By Amina Jilani
Probably the two most irresponsible nations in the world are India and Pakistan, the large and smaller neighbour, which have for over six decades never ceased to sling mud or missiles at each other over their common garden wall. They are set in their ways and this worries the world, rightly so because both possess nuclear arsenals whose build-up should never have been allowed.
For the past ten days the subject of Mumbai has taken over the media, thousands of columns of newsprint and uncountable hours of commentary by those self-appointed ‘experts’ who dominate the numerous talk shows have been dedicated to the unknown – and the international media has added its share.
All is conjecture and sensationalism – apart, that is, from the eyewitness reports of the murderous and barbaric happenings in Mumbai during the last days of November. No one but the actual terrorist killers and their programmers knows what is what or what is not what. Accusations are hurled which have little basis that can be substantiated and theories are expounded that will probably never be proven.
India is clueless – it only thinks it knows. Pakistan may possibly not be as clueless. It is not beyond the realms of reason to suspect that some of the ‘non-state actors’ (as President Asif Zardari dubs terrorists) have links to or bases in Pakistan. After all, we do admit to ourselves and the world that we are beset by terrorism (as is India), that we are waging a war against the terrorist Taliban who have occupied FATA and the NWFP and are making inroads elsewhere.
Pakistan, the state, cannot cope with the onrush of the Taliban and the endless talk of protecting the sovereignty of the country is but endless talk and is taken with a large pinch of salt by our benefactors and mentors, and by many within the country. The frequent public protests about incursion by the US forces are for internal consumption only as it is widely believed, and reported, that the government reached a tacit agreement with the US that unmanned Predator aircraft will be allowed to attack suspect terrorist targets – just one of the reasons why Zardari is where he is.
Likewise, the state is helpless when it comes to controlling the main suspects singled out by India and the world as being behind the Mumbai massacres. When it cannot deal with recommendations made by the Council of Islamic Ideology which would make life easier for the downtrodden women of the land, when it cannot deal with extremist obscurantist blasphemy, Hudood and other laws which incite violence and murder in the name of religion, then it obviously cannot deal with outfits such as the Lashkar-e-Taiba and Jaish-e-Muhammad.
This government, and past governments, have gone along with the ruling myth of an Islam that exists only in the warped minds of brainwashed militants and their supporters and nurturers who violently oppose the challenges and realism of tolerance and modernity. Our governments have allowed thousands of madrassas to exist and function in which the youth of the country are taught that they should die rather than live for their religion.
The national mindset glorifies the military and is happy to have the streets of its country decorated with clapped-out guns and cannons, models of missiles, aircraft and submarines. And yet, on the other hand, it longs for green cards and dual nationality, which will enable it to live a safer life than in mirthless Pakistan where the enemies of tolerance, live-and-let-live, joy and laughter prevail.
Some of the main suspects cited by the Indian and international media are said to be in Pakistan, living a free and easy life. Maulana Masood Azhar, famed for the 1999 hijacking of an Indian Airlines plane, jailed by the Indians and then freed under a hostage deal, was educated at Karachi’s Jamia Binoria madrassa in the days when it was recruiting fighters for the Afghan war against Soviet occupation. His Jaish-e-Muhammad is known for its ties with Al-Qaeda. Dawood Ibrahim, designated as a global terrorist, is ranked fourth on Forbes’ list of the most wanted men in the world. He reportedly has homes in Karachi and Islamabad.
Hafiz Muhammad Sayeed founded the Lashkar-e-Taiba in 1989 to fight for the liberation of Kashmir and is now based in the Punjab. According to a December 1 editorial in The Times (London): “Pakistan’s fragile new government has failed utterly to stop LeT and similar terrorist groups operating with impunity on its territory. There are even reports that the government recently approved the purchase of an armoured four-wheel drive for the LeT leader, Hafiz Muhammad Sayeed. President Zardari should pledge to arrest him forthwith. ISI obstruction might render such a pledge no more than a gesture, but it would still matter. Mr Zardari’s first step must be to show earnest of intent.”
Zardari, speaking on CNN with Larry King on December 2, reiterated the fact that Pakistan is a victim of terrorism (he called it “this war”) and cited the example of his wife (whose assassination by unknown assailants has propelled him into the precarious position he occupies). He pledged that his government (as opposed to that of Yousuf Raza Gilani) would take action against any “stateless actors” proven to be involved in the Mumbai horror, and echoed his ambassador in Washington when he confidently stated that “democracies don’t go to war.”
The writer is a freelance columnist