Tuesday, March 17, 2009

The Frankensteins

(Originally titled Binding Lies. My editor dint like it.)

In a testimony to chaos and disarray that would make the devil blush this past week has seen some truly horrific events in our beloved SAARC neighborhood. From the Tamil Tiger air attack that hit Colombo to the mutineers in Bangladesh, Indian Foreign Policy and intelligence officers would certainly had their hands full. Luckily in a country as vast and diverse as India chaos beyond our boundaries rarely draws any ramifications within our country. Until of course, as in Pakistan, they begin to spill over. As our most conflict stricken neighbor (a title hard fought for with the others) Pakistan’s cracks are beginning to show up all over the place. Even as Gilani and Zardari bestow pity over their only other political rival, Nawaz Sharif, over being barred from ever contesting elections. Sharif’s supporters have gone on a rampage and protests which are now in their third day but while Pakistan burns the duo of Zardari and Gilani are busy signing deals with the murderous and barbaric “good” Taliban who now legitimately lay claim to vast areas of north-western Pakistan called the SWAT. The theory that sections of the ousted Taliban are more amicable to a truce and negotiations is ludicrous. These are tribesman who hail from Afghanistan and have been bombed out of their country. They are seeking revenge and any truce deal they sign now is only to regroup their resources till they can plot another attack. Where that attack may happen is definitely up for grabs since all that defence spending and intelligence that America has up its sleeve seems to have worked. Frustrated by this Al-Qaeda and the Taliban have and will continue to turn their attention on more vulnerable allies of America. The easiest of those targets being India of course. Mustafa Abu al-Yazid, Al- Qaeda’s Commander in Afghanistan warned India just earlier this month to brace for more of what he called “Mumbai Style Attacks”. As demonstrated by those attacks India’s nearly infinite and impossible to patrol borders with Nepal, Bangladesh and Pakistan along with 7000 Km of coastline make it easy prey for groups looking to flex their muscle. Back down south an influx of refugees from across the short Palk Strait has placed concerns that Liberation Tamil Tiger Eelam members are simply retreating to safe havens in Tamil Nadu to re-oranise and launch attacks at a later day on Sri Lanka. In a very similar situation Pakistan is being used as a terror hub by the Taliban and Al-Qaeda India too seems caught as a middle ground in a battle between the Tiger terrorists and the Sri Lankan State. Albeit the cause of conflicts may differ, the irony is that both groups, the tigers and Al-Qaeda, were set up and funded initially as State actors. The tigers by then Prime Minister Indira Gandhi and Al-Qaeda by American intelligence agencies looking to oust the Soviets from Afghanistan in the 80’s. Both decisions have come to bite their respective states back. India being a vocal supporter of a unified Sri Lanka as well as Israel (Osama Bin Laden’s sworn enemy) has certainly chosen a tough path. But are we prepared to defend our choices and lay a heavy hand against these terrorists. The rebellion in Bangladesh over pay has left an eerie reminder over the discontent in our own armed forces on disparate pay scales in sections of the army. Fortunately the Indian army is one institution that has never disappointed the public and has always stood by to protect them. Perhaps its time the reverse happened as well.

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