Prime Minister Narendra Modi outlined dangers that terrorism poses to humanity while inaugurating the 9th G 20 Parliamentary Speakers’ Summit in New Delhi on October 13, and he backed up his warning to the comity of nations with the experiences that India had had in the past few decades.
And the time he chose to convey this message and call for a united fight against terrorism was when Hamas , the radical Islamic group that controls Gaza in the Middle-East, launched an unprecedented terror assault on Israel, killing hundreds and taking several other as hostages on October 7. This was a new dimension of terrorism in the world, in which the massacres were sought to be justified under the political objectives wrapped in revenge for what all Israeli Defence Forces had been doing to Palestinians over the decades as the two- state solution was buried in the graveyard of international diplomacy. But, from whatever angle, one may interpret, Hamas’s firing of over 3000 rockets and killing civilians in Israel, was one of the biggest acts of terror in the 21st century. It had to be dealt in the way it is being done by Israel.
Israel called its 9/11 moment. The terror stack on the American soil on September 11. 2001 , has become a common phrase to define big acts of terror that jolt the nations, sending a warning to the rest of the world that terrorism is an uncontrollable menace unless it is fought unitedly. Within days after the 9/11 when terrorists rammed aircraft in high-rise building and strategic assets of the US, American forces joined by the NATO, launched more than 20 years of assault on Afghanistan. It was believed that Al-Qaeda mastermind Osama bin Laden and his Taliban associates had planned and executed the terror assault that left close to 3,000 dead and sent symbols of American economic and military might crumbling.
Narendra Modi ‘s message to the world to evolve a consensus and mount a united fight against terrorism at P20 summit is in the larger interest of humanity as any dilution in the united fight against terrorism exposes nations and societies across the world to recurrence of terror assaults . The impact of terrorism or acts of terror, it needs to be understood, as a bigger problem than mere filling of graveyards and funeral processions, and there are cases where even a proper funeral becomes a luxury for the civilized world, because terrorists leave their victims disfigured and in such a. Situation where organising a funeral is next to impossible. The latest is the scenario emerging out of Israel- Gaza conflict where there was no time for funerals and no space for graveyards.
It was on December 13, 2001, less than three months after the America’s 9/11 moment, and a little over two months when the US and NATO forces launched revenge attacks in Afghanistan, when terrorists mounted a terror assault on the Indian Parliament . The attack was mounted by Jaish-e-Mohammad - and Lashkar terrorists, who started their journey from Kashmir and it culminated within the premises of the Indian Parliament in Delhi with their death at the hands of the Delhi police. That was India’s 9/11 moment, but with a difference . Terrorists had struck at the heart of the Indian democracy- the Parliament, temple of Indian democracy.
As Prime Minister recalled, the terrorists had much sinister plans than just gate-crashing the Parliament more than 22 years ago. He stated that “About 20 years ago, terrorists had targeted our Parliament. And you will be shocked to know that Parliament was in session at that time. The terrorists had planned to take the MPs hostage and kill them.”
This is what India has gone through. The difference is that while America and NATO forces were pounding Afghanistan with bombs, India was asked to exercise restraint. The government of the day – led by Atal Behari Vajpayee, could not gather the courage to take the fight to the enemy’s house. All it could do was to mobilise troops on the borders, what the then external minister Yashwant Sinha termed as “coercive diplomacy.” Obviously that diplomacy fizzled as Pakistan went in for another assault on the Indian soil – terror attacks in Mumbai on 26th November 2008 , and the then Manmohan Singh government was as spineless as was the Vajpayee government in 2001.
Those who think that Hamas assault on Israel and the conflict it has engendered, is a localised affair have been proven wrong . Since India has experienced cross-border terrorism for decades, it knows that how the things unfold, and how it has experienced atrocities. Each terror attack has a substantial potential to encourage terrorists in other parts of the world to stage their own versions of attacks, posing dangers to the world. This makes it very clear that the nations are not immune to terrorism and no land is distant enough for the terrorists to strike. The terrorism is not just physical, it has metaphysical dimensions.
Post 9/11 India witnessed several terror attacks even when the Indian forces were on the borders , ready for a war with Pakistan – it all began with the terror assault on the state legislative Assembly in Srinagar on October 1, 2001 , killing more than 30 people, including college going girls . Thereafter , came December 13 terror assault on the Indian Parliament. These attacks were inspired by the 9/11 attacks . And now when Prime Minister has called for a united fight against terrorism at the global scale , he is being prophetic . In the days to come the Israel-Hamas conflict will become a source of terror attacks in several places across the world. This prophecy should serve as a lesson to the world, which so far is fighting terrorism in a fragmented manner . India, too will have to eb extra vigilant as terrorists in different parts of the world, particularly in Pakistan are looking for their targets in India . India has seen ripple effect of the terror attacks and this time it may not be an exception . The difference , however , is that the Indian approach of tackling terrorism is much different from yesteryear. It is no longer soft nor does it offer any space of reconciliation with the space that terrorists occupy . It is to keep space free of terrorism whatever it takes to do so.
(Arun Joshi is author of “Eyewitness Kashmir; Teetering on Nuclear War and senior journalist based in Jammu and Kashmir, writes on South Asian affairs)
Disclaimer: This is the personal opinion of the author. The views expressed in this write-up have nothing to do with www.prameyanews.com.