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25 February 2012

India has no issues with political Islam

The External Affairs Minister S.M.Krishna’s statement in Tel Aviv that India and Israel will together wipe out international terrorism from the face of the earth will certainly come to haunt him and New Delhi every now and then. 

Such as when you come across the kind of information that the Foreign Policy magazine has just brought out. Put succinctly, Israel’s Mossad cheated on the US’s CIA and under the pretension of being American spooks, Mossad agents mounted subversive operations against Iran. (Interestingly, FP’s story differentiating the CIA from Mossad coincides with the latest assassination of an Iranian scientist by Mossad.)
 
Funnily, Mossad went to the extent of manipulating the Sunni Wahhabi outfit Jundullah to carry out attacks on Shi’ite pilgrim centres inside Iran and used Pakistani territory for the operation — presumably, without Pakistan’s ISI being aware of it. (By the way, Pervez Musharraf’s keenness to have Pakistan establish formal ties with israel assumes new meaning.)
 
The FP report has an interesting take on how Iran nabbed Jundullah chief Abdolmalek Rigi in February 2010 with Pakistan’s cooperation and US’s acquiescence. 
 
Of course, we are on a safer wicket, arguably, because even the most fair-skinned north Indian cannot be mistaken for an ethnic Israeli and Mossad will have a hard time to come down from its high professional pedestal and pose as its Indian counterpart. But intriguing questions do arise. 
 
If Israel can get away with murder and the Americans couldn’t do much about it, what is the guarantee that India’s security czars can keep their Israeli security partner in tight leash? We have a notoriously inefficient and flabby security apparatus, our resources are far too limited in comparison with CIA, and unlike the CIA and the Pentagon or the White House, South Block’s leverage over Mossad is very little.
 
So, EAM needs to seriously ponder over what he said in such a cavalier fashion. The heart of the matter is that India can be a great playpen for the Israeli intelligence in fighting their battles with political Islam. At the end of the day, take a few million observant Muslims this way or that, and we still would have a 150-million Muslim population in India and that is not going to elude the Israeli intelligence’s attention. Israel has a consistent history of using any or all turfs in the world of Islam to settle scores with its adversaries. 
 
The risk of bonding with Israel on the security front is enormous. And the raison d’etre of the bonding is highly debatable. Neither the Hezbollah nor the Hamas, neither the Muslim Brotherhood nor Islamic Jihad has ever harbored any hostility toward India. 
 
Even during the peak of the insurgency in J&K in the 1990s, even after running a fine comb through the Valley, we never came across a trace of Hezbollah messing around in India. The then Prime Minister Narasimha Rao went on to hail Iran as a “factor of stability” in the region. Even the BJP stalwarts appreciated the thoughtful impulses behind Rao’s historic visit to Iran in 1993.
 
Okay, Palestinians do harbor a deep sense of hurt that neo-liberal India has careered away from the era of Nehru and Indira Gandhi, but they never display it and are far too gracious whenever they accost India. Last week, Krishna did receive a cordial welcome in Ramallah.
 
So, what is this business of India and Israel being “natural allies” as EAM put it? Does he think India can settle its Kashmir problem with Israel’s help? What can Israel do to ameliorate the alienation of the Kashmiri people? Will israel provide us with the wherewithal to control the north-eastern states? 
 
Or, is it that Israel knows something that we don’t know as to why these Maoists keep appearing from time to time — like Krishna says in Bhagavat Gita about his own reappearance — on our country’s political landscape? 
 
India needs to be far more thoughtful about the New Middle East that is struggling to be born. No matter the US’s frantic efforts to connect with the Islamist groups in the region at this stage (when it becomes abundantly clear that these groups enjoy mass support and their continued exclusion is inconceivable), the fact remains that these groups represent popular aspirations and these aspirations almost one hundred percent revolt against Israel’s aggressive conduct. 
 
There is really no need for India to collect Israel’s dirty linen and offer to wash it in the Ganges — or Krishna river. Especially when we pay hard cash for all transactions with Israel, have never defaulted on payments, and we quietly pay the asking price — and it is already amounting to a huge budgetary support for the Israeli economy. There is really no need to get so uncharacteristically emotional. The FP article is here

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