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We, Indians, have been known worldwide as a people who lack a sense of history, though no one doubts that we have a rich cultural heritage and enormous patience. But the world does not value the virtue of piety. It continues to give glittering prizes to those who have sharp swords and stout hearts. It will not be an exaggeration to say that as a people we have always been lacking an insight into the historical perspective which is by far the most important tool for ensuring future security of any nation. An effective survival strategy can be planned and positioned by a country, or a civilization, only by learning from its past mistakes and failures, and using those failures as stepping stones for achieving success in the years ahead.
Most of our statesmen and intellectuals often pride themselves on the fact that although the history of India is replete with instances of several invasions by foreign marauders, the Indians never attacked or invaded any country. And that self-adulating statement is further supplemented by paying tributes to the great Hindu virtue of tolerance unlimited tolerance even at the cost of self respect, self preservation and freedom of the motherland, mirrored so vividly, though unfortunately, in our history of a thousand years of abject slavery. The repetitive overdoses of these two mass opiates have made the average Indian smug and easy going living and thinking only for today and seldom caring about the tomorrow and the day after. Most Indians remain absorbed in self-centred mundane worldly affairs or seek escape in spiritual pursuits, even at the cost of ignoring important national issues and far reaching international developments all around us. This attitude of complacency and indifference runs like a strong suicidal trait throughout the history of India. How else can one explain the phenomenon of a few thousands ruthless buccaneering soldiers successfully enslaving and keeping in subugation such a large population and an equally large country and that too for centuries? Frankly, this misplaced and mis-applauded exaltation of the great Hindu virtue of tolerance of unremitting tyranny and slavery was responsible for the decline and downfall of the Indian civilization in the past.
Unfortunately the same indifference and smugness continues to rule the minds of a great majority of Indians even now, after rebirth of the Indian nation in 1947 especially the self-styled intellectuals. The post independence political leadership of India, too, has for the most part remained a prisoner of the creed of meek submission to senseless aggression and violence by wearing the great Hindu virtue of tolerance on its sleeves. No one can dispute that tolerance is a great quality, a good civilizational value system but only upto a point and within responsible limits. Beyond that limit, any tolerance of tyranny and aggression becomes a liability, a curse. There is very little qualitative difference between excessive tolerance and timidity a thin line divides the two. Perhaps it is entirely due to this excessive obsession with tolerance that the Hindus have come to be considered as timid and cowardly people. Tolerance of tyranny drives iron into a man's soul and kills his conscience. It destroys the confidence, self respect and moral fibre of the excessively tolerant people thereby making them cowards, unfit to defend themselves and their hearths and homes, when attacked by aggressive barbarians. That basic lesson from our chequered history we Indians have persistently failed to learn.
The Jews, who were once upon a time equally timid and gutless, have learnt it, albeit the hard way, and now no one can bully them, nor pillory and pillage them. The old image of a Jew as a meek and mild petty trader, or a submissive pen-pusher, has been replaced by a new, tough and vibrant, role model called 'Sabra'. The word sabra has been adopted from a native prickly pear which grows in the desert of Israel. The fruit is called sabra because it is tough and prickly from outside, but tender and sweet inside. And the new image of Israeli Sabra, tough, prickly and ever ready to defend his faith and his holy land, has banished forever the hackneyed old image of spineless Jews poring over their scriptures, ready targets initially for the lance-wielding Romans, then for the jihadi swordsmen of Islam and ultimately for the ruthless Nazis who herded them like sheep into trains and trucks and sent them to the gas chambers of Auswitz. That transformation of an average Jew from a despised Shylock into a gutsy Sabra was a turning point in the history of Jewish civilization. But the Indian nation still awaits that kind of change, a total transformation of the personality and mental make up of Indians.
Let us contrast our lackadaisical attitude towards the momentous events happening within the country and across the world with that of the today's hyper power, the U.S.A. Americans are a progressive nation who pride themselves in forging ahead on all fronts for attaining greater heights in every sphere, political, economic, military and sociological, including exploration of the new frontiers of science and technology. Not only the political leadership of America, but even the average American shows far greater concern than his Indian counterpart about security of his homeland and prosperity of the future generations. It is that alert attitude, that concern about the future which has shaped America into a hyper power. The President of Brazil, Lula da Silva, was very correct when he said that if there is one thing which he admired most about the United States it was that they always first think about themselves; second about themselves; and third about themselves. And if they have anymore time, they think about themselves again. That kind of concern and commitment to motherland is missing from the Indian scene. It is impossible to imagine how the Indian civilization, both ancient and ornate, comprising a billion plus people, has allowed itself to be boxed into a corner besieged by the Pakistani terrorists on one side, and silently invading hordes of Bangladeshi predators from the other. Unfortunately that is a reality.
Our great neighbour, China, is yet another example of what a country once dubbed as "the Sick Man of Asia" could achieve simply by learning a thing or two from its past history and promoting national pride to awaken the average citizen and make him or her work for the advancement of the Chinese nation. The difficult process of learning harsh lessons from their past history and unidimensional emphasis on national pride have been two most important factors responsible for the spectacular success of China. It is absolutely necessary for India to generate a similar feeling of national pride among its people to promote the ethos of mass participation in nation building and forging a steely resolve to defend their motherland and the Indian civilization.
And let us also look at our second next door neighbour, the eternal adversary, if not enemy, Pakistan. That nation was born in a welter of hatred for Hindus and India. The resolution demanding the creation of Pakistan as a homeland for the Muslims of the Indian sub-continent was passed in the 29th annual session of the Muslim League in 1940. In 1942 Rehmat Ali, an Oxonian and close associate of Jinnah, issued a statement of goals to be attained by the Muslims in general, and Pakistanis in particular, which was titled "The Millat and the Mission" statement. That mission statement of Rehmat Ali contained 'Seven Commandments of Destiny' which made an interesting reading. One of the long term objectives enunciated by Chaudhary Rehmat Ali was to convert the sub-continent of India into the continent of "Dinia" which should ultimately form a part of a bigger orbit called 'Pakasia'. He emphatically argued that Muslims "must write finis to the most deceptive fiction in the world that India is the sphere of Indianism".(1) Rehmat Ali visualized a stage in the near future when Pakistan will be enlarged into Pakasia a sub-continental Islamic entity which was supposed to be the most important part of Asia in which Pakistani culture will become predominant, and Hindu India will stand decimated.
Either wittingly, or unwittingly, that Millat and the Mission statement of Rehmat Ali appears to have guided the Pakistani rulers throughout the last fifty-six years. Their single-minded resolve has been to destroy India by waging a proxy war of 'a thousand cuts'. Pakistanis have not forgotten their goal, meticulously laid down in that Millat and the Mission statement, but we Indians totally forgot it or ignored it, as soon as India became independent. But why did the Indian leadership and the people forget it so soon, so easily? The simple answer is the total absence of a sense of history; we just don't want to learn from history. If Indians had developed a sense of history, and the ability to view the contemporary world events in proper historical perspective, the post independence destiny of India could be altogether different. By learning a few lessons from our past history, we could have brought about a defining change in our response to the Pakistan sponsored terrorism and silent invasion of Bangla migrants. There could be more to it. At least India might have avoided being perceived by the world, including our adversaries, as a soft state. But that forgetfulness of the first generation of the post-independence Indian leadership is now extracting a heavy price in the shape of widespread terrorist attacks across the country with the avowed aim of bleeding and debilitating the Indian people.
It is time to recall that our hard won freedom has lasted barely fifty-six years. And once again India stands at the cross roads of history. There are no multiple choices available any more. The times ahead are difficult and the demographic developments threaten to pull the plug on the Indian civilization and our democratic polity anytime within the next thirty to fifty years outer limit one hundred years. The choice could be between freedom or slavery, between the survival or decimation of our ancient civilization, and between the life or death of the biggest democracy in the world. It is of little consequence whether or not the worldwide civil society recognizes the gravity of the situation in which India is placed. The only thing which matters at this critical juncture is whether or not we, the people of India, wake up and become alive to the serious threat developing around us, both from Pakistan and Bangladesh the two hostile countries covering our flanks.
The growing incidence of relentless terror attacks unleashed at the behest of our neighbour, often aided and abetted by the local ISI moles, has already taken a heavy toll of life and property during the last thirty years perhaps fifty years. The expansive coordinates of terrorism extend from Jammu & Kashmir and Himachal Pradesh in the north to Coimbatore and Chennai in Tamil Nadu to Marad in Kerala in the south. Its east-west reach is equally massive, starting from Assam and the West Bengal at the eastern end to Mumbai, Maharashtra and Gujarat at the western end. The mayhem created by the terrorist outfits has already taken a heavy toll of life and property and considerably debilitated the system of governance and imposed heavy financial burden, both on the Central and state governments.
The audacious and horrific attack on the Indian Parliament on December 13, 2001, by a suicide squad of five terrorists was a chilling reminder of the determination of Pakistan sponsored Jihadi warriors to destroy the Indian civilization. It was a loud and clear message to the Indian people that once again the Jihadist Islam had arrived knocking at their doors. The blood-curdling episode began when a white Ambassador flashing registration number plate DL3CJ 1527 came rushing from Parliament Street and entered the grounds around the Parliament House through the Parliament Street entrance and rushed forth towards gate No. 12. The Vice President had arrived just a few minutes earlier. When the driver of the terror car found his way ahead blocked near gate No. 11 by some cars which formed part of the Vice President's security entourage, he inadvertently hit one of the cars. At once the militants rushed forth firing all around. By then the policemen on duty were able to alert the watch and ward personnel inside the building who managed to close all entrance gates of the Parliament House. An officer of the Rajya Sabha Watch & Ward staff was the first to raise alarm on his walkie-talkie. He was instantaneously shot dead by the terrorists. Lady Constable Kamlesh Kumari of the Central Reserve Police Force (CRPF) became a martyr when she tried to bring the terror car to halt. The terrorists, five in all, before getting down from the car, started firing indiscriminately and rushed forth in a desperate bid to enter the Parliament House. One gutsy militant raced towards gate No.1, lobbing hand grenades and firing all the way, all over. He did reach the main entrance which had been closed by then, but could not enter the building and blew himself up on the stairs of the entrance. Meanwhile four terrorists scaled a wall near gate No. 11 and raced towards gate No. 5 through which the Prime Minster usually enters the House. Luckily the Prime Minister was yet to leave his residence. He was advised to stay back. Once the terrorists ran into the open, they came under heavy firing by the C.R.P.F. Jawans. Three terrorists were shot dead while approaching gate Nos. 8 and 9, while the fourth one was fatally hit when he attempted to reach the first floor by using a Doordarshan cable line. Thus, all five of them were killed on the spot in a gory gun battle.
While trapped in the throes of death, under the hail of CRPF bullets, one of them had shouted "Pakistan Paindabad", i.e, "long live Pakistan", proclaiming his allegiance to the country whose command mission had brought him to New Delhi. The police investigations revealed that the five terrorists were members of the dreaded Pakistan sponsored outfit Jaish-e-Mohammed. They had Kalashnikov rifles slung across shoulders and were armed with 9 mm. pistols, Improvised Explosive Devices, grenades and grenade launchers. Some had grenades strapped to their bodies while others kept these in their backpacks. The fact that some even carried dry fruits in their pockets suggested that they had come ready for a long haul, perhaps a prolonged seige and a long drawn battle with the security forces.
On day one, the Indian casualties were seven, but on the last count, the number rose to nine owing to the demise of two more seriously injured persons. Among the martyrs were six police officers, Sub Inspector Nanak Chand (he was part of the Vice President's security and was driving one of the cars), Assistant Sub Inspector Rampal Singh (he was driving the Vice President's car when the terror car rammed into it), Head Constable Om Prakash (another member of the Vice President's security team who was killed in the exchange of fire), Head Constable Ghanshyam Narayan (killed in action) and Lady Constable Kamlesh Kumari of the CRPF who was shot dead while trying to stop the terror-car (she left behind two young daughters, 11 years and 2 years old). One more officer of Delhi Police succumbed to injuries later on in the hospital. Two members of the Parliament House Watch and Ward staff were also killed and Desh Raj, a gardener of Rajya Sabha was shot dead while working in the lawns. The number of the injured was 16, among whom were 12 security personnel and one TV cameraman.
It was a long day, both for the Police as well as the Parliamentarians. When the attack took place neither the Prime Minister, nor the leader of the opposition, Sonia Gandhi, were present in the House. Among those present were the former Vice-President, late Shri Krishan Kant, the Home Minster L.K. Advani and several other Ministers including Arun Jaitley, Pramod Mahajan, George Fernandes and the former Lok Sabha Speaker, late Shri Balayogi, along with a whole lot of Members of Parliament.
Investigations by the Special Cell of the Delhi Police, headed by the Deputy Commissioner of Police, Ashok Chand, resulted in the arrest of Syed Abdul Rehman Geelani, a Delhi University Lecturer of Zakir Hussain College (Evening classes), on December 15, 2001. Under sustained interrogation Geelani spilled the beans which culminated in the arrest of three other accused persons, Mohammed Afzal, Shaukat Hussain Guru and his wife Afsan Guru aka Navjot Sidhu. The Police also seized from their hideouts in Delhi large quantities of explosives, electronic detonators, chemicals, maps of Delhi city and Chanakya Puri, substantial cash and incriminating documents. The investigations revealed that the conspiracy had been masterminded at the instance of notorious Ghazi Baba, a lackey of the ISI, by Mohammed Afzal, a resident of Sopore (Kashmir). Afzal had been functioning as a coordinator of the activities of Jaish-e-Mohammed in Delhi. His cousin Shaukat Hussain Guru and the latter's wife Afsan were party to the conspiracy which had the blessings of the Jaish-e-Mohammed Chief Masood Azhar and a Lashkar-e-Tayyeba leader Zaki-ur-Rehman. They had also contemplated attacks on the Indira Gandhi International Airport, Delhi State Assembly and other important buildings to disturb public order.
It was further confirmed by the Director General of Police, Jammu & Kashmir, Ashok Suri, that one of the attackers on the Parliament House had been a member of the Jaish terror team which had hijacked the Indian Airlines IC-814 flight in December 1999 to secure the release of Masood Azhar, Chief of Jaish-e-Mohammed. The police investigations indicated that the ace terrorist, Mohammed, who managed to race forward to the stairs of gate No.1 where he blew himself up, was an important member of the terrorist group which had hijacked the Indian Airlines flight IC-814. He was the ruthless killer of Rupan Katyal, a youngman who along with his newly-wed bride, was on board the ill-fated flight.
The designated POTA (Prevention of Terrorism Act) court awarded death penalty to Mohammed Afzal, Shaukat Hussain and S.R. Geelani, while Afsan was sentenced to 5 years rigorous imprisonment. The accused persons went in appeal. On October 29, 2003, the Delhi High Court acquitted S.A R. Geelani and Afsan Guru for want of adequate evidence, but upheld the death sentence awarded to Afzal and Shaukat Hussain. The Delhi Police have filed an appeal in the Supreme Court against the acquittal of Geelani and Afsan Guru. Interestingly barely three months ago, on October 1, 2001, there had been a similar dare devil attack on the Jammu and Kashmir Assembly in Srinagar. Three Pakistan sponsored terrorists in a Tata Sumo came around 1400 hours (nearabout 2 p.m.), wearing police uniforms and stopped at the gate of the Assembly. Suddenly the Sumo burst into flames along with the driver, who was one of the suicide bombers, while the other three terrorists engaged the security personnel in a fierce gun battle and raced into the Assembly building, firing indiscriminately. The toll was 38 lives lost, and scores of innocents injured.
The script-writer and director of the two blood-drenched terror episodes was Maulana Masood Azhar who had been released at Kandhar airport on December 31, 1999, after being escorted by the then Foreign Minister of India, as a part of a deal to secure the release of 155 passengers on board the hijacked flight IC-814. Masood Azhar had been under trial for a long period of five years in a number of cases and was lodged in a prison in Kot Bhalwal in Jammu.
Kashmir Valley has been the main target of jihadi terrorist groups for many decades. On November 3 1999, around 5.30 p.m. (1730 hrs.) three heavily armed Lashkar militants had launched a major attack on an Army camp in the Badami Bagh Cantonment, located in the high security zone outside Srinagar, killing one Jawan of Border Security Force and Major P. Purushottaman, Public Relations Officer of 15 Corps, who along with seven members of his staff and a military intelligence officer was shot dead. When the attack on Badami Bagh Cantonment took place, three journalists were sitting with Major Purushottaman. Luckily for them, the Army P.R.O. had the good sense to herd them into the toilet of his office, before going out on hearing the rifle shots. The encounter lasted throughout the night and ended only around 4.00 a.m. next morning when two terrorists were killed.
All these important incidents of terrorism along with a number of similar terrorist attacks have gone unpunished thereby emboldening the terror groups and strengthening the perception about India being a soft state, ready to collapse or capitulate in the near future. In the year 2000 three Lashkar-e-Tayyeba militants had targeted the Red Fort, taking both the Delhi police and the Indian Army by surprise. In the years 1996 and 1997 there were quite a few bomb attacks in Delhi, in Lajpat Nagar Market and some other places. Similarly the Odeon Cinema in Connaught Place in the heart of New Delhi was targeted on January 31, 1994, while the Rivoli theatre was targeted next week, on February 6, 1994. Delhi has now been on the hit list of terrorists for more than ten years. According to Delhi Police sources, during the calendar year 2003 as many as 181 "red alerts" were sounded in Delhi apprehending imminent attacks by Pakistan-sponsored terror groups the average comes to almost one red alert every alternate day. That shows the degree of strain which terrorism places on the institutions of governance.
The fate of Mumbai has been worse. On March 12 1993, a series of powerful bomb blasts had rocked Mumbai killing nearly 300 innocent civillians and injuring another 700. Property worth crores of rupees was destroyed. The subsequent investigations revealed that the bombings had been engineered at the behest of the ISI by the notorious gangster, Dawood Ibrahim, now declared an international terrorist. Although the general impression created by the media reports has been that these bomb blasts were a sort of reprisals against demolition of the disputed Babri structure in Ayodhya on December 6, 2003, the truth was somewhat different. According to police investigations and some classified intelligence reports, the landing of the consignments of explosives and weapons on the western coast around Mumbai had commenced as early as September 1992 at least three months prior to the demolition of the Babri structure.
All that could be confirmed by the police investigations, however, was that Babri demolition did act as a catalyst for the dastardly crime, though the Ayodhaya episode by itself was not the prime causative factor. The preparations for staging spectacular bombings in Mumbai, considered a stronghold of Shiv Sena, were already in progress long before the demolition of Babri structure. Large quantities of explosives and weapons had been provided to Dawood Ibrahim by the Pakistani establishment and these were transported to India through the motor launches of one Mustafa Majnu, a gangster associated with Dawood Ibrahim. We Indians, especially the Hindus, have highly imaginative and inventive minds which try to rationalise through disingenuous reasoning even the most irrational events. That was how even the origin of the horrific Mumbai bombings came to be blamed on the Hindus by linking it with the Babri episode. There are reasons to believe that the ISI and Dawood Ibrahim would have bombed Mumbai even if there was no demolition of the Babri structure.
It is well known that both Delhi and Mumbai and parts of Uttar Pradesh and Gujarat have been repetitively targeted by Islamist terrorists. But what is really most remarkable is that the long reach of Islamist terror has already claimed access to several parts of south India which had earlier remained unaffected by the malaise. For instance on April 14, 1995, when festivities of celebrating the Tamil New Year Day were coming to an end, a powerful bomb ripped through the newly constructed State headquarters of the Hindu Munnani in the heart of Chennai killing two members of the organization which resulted in eruption of communal riots. During investigations a circumcised body, partly blown out and mutilated by the blast, was found near the scene of crime.
The suicide bomber was subsequently identified as one Khwaja Nizamuddin who had been earlier suspected of being involved in the bombing of the RSS (Rashtriya Swayam Sewak Sangh) office nearly two years ago. He was believed to have returned from Pakistan quite recently, probably after being trained and indoctrinated by the Inter Services Intelligence.
Even in an hitherto communally peaceful state like Tamil Nadu quite a few fundamentalist outfits like Al Ummah, Islamic Jihad, Allah Tigers and Islamic Seva Sangh have come up during the last ten years. Earlier in Madurai, P. Rajagopalan, President of the Hindu Munnani had been brutally murdered outside his house by suspected Muslim fundamentalists. He had been in the forefront of the Hindu community's efforts to prevent conversions of Dalit Hindus to Islam by socially assimilating them into the Hindu fold, after mass conversions took place in Meenakshipuram. In February 1997 during the visit of the Union Home Minster, L.K. Advani, to Coimbatore for an election meeting, there were serial bomb blasts, seventeen in all, in Coimbatore, killing nearly sixty persons and injuring another two hundred. The serial bombings were part of a sinister plot to assassinate the Home Minister for destabilizing the country and disrupting the elections to the Tamil Nadu Assembly. These had been planned and executed allegedly by one S. A. Basha who had floated an Islamist organization called Al Ummah. Investigations into the crime led to the arrest of some Muslim youths and seizure of huge caches of explosives.
It was learnt that one Zakir Hussain, a member of the radical outfit Al Ummah, had returned from Pakistan sometime ago, after being trained by the ISI in Rawalpindi. It transpired that the RDX used for bombing the RSS office and the Hindu Munnani headquarters in Chennai had been supplied by the ISI agents embedded in the state of Tamil Nadu, some of whom were arrested. It may be recalled that even the killers of Hiren Pandya, a former Home Minister of Gujarat, had been similarly trained in Pakistan. The Inter Services Intelligence of Pakistan has many faces, both overt and covert. One of the known overt faces of the outfit is a string of thousands of madarasas some of which are being funded by questionable sources. The covert face of the ISI are hundreds of moles and safe houses for sheltering the terrorists in dozens of towns and cities. Quite a few hundred ISI moles have been arrested during the last few years but many more are to be yet identified and caught. The growing incidence of terrorist attacks shows that the important Pakistani goal of undermining the institutions of governance and debilitating the vital organs of the Central and State Government is being carried forward at a steady pace in several parts of India.
Unfortunately there is little awareness in the western countries about the magnitude of the depredations of terrorists in India, and the inroads which Islamists have already made into several sensitive spheres of Indian society. Some political analysts in Europe and America continue to believe that the Indian Muslims do not subscribe to the idealogy of the Al Qaeda because India is a secular democratic country which enables the Muslims to voice their grievances. Nothing could be farther from truth. Although India is a secular democracy in which the Muslims have equal rights, there are innumerable believers in the cult of radical Islam in India, too. Such platitudinous observations have the potential of doing immense harm to the coalition resolve to fight terrorism by making the Indian masses and the government lower their guard.
It is time we made it known worldwide that India has borne the brunt of the Islamist terror attacks much longer than most other countries. We have faced relentless onslaughts of terrorism now for several decades, long before the Black Tuesday. Within a short span of 8 to 9 months, i.e., between December 2002 and August 2003, there were more than half a dozen terror attacks in Mumbai alone. In Kashmir there has been, on an average, at least one terrorist attack every alternate day. There have been terrorist attacks on two Army camps at Kaluchak in the year 2002 and Sunjwan in 2003. A number of security posts, both of the Army and the Police have been regularly attacked almost every year. In April 2003, an attempt was made to attack the building of the All India Radio Station in Srinagar (Kashmir) which was foiled by an alert CRPF contingent thereby forcing the militants to blow up the car outside the building. Sometime ago a determined attempt was made to attack the residence of the Chief Minister of Jammu and Kashmir state.
Over the years there have been repetitive attacks on unarmed Hindu pilgrims going to Amarnath and Vaishnodevi. In July 2003 the Pak-sponsored terrorists had launched two successive grenade attacks on Vaishnodevi pilgrims at Banganga, barely two kilometers from Katra, in which seven devotees, including a child, were killed and 38 injured. Recently on January 2, 2004, two Muslim terrorists wearing fatigues struck at Jammu railway station. They opened fire with AK 47 assault rifles and hurled grenades on the passengers. Ostensibly the intention was to kill the Hindu pilgrims proceeding to and returning from Vaishnodevi temple. In the ensuing gun-battle one young Army officer and two Jawans of the B.S.F. (Border Security Force) were killed and 15 persons injured. The two terrorists, suspected to be members of the Pakistan-sponsored outfit Lashkar-e-Tayyeba, were shot dead by the brave young Lieutenant, Triveni Singh, who died in the exchange of fire. This was the second attack on Jammu railway station. Earlier in a similar terrorist attack on August 7, 2001, fifteen innocent persons had been killed. Hindu temples have been targeted quite often among which were two attacks on the historic Raghunath temple in Jammu and one on the Akshardham temple in Gandhinagar, Gujarat.
Surprisingly the ISI operators have been successful in enlisting the services of scores of Indian Muslims for participating in numerous terrorist attacks within the country. They were also able to send at least quite a few hundred Indian volunteers to Pakistan and Bangladesh for training and indoctrination perhaps the number could be in thousands, too, if calculated over a decade. This has been an ongoing process which bodes ill for the future of the country. Unfortunately the Indian government has been tight-lipped in making this truth known abroad. That could be one of the reasons for the wrong impression widely prevalent in the western world about the real situation in India.
Once again hopes of peace and amity between India and Pakistan have been rekindled following an hour long meeting between the Indian Prime Minister, Atal Behari Vajpayee and Pakistan's President, General Musharaff, during the 12th summit of the South Asian Association for Regional Cooperation (SAARC) held in Islamabad. In a joint declaration issued on January 6, 2004, the two sides set aside their mutual distrust and agreed to start a composite dialogue on all outstanding issues, including Kashmir, in February 2004. Pakistan pledged to put a stop to all acts of terrorism, violence and hostility emanating from the territory under its control, while India agreed to resume the stalled dialogue on Kashmir.
It is certainly a good augury because nothing could be better than peace in the sub-continent. But most political analysts, especially the knowledgeable type, continue to be skeptic about the outcome of the proposed peace process, unless Pakistan accepts the Line of Actual Control (the LOC) as the international border between the Indian Kashmir and the Pakistan-occupied Kashmir. It may be recalled that on January 2, 2004, during a media briefing about the arrangements being made for the SAARC summit, Pakistan's Information Minister, Sheikh Rashid Ahmed, stated that Kashmir problem must be resolved first because it was a question of life and death for Kashmiris. His assertion was published with banner headlines in 'Ausaf, an Urdu daily of Pakistan. Earlier on December 23, 2003, in a run up to the SAARC summit, he had declared during a press briefing that the Kashmir issue should be resolved in accordance with the wishes of the people of Kashmir. If we add to these outpourings of the official spokesman of Pakistan government, a few statements made by Syed Salahuddin, chief of the Hizb-ul-Mujahideen, it becomes crystal clear that this climb down to a composite dialogue could be one of the usual bluff-and-bluster manouvres of Musharraf perhaps just to mollify the international community. The clue came from the rantings of Syed Salahuddin, head of the Hizb-ul-Mujahideen, who wrote articles in two popular Urdu newspapers asserting that there could be no peace between the two neighbours unless the Kashmir issue was resolved. He also praised Musharraf very lavishly in those two write-ups for whole-heartedly supporting the struggle of the Kashmiri people.
Even before drying of the ink of the joint declaration made on January 6, 2004, Syed Salahuddin announced that the jihadis would not give up their guns simply because a piece of paper had been signed. These announcements show the determination of the radical groups in Pakistan to obstruct the peace process. And barely two days after the joint declaration, on January 8, 2004, Musharraf assured a group of Kashmiri leaders that "Kashmir will be the focal point of any future talks" and that the Kashmiris from both sides will be taken into confidence to ensure a solution acceptable to them. In the circumstances, it looks certain that Pakistan is not interested in the progress of the peace process. There are, however, some down-to-earth Pakistani Economists who feel it was time that Pakistan tried to strike a deal with India because of the growing "economic asymmetry" between India and Pakistan in the realm of development. They feel that time is on the side of India whose fast growing economy could provide it a major strategic military superiority in the near future.
Going by the past experience India can scarcely trust General Musharraf. How can we forget that he was the ace plotter and director of the Kargil war? A cursory analysis of his speeches and public pronouncements during the last few years show him to be a rabid India-baiter and India-hater. Even if he has agreed to join the peace process under pressure of the U.S.A., he will try to renege on it as soon as the first opportunity comes his way. Let us not forget that in his famous speech of September 19, 2001, while agreeing to be part of the U.S. led coalition against terrorism, he had openly indicated his ultimate intention of reneging on his commitment as soon as the circumstances turned in Pakistan's favour. He had reminded Pakistan's religious leaders "inclined towards taking emotional decisions" of the first six years of "the history of Islam" and referred to two important events. First, the signing by the Prophet of the Charter of Medinah (Meesaq-e-Medinah) to keep peace with the Jews at a time when he was busy battling with the non-believers of Mecca. Second, the signing of the treaty of Hudabiyah for keeping peace with the rulers of Mecca (the Makkahns) when the Prophet was engaged in a war with the Jews. The treaty of Hudabiyah was abrogated by the Prophet before its expiry when the opportune time came to attack Mecca.
Thus, in his speech of September 19, 2001, Musharraf had clearly spelt out his intentions and revealed his opportunistic mindset. The U.S. can afford to ignore Mushraff's penchant for deceit and doublespeak because it is located seven seas away from Pakistan. But India cannot ; Pakistan is our next door neighbour. If only we care to analyse Musharraf's personality just on three counts, namely his devious role in plotting the Kargil misadventure, his extra smart, though vile, coup against his former benefactor, Nawaz Sharif, and the contents of his speech of September 19, 2001, we will realize that it will be suicidal to trust him. The Indian leadership should understand that they are dealing with a ruthless strategist and a rank turncoat devoid of any principles who loves to play high stake roulette. When he decided to oust Nawaz Sharif, the former Pakistani Prime Minister, by staging a coup, Musharraf knew that the stakes were very high for him. Yet the coup was staged by him while he was airborne! If he had failed he could be sent to the gallows. Yet he took that risk to capture a country of the size of Pakistan, inhabited by 140 million people. That shows the seamy side of his personality, peppered with reckless courage. The Indian leadership should understand from his bizarre exploits and misadventures that he is one dictator who can press the nuclear button the moment he knows that he can come out a winner in the nuclear war, or get away with it. We must also remember that Musharraf is a clever craftsman of words ; he is not only media savvy but also a media charmer, and can even act as a showboy. One may deal with him, but never trust him. It will be quite foolhardy to forget his repeated threats to nuke India, announced worldwide, almost with the beat of a drum!
In December 2003 two successive attempts were made on the life of Musharraf, both within the cantonment limits one on December 14 and another on December 25. Although the two jihadist outfits, the Jaish-e-Mohammed and Lashkar-e-Tayyeba, are suspected of conspiring to assassinate Musharraf, the complicity of some one from the Pakistani army in the plot cannot be ruled out. But he continues to wear two hats, one of the Pakistani President and another of the Army Chief. In any case, Musharraf is quite used to living dangerously, precariously perched atop the debris of democracy.
While most educated Indians will agree to the idea of LOC being converted into the international border, loud voices of dissent and dissonance about the proposed peaceful settlement of the issue can be heard all over Pakistan. The jihadis will never opt for peace; their lifelong commitment and credo is to wage an unending holy war against the infidels. For the present let us keep our fingers crossed. Only future events will tell us about the outcome of the so-called peace process and the proposed 'composite dialogue'.
Indian polity has a surfeit of gullible doves who are ready to believe Musharraf any time and every time, despite all those humiliations which the Indian nation has gone through at the hands of jihadis, including the frightening prospect of a wholesale massacre of the people's representatives on December 13, 2001, when they visited the Indian Parliament carrying AK 47 assault rifles and grenades. Still no lessons have been learnt by our political class. No one speaks up to say that if we cannot punish the jihadi terrorists, at least let us not trust their mentors.
Due to the confusing signals from our political leadership the people of India continue to alternate between hope and despair. Amidst the recent trappings of bonhomie comes the revelation by a Pakistani political analyst, Syed Saleem Shahzad, that while the ISI was closing down its Azad Kashmir Cell (known as the Forward Section 23), it is opening a new one in Karachi to organize infiltration across the international border between Sindh and Gujarat. It is therefore futile to expect that the ceasefire along the LOC will hold for long.(2) It was further confirmed that most of the jihadi outfits operating in Jammu and Kashmir were paramilitary troops of Pakistan.(3)
But why this sudden change in Pakistan's game plan? Why does the ISI now want to relocate the focus of cross border terrorism from Kashmir to Gujarat by shifting the headquarters of its operations from Muzaffarabad to Karachi? Is it that after opting for peace process in Kashmir, Pakistan is now thinking in terms of a repeat of the Kutch intrusion of 1965? Could it be that the jihadis now want to teach the Gujarat Chief Minister, Narendra Modi, a lesson by destabilizing his governance in Gujarat? Or is it just another red herring? This new development, if true, could also mean something more sinister than what meets the eye. In any case, the terrorist bombings and killings in the State of Jammu & Kashmir are still continuing. The new ISI focus on Gujarat border, if true, will create more security problems. The Pakistani establishment has a single point agenda: to destabilize, debilitate and balkanize India at any cost. For all that we know Musharraf's response to Prime Minister Vajpayee's peace initiative might be just a ruse to buy time while planning to attempt a final coup de grace at an appropriate time. In any case, even if there is some kind of temporary peace between the two distant neighbours, it will be a phoney calm, perhaps a lull before the storm. Though a head on war may be avoided for now, the ultimate struggle for supremacy in the sub-continent will be joined after three decades or so, may be earlier, in the realm of demographic dominance where the Islamists appear to have an edge. That showdown could start with a clamour for vivisection and balkanization of the Indian nation by the emerging Muslim majority areas of India for secession on the ground of religion. Such a possibility cannot be ruled out in the light of the experience gained in Lebanon, Kosovo and Bosnia. Another ready example is the history of Pakistan's birth in 1947 through widespread gross violence.
Not only India but the entire world community will have to be extra vigilant to meet the growing threat of Islamist terror. In the last week of December 2003 the U.S. authorities had to raise their colour-coded security alert from yellow to orange, the second highest level, due to the increased possibility of year-end terrorist attacks. On December 22, 2003, a terse warning was issued by Tom Ridge, Secretary of the Federal Department of Homeland Security, that the danger of attacks in the "near term" was greater now than at any other time since September 11, 2001. The revised threat perception led to the increase in the level of security alert to "high" as symbolized by the colour 'orange', instead of yellow, on the five colour scale. Simultaneously Air France cancelled Christmas flights to Los Angels on Wednesday , December 24, 2003, after the U.S. security officials warned them that some extremist groups were planning "near term simultaneous attacks that would rival September 11." Much to the discomfiture of the western world a London-based Arab weekly, Al Majalla, revealed that Al Qaeda supremo Osama bin Laden has vowed to launch a back-breaking attack on the United States by the February 2004 which would change the order of things. The magazine further stated that the Al Qaeda leader will soon appear in a televised tape to warn the Americans that they should prepare their coffins, hospitals and graves to meet the consequences of the coming attack which will be full of surprises and historic events. Meanwhile the U.S. security officials enhanced the modalities to monitor the air for biological warfare agents in thirty cities to meet the threat of possible terrorist strikes during the current high alert status. How credible are these threats no one knows, no one can predict.
In ultimate analysis the success of the U.S. campaigns in Afghanistan and Iraq has not so far helped in curbing the depredations of Islamist terror groups. That only supports the neo-conservative view that there is a pressing need for re-ordering and remoulding the feudal Islamic societal ethos by promoting democratic institutions in the Middle East for making the world a safe place to live. But the Pentagon should also understand that during the last five decades Pakistan has been transformed into an extension of the Middle East thanks to the rapid growth of Islamist ideology. That is how it has come to be regarded as "the fortress of Islam'. Perhaps a more appropriate expression would be to call it as "the fortress of jihadist Islam". To win the war against terror America will have to deploy all those severe remedial measures against Pakistan which it has been using to curb the monster of terrorism in the Middle East. Short of that there is no possibility of the Pakistani establishment giving up its commitment to the global promotion of Islamist terror. But strong action against Pakistan might not happen, because Americans have always behaved like the Bourbons of France about whom it was said that they could learn nothing, unlearn little.
1. Gopal Das Khosla, Stern Reckoning, Appendix-I, p. 303, The Partition Omnibus, Oxford University Press, New Delhi, published in 2002.
2. P.N. Khera, Will the ceasefire hold? The Pioneer, New Delhi, December 12, 2003, Source: Asia Times Online.
Ram K. Ohri is a retired senior police officer of the Indian Police
Service (IPS) and author of "Long March Of Islam: Future Imperfect"
and "The Bell Tolls: Tomorrow's Truncated India."
Mr. Ohri writes that the book is "Dedicated to my sweet grand
daughters, Saloni and Jaisal and my soulmate, Pushpa."
This is Chapter 9 of Mr. Ohri's book, "Long March Of Islam: Future Imperfect". Chapter 1 was published in the September-October 2009 issue of Think-Israel. It is available here. Subsequent chapters were posted, one per issue. The book was published by Manas Publications in New Delhi in 2004. Its ISBN # is 817049186X. It is available at Amazon, Barnes and Noble, etc.
Mr. Ohri writes that the book is "Dedicated to my sweet grand daughters, Saloni and Jaisal and my soulmate, Pushpa."
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