Wednesday, October 22, 2008




    If the most inveterate haters and baiters of India in Pakistan are to be believed then India's external intelligence agency, RAW, has pulled off a coup that few in India or rest of the world are even aware off. Apparently, the RAW is not only directing, financing, training and equipping the al Qaeda and Tehrik-e-Taliban Pakistan (TTP) led Islamist insurgency inside Pakistan, it has also managed to recruit luminaries of the TTP like Baitullah Mehsud, Mullah Fazlullah and Maulvi Faqir Mohammad to destabilise Pakistan.

But the most remarkable achievement of RAW is that despite knowing that the TTP is working at India's behest, the Jamaat Islami (JI) – in particular its chief Qazi Husain Ahmad – and other Islamist political organizations are neither willing to condemn these 'Indian agents' by name nor support the war being waged by the Pakistan Army against these Indian-sponsored Islamist insurgents. On the contrary, by demanding a cessation of hostilities against the insurgents and pleading for a dialogue and negotiated settlement with these Indian-sponsored guerrillas and saboteurs, Pakistan's Islamist politicians and jihadist ex-servicemen are wittingly becoming agents of RAW themselves.

Clearly, allegations of Indian involvement in the Islamist insurgency are utter nonsense. To the extent that Pakistani state agencies point a finger at India simply to build up public opinion against the insurgents, it is understandable. But when political Islamists in Pakistan blame India for acts of terrorism by the Taliban, it flies in the face of all reason, logic, rationality, or even common sense. Subscribing to conspiracy theories is an obsessive compulsive disorder that most right-wing and radical parties in Pakistan suffer. And these days the neurosis has scaled new highs. A classic case is that of the JI chief Qazi Husain Ahmed who first says that Indian and US meddling is destabilising Pakistan and then in the same breath says the military operation against the insurgents is not in Pakistan's national interest. Not that this is something new. Some years back when sectarian violence wracked Balochistan, the immediate reaction after every incident was to blame India for the violence. Subsequent investigations invariably revealed the involvement of Pakistan-based sectarian mafias like Lashkar-e-Jhangvi and Sipah-e-Sahaba, which were anything but proxies of RAW.

Under normal circumstances it would be easy to dismiss the canard being spread against India as the raving and ranting of jaundiced minds. Unfortunately, after having worked themselves into a psychosis in which they see enemies even where none exist, many Pakistanis are increasingly lending credence to these ridiculous allegations. The unpalatable truth, however, is that Pakistan is really paying the price for its policy of using the jihadists as instruments of foreign policy. Undoubtedly, many people in India think that Pakistan is getting just desserts for its policy of exporting jihad. But the last thing that India would like to see is a severely destabilised Pakistan, much less a Talibanised Pakistan. If anything, India would be more than happy to see the Pakistan army slay the demons and monsters it created for use against India. But perhaps this is the precisely the reason why the political Islamists oppose any army action against the insurgents. Therefore, rather than India, it is the self-appointed guardians of Pakistan's Islamist ideology who are doing everything possible to ruin their country by supporting the culture of religious militancy that has been assiduously built up over nearly three decades.

The overt and covert defenders and supporters of the Taliban in Pakistan talk with forked tongues when they say that they are opposed to the bombing of military and government installations, barber and music shops, and civilian targets like the Marriott Hotel. Invariably, the condemnation is qualified by saying that there's no evidence that it is really the Taliban who are behind these actions. After all, they argue quite fallaciously, no Muslim can ever commit such heinous crimes. Even after the Taliban claim responsibility for acts of terrorism, their defenders in the media raise doubts by asking how anyone can be sure that it was actually the Taliban who claimed responsibility! The most exacting standards of proof are demanded against Islamists, but the foreign hand theory or wild allegations against the Pakistan army are gobbled up unquestioningly.

To say that the funds and armaments for the militants are being supplied by India is nothing but a denial of reality. Pakistan's involvement in dirty wars in the region has spawned a flourishing market for arms and drugs in the country. There is no dearth of weapons inside Pakistan. The funding comes partly from the drugs trade, partly from charities and partly from crimes like kidnapping, extortion and dacoity and runs into billions of rupees. All this is well documented in the Pakistani press, which has also reported that former military officials have joined ranks with the insurgents and are directing their war effort against the Pakistan army.

Interestingly, the apologists for Taliban have never satisfactorily answered questions regarding the source of funds, weapons and sophisticated tactics and training of terrorist organisations like Jaish-e-Mohammad, Lashkar-e-Taiba, Harkatul Jihad Islami. Whenever the Lashkar-Taiba chief, Hafiz Saeed, was asked his source of weapons, he would glibly answer that all their weapons were sourced from inside India. If this was true in the case of India, then why is the same not true for Pakistan which has been awash with assault weapons of all types. On the issue of border crossings, Pakistan argues that if, despite all the measures that it has taken, infiltration still takes place then the ISAF forces are free to use all means at their disposal to tackle this problem on their side of the border. But then how come the same logic does not apply to the movement of militants into Pakistan from Afghanistan.

Perhaps the most disingenuous argument made by the Taliban apologists in Pakistan is that there was no problem in the insurgency affected areas before 9/11, the suicide attacks are a reaction to the pro-American policies of the Pakistan government and that the threat of talibanisation is a fiction created to justify the military operation against the Islamists. This is akin to a chain-smoker saying that he has been a smoker for two decades and didn't have lung cancer for so many years, so how come he has got it now! Like cancer, the symptoms of radicalism were there for all to see. But because no clinical examination was done to confirm the disease, it was assumed that it was not present. Had the problem been acknowledged in the early stages, perhaps it would not have spread as much as it has today. Unfortunately, or fortunately, 9/11 and the events that followed made the Pakistani establishment aware of the cancer of religious extremism that was spreading through its body politic and threatened to consume it.

The military operation is the surgery that Pakistan desperately needs to get rid of the cancer of radicalism and religious extremism. Of course, once the infected mass of radicalism is removed, Pakistan will need chemotherapy and perhaps some radiation to remove all remnants of the disease. The convulsions and pain that the country will undergo is part of the healing Pakistan needs before it is able to confidently walk hand in hand with the international community. But if Pakistan does not undergo this treatment, it is certain that the state of Pakistan, as the world knows it, will die.


    <1230 Words>                    22nd October, 2008



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