Since Zia-ul-Haq in the 1980s began training terrorists to attack parts of India, this country has waged an often lonely battle with terror groups. After the Mumbai blasts in 1993, several major countries were requested to give information that would help in tracking those responsible for the deaths of so many innocent civilians. Even from the US and the UK, the answer was, in effect, a looking away from the problem. In Washington, President Bill Clinton was busy propping up the militia groups that later morphed into the Taliban, while in the UK as well as in other democracies such as Canada, fund collections for carrying out terror operations in India continued openly. The safe havens provided by the major democracies for terror groups acting under the false flag of sub-nationalism ensured that the battle against such groups went on for years more than should have been the case, to the frustration of India. Ironically, the only country which sent a detailed reply to the 1993 query from Delhi about terror groups capable of mounting mass killing operations was Iraq under Saddam Hussein, who to the end remained a close friend of India. Of course, this does not excuse the invasion and occupation of Kuwait, the event that in the course of the next decade led to his downfall at the hands of the United States, nor does it in any way mitigate the effects of the repression indulged in by Saddam Hussein on those in Iraq who opposed his dictatorship, including entire communities such as Shia and Kurds. However, the fact is undeniable that Al Qaeda was unable to take root in Iraq throughout the period when Saddam Hussein ruled Iraq, unlike what took place afterwards, when the terror group found safe havens in that country under the nose of the US military. Subsequently, Al Qaeda in Iraq (AQIQ) got developed into ISIS, which to this day controls important cities in Iraq such as Mosul. In such a context, Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s warning to the world about the danger of terrorism is timely. He has repeatedly sought to place this cancer at the top of the global agenda, given the decades of experience of India in dealing with various forms of this menace.
Terror has become a global concern, and as Prime Minister Modi points out, it is nonsense to talk of “good” terrorists and “bad” terrorists. This truth has been brought out just days ago, when the New York Times carried a detailed report on how weapons supplied by the CIA to so-called “moderate opposition forces” in Syria have ended up in the hands of terror groups through the black market. Just as what is being done by the Pakistan army, which is diverting US weaponry to the Taliban and other extremist fighters in Afghanistan, Jordanian intelligence operatives have diverted large quantities of modern and deadly weaponry into channels that are easily accessible to terror groups. The fact is that almost all the “moderate” fighters are in actuality fanatics seeking to establish a form of government incompatible with modern conditions and with the human rights mandated in a democracy, and hence the possibility of such a diversion ought to have been considered by the US and the other NATO allies providing lethal weaponry that is adding to the miser of the people of Syria. Now that India has been established as a global player, all such matters are of interest and attention, and Prime Minister Modi is in the front rank of world leaders seeking solutions to the terror epidemic blighting the world. Both in India as well as elsewhere, it is the general population that provides the first line of defense against terrorist actions. Timely detection of such plots comes about when the citizenry is alert, a point that has frequently been emphasised by policymakers in India. Prime Minister Modi needs to continue his mission of ensuring a global coalition against terror and its perpetrators, no matter where these may be, while at the same time ensuring that operations that are planned in India failed due to timely detection and action.