India Needs Independent Anti-Terrorism Strategy

A Pakistani policeman removes a gun from the body of an attacker in Quetta on March 17, where four officials were wounded in a hand grenade attack followed by indiscriminate firing on their patrol vehicle. (Photo: Banaras Khan/ AFP-Getty Images)

Amidst the possibility of renewed terror attacks in India, the Foreign Ministry level talks were recently held between the United States and Pakistan. This important meeting between U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton and Pakistan Foreign Minister Shah Mahmood Qureshi included the topics of terrorism, strategic relations between both the countries and energy-related requirements of Pakistan.

The interesting thing in the talks was the presence of the Pakistan Army chief General Ashfaq Parvez Kayani and many high-ranking officers of the ISI (the Pakistani intelligence service). Pakistan also wants a civil nuclear deal with the United States on the lines of India. But the United States has rejected this request from Pakistan. Instead, it has agreed to build three thermal power plants in Pakistan at a cost of $120 million. It seems that the United States did not ignore a statement from Qureshi accusing the United States of partiality towards India when it comes to providing important resources in the region.

Besides agreeing to three thermal power plants, the United States has also accepted a long list of weapons that Pakistan is demanding in the name of fighting terrorists. It is assumed that the United States has rejected Pakistan's nuke deal demand because already there is doubt among the international community regarding the existing nuclear reactors in Pakistan. The increasing number of terror attacks in Pakistan strengthens such doubts.

India is also concerned by the demand of weapons that Pakistan has put before the United States in the name of fighting terrorists. The main reason of India's concern is that, since 9/11, Pakistan has acquired weapons from the United States worth more than $7 billion, saying that it would use them against terrorists. But Pakistan has never given a proper account of the use of those weapons. Much evidence shows that those American weapons went into the hands of the same terrorists against whom American weapons were supposed to be used. There is also evidence of the same weapons being used against India. Notwithstanding these realities, once again the friendship between Pakistan and the United States is getting strengthened in the fields of weapons and energy.

In fact, the United States feels that Pakistan is an important ally in its fight against terrorism. By providing space for U.S. military bases, Pakistan has tried to prove that it stands with the United States on this issue. Unfortunately, either the United States is not willing to look at the other aspect of Pakistan or is deliberately negating the truth.

When the representatives of both countries were deliberating in Washington on the ways to fight terrorism, at the same time thousands of terrorists were publicly declaring jihad against India in Pak-occupied Kashmir (PoK). These terrorists included Hizb-Ul-Mujahideen chief Saied Salahudeen and Lashkar commander Abdul Wahid Kashmiri. Many such rallies have also been held on the main roads of Lahore and Islamabad by the Jamaat-Ud-Dawa and other terrorist organisations, in which the 26/11-accused Hafiz Saeed spewed venom against India. Under these circumstances, can we believe that Pakistan is serious about fighting terrorism? Or does it just want to continue acquiring money and weapons?

Pakistan has divided its indigenous terrorism into different categories. Generally, al Qaeda, Taliban and Tehrik-e-Taliban constitute one category. LeT, JeM and JuD are parts of a second category. Pakistan succeeds in convincing the United States that American interests are most threatened by the al Qaeda and the Taliban, whereas it successfully veils the activities of other terror organizations operating in Pakistan. And following these policies, Pakistan is able to get ample money and weapons from the United States.

What can India learn from the above situation? Should India depend on U.S. policies to fight terrorism and meanwhile face attacks such a 26/11 and German Bakery and the possibility of future terror strikes? Or instead of convincing the United States, should it pursue trust with Pakistan and pressure Pakistan by way of continuous talks to act against terrorism? Or further yet, should it destroy the PoK-based terrorist training camps?

Whatever the case, India is as sovereign as the United States or any other country to think and act about its security. Rather than being concerned about the relations between the United States and Pakistan, it is more important to focus on transparency in the relations between India and Pakistan. Pakistan too is not capable of affording the poison of terrorism any longer. If India and Pakistan agree on a common strategy to fight terrorism, it would be much better and authentic than the strategy prepared through U.S. support. India needs to make its independent policy on terrorism instead of looking at the United States, so that the upcoming Commonwealth Games can be organized in a fearless environment and the possibilities of terror strikes on the country's major cities can be avoided.

Tanveer Jafri is a columnist based in India who has been published in dozens of newspapers and portals in India and abroad. Jafri is also a devoted social activist for world peace, unity, integrity and global brotherhood. He is a member of Haryana Sahitya Academy and Haryana Urdu Academy.