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Current Affairs ( 4 Jan 2016, NewAgeIslam.Com)

Talk, But Talk On Terror: New Age Islam’s Selection From India Press, 5 January 2016

New Age Islam Edit Bureau

05 January 2016

Talk, But Talk On Terror

By Daily Pioneer

Severed ties between Saudi Arabia and Iran will hamper fight against IS

By Hindustan Times

Turkey’s war on the Kurds

By Vijay Prashad

Modi must take path of caution

By Vivek Katju

Peace in the time of Pathankot

By Abdul Khaliq

Own your strategy

By D.C. Pathak

 

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Talk, but talk on terror

By Daily Pioneer

Tuesday, 05 January 2016

Dialogue with Pakistan must serve a purpose

The attack by Pakistan-originated terrorists on an Indian Air Force base in Pathankot has cast a shadow on yet another planned round of talks between India and Pakistan. While the terrorists were neutralised before they could cause any damage to the airbase or its assets (although India lost more than half a dozen of its men in the counter-operation), the incident has once more underlined the perils that can come in the way of a dialogue between the two countries. The demand for calling off the talks has risen from many quarters which have pointed to the futility of dialogue with a nation that has on several occasions shown duplicity in its conduct vis-à-vis militants that target India.

However, we need to avoid knee-jerk reactions. Details of the attack are still filtering in and the security and intelligence agencies will over the next few days be able to construct a credible narrative of not just how the incident happened but also who plotted and executed it. Initial reports have confirmed that the terrorists crossed over from Pakistan and that they were in touch with their handlers based in that country. If it is established with a credible amount of evidence that Pakistan's Army and the Inter-Services Intelligence were involved in training and sending the Jaish-e-Mohammed militants to strike into India, then the Government will have to reconsider future engagements with Pakistan.

After all, neither the Pakistan Army nor the ISI is a ‘rogue, non-state actor' that is outside Islamabad's ambit. Similarly, it would be terrible for India-Pakistan relations if it is shown that Pakistani Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif had been in the know of the impending terror attack but failed to stop it. Of course, the possibility that he was not only aware but had given it a green signal, would be catastrophic for bilateral ties. After all, over the last few weeks, he had been responding  positively to Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi's bold initiatives to normalise relations. To break off talks at a stage when Mr Sharif's complicity is far from clear, would be playing into the hands of anti-peace forces in Pakistan who want nothing better than to see the dialogue process derailed. It would also put the Pakistani Prime Minister in a weak position and make him even more vulnerable than he is to hardliners within his Government and outside.

Nevertheless, the Pathankot incident must strengthen New Delhi's resolve to talk and act tough on terror. Discussions between the representatives of the two sides cannot take place as if nothing has happened. This means that India must persuade Islamabad to put terrorism on top of the talk list, and if it calls for a tweaking of a pre-set agenda earlier agreed upon by the two nations, let it be so. It would be ridiculous for New Delhi to be discussing ways to resolve the Kashmir crisis, for instance, or even promote trade or cultural exchanges, when Pakistan-based elements, with or without state support, conduct the Pathankot-kind of attacks. For India to not meet the terrorism issue head-on would not only go against national sentiment but also send out the message that we can be trampled over. New Delhi must take a strong stand backed by visible action, including diplomatic, which commands respect and even fear in the right quarter.

dailypioneer.com/columnists/edit/talk-but-talk-on-terror.html

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Severed ties between Saudi Arabia and Iran will hamper fight against IS

Hindustan Times

Jan 05, 2016

Since the Shia cleric Nimr al-Nimr’s execution, along with 46 other by Saudi Arabia, things have heated up in West Asia. The snapping of ties between Saudi Arabia and Iran should not hamper the fight against the Islamic State. (AFP)

West Asia has welcomed the New Year in probably the worst manner possible, and if this is a prologue to what’s coming, there is a lot to be worried about. On Saturday, Saudi Arabia announced that it has executed 47 ‘terrorists’, most of whom had links with terror groups like al-Qaeda. Among the 47 was Saudi Shia leader Nimr al-Nimr, a prominent voice in the Arab Spring who inspired Shia groups in Saudi Arabia to participate in the protests. Iran was quick to condemn Nimr’s execution and protests broke out in many places across the country. Things took a turn for the worse on Sunday when the Saudi Arabian embassy in Tehran and its consulate in Mashhad, in northeast Iran, were attacked by protesters. Riyadh has suspended diplomatic ties with Tehran and has asked Iranian officials to leave by Tuesday.

Through the executions, Saudi Arabia is trying to send a strong message to its nationals, dissuading them from joining terror groups. What is of concern is that the kingdom is in no mood to go slow on the death penalty. On the second day of the year, Riyadh has killed about 30% of the total number of people it executed in 2015. The embassy attack makes it clear that Iran has failed to protect international diplomats. Tehran has arrested about 40 people but the incident could have been averted with prompt action.

This fallout will have a bearing on the fight against the Islamic State (IS) and will increase the lack of cohesion among nations fighting this menace. The interests of different countries in the region have often been at cross-purposes with no unified plan to date. The cooperation between the two major powers in West Asia is imperative for resolving the conflict in Syria and, more important, in Yemen. As Sunday’s developments are set to further deepen the sectarian fissures, more unrest can be expected in Iraq, Lebanon and even Bahrain. As Saudi Arabia and other nations prepare to contain sectarian backlashes what should be of concern is that the al-Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula had vowed revenge attacks if its people were executed. In this sectarian din the focus should not shift from terror. It is to be seen if Iran and Saudi Arabia will act like the responsible regional leaders they project themselves to be.

hindustantimes.com/editorials/severed-ties-between-saudi-arabia-and-iran-will-hamper-fight-against-is/story-LO43zwwGo0BfsHYpptivbI.html

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Turkey’s war on the Kurds

Vijay Prashad

“Much of the explanation for the assault on the Kurds is to be found in Turkey’s failed policy in Syria.” Picture shows Kurds clashing with the Turkish police as they protest against the curfew imposed in Kurdish towns, in Diyarbakir.

Loss of faith in the country’s commitment to its minorities and to multi-party democracy has led influential people to reconsider autonomy of the Kurdish areas.

A war of words has broken out between the Turkish President, Recep Tayyip Erdogan, and the leader of the left-wing People’s Democratic Party (HDP), Selahattin Demirtas. Mr. Demirtas, who is Kurdish, leads a party that unites the Kurdish nationalist forces and Turkey’s left-wing groups. Until recently, he and the HDP have called for more rights for the Kurdish population within Turkey rather than for the creation of a Kurdish state out of Turkey. The Kurds in Turkey are spread out across the country, with Istanbul having the largest concentration (one million Kurds). Nonetheless, the majority of the Kurdish population lives in the country’s south-east, which has been the epicentre of demands for self-determination. In late December, Mr. Demirtas backed a resolution passed by the Kurdish Democratic Society Congress (DTK), which reiterated an old demand for the creation of Kurdish “autonomous regions” and “self-governance bodies”. Mr. Erdogan called Mr. Demirtas’ action “treason”.

Mr. Demirtas, who has a calm and careful political demeanour, has come to this position from great desperation. Out of the gaze of the international media, Turkey’s government has been prosecuting a violent war against the Kurdish people. From last summer, Turkey began a policy of military curfews and severe crackdowns on the Kurdish towns and cities of south-eastern Turkey. Turkish tanks have been shelling Cizre, near the Syrian border, and military operations in Diyarbakir and Silopi escalate each day. The region, say local journalists, resembles a war zone. Mr. Erdogan has called this violence a “fight against separatist terror organisations”. Diyarbakir mayor Gultan Kisanak said, “Tanks and heavy weaponry, which are only used in conventional warfare, are being used by the Turkish armed forces, in areas where hundreds of thousands of civilians live.” Ms. Kisanak, a former political prisoner and a very popular politician, bravely stood up as an MP against the murder of 34 Kurdish civilians by the Turkish air force in the 2011 Roboski Massacre. She does not mince words, nor does she exaggerate.

Peace talks

Since 2013, the main military wing of the Kurdish resistance — the Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK) — has been in talks with the Turkish state for a full peace agreement. The PKK’s leader, Abdullah Ocalan, has been in Imrali Prison since 1999. The dialogue between the state and the PKK was called the Imrali process, after the name of the island where Mr. Ocalan’s prison is based. Negotiations based on a 10-point Dolmabahce Agreement proceeded until this summer, when Mr. Erdogan restarted his belligerent talk. He rejected as implausible negotiations between the PKK — a “terrorist organisation,” he called it — and the government. He tied the HDP to the PKK. The HDP responded that it has no “organic” ties to the PKK, although many former guerrillas are now above ground inside the HDP. The President rejected the HDP’s claim at his Ramzan speech at a mosque in Istanbul’s suburban Atasehir district. He said that the HDP and the PKK have an “inorganic tie”. He wanted war against not only the PKK, an armed force, but also against the HDP, a respected parliamentary party. Both had to be dented.

Why has Mr. Erdogan been so eager to go to war against the HDP and the PKK? There are two reasons: first, the HDP’s political successes have prevented his political ambitions, and second, the PKK’s assistance to the Syrian Kurds had raised the spectre once more of Kurdish statehood or autonomy.

The rise of the HDP inside Turkey dented Mr. Erdogan’s personal ambitions to shift the Turkish political process from parliamentary to presidential rule. Mr. Erdogan bizarrely cited Hitler’s Germany as an example of a successful presidential system. Victories of the HDP in both parliamentary elections of 2015 prevented Mr. Erdogan’s Justice and Development Party (AKP) from earning an absolute majority in Parliament, which would have delivered power to change the system. Mr. Erdogan’s war against the HDP and the media emerges from political frustration. His attempt to link the HDP to the PKK was designed to frighten its support base. Assassinations and arrests of pro-HDP politicians and journalists began in earnest. The killing of human rights attorney Tahir Elci in late November last year had a chilling effect. It also drew from Mr. Demirtas this sentiment: “What killed Tahir was not the state, but statelessness.” Loss of faith in Turkey’s commitment to its minority and to multi-party democracy led influential people like Mr. Demirtas to reconsider autonomy and self-government of the Kurdish areas.

Creation of People’s Protection Units

Much of the explanation for the assault on the Kurds is to be found in Turkey’s failed policy in Syria. Battle-hardened PKK fighters turned to help the Syrian Kurdish fighters in 2011, after the Syrian government of Bashar al-Assad withdrew from Syria’s Kurdish regions in the north. The outcome of this assistance was the creation of the People’s Protection Units (YPG). The YPG and the PKK have been fierce fighters against the Islamic State (IS), since it entered the area in 2012. The battlefield advances of the Syrian Kurds with the PKK have lifted their morale, gained them international attention, and won them adherents amongst Turkey’s non-Kurdish population. It is the ferocity of their fighting and their progressive social policy that gave buoyancy to the HDP in the recent elections. Declaration of Syrian Kurdish autonomy alongside Iraqi Kurdish autonomy (since 1991) put pressure on Turkey’s Kurds to follow suit. This was precisely what Mr. Erdogan and the Turkish ultra-nationalists despise.

Since October, the Turkish armed forces have hit not only the Kurdish cities in south-eastern Turkey but also PKK and YPG combatants inside Syria. PKK leader Cemil Bayik accused the Turkish state of attacking the PKK to “stop the Kurdish advance against ISIS”. This is an accusation that has become commonplace in the region — that the AKP is implicated in the establishment of IS. Turkey’s border with Syria is porous for entry of IS jihadis and for IS oil. The latter draws in Mr. Erdogan’s son Bilal, who is a director in the BMZ group that has played a role in the trans-shipment of IS oil to Malta, and then to Israel. Mr. Bayik’s point is strongly made but what evidence exists supports his assertion. Turkey’s ambivalence towards IS also bedevils the U.S., which uses the Turkish base at Incirlik to bomb IS, and watches Turkish craft attack the Kurdish forces who are the main ground troops against the IS.

Turkey is in danger of a civil war, as Mr. Demirtas warned in September. Mr. Erdogan believes that he can ride the tiger of the anti-Kurdish war. It is more likely that he will lose control of the situation and plunge Turkey into irreparable damage. The Turkish government believes it can score a military victory against the PKK, which is why it has been striking PKK camps inside Turkey, Iraq and Syria. Before the PKK can be destroyed, the Turkish forces will have to raze the cities and towns of south-eastern Turkey. They are on the road to doing this — with little international condemnation of their actions.

(Vijay Prashad, Director of International Studies at Trinity College, Connecticut, is a weekly columnist for the Turkish newspaper BirGün.)

thehindu.com/opinion/op-ed/turkeys-war-on-the-kurds/article8065303.ece?css=print

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Modi must take path of caution

Jan 03, 2016

Vivek Katju

With that one surprise stop-over at Nawaz Sharif's family estate at Raiwind near Lahore on Christmas Day, and the weeks of top-level meetings preceding it — in Paris (Modi-Nawaz meeting), Bangkok (India-Pak NSAs meeting) and Islamabad (Foreign minister Sushma Swaraj's visit) — Prime Minister Narendra Modi has undoubtedly made Pakistan his major foreign policy preoccupation through 2016. He has embarked on the ambitious and dangerous road of completely transforming the India-Pakistan relationship. As he told the military services commanders at their combined conference last month, "We are engaging Pakistan to try and turn the course of history, build peaceful relations, advance cooperation and promote stability and prosperity in the region."

Modi gave an indication of his approach and vision when he invited Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif, along with other Saarc leaders, to his oath taking ceremony in May 2014. It is no longer in public memory but the Lashkar-e-Tayyaba, which is more or less controlled by the Pakistan army, through the ISI, almost spoiled Modi's party by attacking the Indian consulate in Herat, Afghanistan. Many in India applauded Nawaz Sharif for showing the courage to accept the invitation despite the reservations of his military generals.

Modi has persevered in his approach despite the setbacks in the relationship in 2014 and 2015. In doing so, he has shown what is euphemistically called, in diplomatic jargon, flexibility. In common parlance, the equivalent word is concessions.

In July last year, at their meeting in Ufa in Russia, Modi and Sharif decided that the bilateral dialogue would be resumed after a round of meetings devoted to terrorism and eliminating tensions and firing along the International Border and the Line of Control in Jammu and Kashmir. The Pakistani generals rejected this approach. They insisted that the talks should also be on J&K and the future of the dialogue. India did not accept the 'veto' in August, but in December it did. Consequently, the meeting of the Indian and Pakistani National Security Advisers was held in Bangkok in early December. India had shown flexibility both on the venue and the agenda. Has this only whetted the appetite of the generals? Do the generals think of flexibility as a sign of statesmanship, or of weakness to be exploited further?

NSA Ajit Doval and Foreign Secretary Jaishankar accompanied Modi to partake of Sharif's hospitality at his personal home at Jati Umra. High Commissioner Raghavan, who returned to India after retiring on December 31, was able to reach Raiwind despite the short notice. On the Pakistan side, Foreign Secretary Aizaz Choudhry, it is said, just happened to be in Lahore and was present at Raiwind. The surprising omission was Pakistan NSA Lt. Gen. (Retd.) Nasser Janjua. The clarification given is merely that he could not make it in time. The question is - why could he not? Was this a signal from the generals?

Certainly, the generals would have followed Modi's Kabul visit thoroughly and in real-time. In his excellent address to the joint session of the Afghan Parliament on the occasion of the dedication ceremony of the Indian-built Parliament building, Modi did not name Pakistan but he did clearly point to it. His reference to the "mysterious" consulates would have hurt the generals. What would have most certainly angered them were his words, "Afghanistan will only succeed when terrorism no longer flows across the border, when nurseries and sanctuaries of terrorism are shut and their patrons are no longer in business."

Jaishankar will travel in mid-January to Islamabad to meet his Pakistani counterpart to work out the modalities of the newly established Comprehensive Bilateral Dialogue (CBD). In the normal course, it was the turn of the Pakistan Foreign Secretary to travel to Delhi. Obviously that is not happening to bypass the Hurriyat meeting issue. This is yet another sign of flexibility.

The traditional Pakistani focus has been on the resolution of outstanding issues, not on promoting cooperation or addressing humanitarian concerns. The generals are especially focused on Siachen and J&K. Pakistan longs to see Indian forces withdraw from their posts on the Saltoro heights. While earlier India was prepared to consider this if Pakistan was willing to authenticate the coordinates of the Indian and Pakistani posts and the Actual Ground Position Line, now the almost unanimous Indian view is that Indian forces should not withdraw from their posts. This is because of Chinese activities in Gilgit and Baltistan, and a sharper understanding of the strategic value of the region.

Will Pakistan allow any effective movement on matters relating to the lives of people, such as trade, agriculture and industrial cooperation and on humanitarian matters? If they do, that would indicate the beginnings of fresh thinking in Rawalpindi. There is no sign of such fresh thinking as yet, however. The real issue is, will the generals change their thinking on India. They hold India to be an eternal threat, a permanent enemy. In order to meet the India challenge, they rely on their nuclear arsenal as well as terrorism, the latter having become an inherent part of their security doctrine. Unless they are willing to bring about a basic change in this approach, they cannot be Modi's partners on the road to "turn the course of history". Modi will travel to Pakistan this year for the Saarc summit. He should be aware that even ambitious leaders should be cautious. Cleo, the goddess of history, may spring an unwelcome surprise if pushed too hard.

The writer is a career diplomat who retired as secretary (west) in the ministry of external affairs. He served as ambassador to Afghanistan, Myanmar and Thailand.

asianage.com/columnists/modi-must-take-path-caution-159

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Peace in the time of Pathankot

By Abdul Khaliq

January 5, 2016

Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s stunning embrace of Nawaz Sharif in Lahore on Christmas Day has done more for galvanising the peace process in the subcontinent than any other intercession since Atal Bihari Vajpayee’s time. All of a sudden, tensions had eased, there was hope and optimism in the air. It augured a much-needed release from the prison walls of hate and distrust that have marked India-Pakistan relations in the last few years. The impromptu act of camaraderie was particularly significant as it came in the wake of relentless bickering and recriminations.

Modi’s latest stratagem is the most audacious gesture in our post-Independence diplomatic history; more so because of his political antecedents. It requires courage to brush off the objections of one’s strongest supporters, whose life’s work has been anti-Pakistan hysteria. Modi not only belied the media-inspired and allegedly liberal perceptions of his hawkishness but also discomfited a pussyfooted Congress. The Congress has historically been ambivalent or blatantly opportunistic not only in its secular stance — be it the Shah Bano case or not meeting with murdered MP Ehsan Jafri’s wife — but even in improving relations with Pakistan. The Congress’s Pakistan policy has invariably been moderated, if not controlled, by the hawks on our side.

The most heartening aspect of the casual interaction of the two PMs was their determination not to allow stray provocations to disrupt such meetings. Both governments will have to be wary of the spoilers

in our midst. A leading functionary of the ruling party muddied the waters straightaway by invoking the idea of Akhand Bharat, which is ideologically linked to the right and Hindutva, and is anathema to people on either side of our borders. It immediately provoked Pakistan’s extremists to respond with “Ghazwa-e-Hind” — the Islamisation of India. Another worthy, a minister in the present government, made a barely veiled attack on the “uncontrolled growth” of the Muslim population.

Such a gratuitous statement conveys the message that when Muslims even within our borders are viewed with suspicion as “the other”, it is futile to expect a thaw in relations with predominantly Muslim Pakistan or Bangladesh.

Striking an altogether different note, Ram Vilas Paswan pitched for a “mahasanghatan” of India, Pakistan and Bangladesh with a common currency and open trade a la the European Union. Going by what Europe has achieved, this mahasanghatan is eminently doable. Almost every country in Europe was embroiled in the two internecine World Wars that killed millions; yet today, 19 of these countries have a common currency and in 26 countries, citizens can move freely. Importantly, in the last 70 years, no guns have been used to settle issues between the countries of western Europe. Should that not be our goal?

Critics who believe that the encounter in Lahore was devoid of serious content miss the point that behind the bonhomie was a serious attempt to forge a new relationship based on goodwill, trust and mutual give-and-take. The seeming spontaneity was grounded in “emotion recollected in tranquillity”, the realisation that the two nuclear-wielding entities cannot afford to walk an alternative path.

The ordinary Indian and Pakistani can now dream of the mouth-watering prospect of open borders that, to quote then PM Manmohan Singh, allow one to have breakfast in Amritsar, lunch in Lahore and dinner in Kabul. Fraternity in the subcontinent will not only help in tackling the overwhelming menace of terrorism but also the other curse of the region, poverty. If Kashmir were no longer a mutually debilitating bone of contention, both countries could scale down defence expenditure and scale-up investment on health and education.

PM Sir, in the face of the recent dastardly terror attack by Pakistan in Pathankot, the only hope for our benighted countries is your statesmanship and steely determination to blaze a new path in our relations, irrespective of the hurdles.

I, for one, am not only hopeful but convinced that you will not back down from your mission of peace and allow the enemies of humanity and the war-mongering TV experts to have the last laugh.

indianexpress.com/article/opinion/columns/modi-lahore-visit-peace-in-the-time-of-pathankot/99/print/

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Own your strategy

By D.C. Pathak

January 5, 2016

flag meeting, india pakistan flag meeting, indo-pak flag meeting, latest news, loc, border, border tension, poonch, J&K, kashmir The Modi government should not make the mistake that the previous regime committed in the wake of the 26/11 attack.

The attack on the forward airbase in Pathankot on Saturday, perpetrated by terrorists who came from across the Pakistan border, yet again challenges India to find a way of keeping the India-Pakistan peace process on track despite providing a compelling case for New Delhi to give its Pakistan policy another critical look.

The event is being widely interpreted as the response of a hostile Pakistan army to Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s surprise visit to Lahore in the last week of 2015 to greet his Pakistani counterpart, Nawaz Sharif, on the latter’s birthday. Intelligence reports indicate a direct planning of this daring assault by Pakistan’s Inter-Services Intelligence, a sub-set of the Pakistan army, confirming the impression that the Pakistan army was not in alignment with the peace initiatives being taken by the two civilian heads of government.

The Pakistan army’s reservations about a bilateral talks agenda that accords prime importance to the issue of cross-border terrorism first led to the replacement of Sartaj Aziz, a civilian, with a retired lieutenant general, Naseer Khan Janjua, as Pakistan’s national security advisor. And this happened soon after the Ufa summit meeting where the prime ministers of both countries had met for a substantive exchange of views.

The Pathankot offensive was audaciously planned in quick time and daringly executed by militants dressed in army fatigues. They were directed to hijack a taxi and commandeer a police vehicle in order to reach close to the air base and produce a decisive result. The modus operandi employed by the terrorists is reminiscent of the attack on the Indian Parliament in December 2001 — another offensive by the Jaish-e-Mohammad — and the November 2008 Mumbai attack carried out by the Lashkar-e-Taiba. The Pakistan army, even to this day, mentors both these outfits.

The attack on the Pathankot air base revives three questions that have a bearing on the future prospects of the India-Pakistan bilateral relationship. First, is the civilian leadership of Pakistan prepared to publicly accept the stipulation that violence shall not be used to press for a solution of the Kashmir problem? Second, can Pakistan’s prime minister declare that while the process of evolving confidence-building measures in order to reduce tension along the Line of Control and the International Border in Jammu and Kashmir is on, such disruptions will not come in the way of talks on the economic cooperation front? And finally, will the Pakistan government announce disarming of the Lashkar-e-Taiba and its front outfits while expediting the 26/11 trial?

The reality of the Pakistan army dictating the agenda that the civilian leadership brings to the table in bilateral talks cannot be wished away. If our leadership believes our own intelligence agencies then it should firmly tell Pakistan’s prime minister that the argument of deniability, once again advanced by the Pakistan army and the Inter-Services Intelligence in the wake of the Pathankot attack, just does not hold

any longer. India also has to impress upon the United States, whose persuasive pressure for the resumption of bilateral talks is

only too well known, that red lines will have to be drawn on the issue of terrorism if India’s help in the global “war on terror” is to make sense.

As far as the Pathankot incident is concerned, it is correct to take the line that enemies of humanity are responsible for the attack but it should also be stated that those who mentored such militants would be taught a lesson as well. Then, and only then, will the praise for the valour of our security forces have real substance. The Modi government should not make the mistake that the previous regime committed in the wake of the 26/11 attack — that of accepting the glib suggestion that some “non-state actors” were behind all the mischief of cross-border terrorism, which had afflicted India all these years. Already a section of the Pakistan media has unabashedly questioned the fact that the Pathankot airbase was attacked by elements from within Pakistan.

Modi’s effort to encourage his counterpart to take charge of the political decision-making in our neighbouring country must also bear fruit soon enough. Otherwise Modi’s Pakistan policy could start looking ambiguous.

India has to stick to the three-fold strategy of keeping cross-border terrorism on top of the agenda of bilateral talks, maintaining that India has no problem with bilateral discussion on Kashmir in accordance with the Simla Agreement (that gave no place to any third party like the Hurriyat), and, as a regional stake holder, demanding a role in the reconstruction of Afghanistan.

At home, India must prepare for an effective and integral response to the threat of cross-border terrorism. When it comes to dealing with terrorism, there is a need to further improve Centre-state collaboration as well as civil-military coordination.

In short, India need not shun talking to Pakistan — but without compromising on the above-mentioned parameters. At the same time, India should continue to bilaterally strengthen its friendship with all the countries in its neighbourhood, even if this means that we simultaneously deal with an unhelpful Pakistan with appropriate sternness.

Modi has handled foreign policy very well so far and he need not allow his approach towards Pakistan — a country controlled by the military — to diminish this achievement in any way. A recalcitrant neighbour promoting faith-based militancy against us has to be countered on the borders as well as on other planes through a comprehensive strategy that is our own and in sync with India’s strategic culture.

indianexpress.com/article/opinion/columns/own-your-strategy/99/print/

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