A NEW NEIGHBOURHOOD   (13 Jan 2009)

For more than two decades now, India’s geographic location had her reeling under cross-border terrorism from neighbouring states in all four directions. The tide finally seems to be turning finally and India’s fight against foreign-sponsored terrorism is now seeing a conducive external environment after a series of concurrent developments in the recent weeks. Bangladesh’s election of Sheikh Hasina as its new prime minister is one such event. Bangladesh’s founding President Sheikh Mujibur Rehman’s eldest daughter, Hasina has always been pro-India and this time around, she has avowed to stamp out Pakistan’s ISI from Bangladesh’s soil. A porous Indo-Bangladesh border had allowed easy infiltration for ISI to set up base in Bangladesh and launch terror attacks in India’s north-eastern region. This region will be far more peaceful once ISI and other Bangladesh-based terror outfits are eliminated.

On the southern front, Sri Lanka has already tasted considerable success in stamping out LTTE. Although the brunt of LTTE terrorism was borne by Sri Lanka, India too could not keep itself safe. We even lost a Prime Minister to LTTE terrorists. The separatist outfit is now on a 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 the India’s history of foreign sponsored terrorism will end. Similarly in the north, Nepal’s ruling government has also started building pressure on terrorists and assured India of full cooperation in fighting terrorism bred from Nepalese land.

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. The success of recent Kashmir elections is just a solid manifestation of the real change that has happened in the valley, where ordinary villagers have gotten rid of their sympathies for the separatists. 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 recent elections in Jammu and Kashmir.

Rajeev Shukla