ONE thing is certain these days: there is no lack of news. Satya Sai Baba passes away. Suresh Kalmadi is sent to jail. PAC Draft Report puts 2G loss at Rs 1.90 lakh crore. Does anyone know how to put that in figures? Never mind. Pope Paul’s Beatification is celebrated. Air India pilots go on strike and never mind how much it affects the Indian treasury. Poor chaps, they are paid so poorly. They get just Rs 3.5 lakh a month for flying 70 hours. How can anyone live on such low salary? And then the United States sends a small armed body to Abbotabad to murder Osama bin Laden in his secret residence and then take his dead body to be dumped in the sea.
Nobody questions the role of the United States in helping the ISI to train jihadis in their thousands to spread terror in Afghanistan and in the ISI’s own role in supporting al Queda. Asking such questions would be presumptuous. The media front pages scream for everyone to hear about Osama’s murder. Says Asian Age (3 May) for example:
“US Kills Bin Laden in (You know it) Pakistan” in all of eight columns in poster-type black. DNA (3 May) goes one step further. It runs the story in full two pages under a 16-column headline. But read the edits in our media. “Time of India to Flex Some Muscle” wrote The Asian Age (3 May). Said the Paper: “The carefully plotted killing of Osama bin Laden… is a historical event… Ironically, the demise of the terrorist leader cannot automatically signify the rollback of the US military machine from these areas… The official reaction in India is little more than a tepid – and elliptical – version of the US President’s short address… It would be dreadful if India simply sat back and watched what the Americans and Pakistanis now do with regard to Afghanistan, not to say cleaning up of Taliban sanctuaries inside Pakistan. Indeed it is time to project a muscular diplomacy in the wake of bin Laden’s death in order to work for an outcome that is consistent with our regional perspectives”.
The Times of India (3 May) thought that Osama’s death “marks a moment in history” and could “impact the situation in Afghanistan” and that “there is reason to believe that its (al Qaeda’s) elaborate network will endure and undertake retaliatory attacks to prove its vitality”. Added the paper: “Bin Laden may be dead, but terrorism continues to be a global threat”. Two days later the paper again referred to bin Laden’s murder, noting that “there hasn’t exactly been an outpouring of anger at the killing of the world’s most wanted”. “With bin Laden’s death” the paper noted, “US President Obama has won a major battle against the creed of terrorism” besides which, the paper added, “where the Middle East is concerned, a diverse people united by their humanity are seeking democracy and its hoped-for ability to provide a better life”.
“That itself” said TOI “is an inspiring counter to the ideology of hate”. Hindustan Times (3 May) felt that al Qaeda “has been growing paler over the past few years in part because “support for its brand of militancy in the Muslim world has been declining for years”. The paper argued that “bin Laden’s original strategy of trying to replicate the destruction of the Soviet Union by drawing the United States into a forever war in Afghanistan” has turned out to be a failure”. Arab Muslims, said the paper, “from whose ranks al Qaeda arose have taken a completely different path to political salvation over the past month” and if bin Laden is dead, “his legacy lives only in a part of the world to which he did not belong”.
The New Indian Express (3 May) was more down to earth. It pointed out that Pakistan “in the name of fighting terror alongside the US had been receiving assistance in cash and kind worth billions of dollars, all the while clandestinely helping terrorist outfits”. “Pakistan would never admit that it had been providing a safe sanctuary to a man, accused of killing thousands of innocent people of all regions, races and religions. But for India, this is no revelation, for it has always believed that Pakistan had been the epicentre of terrorism”. With a straight face it went on to say: “The masterminds of the 2008 attack on Mumbai, whose identity and voice samples were handed over to Islamabad, have been enjoying freedom, perhaps, to plan and execute their next attack. In the past, too, Islamabad did precious little against those terrorists whose names were given to it because of their involvement in attacks against India. Pakistan is a safe haven for terrorist organisations where they run recruitment and training camps. If the world has to get rid of terrorism, the US will have to go after all such outfits with the single mindedness with which it pursued Osama bin Laden”.
Very well said. One hopes the editorial will be read by the US Embassy’s press department in Delhi. Will the US, for example, help India in getting Dawood Ibrahim killed? In getting the head of the ISI strung on the nearest lamp post? What kind of hypocrisy does the US practice? At any rate, if India tries to duplicate the US plan, Washington will hardly have the right to complain.
Deccan Herald (3 May) pointed out that bin Laden could only have been living where he did “with the knowledge and connivance of Pakistan’s ISI” and “no one would believe that ISI was unaware of it”. The paper warned that “it would be wrong to consider that the death of Osama marks the end of the terrorist threat” and “the world and India will have to be alert against possible acts of revenge”.
In a lengthy editorial (full two columns) The Hindu (3 May) asked Pakistan to do “some soulsearching” and advised New Delhi “to resist the temptation to crow” and “push ahead with the peace process with the civilian government of Pakistan”. The death of bin Laden, said the paper, “did not mean the end of al Qaeda” because it had franchises which “have shown their ability to plan and carry out attacks in their area of operation independently of bin Laden” all over the world. The paper reminded all concerned that only last month al Qaeda had warned that “it would unleash a nuclear hell storm in Europe” and so “there is a real possibility that the killing of bin Laden will turn him into a martyr inspiring others to take up the battle”. Also, said the paper, is it believable that Pakistan’s intelligence services did not know “what going on under their noses?” Good question.