January 25, 2013

From negotiating with terrorists to zero tolerance

On January 8, 2013, Pakistani soldiers illegally entered Indian territory through the Poonch sector of Jammu & Kashmir, attacked an Indian patrol team and eventually killed two soldiers. They went ahead and beheaded one of the soldiers too. This cold-blooded murder is not only inhuman but is also against the international conventions on armed conflicts. A few days thereafter, Pakistani troops attacked two Indian army posts in the Mendhar sector of Jammu & Kashmir, followed subsequently by another series of attacks in the Krishna Ghati sector. In spite of a flag meeting between the defence personnel of both these nations, Pakistan violated the ceasefire agreement and entered the Indian side of the LOC, not once but five times! Against this backdrop, our Prime Minister continued to have an obsequiously soft approach and announced restrictions on the visa-on-arrival facility for Pakistani citizens. Furthermore, Dr Singh found it “tough to conduct business as usual with Pakistan” and also managed to send some nine Pakistani hockey players back to their nation!

Hilariously, every time we have been attacked by our finagling neighbour in the past, Indian PMs have been seen taking soft and abject approaches of suspending bus-services or train services or business-ties or hockey/cricket matches with the attacking nation. The animosity between India and Pakistan is not new and the recent incident is an example of the incorrigible attitude of the latter. Going by any notion, the recent attack cannot be swept under the carpet by terming it as a mere “ceasefire violation”; by all decrees of humanity and national sovereignty, it qualifies as an act of terrorism. In a parallel timeframe, even Algeria was under terrorist attack when 30 militants illegally entered Algerian territory, and killed around 40 people. But unlike India, the aggressive Algerian government decided not to negotiate with the terrorists and executed a counterstrike, subsequently killing most of the militants! Today, most nations have decided not to let terrorists and militants take them to ransom and have adopted a no-negotiation policy with terrorists.

Negotiating with terrorists invariably means the government giving in to violence and terrorists being rewarded for activities for which they should have been incarcerated instead. Negotiating unfortunately not only provides legitimacy to terrorists and their extortionist methods but also undermines the efforts of those who seek political change or solutions to a particular problem in a rather peaceful way. Such servile negotiations have the ability to destabilize the political system of the nation, and above all, dilute the hard work put in by international committees and nations cooperating in countering terrorism at large. Moreover, this subservience provides incentives for the terrorists to repeat the same course of action at a later stage and thus sets a dangerous precedent for the society and the citizens of the nation.

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