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In the midst of war talks there are sane voices too
By Our Own Correspondent

The war of words between India and Pakistan is increasingly taking a dangerous turn following the 13 December attack on Parliament. Everyone in the country is trying to outsmart others in tough talking and sabre-rattling. Though no one is openly talking of war, but the talk of hot pursuit can be heard anywhere. Several political and right wing organizations have been demanding since the 13 December incident that the government should cross Line of Control (LoC) and destroy terrorist camps across the border. 

Every minister from Prime Minister down the line is not talking less than crossing the LOC and destroying the terrorist camps in the Pak Occupied Kashmir (POK). Everyone is condemning the US for advising restraint in taking any hasty decision. The Prime Minister AB Vajpayee himself went on record when he said, ‘We have been restrained for too long. It is time they (the US) tell us what the consequences of such an episode are.’ Meanwhile the BJP, following an emergency meeting of its office-bearers on 18 December urged the government to act independently and not entertain suggestions from anyone including the US. The BJP spokesman VK Malhotra poohpoohed the US Secretary of State Colin Powell’s suggestion that India share intelligence with Pakistan to ensure that the situation does not spin out of control. Malhotra said it did not behove the official to make such statement as the US itself had to forge a coalition to fight the Al Qaida. In a press conference he said that ‘the government must show that India is not a soft state. We believe the government should now adopt a proactive policy of hot pursuit and attack training camps of terrorists across the border in Pakistan, particularly in POK and destroy them.’ 

The RSS leaders are also feeling restive over government’s ‘lackluster’ response to the terrorist attack. They have been critical of government’s policy so far. Several other political parties including the largest opposition party in the Parliament, Congress have said that they will back the government decision if it decides to strike terrorist camps in POK. The opposition has also been talking of giving a free hand to the government in fighting terrorism. 

Mulayam Singh Yadav is one such leader who does not want to talk less than crossing of border and retaking the other side of Kashmir by force. He probably wants to outsmart the BJP leaders in belligerence as he is aiming to win the forthcoming UP elections in the state. A senior Samajwadi Party MP told this correspondent that it is UP election that has forced him (Mulayam Singh Yadav) to take this extreme stand. He added that it has become an electoral need now, otherwise there is no chance for the Samajwadi Party in the state. 

But there are sane voices too in the midst of war talk. Somnath Chatterji of CPI(M) when asked as to what went wrong told this correspondent that the Prime Minister AB Vajpayee and LK Advani, both were talking of a looming attack on the Parliament for quite some time, but it is amazing that despite such talks this incident occurred. Had the government taken precautionary measures, this incident wouldn’t have occurred in the first place. When asked, should India cross the Line of Control (LoC) as is being advised by several people, he said that it is very easy to say that but there is no point in going around and killing innocent people. Killing and bombardment is no answer to such terrorist attacks. 

He added that we should strengthen our security and intelligence. The senior communist leader went on to say that it was the inadequate and poor security arrangements that allowed the attackers to cross the security checks and enter the Parliament complex. 

Prakash Karat another senior Communist leader told this correspondent that talking of war is not the answer of such terrorist strikes. He said that it is the result of sloppy security arrangements and the government instead of talking of war should make its house in order. He went on to say that the BJP is trying to garner support for POTO after the terrorist strike but we will not give in as the legislation it wants will undermine our democratic traditions. 

P Chidambram, the former finance minister said that ‘this is not the time to say that we should take a hard or soft line. It’s clearly the time for hard intellect. The fact is that the government has lost complete control of its own intelligence apparatus. For almost one month now the government itself has been saying that it anticipates an attack on Parliament. Even the prime minister goes to Mumbai and says that Parliament is a likely target-and within 16 hours it is actually attacked . Despite such uncomfortable facts the government is trying very hard to not admit that it was an intelligence failure. If the information was available why it was not acted upon?’

Maulana Obaidullah Khan Azmi says that war is no good option and more so when both the countries are nuclear powers. He told this correspondent that we will also have to take some responsibility for the attack as our security arrangements have proved to be very bad. He said that instead of war talk we will have to eliminate the causes of terrorism and revamp our intelligence. 

Though there are several other points that have intrigued several people, but no one is willing to talk on those issues as everyone fears being dubbed anti-national. The handling of the incident is also being questioned, but no one is willing to come out and be damned.

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