Real face of Pakistan
Realpolitik with Balbir K. Punj
While General Musharraf continues to make anti terrorist noises, the blood trail of any major terrorist strike?futile attack on Ayodhya temple, spate of bombings in London or recent infiltration bid in Kashmir again?invariably leads through Pakistan. The natural question is?does Pakistan continue with its policy of exporting terrorism or has it undergone a metamorphosis after 9/11?
I think it is not possible to answer this question in black and white, for there is no one Pakistan. There are wheels within wheels ? sometimes working in tandem with each other and at times at cross purposes. There are powerful sections of Pakistani society and establishment who treat promotion of terrorism to fight the infidels (read Hindu, Jew and Christian civilizations) as a part of their divine duty. And in the process, they target those fellow Muslims and Pakistanis as well, who do refuse to be their partners in their ?holy? war against kafirs.
The fact that Pakistan is going through a crisis of confidence over its past support and proactive support to jehadi terror mongers and to forced Islamisation is well-documented. A section of the ruling elite and particularly growing middle class there has begun to have doubts over this past. If you spot one silver line on the cloud it does not make the cloud white but it gives us hope in the hour of darkness in basic human nature reasserting somewhere. It is in our interest as much as in the interest of civil society the world over that we encourage those who have begun to question the Jehadism. But not only in our country but among international community there are doubts whether the Musharraf Government'santi-terrorism stand is genuine or only tactical.
The Time magazine in its January 24, 2004 issue had pointed out that ?to satisfy both the US and India, he (Musharraf) closed the offices and training camps of terrorist organisations but has yet to dismantle them. For his efforts, he'sbeen branded a traitor by supporters of the Kashmiris fighting for independence from India?. Since then more terrorist strikes within Pakistan have demonstrated how the jehadi virus has caught on and deeply entrenched.
It is this Wahabi version that infiltrated into much of Muslim world through enormous donations for madrasas. In turn that lays the foundation for inspiring young Muslims to welcome suicide bombing across half the world.
But at the same time, after decades of ethnic cleansing which has resulted in the reduction of Hindu population from 24 to two per cent, there is at least a feeling among leading Pakistani politicians that they must make amends for it. Nothing else explains their initiative to repair the damaged temples. Even if it is just a political posture, it is in our interest?in fact in the interest of the civil society?to encourage it.
Shri Advani, during his recent trip to Pakistan, was invited to inaugurate the renovation and restoration of legendary Katasraj temple complex in Chakwal district. The complex is associated with Lord Shiva and traces its antiquity to the time when Pandava brothers were in exile. The complex, which wore a deserted look till recently has since been cleaned and white-washed. The Pakistan Government has allocated Rs. two crores for the first phase of renovation.
There is a small lake in the complex which was said to have been created through the tears of Lord Shiva when he cried after the demise of His consort Sati. His tears fell at two places?one in Pushkar in Rajashtan and the other at Katasraj. However, the fundamentalist elements there have not taken kindly to this development. Asian Age, (July 10, 2005) quoting PTI reported that ?Pakistan'sintelligence agencies have opposed President Musharraf'sproposal to open the country to religious tourists form India, specially to visit ancient Hindu temples?such a move could undermine the two-nations theory that led to the creation of Pakistan?. So which is the real Pakistan?
While most of us are rightly concerned over what is happening on our western borders, surprisingly, there is marked indifference to the developments taking place in Bangladesh. The country, born with active help from India, is a now snake-pit harbouring Islamic fundamentalists of the most radical variety. Through systematic and brazen persecution, the radicals, with the co-operation of the state, have ensured the gradual reduction of Hindu population from 28.3 per cent in 1941 to 13.5 per cent in 1974 and less than eight per cent in 2001.
The apparent disconnect between the authorities who claim they are opposed to terrorism and the religion based movement that equally claims the necessity and the right to enforce radical Islam through violence not only in their own country but also in other countries and among people of other religions, is now seen in almost every other Muslim country from Morocco to Indonesia. In Palestine the recent spate of events have thrown up a determined president of the Palestine Authority, Mohammad Abbas who wants to distance himself from the image that Arafat had left. Abbas had the courage to strike a deal with Israel and seek to end the endless mutual bloodshed. But the Syrian financial Hammas has refused to fall in line and has already done enough to sabotage peace.
Not only in our country but among international community there are doubts whether the Musharraf Government'santi-terrorism stand is genuine or only tactical.
Much the same story comes from Saudi Arabia. Saudi boys learn from class one onwards that there is only one version of Islam and that one is the officially taught fundamentalist one where a wife cannot move outside the city without written permission of her husband and has no legal right over her children. It is this Wahabi version that infiltrated into much of Muslim world through enormous donations for madrasas. In turn that lays the foundation for inspiring young Muslims to welcome suicide bombing across half of the world. Like bird flue that threatens East Asia, this virus has spread far and near, even in Britain, Germany and USA.
In Pakistan, the Government every now and then renews its pledge to crack down on fundamentalist terror. Two unsuccessful attempts at the President themselves proved his vulnerability to Islamic fundamentalist which he praises at one time and decries at another. The delicate balancing act he plays exposes the basic nature of the malady that has gripped several Mideast nations and have made them suspects in international palace. Syria, Iran, Saudi Arabia are already listed in this phenomenon. Egypt has its Muslim brotherhood.
These contradictory faces of Islam are creating international concern. It is too early to say whether the real Pakistan is represented by the growing middle class Muslims which vibes with India and shuns extremism. Or it is the Saqib Alis and Shanawazs regularly pushed into India by some in Pakistan (including a part of the establishment) with the intention and equipment to blow up the country? Who truly speaks for Pakistan? Your guess is as good as mine.
(The writer a Rajya Sabha MP and Convener of BJP'sThink Tank can be contacted at [email protected])