Mumbai is big but not as big as New York.
11/26 is huge but not as huge as 9/11.
India is powerful but not as powerful as America.
What does this set of propositions tell us about how we should respond to 11/26 in Mumbai?
Think it over. There are two choices. We can root out terrorists or we can root out terrorism. They are not the same.
Powerful America responded to 9/11 in New York by vowing to root out terrorists. Pledging to get Osama bin Laden, dead or alive, it launched the War on Terror. Seven years later, there are more terrorists than ever before, more Americans have died than in 9/11, the number of innocent victims has been lost count of, the entire world is in turmoil, and the economic and financial systems have broken down.
So, when one hears Dr. Manmohan Singh state that he would get the perpetrators of 11/26 and Barack Obama repeat that he will root out terrorists, it gives one pause.
It is not difficult to understand the anger and the frustration, the visceral desire to tear the terrorists from limb to limb, to rip their livers from their abdomens and feed them to the vultures. But ask, the morning after, if this would root out terrorism.
It is quite natural to play a tragedy of this order for political gains, to not look beyond its implications for the next elections. But would that root out terrorism?
Would an Indian campaign to root out terrorists meet with more success than America’s War on Terror? Despite all the rhetoric surrounding every incident, has terrorism been on the rise or on the decline? Would a vengeful response buy security for India or a future filled with uncertainty and fear?
Does India see anything in the mirror of Israel?
Think over the two choices. Ask yourself if rooting out terrorists is the best way to root out terrorism. If not, channel your anger into a strategy that stands a better chance. Put yourself in the shoes of an uninvolved outsider and ask how you would begin to root out the curse of terrorism.
When we stop playing into the hands of terrorists, we would take the first step towards a secure future. It is a tough choice, but it may be the only choice.