The Moving Finger Writes
Paying for their sins
By M.V. Kamath
With all one'ssympathies for those killed in New York following the terrorist attacks on the World Trade Centre towers?among whom there were several Indians?and recently in subways in London, one finds it hard to sympathise with the US and British government. Who created al Qaida? The United States? Who supported Osama bin Laden? The United States again. Who looked the other way when Pakistan set up the Taliban? Who else but the United States? It suited the United States to encourage Islamic fundamentalism and mindless terrorism in pursuit of its aim to boot out Soviet forces from Afghanistan. That task achieved, the United States washed its hands of Osama bin Laden and al Qaida. It had raised a ghost and now the ghost has come haunting Washington. It suited Britain to create Pakistan and to Partition India since it wanted a client state to help in its determination to encircle the Soviet Union. The creation of Pakistan was a sin. Now it is coming back to haunt Britain.
Both the United States and Britain for years looked the other way round as terrorists they themselves created started unleashing violence in Jammu & Kashmir. Washington must have seen to it that every alien Muslim serving the several terrorist organisations in Pakistan was deported. Nothing of that sort has happened. To this day it is India which is paying for American and British selfishness. Terror schools in Pakistan are far from shutting shop. Presently, according to reliable reports, there are between 1,800 and 2,000 terrorists in the Kashmir Valley. Of these some 800 reportedly are ?foreigners? who long ago should have been identified and deported. According to a Pakistani magazine, around 54 terrorist training camps presently exist across Pakistan and Pakistan occupied Kashmir and between 2,600 and 3,000 militants are receiving training there. The money comes not only from the Pakistan Government but from Muslim countries like Saudi Arabia. President Musharraf'spledge to fight terrorism notwithstanding, the ISI has been actively working in creating havoc in Jammu & Kashmir.
Is the American attack on Iraq seen more as a fight between Islam and Christianity than between a dictatorship and democracy? Time was, in the first quarter of the twentieth century, when Islamic lands as a whole were totally at the mercy of European powers.
In recent weeks there has been a significant rise in infiltration. In this year (2005) alone there have been 810 ?incidents of violence? in the State, with as many as 166 ?incidents? reported in June alone in which some 201 people have died. No tears are shed whether in Washington and London. Terrorists continue to cross the Line of Control, there having been 19 bids in January, five in February, seven in March and 44 in April. The American and British media couldn'tcare less. According to the Indian former diplomat, presently a political commentator, G. Parthasarathy, one Hafiz Mohammad Saeed, who heads a terrorist set-up called Markaz al Irshad, has set up a 190 acre complex at a place called Muridkhe, near Lahore whose sole object is to see India being vivisected into three states, ruled by Islamists. He is reported to have said that the aim of his mujahideen is to create ?three Pakistans in India.? It may sound like a huge joke but Hafeez Saeed apparently is serious. In just five to seven years, 16 Muslim fundamentalist organistions have sprung up in the North-East. Just Assam has 2002 madrasas and 1,20,000 students. Tripura has 229 madrasas and over 28,000 students. Parthasarathy quotes a former ISI chief as having personally told him that it was the aim of the ISI to ?weaken India from within.? One would imagine that only a mad man would have such wild dreams but these people are for real. It is to this genre that people who attacked, for instance, the Parliament and the Red Fort in Delhi, the Akshardham temple in Ahmedabad and the Ram Temple in Ayodhya belong. There is no logic behind these moves. Hatred is all. Hatred, as is well-known arises out of frustration. Is Islam, as a whole, suffering from recurring bouts of frustration? Is it because, in what seems to be a clash of civilizations, Muslims feel outdone and outclassed? Is the American attack on Iraq seen more as a fight between Islam and Christianity, than between a dictatorship and democracy? Time was, in the first quarter of the twentieth century when Islamic lands as a whole were totally at the mercy of European powers. Between Britain and France, practically all-Muslim countries in North Africa and Middle East were at the mercy of their military might. They could divide, sub-divide all of Middle East to suit their requirements, create states, appoint rulers, support tyrants, lay down the order and do as they please. A classic example is the manner in which T.E. Lawrence helped set up Saudi Arabia. Britain, following the First World War and the collapse of the Ottoman Empire was at the zenith of its imperial power. Its word was law. British role has now fallen on the shoulders of the United States but what Washington and London apparently fail to realize is that times have changed.
The Muslim of today is not the fawning Muslim of yesteryears. Politically and militarily he may not be able to face up to the military might and technological superiority of the only Super Power in the world but he is an emotionally upset figure. And that is showing in acts of utter irrationality. In the process Islam itself is getting a bad name. Musharraf in Pakistan probably is beginning to realize it. Pakistan is fast becoming the hub of terrorism primarily because, one suspects it is socially backward. Islam is passing through a recessionary period and it shows. Whether Musharraf is sincere about it or not?many have strong doubts about his credibility?he is trying to crack down on terrorist activities in Pakistan and is facing opposition from fundamentalist groups which, apparently, have mass support. There are no quick fixes to resolve growing fundamentalism. What the United States did in Iraq was politically wrong and the consequences are there for all to see. The western powers have to adopt a new approach towards not only Afghanistan and Iraq, but in their attitude towards Islam. Even if one does not want to give respectability to Huntington'stheory of the clash of civilizations, one has to give it deep thought. And that is not done by flushing a copy of a holy book down the toilet. It was the United States that put Islam on the road to terrorism, receiving aid and comfort from Britain. The world is now paying for their follies. They have to be told to mend their ways lest the whole world gets embroiled in a fruitless clash of civilizations. In this India has a role to play. And India must speak out boldly and frankly, without fear of being misunderstood. But India must speak with one voice. Is that too much to expect from the Congress and the BJP?