Rajeev Chandrasekhar, Member of the Rajya Sabha, has introduced a bill entitled “Declaration of States as Sponsor of Terrorism Bill, 2016”. Inter alia, it seeks to call out states, like Pakistan, that continue to associate, promote, patronise and sponsor terrorism against our nation. It provides for withdrawing economic and trade relations with such a country and creating legal, economic and travel sanctions for its citizens. In specific, it includes prohibition of trade, receiving and making grants, financial remittances, instruments and assets, along with maritime activity and overflights. It seeks to revoke the immunity of Pakistani officials and take away immunity from legal cases in India. It also seeks to repeal Pakistan’s Most Favoured Nation status.
This private member’s bill was largely inspired by the American legislation 6069, Pakistan State Sponsor of Terrorism Designation Act, which was introduced last year in the US Senate by Ted Poe and Dana Rohrabacher, two Republican senators. The bill in the Rajya Sabha cites that from 1998 to 2017, Pak-sponsored terrorists have killed 14,741 civilians and 6,274 security personnel in India. This totalled to over 21,015 Indian citizens being killed in one decade. Some 23,146 terrorists were eliminated during this period. Actually, Pak-sponsored terror began in India in 1980s in Punjab. Since then, our cumulative toll of casualties has crossed the astounding figure of 80,000.
One would have expected massive bipartisan support for this bill. Yet, the moment it was announced, we heard a chorus of pusillanimous voices from most political parties who questioned the need for such a bill. This was India’s moment to “walk the talk”. We have been bleating before the US to take action against Pakistan and declare it a state-sponsor of terrorism. We appeal every now and then to the UN to take action under the ambit of UNSC resolution number 1267. We have been making fervent appeals to Pakistani courts to take action against these terrorists and mass murderers. All we have got in return is contempt and derision. How can we expect the world to act if we refuse to take action ourselves? The problem is that the peaceniks in India are so obsessed with the vision of the Noble Peace Prize or the Magsaysay award that they couldn’t care less about the loss of ordinary Indian lives.
After 30 years of taking it on the chin, the Indian state had reacted to Pakistani terrorism with a surgical strike across the LoC on terror launch pads. This led to a spiral of escalations. Pakistan initially denied the raids had taken place. It had to. General Raheel Sharif’s name and reputation would have been in the mud otherwise. A month later, he reacted with a fire assault with small arms and mortars. India retaliated strongly. Pakistan now beheaded some Indian soldiers at Machail. India reacted and used medium guns in a concerted fire assault across the LoC. Pakistan got the message. By that very evening, the Pakistani DGMO implored for a cease fire. Since then, there has been a deafening silence on the LoC.
There was understandable satisfaction and euphoria in our official and party circles. The air was rife with self-congratulation. The silence on the LoC was deafening and emphatic. Pakistan had been taught a lesson. Or so we thought? It now transpires that Pakistan’s ISI had drawn inferences and shifted gears. From October last year onwards, the ISI paid Maoists and criminals to attack Indian rail infrastructure and cause mass casualties. Let us not forget that in January last year, IEDs were discovered on railway tracks near Pathankot (in tandem with attack on our air base). In October, another train was derailed in Ghorasahan. Then Maoists were caught laying IEDs on rail tracks in October-end. It was found that these individuals had contacts with an ISI handler through an agent in Nepal. They were paid `3 lakh by the ISI to sabotage Indian trains. November 16’s rail sabotage at Kanpur saw 150 Indians dead and 200 wounded that is the equivalent of 26/11 all over again. In January this year, sabotage near Visakhapatnam killed 41 Indians. Another disaster was recently averted near Mumbai.
The eagerness of the Indian foreign establishment to resume talks with Pakistan is understandable. What has been shocking is an attempt on the part of our media to obfuscate issues and completely play down these attacks. The keenness for talks is laudable. The question is at what cost? How long will we tamely put up with the loss of Indian lives in their hundreds each year? Will that become the new normal? The time has come for us to walk the talk on terror. Chandrasekhar’s bill is a new starting point. We need a bipartisan consensus on so vital an issue. We cannot implore the world to act against Pakistan and then do absolutely nothing about it ourselves. We are the primary victims of Pakistani terror. We also happen to be a big and mighty country of 1.3 billion people. Don’t we have any options apart from bleating before Donald Trump? After all, Trump did not include Pakistan in the list of seven nations that were to be denied entry visas. If we are not prepared to act against Pakistan, why should Trump or anyone else, for that matter, carry the can for us?
Maj. Gen. (Retd) G D Bakshi
War veteran and strategic analyst
Courtesy: New Indian Express