The Mohammed Haneef case has underlined two trends in modern India. The first is a phony patriotism. This is actually a Left-inspired crusade against what is fashionably called ?neo-imperialism.? The second is the propensity of liberals to weaken the war on terror. Both trends go hand in hand, each strengthening the other.
Let'sbegin with phony patriotism. It is a sham, for it prevents India from taking any stand that would promote national interest. The communists, especially the pro-China CPM, are determined to stop the inflows of foreign direct investment (FDI), for the simple reason that this may lead to slowing down of investment in China (it is another matter that they do PR for Chinese FDI in India, but that is another story). For instance, Reds are leading the movement against the POSCO project in Orissa which, if it takes root, will bring thousands of jobs, boost economic activity, reduce poverty and enrich the poor state'sexchequer. Similarly, communists oppose the much-needed reforms in the fields of education and labour. And they have the cheek to carry out all such activities in the name of preserving the country'snatural resources, in the name of national interest!
The tragedy is that communists have molded public opinion in such a fashion that often the common man starts viewing everything through the prism of an irrational nationalism. That is, they do not see a fact as a fact but as ?our? case versus ?their? case. An illustration: a newspaper asked the question whether Australia should apologise to Haneef, and two-third of the people answered in the affirmative. Emboldened by such phony patriotism, Haneef sought an apology?not for himself but for ?my peace-loving country and citizens.? What he and others keen on an Australian apology cavalierly ignore is a crucial fact?the manner in which under-trials are treated in India. The media regularly highlights the callous manner in which the people facing trials are treated by the system. There are reportedly thousands of people languishing in our jails, which are a byword for inferno; at the height of summer this season, for a week one person died every day in Delhi'sTihar Jail. One can imagine the condition of jails in remote areas of the country. The plight of under-trials in our country is much worse than those Down Under, where jailers treat their wards better than the Indian authorities treat the free citizens. Yet, Haneef complains of victimization. He said: ?I am not a victim of international conspiracy, but Australian conspiracy.?
Worse, there are under-trials who have spent more time in jail than what they would have served had they been convicted by the court. Yet, nobody loses sleep for them?surely not Prime Minister Manmohan Singh, who was otherwise moved by the plight of the parents of Haneef and of his cousins who involved in the UK terror plot. It will be nice if Haneef and others who seek an Australian apology show some concern for the under-trials at home as well.
The other trend is equally, if not more, dangerous. Due to their skewed worldview, liberals all over the world tend to downplay the threat of jehad. It was the liberals in the Australian media who carried the pro-Haneef campaign. These people anyway dislike Australia'sconservative Prime Minister, John Howard. They magnified Haneef'sdiscomfort to such an extent that his 25-day detention started appearing as the greatest misery deliberately inflicted on a man.
Haneef was perhaps a victim of an error, though Australian Immigration Minister Kevin Andrews says that Haneef may have had prior knowledge of the botched terror plot in the UK. Till the writing of these lines, not much was clear about his role in the aborted UK terror attacks. Even if we assume that he is completely innocent, there were sufficient grounds for his interrogation?the SIM card, his relation with the UK terror suspects, his eagerness to reach India.
As Australian Prime Minister John Howard said, ?Mistakes happened from time to time and when dealing with terrorism, it is better to be safe than sorry.? Compare and contrast such sagacity with the brazen appeasement Manmohan Singh indulges in without fail. Last year, he torpedoed the Mumbai rail blast investigations by saying, ?I think it reflects a great weakness of the law-enforcing mechanism when it lines up the population of a locality for questioning.? The result: the guilty walk free, because the law-enforcement agencies became apprehensive of being labelled ?biased? or ?communal.?
Liberals in Australia, as in other parts of the world, want the hands of policemen tied in the war on terror, for this war is also an attack on the pathology called political correctness. Quite obviously, liberals hate to be cured of any of the afflictions their minds suffer from. Hence the maligning of anyone who acts tough against jehadis. And hence their incessantly placating attitude towards Muslims. This makes Australia'sForeign Minister Alexander Downer to say in response to the demand of an apology: ?What do you expect them (police and prosecutors) to do?fall on the ground and grovel? Eat dirt? I mean, get real.? Liberals, however, hate reality; they love to loiter in their secular dreamscapes.
(The author works with The Political and Business Daily.)