From negotiating with terrorists to zero tolerance

Arindam ChaudhariOn January 8, 2013, Pakistani soldiers illegally entered Indian territory through the Poonch sector attacked an Indian patrol team and eventually killed two soldiers. They went ahead and beheaded one of the soldiers too.

This cold-blooded murder is not only inhuman but is also against the international conventions on armed conflicts. A few days later, Pakistani troops organised another series of attacks. In spite of a flag meeting, Pakistan violated the ceasefire agreement and entered the Indian side of the LOC, not once but five times! Against this backdrop, our PM continued to have a soft approach and announced restrictions on the visa-on-arrival facility for Pakistani citizens.

Furthermore, Dr Singh found it “tough to conduct business as usual with Pakistan” and also managed to send some nine Pakistani hockey players back to their nation! Hilariously, every time we have been attacked by our neighbour in the past, Indian PMs have been seen taking soft and abject approaches. Going by any notion, the recent attack cannot be swept under the carpet by terming it as a mere ‘ceasefire violation’; by all decrees of humanity and national sovereignty, it qualifies as an act of terrorism.

Negotiating with terrorists invariably means the government is giving in to violence. Negotiating also undermines the efforts of those who seek peaceful political solutions. A recent Massey University study, titled ‘Negotiating with terrorists: the cost of compliance’, found that complying with terrorists’ demands might encourage terror groups with a positive terror-negotiation rate elasticity of 0.72.

Today, most nations have decided not to let terrorists take them to ransom. No doubt, there are still numerous countries that are seen negotiating with terrorists, but then, unlike ours, their sole purpose is to buy time for chalking out a rescue operation. But then again, for that kind of negotiation, it requires people with expertise in that particular field supported by a highly efficient intelligence team — and neither of these is India’s forte. The 1999 Kandahar hijacking case is an exemplar proof of the slavish futility of negotiations.

The need for a holistic non-negotiation policy becomes more logical as one travels through the delinquent betrayal history of Pakistan. Indo-Pak relations have not improved despite several peace talks. As they say, history repeats itself. But in the case of India, history is made to repeat itself. Clearly, India now urgently needs an anti-terrorism policy that defines our stance of zero-tolerance and no-negotiation.

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