British Prime Minister Tony Blair gave an important talk on the country'sfuture foreign policy at, of all places, the Los Angeles World Affairs Council on August 1, 2006.
It is important in many ways. Perhaps Shri Blair, realising that his days as Prime Minister are numbered, felt free to pour out his heart. Retirement blues have their use. Perhaps, too, Shri Blair felt that it is time the world knows what exactly is happening in Iraq, Israel and Lebanon where blood is freely shed. But while he dealt mostly on the Middle East countries, he apparently forgot the terrorism being practiced by thugs in the Pakistan Army who have been financing subsidiary bodies like the ISI, SIMI and a host of terrorist organisations.
Blair admitted frankly that while terrorism was being openly practiced in Chechnya, Algeria and by outside forces in India, it was ignored in the past by the western world because ?we did not feel the impact directly?. Even more honestly he said: ?We rather inclined to the view that where there was terrorism, perhaps it was partly the fault of the governments concerned? (read ?India?). Blair went one step further and said: ?We were in error. We were not bending our eye or our will to it as we should have?.
Wisdom has apparently dawned on Shri Blair, even if somewhat late in his life. Now he thinks that what is happening is a clash between two forces in Islam: One which believes that Muslims have departed from their proper faith, were being taken over by western culture and were being governed treacherously by Muslims complicit in this take-over and another which is mainstream moderate Islam which wants to move ahead with the times, through modernising itself.
According to Shri Blair, what we are seeing is a war between reactionary Islam on one side and moderate Islam within and outside of it, on the other. As Blair saw it, the fanatic, reactionary Muslims had become aware that in order to fight moderates in there own midst, they should be seen fighting the West. That, he said, was the explanation for the attack on the New York Twin Towers on 9/11. He might have said that Samuel Huntington was right when he wrote about the clash of civilisations. What happened in New York on 9/11 was merely duplicated in Mumbai on 7/11; it could also explain what happened in the UK on 7/7 and in Madrid on 11/3.
Terrorists, if Blair is to be believed are attacking modernism, not nation states. That does not sound true of what happened in Mumbai on July 11 or in Delhi or Ayodhya and elsewhere in India over the last few months. On the streets one only sees capped and bearded Muslim men and burqa-clad women. If Blair really believes in what he said in Los Angeles, then he must persuade his friend in the White House, George Bush to stop giving military aid of any kind to Pakistan and see that its army is reduced to ineffectiveness so that it will never again be the official arm of the fundamentalist forces.
Instead of working towards cutting down the power of the Pak Army, the US is giving Musharraf F-16 warplanes complete with spare parts, which, as in the past will be used only against India. What sort of strategy is this? Let this be said, Musharraf is no Kemal Attaturk. He never was and he never can be. He must be the most untrustworthy man who ever ruled over Pakistan, the man who, when Nawaz Sharief was talking peace with Atal Bihari Vajpayee in Lahore was secretly making war in Kargil, all the while encouraging the ISI to wound India with a thousand cuts, asking New Delhi simultaneously to provide ?proof? about Pakistani involvement! How can anyone trust this man? Musharraf will never, never betray Osama bin Laden because, if he hasn'tbeen able to do so by now, it merely means that he will not do so any time. So what should India do?
An Indian diplomat is arrested under wild charges, blind-folded, handcuffed, taken to an undisclosed destination and after five hours returned to Indian diplomats summoned to the Pakistani Foreign Office. How much of insults and horrors do we have to suffer at the hands of Pakistan? Was all that done to provoke India? If so, to what purpose? To show that Musharraf can take India on? To tell the West that he would not go its way but has an agenda of his own? And what is his agenda? Does he realise that granting that Pakistan nuclear weapons can demolish cities like Ahmedabad, Baroda, Mumbai, Jodhpur, Delhi and even cities further away, India, by way of retaliation can level down all of Pakistan to dust? And what would Musharraf have gained thereby from that?
Tony Blair does not sound very convincing. One thing is clear: Islam wants to stand-up to western progress of which it is not only in mortal fear but in anguishing jealousy. But the question again arises: How will that help Islam or the Islamic nations? At Kargil India clearly showed not only that it can rise to any occasion, but can also win. The days are gone when Pakistan used to think that it can conquer India though sheer fear. It has done everything it could possibly do. In the forties, fifties and right up to the nineties, it sold its soul to the US, received massive military and diplomatic support to attack India, fought three wars and won none. Then it took to terrorism in Jammu and Kashmir executing a pogrom against Kashmir Pandits of which Hitler would have been proud. That also failed. Since then it has sought to sow seeds of hatred in India by attacks on the Indian Parliament, on Deepavali crowds in Delhi and on suburban trains in Mumbai?with no success whatever. Now we are told by Tony Blair that the fight is not really between Pakistan and India, but between two sets of Muslims, one liberal and one fundamentalist. Some analysis that.
The fault lies with the West. It chose Pakistan to fight its dirty wars against the Soviet Union and having won that war, it has deserted the very terrorists it once fully aided. The terrorists now feel betrayed and they are hitting out at all and sundry, not knowing what happened to them. And it is India that has been at the receiving end of the stick, thanks to western, notably American, duplicity.
Even if we are to believe Tony Blair, the way to resolve the inner Islamic conflict is not by supporting reactionary Pakistani forces but by decimating them. But this can only be done with the tacit Chinese cooperation. Has the West discussed the issue with an open mind with Beijing? Islamabad is increasingly turning toward China for help. This is where the trouble lies. India does not want war?certainly not a nuclear war. But it may be pushed to it, howsoever reluctantly. This is where the West can help.
By helping India to contain Pakistan is for the West to help itself. When will Tony Blair learn that simple lesson and share it with his pal, Bush? The sands of time are running fast. It is not Iran or Iraq that are the enemies of the West. The ?enemy? if the truth is to be told, is its own friend, Pakistan. Think it over, Tony. Don'tlive in a dream world any longer.