russia, and when on 15th February, 1989, the last Soviet military commander walked back into the then Soviet Republic of Uzbekistan, that step would mark the beginning of the end of the Red Army and the dismantling of the Communist World.

Zia, in the meantime, had been summarily dispatched to his maker by “a case of exploding mangoes,” but not before he had launched the second phase of “Operation Gibraltar” that had initially been put into place by Ayub Khan in 1965. The main objective of the operation was to spread disaffection among the Muslims of Kashmir and the rest of India and to infiltrate their minds with the Wahabi cult of Sunni Islam. Unfortunately for India, he was largely successful in his aims in Kashmir. The valley has ever since been a hotbed of Islamic militancy that not only led to the exodus of the Pandits and other religious minorities, but also destroyed the economy of the state.

With the collapse of the USSR in 1991, the comfort of Mutually Assured Destruction (MAD) also disappeared. US rose to the rank of the world’s greatest power. The military capabilities of other nation states could not pose a similar threat that Moscow had posed in its prime. The hubris generated by this singular position has led the US and the West into a quagmire of self-destructive wars in the Middle East and Afghanistan, with the stated objective of bringing democracy to these people; into what Samuel Huntington so imperiously called “a clash of civilizations.” The Western interference in the Arab lands has given rise to an extremely virulent form of nationalism across the Islamic world that sees democracy and individual freedom as enemies of Islam. Post-Cold War world, in the words of Gertrude Himmelfarb, finds itself at a “bloody crossroads …confronting a lethal combination of nationalism and religion – and not in one region but all over the globe.”

The Cold War was a historical anomaly. It was a fifty-year long period, the like of which had never occurred in human history before. In few periods of modern history were the chances lower of surprise attack and total war between great powers. People like Nehru, who apparently had an understanding of history, should have reveled in the great good luck they enjoyed in leading India during Pax Atomica, but they should also have been continuously reminding themselves that their luck might some day run out.

More important, they should have been mentoring their successors that history suggested that such good fortune could not last forever. As Georgetown University scholar Joshua Mitchell has argued that the end of the Cold War removed “the temporary masking of those darker aspirations in the human heart: order, honor, tribal affiliations… The people of the Middle East know nothing of the victory of freedom and the end of history. The myth is ours, not theirs.”

The Cold War ended, history resumed, and wars, religion, ethnic animosities, tribalism and nationalism came roaring back to dominate human affairs. Arm in arm came multiculturalists and antinational organizations. Soft borders allowed entry to people whose forms of criminal behavior were not only rife but also culturally acceptable and economically necessary for survival in their homelands. The hungry vote-bank politician, hiding behind a godless, bureaucratic, and quasi-socialist society, facilitated the creation of a safe haven for proven Islamist extremists, terrorists and insurgents. These Islamist enemies of India gladly accepted this hospitality, took up residence, signed up for ration-voter-Adhar cards, and quietly expanded their militant, economic, proselytizing, and logistics networks.

Half a millennium ago the Italian political philosopher Niccolo Machiavelli had said that a nation could not use patience and goodness to subdue enemies; it must exact vengeance through punitive actions that annihilate present enemies and make their successors think twice before pursuing attacks that risk the same response. The period between 1972 and 2014 demonstrated how damaging a doctrine of pacific response has been to Indian interests. We have seen how both Vajpayee and Manmohan Singh fretted about what the world would think if military power was used against the many acts of war committed against India by Pakistan.

The attack on the Parliament, the Kandahar hijacking, the Kargil War, and above all 26/11, all were provocations of the extreme kind, but every time our response amounted to nothing more than sabre rattling. Pakistan’s destabilization of the valley of Kashmir is already a quarter century old, but our response continues to be pusillanimous, and instead of visiting retribution on the perpetrators (and possibly in their own backyard of balochistan and Gilgit/PoK) and instigators from across the border, our forces are ranged against our own citizens creating disaffection and fuelling the fires of an armed insurrection.

The threat posed to the very existence of India by this lethal combination of Arab-style nationalism and religion is very real and imminent. That we cannot expect any help from Western Europe becomes obvious when one looks at the demographic time bomb that is ticking relentlessly across that continent. Mark Steyn, who with Niall Ferguson has studied this subject writes: ”Europe, like Japan has catastrophic birth rates and a swollen pampered elderly class determined to live in defiance of economic reality. But the difference is that on the Continent the successor (Muslim) population is already in place and the only question is how bloody the transfer of real estate will be.”

Today Europe is confronted with a shrinking and ageing population that will require an ever-increasing flow of immigrants to maintain a workforce to keep its social welfare system from bankruptcy for a bit longer. “Where will the new labor come from?” asks Mark Steyn. “A talented ambitious Chinese or Indian has zero reasons to immigrate to France, unless he is consumed by a perverse fantasy of living in a segregated society that artificially constrains his economic opportunities yet imposes confiscatory taxation on him in order to support an ancient regime of indolent geriatrics.” The young workers will come from the high birth rates of the already in place Muslim citizens as also from fresh immigrants from the Islamic world, especially North Africa.

The EC’s decades long effort to legislate multiculturalism comes from the illusive belief that if poor, illiterate, unhealthy Muslims are given Western style education, better health care, proper drinking water and voting booths, they will abandon their faith, love Israel, and encourage their daughters to give up “purdah” and be more feminist. They forget that Islam becomes more, not less important to the inhabitants of an invaded Muslim country, and while improvements in living conditions are appreciated, they are not religiously transforming. The CIA veteran Michael Scheuer writes in his book “Marching Towards Hell” that “in Guantanamo Bay, for example, we are building a truly dedicated and virulently anti-US mujahedin battalion, the members of which will have the best cared for teeth in the Islamic world.”

Dismantling the coalition of the weak and the wicked for National Security

India, therefore, will have to face the Islamic threat emanating from Pakistan, abetted by the global jihadi infrastructure, without expecting any help from the Western democracies. The Russians are themselves engaged in the Caucasus, fighting insurgents of all kinds. China, at best, may choose not to militarily support Pakistan, but is unlikely to put any hurdles in its way. “Kadi ninda” and “proportional response” are, therefore, synonyms for ineffective action designed to please international opinion, antinational organizations, and the votaries of “dialogue” as the best method to resolve conflict. The hydra-headed institutions of antinational NGOs, human rights organizations, disarmament groups, environmental organizations, climbing on the shoulders of a discredited, corrupt and effete Congress party are presenting an obstacle that limit in every possible way the ability of the Indian security establishment to capture and kill the enemy in sufficient numbers to give a chance of victory. Truculent, sensationalist, and media-abetted campaigns by these organizations are in full swing to halt anti-Indian rendition programs, agitate against nuclear sites, maintain rules of engagement that make Indian soldiers targets, not killers, and allege human rights crimes against as many Indian military personnel as possible. Hafiz Saeed and his Sunni militant allies come from an Islamic civilization in which force remains a lingua franca, an environment in which the weak are destroyed. Today India possesses no deterrent in the minds of Hafiz Saeed and his allies, and it is time to seek to reestablish one.

There is no substitute for carrying out clandestine operations within Pakistan and other countries like the one that was mounted in Nepal to extract Yasin Bhatkal. Self-proclaimed terror masterminds like Hafiz Saeed, Zaki-ur-Rehman Lakhvi, Dawood Ibrahim, and others must be tracked and liquidated. Deterrence is useless against religiously motivated non-state actors, and our ability to detect and preempt them before they attack is extremely limited. High-profile strikes against known enemies will reestablish that deterrent. There is strong evidence that Bangladesh, despite the friendly government of Shaikh Haseena, is becoming a center of anti-Indian activities. Illegal immigration from this country that we helped liberate is posing a grave threat to peace in Assam and West Bengal; two states where the Congress and its offshoot TMC are in power. Some TMC legislators’ involvement with the Jamaat-e-Islami of Bangladesh is extremely worrying while the attitude of the party’s leadership can only be described as nonchalant, if not collusive. Whether the theatre of operations is Kashmir or West Bengal, Indian security forces must be sent to score a definitive victory, one that is clear to the world and irrefutable in the minds of the defeated Islamists and their supporters. And because we are fighting an enemy who wears no uniforms and is supported by local populations, such a victory necessarily will mean massive and unavoidable noncombatant casualties and damage to civilian infrastructure. This course of action will have to be taken if India is to survive, and the longer we take to do so, the more destructive the action will have to be when it is finally taken.

One of the founding fathers of the United States of America, and the first Chief Justice of the Supreme Court, John Jay, wrote in 1785: “I consider knowledge to be the soul of the republic, and as the weak and the wicked are generally, in alliance, as much care should be taken to diminish the number of the former as of the latter.The period of 2004 to 2014 has been an alliance of the weak Manmohan Singh and the wicked UPA, and now that their numbers are being significantly diminished, it is the duty of the Narendra Modi government to put India first on its list of priorities and ensure that the country’s foreign policy is framed to put the safety of the people above all other considerations. Only in an environment of safety can economic prosperity and development be guaranteed.

Read More By Vijaya Dar

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