Special Correspondent

Military action is not the answer to the Mumbai terror attack

BANGALORE: India should build international pressure on Pakistan to hand over those who masterminded the Mumbai terror attack by going to the United Nations Security Council under Resolution 1373, N. Ram, Editor-in-chief of The Hindu, said on Sunday. Resolution 1373, adopted by the Security Council in September 2001, is a counter-terrorism measure that mandates member-countries of the U.N. to initiate steps to curb terrorist activities.

Inaugurating a State-level conference of the Samudaya Samanvaya Samiti here, Mr. Ram criticised the view that a military attack against Pakistan was the answer to the Mumbai terror attack. “This will only escalate tension and also create an international crisis,” he said.

Though Pakistan had initially responded positively to India’s request for cooperating with the investigation, it backtracked after an all-party conference “scotched any chance of responding in the decent way the President and Prime Minister of that country had initially offered,” Mr. Ram said. “The elected civilian democratic government in Pakistan is weak, and the ISI, which is controlled by the Army, is only nominally answerable to the President.”

The challenge before India is to respond to the terror attack “in an intelligent and peaceful way,” he said, making a case for approaching the international forum “persuasively and democratically” through the powerful instrument of Resolution 1373.

Unfortunately, the country’s present political leaders are reluctant to pursue this option as they are afraid that the Kashmir issue might get linked with this, Mr. Ram said.

“If you are scared to refer to it because somebody else will raise Kashmir, then you have got into a defensive state of mind and have lost the battle even before you have started,” he said. India’s diplomatic and political capabilities would be tested in the coming weeks.

Referring to the remarkable resilience that the average citizen of Mumbai had shown after the terror attack, he was, however, critical of the “very reactionary” view, egged on by the media, that all politicians and political parties are corrupt and should be driven away. “While the anger and frustration is understandable, we need more politicians with good political skills and capabilities to manoeuvre our way through this situation.”

The second challenge that the country faces in the current situation is that of combating communalism that “threatens the campaign against terrorism,” Mr. Ram pointed out. Expressing concern over communalism making it to the central stage of politics in the country of late, he said, “You cannot fight terrorism unless you set your own house in order by treating all people equally.”

Karnataka High Court judge H. N. Nagamohan Das and Samudaya State president Prof. R. K. Hudagi spoke.

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