The peace process has ended

The peace process has ended
By H.K. Dua

Not only 190 innocent people have been killed in Tuesday’s tragedy in Mumbai, under the debris of the serial blasts lies buried the peace process that had been going on for some time to usher in a new era on the sub-continent. It will be difficult for any government in Delhi to revive it for some time.

The blame for it all lies with Pakistan which never really gave up its obsessional concern with Kashmir, or its policy of abetting terrorism to achieve its aim of grabbing the Valley.

The recent spurt in violence in Jammu and Kashmir, periodic terrorist strikes in Mumbai and the attack last December in Bangalore, where top scientists of India had gathered for a conference, were clearly beyond the object of forcing India to give concessions on Kashmir.

During the last few years the constituency of peace had considerably grown in India and successive governments came to believe that peace on the sub-continent is a better option than continued tensions between India and Pakistan.

The NDA government’s search for peace, however, ended with terrorist strike on Parliament on December 13, 2001. The Manmohan Singh government’s search for a new relationship with Pakistan has now ended with Tuesday’s killings in Mumbai.

The desire for peace came to persuade the two successive governments to trust General Musharraf’s word that he – despite Kargil – was keen for peace with India and that he would call a stop to infiltration, wind up training camps and their communication networks. If Pakistan took some action at times in checking terrorism, it was only for effect, meant to show to the world that the General, despite his uniform and jackboots, was looking for peace.

Whatever faith India came to have – rightly or wrongly – in the General seems to have been misplaced now with the Pakistan-sponsored proxy war having been stepped up in Jammu and Kashmir and the bomb blasts taking place in Mumbai and elsewhere in India. No one in Delhi at present can and will even think of reviving the dialogue with the General so long as Pakistan does not end support to terrorism.

Terrorism and search for peace do not go together. Nor do terrorism and search for a settlement on Kashmir, as Pakistan’s Foreign Minister Khurshid Kasuri would have us believe.

For quite some time India and the world have debated whether President Musharraf is able to control the extremists and the militants enjoying his country’s ample help and hospitality, or whether he is willing to do so. Whether he is able to check terrorism, or is willing to do so, for India, the consequences are same. President Musharraf has indeed overdrawn on the benefit of the doubt given by India, both by the NDA government and the Manmohan Singh government and all those who wished for peace on the sub-continent.

President George W. Bush and most leaders of the world have certainly condemned the terrorist strikes in Mumbai and Jammu & Kashmir. The time has come for the United States to have another look at its Pakistan policy. Despite knowing a lot about what is the real nature of Pakistan, Washington has been too indulgent to it, and particularly President Musharraf.

The Manmohan Singh government needs to tell President Bush that strategic partnership with India also involves recognition of the fact that Pakistan is a source of terrorism and considerable trouble for India and Washington needs to bring to bear some extra pressure on Pakistan to force it to give up terrorism as a means of international discourse.

Pakistan continues to be regarded as a frontline State in US eyes and Washington is oblivious to President Musharraf’s using it as a licence for creating trouble across its eastern border.

Irrespective of what the US and the world think of President Musharraf, India cannot afford to depend on others to take care of its own security. Terrorists can strike again and at unlikely places. The responsibility of guarding India is of our governments at the Centre and the States. They need to get their act together and work out a detailed strategy to combat terrorism which is a serious threat to national security.

While Mumbai has shown how a man-made tragedy should be taken, the people across the country have to ensure that mere anger is not a solution to terrorism. They need to guard against chauvinists, and communalists of all sorts exploiting the Mumbai tragedy and disturbing internal peace.

War against terrorism is going to take a long time and much is needed to win it. Besides the governments, irrespective of their complexion, the people and political parties have to ensure that internal peace is maintained. They need to keep their petty concerns and squabbles, differences on caste and controversies over reservations or on temple aside to forge national unity.

A cohesive society and plural psyche and respect and concern for every community are best answers to terrorism and any external danger.