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  Presentation

on

Lessons from India for the War on Terrorism

at

San Francisco Irish Cultural Center, USA

(March 29, 2007)

Organised by

San Francisco Chapter of the Association For
Intelligence Officers, USA

D.C. Nath, IPS (Retd.)
Former Special Director, IB (MHA), Govt. of India

Executive President & CEO,
International Institute of Security and Safety Management
111, Krishna Nagar, First floor,
Safdarjung Enclave, New Delhi - 110 029, India
Tel: (011) 26186124, 26186119, 32495574
Fax: (011) 26186124
Email: nathdc@iissm.com
 
 

Dear Friends,

Even though I am neither a big name nor a celebrity, but coming as I do from the land of Swami Vivekananda, I would rather like to address you as the "Brothers and Sisters" of America. That appeals to me more and has some special reasons as well. I shall explain that a little later.

Well, friends, I must first of all thank you all for having turned up from places far and near to listen to me. I do hope I shall measure up to you expectation.

Well, I am here before you today because of my good friend of long-standing Mr. Stanley J. Grogan and Mr. Andre Le Gallo, the President of your Association, whom I came to know through Mr. Grogan and with whom I have developed close friendship through correspondence. Mr. Grogan and his lady wife Mary have indeed been the initiators behind me and my wife coming over here. But I would at the same breath add that I may not have been here to stand before you but for persistent interest taken by Mr. Le Gallo in the matter. I am, therefore, glad that I have this opportunity to publicly acknowledge my sincere gratitude to both of them. Thank you Stan and thank you Mr. Le Gallo.

I will like to make two more preliminary observations at this stage. Whatever I shall speak on is based on personal knowledge, experience and individual perception and I shall stand by that. Yes, I shall speak to you as an informed Indian citizen and not as a formal spokesperson of the Government of India. There is obviously a lot of difference between these two positions and that is important.

Secondly, the primary objective of my presentation is to share with you what I know of and thus to gain through exchange of views after my presentation. And, speaking as I will be before this learned audience, I would not go into the nitty-gritty, such as, the motives and objectives of the different terrorist / insurgent movements I will be covering in the presentation. I can, however, clarify those if necessary at the end.

But before all this, I have a historic duty to perform. And the inspiration for that has come from Mr. Inder Singh, a resident of North California. I shall explain.

All of you would be aware that the leaders of India's freedom struggle used to draw both ideological inspiration and motivation from the French Revolution as also the American War of Independence. But it may be news to many that this historic city of San Francisco in particular had actually played a significant role in India's struggle to free itself from the colonial British rule. To cut short preliminaries, that was possible through what is known in history as the 'Gadar movement'. The word 'Gadar' literally means revolt or mutiny. The Gadar movement was the first organized armed bid by a group of Indians from outside the country for achieving freedom after the famous rising of 1857. The seeds for that movement were sown in a meeting of some patriotic and enlightened Indians on April 23, 1913, in Astoria, Oregon. That led to the formation of the Hindustan Association of the Pacific Coast. The headquarters of that Association was established in San Francisco which served as the base for coordination of all of its activities. What happened to the Gadar movement is a different matter but it did leave an impact on India's struggle for freedom by awakening many sleeping minds in India. Well, friends, I therefore, consider it a privilege to be in San Francisco and take this opportunity to pay humble tribute to the citizens of San Francisco for their support and patronage to the freedom fighters of India. Was I, therefore, wrong, friends, when I had stated that I would prefer addressing you as the Brothers and Sisters of America?

Lessons from India for the War on Terrorism

In order to appreciate what lessons we can draw from India for the War on Terrorism, we first intend to understand this war on terrorism as seen from India.

War on Terrorism as seen from India

The "war on terrorism", as it has come to be known, was launched on or after 9/11. Although this was apparently with an altruistic motive, it has basically been an American war. It got internationalised and became a "global war on terrorism (GWOT)" by enlisting the support from allies, especially the UK. The realisation was quick that the global war on terrorism was to be fought globally. In effect, however, the GWOT has primarily remained a solo effort of the US only - not a very happy situation for combating the type of international terrorism all of us are witnessing today.

Although the target / enemy was Osama-bin-Laden and his outfit, namely, Al Qaeda, this war came to take the shape of "invasion of Iraq". Rightly or wrongly, the attention of the US government, therefore, got diverted from the main thrust of the GWOT. It had, as it is, got tied down in Afghanistan, though the operation there was much more broad-based. And, now Iraq pegged it down further.

America's sacrifice in terms of money and human lives to carry on this GWOT is undeniable. Unfortunately, however, the declared US policy justifying the Iraq War, i.e., restoration of people's rule in Iraq and through Iraq, the restoration of democracy in the whole of the Middle East, has come to be controversial and history alone will tell whether it has been or is not a misguided effort. The result is there for all to see. The majority of the Muslim countries, believing more in universal Muslim Brotherhood - Umma - did not take fancy to any such forms of government. So, jealous pursuit of its policy has led the US into a quagmire. Though the US President has very recently talked of the 'serge' - revamping US armed presence in Iraq, no clear-cut exit policy from Iraq has yet emerged so as to consolidate the gains from the more-than-four-year-old invasion of Iraq.

All this has resulted in further consolidation and spread of radical Islamic militancy with Osama-bin-Laden having become almost a cult figure, vowing revenge against the US and all those walking along with the US. Iraq itself has become the breeding ground for suicide bombers, with plans to fan them out all over. Neo-terrorism, which is now better described as jehadi terrorism, has spread to newer theatres of action, such as, France, Germany, UK, Algeria, African Continent as also Southeast Asia, to the land of Indonesia, now the nerve centre of terrorism in that part of the world. In between, the Indian sub-continent has become the playground for jehadi terrorism - a by-product, one can say, of Al Qaeda and Pak ISI mix, with a new centre emerging in Bangladesh. From representing individual acts of violence, Al Qaeda turned out to be a movement and has now become, as experts fondly say, an idea. Al Qaeda derives its strength and support from the entire Muslim Brotherhood because of its religious base. It professes to pursue 'jehad', known as the sixth pillar of Islam. And experts assess that in terms of its long reach and violent ideology, jehad is altogether different from and far more dangerous than acts of run-of-the mill terrorism that keep on erupting off and on in many countries. It is because of this perhaps the threat posed by radical Islam had been assessed by the head of MI5 of UK some time back as "the geopolitical menace of the future." The exploitation of the information technology by the fundamentalist Islamists has added further edge to the terrorists' scheme of things. They are also believed to have appealed to nuclear scientists to join their ranks. This transformation has been possible, some explain, primarily because of US unilateral plans and policy of fighting the global war on terrorism.

One cannot do anything better at this stage than to quote from a recent study carried out to measure what has been described as the Iraq effect on global terrorism, by the Centre on Law and Society at the NYU Foundation for the Mother Jones magazine. The authors of the study, Peter Bergen and Paul Cruickshank have put the blame for the upsurge in fundamentalist violence on Iraq for acting as a catalyst for furious fundamentalist backlash. They have argued that the Iraq conflict has been responsible for spreading the Al Qaeda ideological virus, as seen from the rising number of terrorist attacks in the last three years from London to Kabul, and from Madrid to the Red Sea. Statistically speaking, the period between September 11, 2001, and March 2003, i.e., till the Iraq war, had witnessed 729 deaths due to terror attacks, whereas the period between 2003 and 2006, the figures for such casualty rose to 5,420. Even the US administration's own National Intelligence Estimate on Trends in Global Terrorism - partially declassified last October - had admitted that "the Iraq war has become the 'cause celebre' for jehadists - and is shaping a new generation of terrorist leaders and operatives." And, one of the badly affected areas has been the Indian State of Kashmir.

In this context, therefore, one would perhaps do well to know how India has been tackling the problem of both home-grown as well as externally backed insurgents for over half a century.

The Indian Way of Tackling Terrorism

Sixty years in a nation's life is not a long period. But sixty years of experience in handling terrorist activity in some form or other should and does count. It has been more so for India - a land known for racial and linguistic diversity, liberal democracy with multiparty political system and boasting constitutional guarantee of widest array of fundamental rights including that of free speech and right to choose your religion. In brief, the Indian polity clearly admits of dissent as a matter of right. Coupled with strong free press, often led by champions of civil liberties and now of human rights, the system offers full scope for easy political moblisation of grievances, genuine or perceived. Total absence of any authoritarian or repressive streak in administrative norms, often considered a remarkable feature, makes the task of law enforcing agencies in controlling or subjugating dissent more difficult than what could be generally anticipated. The difficulty had been compounded by the fact that instances of dissent turning into outright violence owed their origin to multiplicity of reasons, such as, ethnic differences, political aspirations, ideological and religious convictions and socio-economic grievances, mostly intertwined and often with extra territorial linkage and support.

Factually speaking, India started tasting violence of terrorist hues in its Northeastern states right after its independence (1947) from who were termed as Naga insurgents being led by A.Z. Phizo. The rebels in the neighbouring Mizo Hill Areas of the then State of Assam did not lag behind. Both these groups received financial and armed assistance from foreign soil and maintained their bases as well on foreign soil. Reports are also available that in certain points of time, even some eminent US diplomat had contemplated an opportunity to dismember this Northeastern part of India under what was known as the 'Kilpatrick Plan". Even when insurgent activities, equivalent to modern-day concept of terrorist activities, continued to drain its resources, the Government of India never thought of or planned any policy of extermination of such violent groups of rebels challenging the physical integrity and sovereignty of the country. Even no effort had ever been made to take resort to selective bombing of affected areas, often witnessed in many countries with similar situations. The policy followed was one of entering into a dialogue, of course within the parameters of the Indian constitution, so as to bring such deviant groups into the mainstream. Thus, we had the Shillong Accord with the Naga group in 1975, followed by the Mizo Accord with Laldenga in 1986. It is a different matter that some section of the Nagas are still in a defiant mood and the Government of India is still talking to them.

The Northeastern cauldron had still more fire to throw. Since late 1980s, the ULFA (the United Liberation Front of Asom) started digging deep roots with support from Bangladesh. It no longer remained a secret that the ULFA leadership was based in Bangladesh and enjoyed necessary patronage in that country. The more potent part of this development was the deep involvement of this group with the Islamist fundamentalist forces who have developed a strong base in this newly-created country. Apart from being a virtual sanctuary for insurgent groups of Northeastern States of India, Bangladesh, as experts suggest, is fast turning into the "nesting ground" of Al Qaeda associates and other terrorists from Pakistan, Afghanistan, Chechnya and Myanmar. The establishment of a Talibanised transnational Islamic State comprising Bangladesh, Assam, Tripura, Muslim-majority districts of bordering West Bengal and Rohinga-dominated areas of the Arakan Hills of Myanmar is supposed to be the goal. Specific cases of operatives having entered India from Bangladesh and indulging in terrorist acts are now on record. The Government of India have resorted to armed action at times to curb the rising graph of unwarranted violence in the area but have still kept the door for negotiation open, much to the discomfort and dissatisfaction of the law enforcing authorities. Once again it has been a case of continued efforts to integrate the disaffected groups with the mainland. This has "indeed been a test of the idea of India whether it can accommodate competing nationalism without reordering national boundaries."

The Government of India got into the experiment of handling another form of militant activity which has become very acute during recent times, posing considerable threat to the security fabric of the nation, perhaps not so much by show of armed strength all along, but because of apparent ideological commitment. The left-extremists or the Naxalites, as they are called because of the place of their origin, are again a misguided group. They initially drew total ideological sustenance as well as financial support from extra-territorial forces and resources, but have now become a pretty well organised group of armed terrorists, affecting as many as 15 States of India. The spate of violence indulged in by this group during the last about two years has led to the Prime Minister of India openly admitting this to be the most serious internal security problem of the country. This has indeed become a social insurgency challenging the very authority of the State or even denying space to democratic polity of India. There are reports that these left extremist groups are in touch with the ULFA as also the LTTE of Sri Lanka. Very recently, some Maoists (another nomenclature for the left extremists because of their ideological alignment with Mao) have come to notice in J&K area as pasmina shawl dealers, presumably scouting for sophisticated weapons from the known Kashmir terrorists group Lashkar-e-Taiba. Here again, keeping in line with the democratic ethos of the country's administrative policy, the Government of India have been trying to handle this festering sore by helping faster socio-economic growth and all round development of the affected areas in different States. To that extent, it has been, one can say, another test for the Indian State whether it would be forced to abandon the traditional democratic means of political resolution or reciprocate violence with violence. As late as on December 5, 2006, the Union Home Minister of India declared on the floor of Parliament, "We have to deal with the situation in a humane manner but should not be timid towards Naxalites. We have to earn people's confidence through social sector schemes." In effect, therefore, no effort has been made to seek any military solution, even for a temporary period, to handle this what is diagnosed more as socio-economic than an issue to be handled by the law enforcing agencies alone. It is, however, a pity that this realisation has dawned on the government rather late and at times political considerations had also adversely influenced actions on the part of some State Governments. Of late, some State government has been experimenting the method of countering this movement by helping build up peoples' resistance from within. Perhaps the spirit of the Indian mind to tackle this social insurgency has been best described in the following editorial comments of the New Delhi edition of the Times of India of March 17, 2007, "The solution is neither to abandon the development project nor crush dissent but to recognize and negotiate with dissonance. After all, what else is politics and democracy?"

The activities of homegrown terrorists started taking more serious and violent turn with the emergence of 'Punjab militants' and then followed by Islamist terrorists in Jammu and Kashmir. It was a story of homegrown terrorists in the State of Punjab but very soon it became a transnational phenomenon with the militants operating from across the border and receiving financial assistance from all over the world so to say. Such has been the attitude of developed countries who had not till then tasted the 'fruits' of terrorism that some of these militant groups continued to thrive in capital cities of the UK, USA and Canada. Notwithstanding extreme severity of the situation that had forced the Government of India to launch large scale military operations in the Punjab like the Blue Star (1984) and the Black Thunder (1986), it has since then been possible to restore normalcy in the State of Punjab through the usual democratic election method and that is why Punjab now has an elected government in position. A large number of security men and women lost their lives in the process. The significant aspect deserving attention is that while required armed assistance to the civil administration had been arranged, as warranted by the circumstances, the anti-militancy operation had not been at any point of time handed over to the army as such and the overall control remained with the civil authority. In a way, this can be taken as a case study of softer tools of civilian power proving to be better instruments than hard military power for engineering peace.

The experience in Jammu and Kashmir is qualitatively different from whatever has happened elsewhere in other parts of India. That is primarily because what has been happening in that State of India is more than terrorism. Terrorism in J&K has transcended itself to the level of jehad, a holy war in the name of Allah. And it is contended that once such jehad is launched, Islam enjoins on all Muslims to support the fidayeen to the best of their ability. The cause of such jehadi terrorism has been further facilitated by the uneven composition of population in the State and almost open and overt support and espousal of the cause of the "Kashmiri separatists" by the neighbouring friendly country of Pakistan. Terrorism in J&K is now best described as pure radical Islamic militancy with all possible aid in both men and material from across the border. The situation there, often described as "proxy war", has become more complicated because of emergence of indigenous suicide-bombers alongside foreign mercenaries, as also reports on female fidayeen and footprints of Al Qaeda on the soil of J&K. As a matter of fact, the name of 'Hindu India' had already been added to the list of nations to be targeted by Al Qaeda way back in October, 2001. It may be added for information that among the terrorists caught or killed in J&K, there have been nationals from as many as 19 countries.

Islamist terrorist activities did not remain confined to J&K. Bombay (1993 onwards) and Delhi are now the highest bombed cities in the world. The cancer has spread to almost all metropolitan cities and their hinterland areas. Religious places of Hindu faith have been the obvious targets over the years. The qualitative transformation of this kind of terrorist activities has led experts to describe them as simple and outright faith-based 'jehadi terrorism', the game being possibly controlled from somewhere outside with some grand design to restore the old concept of Islamic Caliphate. The involvement of sections of Muslim intelligentsia including educated youth from the ISI-linked Student Islamic Movement of India (SIMI) has made the problem more acute. But then, again, military solution has neither been envisaged nor attempted at any point of time. As a matter of fact, the Government of India has all along been strongly criticised, perhaps rightly, for dragging its feet in not taking harsh measurers against jehadi terrorists, even when called for by ground realities.

Notwithstanding resort to large-scale violence by the terrorists, such as, in Mumbai (1993 & 2006), Delhi (2005), the government of the land continued to rely on intelligence-oriented approach. The intelligence agencies of India have indeed been responding magnificently and played a stellar role in handling the menace of terrorism. The tapestry of methodology adopted by these agencies is a matter of going in details that cannot be done here. Most of the acts of terrorism now taking place are neither preventable nor easy to detect; yet these agencies have busted a large number of sleeper cells and modules of terrorists - some almost on the verge of the act being committed. Poor in resources, shorn of adequate legal authority and with by and large indifferent response from apathetic general public - always critical without proper understanding of issues involved, pegged down by very high standard of ethical behaviour and facing perpetual public accountability, members of intelligence agencies have spared no efforts to prove their mettle against the highest odds. The quality of human intelligence has indeed been outstanding all along and has been duly accepted by the peers all over. With more resources now being made available, gradually technological intelligence has also been making its qualitative presence felt. Patience and planning, dedication and determination and the supreme faith in functioning within the democratic framework of the laws of the land have been the hallmarks of the security and intelligence agencies of India. The skill and courage displayed by intelligence operatives in India have been mind-boggling and at times literally exemplary. Indeed, digging into the exploits of security and intelligence operatives in the archives of the Government of India, should that be allowed, would be worth writing a doctoral dissertation by any standard any where in the world.

Controlling of financing of terrorist / insurgent groups / movements has always remained a big problem. Although much of these activities could be said to be "low-budget" enterprises, there has been no dearth of resources for these groups. The 'terror economy' in India has thrived on foreign funds flowing in undetected manner through NGO organisations, at times through bonafide business cleverly set up through clandestine money, illegal hawala transactions and narcotic trade, induction of fake or counterfeit currency, extortion, funds collected through organised crime as also from siphoning of government grants for local development. Funds for jehadi terrorists are also collected through the internet. Very recently, manipulation of famed stock-market to raise funds by floating fake companies has also been brought to international attention. As India's National Security Adviser has recently said, "New support structures and financing mechanisms are being created." Much of this has occurred due to what could be best described as systemic corruption, a contagion that India finds it difficult to contain or eradicate.

Some of the specific legislations in India to prevent financing of terrorism are: (a) Foreign Exchange Management Act, 1999, (b) Narcotic Drugs and Psychotropic Substances Act, 2003, (c) Prevention of Money Laundeirng Act, 2003, and the Unlawful Activities (Prevention) Act of 1967, as amended in 2004. India is also a party to the International Convention for the Suppression of Financing of Terrorism. A Financial Intelligence Agency and some other administrative framework are also in operation for combating money laundering and financing of terrorism. However, notwithstanding steps taken by the government and also assurances given by government leaders, enough success does not seem to have been yet achieved in this area. Much remains to be done and can actually be done.

The government of the land has also been resorting to a different legal module to contain unlawful movements in the country. From time to time, various insurgent outfits - be that representing left-extremists, Naga / Mizo insurgents, ULFA, SIMI - have been declared as banned organisations. Such efforts of the Government have invariably been challenged but it must be said to the credit of the Government that such steps have always withstood the judicial test. In any case, constraints so imposed have had some effect by way of preventing open bullying tactics of the unlawful organisations against innocent common citizens. The point to be noted is that the Government had made and has been making efforts to curb unlawful movements within the constraints of legal framework - accusatorial in nature - prevailing in the country.

Preventing growth and spread of radical Islam or ideological subversion now being carried out on a large scale in different parts of India by Islamist fundamentalists has remained problematic. This has become more difficult especially when this is being done over the internet also. An idea has to be fought either by efforts to disabuse the minds of the potential converts or by floating a counter idea. Some activities in this direction in the private sector is noticeable, albeit at a very minimal level, fearing that those indulging in such move would be lebelled as religionists or communalists or would earn the stigma of non-secularists in the context of the secular Indian scenario. In the public sector, vote bank politics has been a great constraint before any government in power. Time alone will tell how far the socio-political or socio-economic ameliorative measures taken from time to time will help assuage the feeling of discrimination against them and thus keep the misguided sections of the minority community away from the sustained onslaught of the Islamic fundamentalists turning them into jehadi terrorists or supporting the jehadi terrorists directly or indirectly. Thus the Indian Government cannot at this stage claim any worthwhile or positive success in this very vital area. Yet, it has to be added, it has all along encouraged security and law-enforcing agencies in befriending the local population of affected areas in diverse ways including undertaking measures like running primary schools and arranging free medical services, etc.

A related issue deserves a mention here in this context. That, at times, is described as a demographic threat to the Indian civilization as a whole. The 2001 Census Report (Statement 7) of the Government of India revealed the cold facts that the percentage of Muslim cohorts (a term commonly used in demographic study to denote reproductive age group) in 0-6 age group was higher than Hindus (the majority community in India now) by 21 percent. Added to 25 percent lower acceptance of family planning by the Muslim population in India, this situation would vastly augment the Muslim population in India when this cohort population would reach the reproductive age between 2011 and 2016. Known demographers like P.N. Mari Bhat and A.J. Francis Zavier have also averred that the fertility of Muslims in India, which was about 10 percent higher than that of Hindus before independence (in 1947) is now 25 to 30 percent higher than the Hindu rate. Poignancy is added to this phenomenon by the typical ethos of the India civilization which admits of the unique philosophy of "as many beliefs, so many paths". India has, therefore, been a very fertile ground for aggressive proselytisation by any religion, be it Islam or Christianity. Resultantly, and also significantly, many sensitive areas of India have now non-Hindu majority that may have its own implication for the overall security fabric of the nation.

Be that as it may, leaving no stone unturned, the Government of India has also resorted to taking up issues of cross-border terrorism at the diplomatic level. India is a party to the UN Global Counter-Terrorism Strategy adopted in September 2006 and has been working with various international and regional organizations for lending a helping hand in combating transnational terrorism. Not that much success has been achieved by this method in so far as tackling terrorism at home is concerned, such efforts have had the effect of creating psychological pressure on the concerned country or countries, of course, for whatever worth that might be. In some way, Track 2 diplomacy had also some role when the US had some years back promoted confidence building measures (e.g. Neemrana series) between India and Pakistan at the level of intellectuals and strategic thinkers from both sides.

To briefly recapitulate, what I have stated so far. I have tried to give an analytical but bird's eye view of how insurgencies or terrorist activities in India have been tackled in six broad areas: Naga & Mizo insurgency in the northeastern part of India, separatist movement by the ULFA in the bigger northeastern state of Assam, the Maoist violence all over, the Punjab militants, the Kashmiri separatists and finally Islamic militancy or jehadi terrorism in different parts of India.

Conclusion

Now, let me try to draw some conclusions. On the whole, no matter what has been the character and profile of the deviant groups and notwithstanding occasional armed action to quell large scale violence, India's overall handling of insurgent or terrorist situations on the domestic front has all along been characterised by tolerance of dissent and initiation of dialogue within the framework of democratic traditions. This was not because of any inherent weakness. That has indeed been the civilisational ethos of India. How far this approach will prove effective against modern-day transnational jehadi terrorism is the question. But it can be said with some degree of confidence that this Indian experiment may have some important lessons for the strife-torn nations of the world. In fact, people in authority from some advanced countries have interacted with their Indian counterparts in some areas to get to the bottom of how such success has been achieved. Despite enough provocations, and even reasonable justification, for resorting to remedial measures of extreme kind, the Indian government continues to adopt conciliatory procedure to arrive at mutually satisfactory solutions, often making itself liable to be criticised for not ''having the guts'' to be firm, as many neighbouring countries of different dispositions have often resorted to, ironically somewhat successfully. One can say this with a sense of certainty that even if the Government of the day had attempted to adopt any such repressive or anti-democratic methods, the basic Indian ethos would have rejected that through the ballot boxes in no time. In other words, the Indians have learnt the art of reducing quarrels and thus to bring about 'national improvement'. So, it has been said, "The genius of Indian culture lies in perceiving that diversity and differences are not necessarily sources of strife and conflict; these may well be sources of mutual enrichment and empowerment".

The point was recently reiterated by the External Affairs Minister of India at the Annual Diplomatic Dinner in December, 2006, "India is a factor for stability. We present a model that, with all its imperfections, values and cherishes its governing framework of pluralistic democracy, secularism and the harmonious co-existence of a multiplicity of faiths, customs, ethnicities and languages." That is why perhaps the then Prime Minister of Hungary had said in 2003, "Nurtured by moral teachings, wisdom and a rich culture stretching back thousands of years, in many respects, India is a model for our present age. She demonstrates the great significance - to the success of a country - of freedom, democracy and the co-existence of diverse religious and ethnic communities based on equal rights and status."

9/11 has been a defining moment in history. The "global war on terrorism" since launched, is continuing. Today in the first half of 2007, we are still at a difficult point of history with no signs for an end to that war. There are some claims for victory but that can only be called a pyrrhic victory in which the mankind is still the loser. If the aim is to achieve global peace, there cannot be any single winner in the game of peace. There is no place for any concept like 'we' and 'they'. India, with its past experience and present expertise may be able to put in its contribution towards reducing such conflicts and thus help avoid the dangerous prospect or prediction of clash of civilisations coming true or be self-fulfilling.

One could draw necessary support for this from what the greatest historian of the last century had said about India. What he had said more than fifty years ago still holds good and so, I would end up my presentation in the words of Arnold Toynbee:

Quote (.)

It is already becoming clear that a chapter which had a Western beginning will have to have an Indian ending if it is not to end in the self-destruction of the human race. …. At this supremely dangerous moment in human history, the only way of salvation for mankind is the Indian way-Emperor Ashoka's and Mahatma Gandhi's principle of non-violence and Sri Ramakrishna's testimony to the harmony of religions. Here we have an attitude and spirit that can make it possible for the human race to grow together into a single family and, in the Atomic Age, this is the only alternative to destroying ourselves."

(.) Unquote.

Well, friends, how much of that you accept is a different matter. But I have an appeal to make. And, to my humble understanding of the forces of history, it has great relevance today, especially when viewed in the context of the much-talked about and threatened phenomenon of clash of civilization mentioned earlier. As Hugh Fitzgerald, Vice President of Robert Spencer's website Jihad Watch, has put it, "There is only one clash that counts: that of Islam with all non-Islam." He continues, "Westerners need to understand that a world war of sorts with the Islamic world is already inevitable by now, no matter what we do. The only question is whether this will be a cold or a hot world war". Many alternative world order scenarios have, therefore, been envisaged. Notwithstanding all that, I strongly feel there is an imperative need to think over what I have submitted and then to act. We could think individually and collectively, and act individually and collectively. To put this more pointedly in the words of the famed US President J.F. Kennedy, "Do not ask what US can do for you. Ask what you can do for the US." I would like to extend it further and add, what all of us can do for the world, to save it from the scourge of terrorism, from faith-based jehadi terrorism in particular. We have then done our bit, again individually and collectively. As it is said, "Don't spend your precious time asking," Why isn't the world a better place? It will only be time wasted. The question to ask is: How can I make it better? To that there is an answer." That is, to think and act collectively.

This point was very forcefully made, again on the soil of the US, at the recent three-day-long Conference on Terrorism organized by the Intelligence Summit, a non-partisan, educational forum at St. Petersburg, Florida on March 5-7, 2007. Referring to the exponential growth of Muslim population all over the world, especially in the context of phenomenal rise in Islamic fundamentalism in India, some speakers described the situation in South Asia as fraught with dangerous consequences. The Muslim population in this region is like: India - 150 million, Pakistan - 145 million, Bangladesh - 140 million and Afghanistan - 16 million. Thus the total number of Islamic people in South Asia is about 450 million, that is, one and half time the US population. Read in the context of jehadi call that Islam is in danger, South Asia is, thus, sitting on a tinder box. It has, therefore, been said that the Hindus (read India) alone will not be able to face or stem the wrath of the Islamist fundamentalists and hence close cooperation between India, Israel and the United States is absolutely essential to save the world from the impending doom and imminent disaster. So, it is only appropriate to sound the warning, again quoting from another well-known American. He is an author, Ernest Hemingway. In the Introduction to his little classic, "The Old Man and the Sea", Hemingway quotes John Dunne, "Never try to know for whom the bell tolls. It tolls for thee." Well, friends, rather, the Brothers and Sisters of America, I firmly believe in this philosophy and hence all this submission to you.

I may have sounded emotional. That is only an expression of commitment to the cause. The cause is to fight tooth and nail the geopolitical menace of the future, namely, jehadi terrorism, that has been seriously threatening the global peace. We all are equal stake-holders in that and hence, Join hands, We must.

Thank you all, ladies and gentlemen, for your patience and for bearing with me all this while.

Thank you.

 


The views and facts stated above are entirely the responsibility of the author and do not reflect the views of this Association in any manner.

 
     
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