Ayodhya impacts Iran gas deal
By Sandhya Jain
The 5 July 2005 assault on the Ram Janmabhoomi has cast a grim shadow over the Amarnath yatra in Kashmir, with Pakistan determined to escalate pressure on a perceived-to-be-weak Indian leadership. Consistent with the jehadi nature of the enterprise, Hindu gods and innocent civilians are the chosen targets of this macho activity, which can also have a grim economic impact, which the UPA regime is refusing to take cognizance of.
Prime Minister Manmohan Singh was recently forced to admit that Islamabad has kept its terror infrastructure intact. If this disclosure is not accompanied by caution in the peace process, especially while pursuing sensitive issues like the gas pipeline deal with Iran, India may have to pay an unacceptable price for accommodating Western diplomacy. As a natural corollary, the Indian Army will be subjected to unconscionable stress as it intensifies border vigilance and checks infiltration while combating militant operations. The Central Reserve Police Force, Border Security Force and police are already stretched out; yet there is no let up in the daily incidents in the border State.
As for Ayodhya, some kind of cover-up operation seems to be underway, with Home Minister Shivraj Patil saying the government had ?some information? about the terrorists but that it would be ?too premature? to disclose it at present. Shri Patil'sclaims do not inspire confidence on account of perceived attempts to obfuscate the identity of the men. Inspired leaks suggest that the terrorists were probably Arabic-speaking Africans who entered India via Nepal. It is said that driver Raj Kumar, who brought the five men from Akbarpur to Ayodhya, has revealed that the militants conversed with each other in Arabic, and did not speak in Kashmiri.
It appears that one terrorist wore a T-shirt with the word ?Khushaab? printed on it. Investigators say they are trying to find out where such shirts are made and sold. Well, Khushaab is reportedly the site of Pakistan'ssecret nuclear facility, set up by China. Also the home of Pakistan's?khaddar? industry, it lies a few miles from Sargodha on the banks of the Jhelum.
One is unimpressed by the claim that an ordinary driver in a hick town like Ayodhya, which does not normally receive Muslim tourists, would know the difference between Arabic and Kashmiri. Muslims of Faizabad district would speak Hindi or Urdu. Yet it is being argued that after listening to some Kashmiri and Arabic speech, Raj Kumar emphatically stated that the terrorists spoke Arabic among themselves. We are not told if the dead militants were ethnic White Arabs or black Africans or appeared to look like ordinary Indians/Pakistanis of the subcontinent. No official pictures of the buried terrorists have been released so far, which is highly suspicious.
The insistence that the militants did not speak Kashmiri is a transparent ploy to exonerate Pakistan from having any role in the mischief. This is allegedly bolstered by the Nepal-made caps worn by the slain men. Yet the Indian government is reluctant to say if the terrorists were Al Qaeda operatives from an Arab country, as this would put an entirely new dimension to the terrorist threat faced by India. Clearly, the attempt is to let the issue fizzle out. There is no progress in identifying the terrorists as no clear evidence has been recovered from them. A pocket-sized holy Quran recovered from them was published in Delhi.
One is unimpressed by the claim that an ordinary driver in a hick town like Ayodhya, which does not normally receive Muslim tourists, would know the difference between Arabic and Kashmiri. Muslims of Faizabad district would speak Hindi or Urdu.
Observers monitoring the Ayodhya investigations feel that some liberties are being taken with the truth. It appears that one terrorist wore a T-shirt with the word ?Khushaab? printed on it. Investigators say they are trying to find out where such shirts are made and sold. Well, Khushaab is reportedly the site of Pakistan'ssecret nuclear facility, set up by China. Also the home of Pakistan's?khaddar? industry, it lies a few miles from Sargodha on the banks of the Jhelum. The 50 MWT heavy water and natural uranium research reactor here is key to Pakistan'sprogram for production of plutonium and tritium for advanced compact warheads. While it may be premature to draw a conclusion, it is an interesting coincidence that a man arrested some time ago for a suicide attempt on the then PM-designate Shaukat Aziz, hailed from Khushaab. Mohammad Imran belonged to the banned Jaish-e-Muhammad, which is linked to Al Qaeda. Security agencies are also hesitant to identify the source of the two AK rifles recovered from the terrorists, which bore the initials ?TAK?. Sources suggest that this could be deciphered as ?Tarkka-Ampujan Kivaari,? a Finnish rifle gunsmith.
That Pakistan is emerging once again as the nerve centre of international terror can be seen from Islamabad'sown intelligence reports which warn that militants are planning strikes against American, British and Iranian (Shia) diplomats, and some religious places (possibly Shia mosques, given the escalating sectarian conflict in that country). The growing violence against the Shia community in Pakistan, which rose perceptibly after the Baathist Sunnis lost power in Iraq and its Shia clergy became politically assertive and close to Iran, is a powerful reason why India should go slow on sewing up a tripartite gas pipeline deal with the predominantly Shia Iran and the largely Sunni Pakistan. Sectarian animosities between the two countries will impart a constant volatility to the project.
Churches in Rawalpindi and Islamabad have also been identified as a source of terrorist anger by Pakistani authorities. Viewed as helipads of western imperialism in the Islamic Republic, the jehadis hope that targetting churches, this will force the government to stop cooperating with America'sso-called war on terror. Banned terror outfits that continue to operate in Islamabad include the Harkatul Mujahideen Al-Alami, Harkatul Jihad-e-Islami, Harkatul Ansar, Jaish Mohammad (Khuddamul Islam), Lashkar-e-Jhangvi and Millat-e-Islamia.