There’s No Such Thing As A Good Terrorist
Being under siege in Iraq and Syria does not prevent the Islamic State from looking east. The deadly attacks in Pakistan, on a court and a Sufi shrine, and the unearthing of an IS cell in Hyderabad in India are proof. While terror in the name of Islam has an ideology and organisational framework not restricted by geography, countering it has to have both local and international dimensions. Adherence to the principles of democracy in India’s multidenominational polity and better intelligence and policing represent the domestic dimension. The global dimension is less straightforward.
India must redouble its efforts to rally governments across the world to isolate and act against countries that serve as safe havens for terrorists. The recent spate of terror attacks in Pakistan does not make Islamabad a victim of terror on par with India. By sponsoring what it chooses to call non-state actors, Islamabad seeks to extend its strategic capability beyond what its small economy, large army and nuclear missiles permit. But all terrorists are not amenable to control by its security agencies and so ordinary Pakistanis pay the price. The global strategy against terror has to prioritise pressuring governments, in particular that of Pakistan, to stop sponsoring terror. New Delhi must redouble its diplomatic efforts to ratify the UN Comprehensive Convention on International Terrorism and make Beijing shed its blinkers.
Conceptual clarity on the domestic agenda is easy. But to be consistently democratic, resisting the temptation to curry favour with particular communities is not, particularly when that seems to be a shortcut to winning crucial elections. As a multicultural country with a long tradition of proud diversity, India has to summon the will to secure democracy.