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'India will have to deal with terrorism for a long time'

January 23, 2014 15:10 IST

A terror blast victim's brother weeps in Mumbai

'The greatest threat faced by India does not come from Pakistan, it comes from terrorism... It is easier to secure the borders of the US; it is not so easy to make India's borders secure,' Pulizer Prize-winning journalist Mark Mazzetti tells Rediff.com's Sanchari Bhattacharya.

Mark Mazzetti is the national security correspondent for The New York Times and a Pulitzer Prize-winning journalist.

His investigative work has focused on the violence in Afghanistan and Pakistan, the covert operations of America's Special Forces, the Central Intelligence Agency's use of torture against its detainees, and the war in Iraq.

In a chat with Rediff.com's Sanchari Bhattacharya, Mazzetti, below, right, discusses the likely fallout of the withdrawal of American troops from Afghanistan later this year.

Do you think South Asia will become even more unstable after the pullout of American troops from Afghanistan?

It is still unclear how Afghan troops will manage to keep the nation secure. Regional players will have to play a bigger role.

No one wants Afghanistan to fall apart again. Everyone should work towards the same goal of stability.

Will it worsen ties between India and Pakistan as both countries will try to exert their influence in Afghanistan? Will the United States have to keep acting like a referee in the region?

I don't think the tensions between India and Pakistan can be further strained.

The US doesn't have too much appetite left for refereeing.

After so many years, there is a fatigue about war. Both India and Pakistan will have a free hand in Afghanistan.

Will the CIA (the Central Intelligence Agency) continue drone strikes in Pakistan?

It is not that elements in the Pakistani military do not want the strikes to continue.

There is a tacit approval for drone strikes because the CIA is targeting the enemies of Pakistan.

In fact, the first drone strike in Pakistan in 2004 had taken out one of the top Taliban terrorists, called Nek Muhammad, and given the CIA a chance to get its foot in the door.

The case of drone strikes is both complicated and opaque. President Obama has indicated that they will continue.

Mark MazzettiIslamabad had expressed its anger over the death of Taliban leader Hakimullah Mehsud in a drone strike...

They might have been angry in public, but I am sure Pakistani politicians were secretly glad!

I think both America and Pakistan want the bilateral relationship to be better.

Nobody gains from open hostility. Everyone is tired after a long war.

The closeness between the two nations during the war on terror has also bred some contempt.

What about Pakistan's frequent skirmishes with India at the Line of Control?

India and Pakistan have some great parallels, but also great tension.

They seem to come to the brink of a war so many times and then pull back.

Both nations are trying to make things better. But issues like Kashmir are not going to go away anytime soon.

I think the greatest threat faced by India does not come from Pakistan, it comes from terrorism.

Just like the United States, India will have to deal with terrorism for a long time.

America has managed to prevent another attack on the scale of 9/11 as it is located in a different region.

It is easier to secure the borders of the US; it is not so easy to make India's borders secure.

In your opinion, will Afghanistan survive the troop pullout?

I think that securing Afghanistan as a nation is not going to happen.

The end of the war there is not going to happen anytime soon.

Violence will go up after American troops pull out.

The Afghanistan National Army is not going to be able to exert equal authority across the entire nation.

But hopefully elections will continue, the government will continue and everything won't fall apart.

Images: Top: A terror blast victim's brother weeps in Mumbai. Photograph: Vivek Prakash/Reuters. Bottom: Mark Mazzetti, national security correspondent for The New York Times. Photograph: Tom Williams

Mark Mazzetti's The Way of the KnifeBuy Mark Mazzetti's The Way of the Knife at the Rediff Bookstore. Rs 99 off the original price!

Sanchari Bhattacharya in Jaipur