Pathankot Case

Rarely has an anti-terrorist operation invited as much criticism as the one at Pathankot air base has.  The time taken in closing the anti-terrorist operation continues to be deliberated over. Questions are being raised over lapses displayed, including one regarding apparent confusion about who was heading the anti-terrorist operation. Besides, several reports have taken note of Pathankot being ill-equipped to deal with a terrorist operation. The fact that terrorists managed to sneak into the airbase indicates that the Israeli equipment deployed along international borders to detect intrusions are ineffectual and faulty.

Paradoxically, the immediate reaction of media and authorities regarding the Pathankot case was an indicator that for a change they chose not to instantly indulge in blame game and/or be carried away by it. Rather, some importance has been given to possible lapses at Pathankot that may have encouraged the terrorists to carry out their operation. It is equally significant to deliberate on the possible agenda of the terrorists. Why did they target Pathankot? A possible motive may have been to gain some attention, cause damage, de-rail Indo-Pak peace process, cause diplomatic and/or political tension/embarrassment or some other reason.

Terrorism is a problem India has been plagued with for quite some time. It is fairly well known that this is one problem which cannot be expected to be easily solved politically, socially or diplomatically. If a solution was easily possible, the only superpower in the world, United States would probably not have been still troubled by it. But, of course, this cannot serve as an easy explanation for other countries, including India to be still disturbed by terrorist incidents now and then. The latest example is the Pathankot case. This suggests that perhaps some more attention needs to be given to what could be the main factors responsible for terrorist incidents taking place. Till the possible root causes of this evil are deliberated upon, attempts made to counter the same would  be incomplete and also insufficient moves. Simply speaking, leakage in a water pipe cannot be repaired by just tying a piece of cloth around the leak. A little while later the leakage can only be expected to become larger. Constructive repair demands that initial attention must be paid to the primary cause of the leakage.

Till of late, whenever a terrorist incident occurred, the tendency remained to initially hold either a few Indian Muslims as responsible for it and/or blame Pakistan for the same. Undeniably, political history stands witness to numerous Muslims having been falsely accused as terrorists, imprisoned and in some cases even being shot down without confirmation of charges levied against them. Clearly, in cases where the actual terrorists are not held or gunned down, irrespective of who is imprisoned and/or shot down, the real criminals continue to remain at large. This clearly amounts to letting the actual terrorists remain free and thus continue whatever their agenda of pursuing terrorist activities may be.  Thus, each and every time, despite their being insufficient evidence against them, innocent persons have been held as terrorists, primarily because of their religious identity, real terrorists have indirectly been encouraged to continue their extremist designs. Such anti-terrorist operations can hardly be credited for playing an appropriate role in keeping a check on terrorists and their activities.

Regarding allegations laid against Pakistan-based terrorist groups’ role in terrorist activities in India, there is nothing surprising about it. However warm and friendly, prime ministers of the two countries may be towards each other, their bonhomie cannot suddenly eliminate or even reduce differences entertained by both sides. Nor can the same approach be expected to quieten the militant agenda of terrorist elements. Irrespective of whatever is their force or strength in Pakistan, India has no option but to remain continuously on alert against their and of other terrorists’ designs. It must be noted that terrorists appear to be guided by their own agenda. The prospects of effective diplomacy, sound politics or any other approach being a success in reining in terrorists and their terrorism may be virtually non-existent. If they actually did give any importance to any internationally and/or nationally accepted system, there probably would not have been any reason for them to turn to terrorism. And the same factor also questions the recent trend of labelling terrorists as “Islamic.” Islam stands for peace.

India and the concerned authorities certainly have the full authority and also freedom to indulge in blame-game regarding the Pathankot-case. However, it must be noted that only the blame game cannot be expected to be effective in eradicating the menace caused by terrorism. Nevertheless, this exercise of blame-game is frequently resorted to as a part of concerned authorities’ image-building and blame-shifitng exercise. It is apparently primarily their attempt to convince others that they are not responsible for the occurrence of terrorist incidents. They may be totally correct. But that the terrorists were able to strike where they wanted is an indicator of some lapse of some kind on behalf of authorities expected and paid to be on alert. 

This article appeared in The Milli Gazette print issue of 16-31 January 2016 on page no. 11

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