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Monday, July 31, 2006

Unfair comparison with Israel

In the aftermath of the Mumbai blasts we again seen the never ending comparison with Israel. It's become almost a cliche to compare India with Israel (and given Israel's current operations in Lebanon, the comparison is even more widespread). The main argument being that India is not as harsh/stern in dealing with terrorism as Israel is, that a country as small as Israel surrounded on all sides by Arab states, deals with the mere kidnapping of two of its soldiers with such stern reaction. This apparently shows how much it cares for the lives of its ordinary citizens.

I wish to rebuff these charlatanism with following points

  • Even after being so stern with terrorism, it would not be anybody's argument that Israel has 'tamed' or 'successfully tackled' the problems of terrorism. It continues to be plagued by it. The resolution in sight even in its case seems to be dialogue and a mutually acceptable settlement to the Palestinian problem.
  • Secondly, it is very clear in case of Israel, that almost all terrorism is external in nature. In our case I am not so sure. Yes, it is very fashionable to blame Pakistan for every small bomb blast that takes place in this country. Yet there is very little evidence (at least in public domain). We should not lose sight that there are enough people in this country who are prone to indulge in terrorist acts. SIMI is a home growth organisation, so was the underworld of Mumbai (and though they get support both financial and political from across the border, its cadre very much consists of people who at least on paper are Indian nationals). The Naxalite movement (a highly under reported, understood and recognised risk) is entirely home grown and to date is not known of having any links with Pakistan. The Sikh militancy was home grown to a large extent. The militancy in North East (ULFA, Bodo) is again home grown to a large extent (though admittedly it has 'some' financial/political support from some border countries). This home grown nature of the militancy, changes the situation to a large extent.
  • Finally, even if we concluded that our neighbour on North West is to blame the issue of feasibility of our military actions deals fatal blow to all our ambitions of Israeli type tactics. The military superiority that Israel enjoys vis-a-vis its neighbours is overwhelming. Inspite of the aerial and land assault that Israel has launched on Lebanon (or Hezbollah), all that it seems to be able to retaliate with is a few rockets. The ratio of number of people dying on both sides is a stark reminder of this overwhelming superiority that Israel enjoys. India too does have military superiority over Pakistan, but it is no where as overwhelming. The kind of response we are talking here is not a full scale war, but a short and swift military action - and this is where the lack of overwhelming superiority hurts us. Pakistan has enough ammunition to make our payoffs appear too risky and not worth it. This is the single biggest reason why even if wanted to, we cannot launch the very kind of operations that we are fascinated by the Israelis.

Again, don't get me wrong. I am not for one moment suggesting that we go soft on terror. But we must appreciate the nature of the problem faced by us before we start going over board with our fascination of Israeli tactics. Making fruits of development and the judicial system reach all corners of the country by themselves would in my opinion go a long way in solving our problems. We need to look inwards for solutions - and get cracking!

That's it for now....

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