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Wimpy Politics


Former J&K Chief Minister Mehbooba Mufti issued an appeal, recently, that hostilities be suspended in her state during the period of Ramzan. The implication is that a ‘holy’ period requires peace for ordinary citizens to carry out their religious duties. Unfortunately, for the fundamentalists, the more sacred the occasion, the greater is the call for Jihad. This becomes obvious from the bomb attack on Shias in Pakistan on Wednesday. Any decision by the security forces in any part of the world to step back only gives an opportunity to the terrorists to not only attack, but also take advantage by regrouping.
Human rights activists, however well meaning, usually tend to overlook this fact, be it in the case of jihadis or naxalites. By taking extreme positions against security forces to seem heroic in the eyes of the international community, they harm the actual cause of peace. This is particularly so in India where this can be done with considerable impunity. Most governments seem incapable of enunciating a clear policy on dealing with terrorists. This confuses the security forces and the ordinary people. Too often, the distinction is made between ‘good’ and ‘bad’ terrorists – those who suit a party’s political objectives and those who don’t.
In the case of Indian Chief Ministers, Punjab’s Captain Amarinder Singh stands out as someone with an unambiguous approach, quite obviously aware of the cost his state paid for over a decade during the Bhindranwale era. On the other hand, West Bengal CM Mamata Banerjee remains unwilling to recognise the dangers of patronising fundamentalism for the sake of votes. Depending on the religious, ethnic or ideological nature of the cause, terrorists manage to find safe havens under one or the other political party. It is no wonder that the roots of the Easter attacks in Sri Lanka are being traced to Kerala and other south Indian states, where fundamentalism is being preached and promoted in a big way.
No matter how much sophistication the security agencies around the world acquire technically in combating terrorism, it proves ineffective if clarity is lacking in the political class on how to deal with the problem. Governments are chary of taking a hard line for fear of being described as autocratic and communal. A classic example of this is the flak Prime Minister Modi has faced for remaining unconcerned about the community, caste, race, region, etc., of the perpetrator when hitting back against those who use violence as their political weapon. It would help if the international community could develop effective protocols on defining terrorism, so that action would not face the hurdle of the professional naysayers.