India must confront Hezbollah

The Indian government is still shying away from calling a spade a spade.

India police inspect car after embassy attack_390 (photo credit: Reuters)
India police inspect car after embassy attack_390
(photo credit: Reuters)
One wonders why, despite the evidence reportedly already gathered by the Indian security and intelligence agencies of the Iran-created Hezbollah’s involvement in the recent terror attack on the Israeli embassy car in New Delhi, the Indian government is still shying away from calling a spade a spade.
Those who know anything about the professional competence of Indian security and intelligence officials in general are sure India have all the clues to the attack by now. In the simultaneous terror attack cases in Georgia and Thailand the police and intelligence acted fast. The agencies in Georgia were quick to detect explosives near the Israeli Embassy building in Tbilisi and neutralize the device. The Bangkok police have already nabbed two Lebanese terror suspects with links to Hezbollah, Hussein Atris Jieme and Sami Sam, and the locations of their bomb-making materials, such as urea-based fertilizer, ammonium nitrate and several plastic containers containing unidentified yellow liquid.
The Georgian and Thai agencies could do so, for they have had professional autonomy in the matter. Indian officials are far more competent than their Georgian and Thai counterparts but they have not been able to move forward simply because they are still deprived of what is required most in the war on terror – professional autonomy to act in such cases.
New Delhi seems to refrain from exposing the identity of terror suspects for two reasons. First, it fears such a revelation might anger Tehran into stopping its crude oil supply to India, leading to an acute economic crisis in the country. And second, New Delhi fears it might be offending the sensibilities of its 50 million Shi’ite Muslim citizens, who are sympathetic toward Iran.
However, both apprehensions are absolutely ill-founded. Given the financial constraints Iran has been facing on account of the current Western sanctions against its alleged nuclear weapon program, Tehran today can ill afford to halt its crude oil exports to India, a major source of its revenue. As for the sentiments of Indian Shias, it would be naïve to consider them identical to those of the current Khomeini regime in Iran. Like Muslims in general, and their Iranian brethren in particular, Indian Shias are generally a liberal lot, believing in Islam as an ideology of peace. They have also been highly critical of the current dispensation in Tehran which has distorted their religion, using it to deprive its citizens of their fundamental rights and freedoms.
India would do well to act tough and expose the terrorists behind the attack and help Israel fight its war on terror. It would be in India’s interest, too. Hezbollah is a threat to India as well. There are reports that some of the anti-India jihadi elements have been getting support from the post-Shah Iran. In Kashmir they have come to share with Hezbollah their tactics of using civilian shields and inflicting the maximum damage on India’s security forces. Such reports cannot be ruled out.
THE POSSIBLE nexus between Iran-Hezbollah and anti-India jihadists also cannot be ruled out in view of the official ideology of post-Shah Iran, which has been hostile to India’s territorial integrity and sovereignty. Supreme leader of Iran Ayatollah Ali Khamenei has openly urged the Islamic Ummah to sympathise with and provide assistance to Kashmir, which is an integral part of India. In his message to the Hajji pilgrims in 2010, he said , “Today the major duties of the elite of the Islamic Ummah is to provide help to the Palestinian nation and the besieged people of Gaza, to sympathise and provide assistance to the nations of Afghanistan, Pakistan, Iraq and Kashmir, to engage in struggle and resistance against the aggressions of the United States and the Zionist regime, to safeguard the solidarity of Muslims and stop tainted hands and mercenary voices that try to damage this unity, to spread awakening and the sense of responsibility and commitment among Muslim youth throughout Islamic communities.”
As such, New Delhi must cooperate with Jerusalem and neutralize the Hezbollah elements active on the Indian soil. They cannot be allowed to kill Israelis here and in the process hurt India’s ties with the Jewish nation. The integrity of Israel is very much in the interest of India today. Growing cooperation with Israel in the fields of science and technology is sure to boost the Indian economy. In the area of intelligence and defense co-operation with Israel, the Congress and the Bharatiya Janata Party have been in total agreement with each other.
Advancing the Indira Gandhi tradition of befriending Israel in India’s interest, Janata Party Prime Minister Moraji Desai and his eminent ministers Atal Behari Vajpayee and Subramanian Swamy worked hard to upgrade ties with Israel. Later, Congress Prime Minister P.V. Narsimha Rao decided to establish full diplomatic ties between New Delhi and Jerusalem in 1992. Rao, Defense Minister Sharad Pawar, Foreign Secretary J.N. Dixit and Defense Secretary K.A. Nambiar came to formulate a new strategic turnaround in New Delhi’s ties with Jerusalem. During their visit to Israel BJP Foreign Minister Jaswant Singh and Home Minister L.K. Advani followed it up. And the pattern has been the same during the recent visit to Israel by current Congress Foreign Minister S.M. Krishna. No jihadists can be allowed to disturb this pattern.
The writer is a senior Indian journalist and Visiting Fellow at the Centre for Land Warfare Studies, New Delhi.