Will India Declare War On Terrorism?

on Wednesday, December 3, 2008

The Americans were prompt on declaring a war on terrorists and those who harbour them after 9/11, posits SUJAY SOOD

In the time since 9/11 and 11/26 happened, I've gone from becoming an Indian national to an American national. When 9/11 took place, I was surprised at the intense and single-minded mobilization of American resources—much more military than diplomatic—to hit back at a terrorist network that proclaimed itself powerful by virtue of dastardly and inhuman action.

I was Indian then, and therefore more than a little surprised and much awed by the events that followed to result in the deployment of American and allied NATO forces in Afghanistan to destroy the self-serving, destructive and inimical terrorist organization called Al-Qaeda. It's a war that is being waged even today.

My surprise stemmed from the fact that, as an Indian, I was aware that terrorists operated out of Afghanistan. I was aware that Osama Bin Laden had made it his mandate to strike out against capitalism and democracy all across the world in the name of a very misguided interpretation of his religion, Islam. I was aware that India had been victimized more than once before 9/11 by the operatives of the Taliban and Al Qaeda, who were trained and abetted by the all-powerful wing of the Pakistan military—the Inter Services Intelligence agency. I was aware that the ISI had been funded by USA to siphon money to Afghanistan during its war in the 1980's against the Soviet Union. I was aware, also, that Osama Bin Laden was a monster that had benefited from the ISI training, funding and arms.

On 9/11 and in the days that followed, what surprised me as an Indian—who had become used to the Indian government never taking necessary action to prevent future terrorist attacks, to never mobilizing its armed forces in any specific type of retaliation against the enemies of the nation, to using the massacre of its citizens as an excuse to dawdle and manipulate vote banks for the next elections—was the swift and decisive actions taken by the United States government .

Here's an immediate timeline of the day that the terrorists made the cardinal mistake of testing American resolve to stand firm in her mandate to root out terrorism from the face of the earth: 8:45 am American airlines jet strikes the North tower. 9:03 a.m. United Airlines flight crashes into the south tower. 9:08 a.m. the airspace in the immediate proximity of New York State is sealed against any takeoffs. F-15's being non-stop sorties to survey the skies. 9:28 a.m. President Bush makes first public statement regarding the tragedy. 9:37 a.m. Flight 77 crashes into the east wing of the Pentagon. 9:45 am the entire US airpspace is shut down against civilian flights.

Two more flights crashed, and the American nation took toll of the tragedy. I was in Boston, holding a vigil with my colleagues and students, shocked and uncertain as to what happened, and as to what was to happen.

At 8:30 p.m. uncertainty about what was going to happen were put to rest by president Bush's declaration of war: "...we will make no distinction between the terrorists who committed these acts and those who harbor them."

In less than 12 hours since the first plane had struck the first tower and wreaked terror upon America and the world, the president's proclamation was uncompromising. It put not only the terrorist organizations across the world on alert, but it also put all those countries that harbored, trained, and armed those terrorist groups on alert.

When 9/11 happened, I was a national of India. I was shocked not only by the tone of the American president's response but at its unabashed declaration of war against terrorists and terrorist states.

India had already suffered countless attacks by terrorists—aided, trained, and equipped by agencies in Pakistan—and the Indian government had never quite reached the point of resolving to do anything that would seem pro-active in terms of protecting the innocent civilians of India from future bloodshed. I wasn't the only Indian who had become inured to tragedy through endless and self-serving political dawdle-talk.

When 11/26 happened in Bombay, I was an American national. I watched in horror, with utmost sadness and dismay, the images of bloodshed in the wake of the brazen terror attack in Mumbai. But feelings of despair were very quickly replaced by anger against a corrupt and inefficient government that failed to establish a centralized intelligence network to combat terrorism in the last thirty years, that failed to stop coordinated terror strikes that had victimized 6 major cities in the last two years, that refused to heed warnings from the local coast guard against a marine infiltration of the country.

But as the events unfolded, as the hundreds of innocent civilians got injured and lost their lives, as the brave military and commando units suffered casualties in their efforts to eradicate the inhuman killers without harming potential survivors, what angered me the most was the vacillating, apologetic tone of the Indian government.

There is no doubt in the world arena about from where the terrorists embarked, and where they procured their sophisticated weaponry and training. If ever there was a time for the Indian government to emulate a precedent set by the United States and promise to its terrorized Indian population that India "will make no distinction between the terrorists who committed these acts and those who harbor them," then that time is now.

But that time seems to have come and have more or less gone. Instead, the Indian government has had the resolve to invite the chief of the ISI to come and have a discussion in Delhi.

Which invitation was curtly refused.

In the aftermath of watching its population get massacred, the Indian government only managed to get snubbed. Talk about inviting salt in the wounds.

Instead of protecting the people of India against future bloodshed, the Indian government is happy to hold discussions—over tea and finger-foods—with those who harbor, train, fund terrorists.

Today, I am an American citizen with the utmost respect for the people of India, a people who cherish their secular and constitutional way of life, and I and proud to belong to a country that shares Indians' hatred of terrorism in all its forms.

As an American, I also share their dismay and anger at a self-serving government, which continues to bask in inaction and politicking even the face of mounting civilian casualties in the last two years.

India has battled terror for decades, but now terrorism has declared war on India. Will India declare war on terrorism?

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