Thursday, November 19, 2009

Preventing Repeat of Militancy in Punjab

Conditions in the neighboring country, Pakistan, is are from bad to worse and fear of revival of terrorism in Punjab is a matter of concern. Given the recent arrests and recovery of arms and ammunition, the apprehension expressed by the state police chief over such incidents is not entirely baseless. With a view to prove their continued existence and put weight in their plea for political asylum in foreign countries before host governments, militants taking shelter abroad have been engaged in reviving their activities since long.
By issuing provocative statements and feelers from time-to-time, they have made attempts to have a measure of support in Punjab. Despite not receiving much response, certain elements are still trying to revive militancy in Punjab.

Taliban-ISI Nexus
The Taliban and Pakistan's Inter-Services Intelligence (ISI), amid the ongoing civil war in Pakistan and increasing contribution by India in rehabilitation and reconstruction works in Afghanistan, are exposing the country to threat. In order to oust Indian entrepreneurs from Afghanistan, the Indian Embassy in Kabul was attacked on two occasions. The North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO) forces held the Taliban-ISI nexus responsible for both attacks.
In wake of the US shift toward India on the Kashmir issue, militant organizations and the ISI intend to project Kashmir as a pivotal point for peace in the region. After their failure in Kashmir, they now find Punjab as a suitable region for revival of militancy. From the activities of militants living under Pakistan's protection, it appears that pressure on them is mounting to do "something." This pressure is reflected in statements of the Punjab police chief.

Pangs of Terrorism
Punjab suffered pangs of terrorism for one-and-half decades. Thousands of people were killed in the game of bloodshed. A large number of innocent people were subjected to excesses. Memories of false police encounters, unclaimed dead bodies, and ruthless violence carried out by terrorists are still fresh in people's minds. All Punjabi and other political systems should learn a lesson from the atrocities committed during that period of militancy in the state.
Those who displayed sympathy toward terrorists at that time became victim of violence from both sides. They had to face violence of ungrateful militants and police excesses.

Lessons From Past Mistakes
This time around, Punjabis should make it a point not to repeat their earlier mistake. The state government should give timely advice to the police department and issue necessary directions accordingly. The government should direct the police department to conduct themselves with a sense of responsibility. Exercising adequate vigilance, policemen should ensure that innocent people do not suffer again at their hands. It is the responsibility of the Punjab police to block all avenues of monetary support to militants, and sources of supply of arms and ammunition and training.
The drive against smugglers, who supply arms to militants, should also be intensified. After all, prevention is better than cure, and vital. There is, therefore, need for close coordination between the union and state government. The government should explore constitutional remedies to all these issues, which militants can think in terms of their narrow politicizing game. The earnestness on the part of government departments and politicians can save Punjab from the heat of militancy by proving apprehensions of revival of militancy in Punjab baseless.

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