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‘Pathankot type attack will happen again and very shortly’


New Delhi: In order to discuss India-Pakistan relationship in the aftermath of Pathankot attacks, a lively discussion on ‘Lahore to Pathankot: Turbulent Trajectory’ was organized by the Society For Policy Studies (SPS) on Tuesday afternoon.

The discussion was aimed at finding answers to questions like- Is there any point in talking to Pakistan? Can Pakistan change its policy of using terror as an instrument of coercion? Will Pakistani generals allow the civilian government to take any strategic foreign policy decision regarding India? Can India ever exercise counter-coercion options, options that hurt the Pakistani state structure?, which have bothered India after Pathankot attacks.

The discussion was held at the India International Center between a former policy formulator, a retired general and a strategic analyst. It saw a large gathering of diplomats and members of the strategic community, there was a large consensus that segregating terror from the primary dialogue will not serve any purpose and there were “grave reservations” whether Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s hopes of “turning the course of history” in ties with Pakistan by ending terror would have any chance of success.

Asserting that “Pakistani generals called the shots” as far as strategic foreign and security issues were concerned, Vivek Katju, former pointperson (joint secretary) in the Indian foreign ministry in charge of policy formulation towards the Af-Pak region and a former ambassador to Afghanistan, said the Pakistani Army had no real interest in cooperation with India and wondered if the “generals were on board” on the parlays between Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif and Modi when the latter decided to make the surprise stopover at Lahore on his way back to New Delhi from Kabul on Christmas Day.

He said the use of “calibrated terror” would continue to be part of Pakistan’s security doctrine that was in the hands of its army and said little purpose would be served by segregating the terror talks, which were to be conducted by the two national security advisers, from the now renamed Comprehensive Bilateral Dialogue that is to be conducted between the two foreign secretaries.

Lt. Gen. Syed Ata Hasnain (Retd), former GOC of the Srinagar-based 15 Corps and a visiting fellow at the Vivekananda International Foundation, said: “Pathankot (type attack) will happen again and very shortly” if India refused to learn the proper lessons from it in radically altering and improving its civilian-military interface. He said the “Pakistani deep state (military) had no desire to pull back its assets (radical elements)”, adding the problem this time was “no one was sure who was controlling the operations”.

He said India had no tradition of contingency planning, various units continued to work in silos and the “response mechanism needs to get its act together” if Pathankot or even Mumbai-style attacks are not to be repeated.

Gen. Hasnain warned that if India did not have a proper command and control structure and did not operationalize its existing mechanisms when such events happened, “hell will break out” if Pakistan, which was currently too preoccupied with its own internal security management, were to put Kashmir as a strategic priority once again.

Zorawer Daulet Singh, an analyst with the King’s India Institute, an affiliate London’s King’s College, said India should “stop try and change Pakistan” or try and “change patterns of the past” but concentrate on using “means to serve our ends”, including use of “counter-proxies” and “counter-coercion instruments” to pay back Pakistan in the same coin and hurting them where it matters.

He said, despite changes in government, India was still sticking to idealistic Nehruvian approaches to foreign policy, hoping the other side will change its behavior when it should be internalizing the political dynamics of Pakistan and create pressure points that will compel Pakistan to relook its ways.

Katju also agreed with Singh that old approaches will not work and “any amount of lighting peace candles at Wagah” will not change an iota in thinking of those elements in Pakistan who control the whiphands of the terror groups like the Jaish-e-Mohammed or the Lashker-e-Taiba, whose trained cadres have repeatedly attacked Indian.

Katju said Pakistan was perhaps the only nuclear state that had turned nuclear restraint into license by using the nuclear threat to launch attacks “on the mainland” through its terror instruments while India restrained itself for fear that retaliation might lead an all-out nuclear war with catastrophic consequences.

Commodore C Uday Bhaskar, Director, SPS, who chaired the session, noted that the Modi government needs to invest in acquiring tangible national security capacity so as to compel Pakistan to desist from supporting terror. He also cautioned that the Islamic religious fervor which has taken firm roots in Pakistan’s civil society is now spreading in the military and this supra-national ideology which is similar to that of the al-Qaeda and the Islamic State bodes ill for regional stability.

All the speakers agreed that India should not be too constrained by international opinion, particularly the West, and fashion its policy from its own security perspective as the West “would never abandon Pakistan” as it served its own security interests in the volatile Af-Pak region. (IANS)

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Facebook, Twitter Urged to Do More to Police Hate on Sites

Twitter to soon release Snapchat like feature. VOA
Twitter starts the initiative #BloodMatters. VOA

Tech giants Facebook, Twitter and Google are taking steps to police terrorists and hate groups on their sites, but more work needs to be done, the Simon Wiesenthal Center said Tuesday.

The organization released its annual digital terrorism and hate report card and gave a B-plus to Facebook, a B-minus to Twitter and a C-plus to Google.

Facebook spokeswoman Christine Chen said the company had no comment on the report. Representatives for Google and Twitter did not immediately return emails seeking comment.

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Facebook one of the most popular apps in US. Pixabay
Facebook one of the most popular apps in US. Pixabay

Rabbi Abraham Cooper, the Wiesenthal Center’s associate dean, said Facebook in particular built “a recognition that bad folks might try to use their platform” as its business model. “There is plenty of material they haven’t dealt with to our satisfaction, but overall, especially in terms of hate, there’s zero tolerance,” Cooper said at a New York City news conference.

Rick Eaton, a senior researcher at the Wiesenthal Center, said hateful and violent posts on Instagram, which is part of Facebook, are quickly removed, but not before they can be widely shared.

He pointed to Instagram posts threatening terror attacks at the upcoming World Cup in Moscow. Another post promoted suicide attacks with the message, “You only die once. Why not make it martyrdom.”

Cooper said Twitter used to merit an F rating before it started cracking down on Islamic State tweets in 2016. He said the move came after testimony before a congressional committee revealed that “ISIS was delivering 200,000 tweets a day.”

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This photo shows Facebook launched on an iPhone, in North Andover, Mass., June 19, 2017. VOA

Cooper and Eaton said that as the big tech companies have gotten more aggressive in shutting down accounts that promote terrorism, racism and anti-Semitism, promoters of terrorism and hate have migrated to other sites such as, a Facebook lookalike that’s based in Russia.

There also are “alt-tech” sites like GoyFundMe, an alternative to GoFundMe, and BitChute, an alternative to Google-owned YouTube, Cooper said.

“If there’s an existing company that will give them a platform without looking too much at the content, they’ll use it,” he said. “But if not, they are attracted to those platforms that have basically no rules.”

The Los Angeles-based Wiesenthal Center is dedicated to fighting anti-Semitism, hate, and terrorism. (VOA)