By Rajendra Prabhu
Terrorism is one of the priority issues that Prime Minister Manmohan Singh wants to deal with immediately. His government is part of the international coalition against terrorism. It recognises Osama bin Laden as number one terrorist who should be eliminated even in our own national interest, apart from international interest.
How is it then that the Prime Minister does not take notice of one of his cabinet ministers promoting the image of Osama bin Laden? Union Steel and Fertiliser Minister, Ram Vilas Paswan, is moving around in Bihar with an Osama look-alike apparently to attract Muslim voters.
Now this raises several seminal questions, both of propriety and of policy. Does it mean that in the eyes of the Government of India, Osama bin Laden is not a terrorist? If that is so, will it withdraw from the international coalition against this Saudi billionaire for catching whom a multi-national force is scouting Pakistan and Afghanistan and whose Al Qaida has been declared as a grave threat to civil society?
The display of Osama-look alike as a hero among Muslims also calls into question the much touted government view that it does not think that Muslims are behind this international menace. In fact, the government had last year claimed that no Indian Muslim had joined the al Qaeda and that itself is a vindication of its claim that Osama'sterrorist squad has no sanction among Indian Muslims. How then can this claim square with a minister of the same government making a public display of his enthusiasm about this international terrorist and trying to make capital out of the alleged support this terror merchant has among Indian Muslims?
The minimum that the Prime Minister should do to restore his standing among the comity of international leaders is to publicly disassociate himself from this subtle support to international terrorism.