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Cost of terrorism - Involve the people in the fight against ISI - The Indian Express

Editorial ()
October 16, 1998

Title: Cost of terrorism - Involve the people in the fight against ISI
Author: Editorial
Publication: The Indian Express
Date: October 16, 1998

The heavy cost terrorism entails to the nation was brought home
by the home ministry at Wednesday's meeting of the chief
ministers of eight northern states. The nation has been spending
thousands of crores of rupees in its fight against terrorism.
Yet, the Pakistani Inter Service Intelligence (ISI) was able to
kill as many as 34,252 people in various terrorist operations and
destroy public and private property worth a mind-boggling Rs
2,000 crore. Besides, it was able to trigger an estimated 4,700
explosions in various parts of the country. That the security
agencies have been able to seize 43,700 kg of explosives,
including RDX, is a pointer to the enormity of its operations.
There are a large number of ISI-trained mercenaries still
operating in the country. The scenario as presented by the home
ministry is frightening, to say the least. But then it also
amounts to an admission of the government's failure to check the
ISI. It is amazing that despite the government spending so much
money and resources, the ISI is able to strike at will. In fact,
the eight northern states are not the only ones affected by the
ISI brand of terrorism as the ministry has been insisting. The
blasts at Coimbatore in the deep south were also traced to the
Pakistani outfit. And so are many of the incidents routinely
reported from the Northeast. Even the Capital is not safe from
its nefarious activities. In other words, the ISI's domain
virtually comprises the entire country.

Surely, the ISI would not have been able to succeed but for the
failure of the intelligence machinery. It is in this context
that the decision to set up a special task force and strengthen
coordination among the states concerned should be seen. It is a
different matter that after every security-related meeting
convened by the home ministry, decisions of this sort are
announced. But they seldom have any effect on the ground
situation. This being the case, there can be no excuse for
complacency. Home Minister L.K. Advani has rightly impressed upon
the chief ministers the need to remove the impression that India
is a soft target for terrorism. But neutralising such an
impression is possible only if the security forces are able to
break the backbone of terrorist organisations, including the ISI.
In order for this to happen, it must first shore up its
intelligence resources. Mere deployment of the Army and
paramilitary forces is not sufficient. Needless to say, a
vigilant citizenry can do wonders in the fight against terrorism.
But, unfortunately, this aspect of the fight is invariably
glossed over. It was the same story on Wednesday as well.

Similarly, factors that enable subversive agencies like the ISI
to operate in the country are not often discussed. Take the case
of Coimbatore. If the ISI was indeed behind the blasts in the
city which had killed a large number of innocent people, it was
made possible by the communal passions that were ignited for
political purposes in the city. The moral of the story is that
the ISI or, for that matter, any foreign agency will be able to
operate only in areas and situations they find conducive to their
operations. Thus it devolves on the political parties, including
the one the Home Minister represents, not to create situations
which allow the ISI to fish in troubled waters. Unity is, after
all, the greatest bulwark against terrorism.

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