January 13, 2009 2:31:01 am
For more than two decades now,Indias geographic location had her reeling under cross-border terrorism from neighbouring states. The tide finally seems to be turning. Bangladeshs election of Sheikh Hasina as its new prime minister is one such event. Bangladeshs founding President Sheikh Mujibur Rehmans eldest daughter,Hasina has always been pro-India and this time around,she has vowed to stamp out Pakistans ISI from Bangladeshs soil. A porous Indo-Bangladesh border had allowed easy infiltration for the ISI to launch terror attacks in Indias north-eastern region. This region will be far more peaceful once ISI and other terror outfits are eliminated.
On the southern front,Sri Lanka has already tasted considerable success in stamping out the LTTE. The separatist outfit is now on the verge of extinction and Sri Lankan forces are determined to wipe it out completely. Several southern states in India will breathe easy once LTTE is dismantled and a long and bloody chapter in Indias history of foreign sponsored terrorism will end. Similarly in the north,Nepals ruling government has also started building pressure on terrorists and assured India of full cooperation in fighting terrorism bred from Nepal.
The most important change has come in Kashmir,where people of the valley have turned against militant-terrorists for the first time in many decades. This change has been so drastic that all pro-militancy outfits including the Hurriyat Conference have been forced to change their strategy. It has also disgusted Pakistan,a country that invested billions in fomenting separatism in Kashmir,but gained nothing out of it. Pakistan this time had no face to dispute a record turnout in the elections in J&K.
WINDS of change are blowing through Indias political establishment Omar Abdullah in Jammu and Kashmir,Ashok Chavan in Maharashtra and Shivraj Chauhan in Madhya Pradesh are a new generation of young chief ministers. Their selection to lead the respective governments has successfully vindicated commonly heard pleas of bringing youthful leadership to India.
Older politicians still occupy too many important chairs in the name of seniority. I agree that the nation needs the experience and guidance from its senior politicians,but a balance will allows India to benefit from the refreshing energy and attitude that a younger class of politicians brings. Madhya Pradeshs Chauhan has already proved his ability to return to power and now the onus is upon Abdullah and Chavan to satisfy their people with their performance.
Loss of face
Pakistan-trained terrorists may have succeeded in killing 183 people and destroying property worth crores in Mumbai last month,but the huge loss to Pakistan cannot even be measured. A powerful torrent of anti-Pakistani sentiment is sweeping throughout the world. I feel bad for the ordinary Pakistanis,an overwhelming majority of whom are peace-loving and feel disgusted by these activities. Unfortunately for them,fundamentalists have overpowered the state and call the shots in Pakistan. Most countries are now beginning to refuse visas to Pakistani nationals. The US issues 40,000 visas to Bangladeshis,but is mulling whether to deny visa-free entry to British passport holders of Pakistani origin. UK,Australia,France and Canada are other major countries reluctant to entertain a Pakistani passport. Even Muslim states have adopted this stand; UAE now gives preference to Nepalese and Filipino workers over Pakistanis. All this is causing huge damage to Pakistani businessmen,students,artists and other members of civilian society. Pakistan should look at the Mumbai attacks as a window of opportunity to set its own house in order. It must realise that its future is in grave jeopardy,unless swift action is taken.
The writer is a Congress MP
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