​26/11: Back to square one

Last Updated: Mon, Nov 23, 2009 07:44 hrs

India itself has done nothing to put the fear of Allah into Pakistan’s heart and mind so as to make
it stop from sending trained and armed terrorists into our territory.Instead, we continue to favour warm shake-hands and talks with Pakistanas though 26/11/2008 was just a piece of firework that burst byaccident.

ENOUGH is enough” was the public outcry in Mumbai after the terror trauma of 26/11/08 in the city. That anger was echoed in the whole country as our Parliament witnessed speeches of anguish and promises of toughness. 

But the nation has quickly returned to square one. 

If one symptom of that was the second term given by the electorate to the Congress-led UPA government in New Delhi, the second was the comfortable return to power of the Congress-NCP duo in the Maharashtra assembly elections in October this year. The electorate had clearly not had enough of those governments which had failed to stop the widespread haemorrhage of 26/11. And the Mumbai folks, page 3 favourites and all, didn’t even whisper a protest when the new Maharashtra regime mocked their earlier anger by thrusting on them that very Home Minister who had been sacked for his incompetence only a year before.

Having lit candles galore, made angry comments on TV, and declared financial compensation to those concerned, the nation has seemingly forgotten the 166 humans who lost their lives and 300 others physically injured apart from the psychological crippling to scores of others. It’s as though Maharashtra Home Minister R.R.Patil’s comment that in a city like Mumbai such things like 26/11 do happen has been accepted by everyone.

Despite the dossier after dossier sent by us to it in the last year to prove its involvement in the event, Pakistan has merely played out charade after charade on the world stage. Hafiz Mohammad Saeed, Zakiur Rehman Lakhvi and Maulana Masood Azhar, the masterminds of the Mumbai mass mayhem, remain free. It scoffs at our accusations, it makes promises of various kinds, it even proclaims itself as the victim --- it does all this and more but does not do the one thing its President-cum-Army Chief promised in a bilateral pact with India’s Prime Minister in January 2004. Yes, Pakistan does nothing at all to ensure that its soil is not used for terrorism against India.

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That the world has let Pakistan get away with this great deception game is proof how USA, China and Russia consider self-interest above everything else, of how Muslim countries will always back an Islamic state and of how the whole of Europe is itself stuck in palsy in facing up to Koran-inspired ideology of terror.

India itself has done nothing to put the fear of Allah into Pakistan’s heart and mind so as to make
it stop from sending trained and armed terrorists into our territory. Instead, we continue to favour warm shake-hands and talks with Pakistan as though 26/11/2008 was just a piece of firework that burst by accident.

For instance, there has been no talk of breaking diplomatic, trade and cultural ties with Pakistan till the old enemy honours that pledge of January 2004 and till India is free of any terror attack from the Pakistan side for at least three years. On the other hand, we signed the humiliating joint statement at Sharm-el-Shaikh in July this year when our Prime Minister violated the tenor of our External Minister’s tough posturing (adopted soon after the Mumbai carnage) by delinking dialogue from terrorism and, moreover, agreeing to let Pakistan look into India’s alleged role in the Baluchistan uprising. It was a new low in self-humiliation; India had gone back to the original Gandhigiri of Mohandas Karamchand.

Go for Pakistan’s jugular now

The other day, our nation’s Home Minister told a leading English language daily that 13 terror attacks had been prevented in recent months. Good. A new central investigative agency has been established to deal with terrorism. Good. Government’s purse strings have been loosened for strengthening coastal security, for enhancing the quality of intelligence inputs, for procuring arms and equipment for the police and anti-terror forces, for the creation of extra commando-type squads. Good, good, good. But the danger of the repeats of 26/11/08 remain.

The Home Minister himself concedes that we continue to be vulnerable to terrorism coming from Pakistan’s soil. We will therefore continue to lose our Majors and Colonels and Captains and Police Superintendents and havaldars and jawans and motley of civilians to the guns and grenades and shoulder-launched rockets of the fanatic terrorists bred in Pakistan with its hate-India ideology.

One reason for this is that we have not read Pakistan right during the 62 years since its violent, Caesarian birth. We dealt with its civilian leaders like Liaqat Ali Khan and Zulfiqar Ali Bhutto and were taken for a ride. We dealt with its all-powerful army men Presidents like General Haq and Musharraf and were made to eat crow. 

J&K’s gen-next phase carries the old imp

Today, we are dealing, once more, with Pakistan’s civilian President and Prime Minister, completely overlooking the fact that on her recent visit to Islamabad, Hillary Clinton, US Secretary of State, held her longest meeting, of about three hours, with General Kayani, the country’s Chief of Army. Our PM and his men are suicidally ignoring the reality that it is Gen Kayani and not President Zardari who dictates policy in Islamabad. Our former foreign secretary, G.Parthasarathy, says that Gen Kayani’s approach to relations with India, even from the days he commanded the 12th Infantry Division in Murree, is pathologically anti-Indian and that he regards the Lashkar-e-Tayyeba and the Afghan Taliban as ‘strategic assets’

One is not asking for a war with Pakistan. But the least we expect is that our leadership wears boxing gloves even in the diplomatic ring. Take our continued willingness to let Pakistan (and its lackeys in Srinagar) talk of “the Kashmir dispute”, of letting them frequently refer to “India’s promise of plebiscite” made by our acceptance of the United Nations Security Council Resolution of 21st April 1948. 

What should Muslims do?

The truth of that resolution is that the UN laid down several preconditions to be fulfilled before the plebiscite could be held. After consideration of the background of the issue, the Security Council records that it:

“Recommends to the Governments of India and Pakistan the following measures as those which in the opinion of the Council are appropriate to bring about a cessation of the fighting and to create proper conditions for a free and impartial plebiscite to decide whether the State of Jammu and Kashmir is to accede to India or Pakistan.
1. The Government of Pakistan should undertake to use its best endeavours: (a) To secure the withdrawal from the State of Jammu and Kashmir of tribesmen and Pakistani nationals not normally resident therein who have entered the State for the purposes of fighting, and to prevent any intrusion into the State of such elements and any furnishing of material aid to those fighting in the State;”

The above quote is significant on two counts. First, it shows that the UN Security Council concluded that it was Pakistan who was the aggressor in Jammu & Kashmir State in October 1947 by virtue of the fact that its nationals had entered the state for the purpose of fighting. Secondly, the quote shows that a Plebiscite could not be held till Pakistan first and foremost withdrew its aggressors from J&K. And because Pakistan never fulfilled that condition, how could a Plebiscite ever be held in J&K?

Sadly, the Indian side never asks that question to the Pakistanis or to the separatists in J&K.
With specific regard to 26/11/08, the most glaring example of our nation’s “softness” was with the issue of providing a lawyer to Ajmal Kasab, the mass killer who was the only survivor out of the 10 terrorists who enacted that tragedy.

The myth of Mahatma Gandhi

The legal elite’s opinion was that clauses (1) and (2) of Article 22 of our Constitution made it obligatory on the nation to provide an arrested person detained in custody “the right to consult, and to be defended by, a legal practitioner of his choice.” Kasab, they all said, must be tried in a court; Kasab, they said, must be given a lawyer. Else, they said, it will be a mistrial. Not a single dissenting voice was heard on this issue.

It was another regrettable instance of the nation’s “softness” prevailing over fact. That fact is Clause (3)(a) of Article 22. It says that “Nothing in clauses (1) and (2) shall apply to any person who for the time being is an enemy alien;” Please read 3(a) again and note the words “an enemy alien”. If Ajmal Kasab is not our enemy alien, who is he? Clearly, all India had to do was pronounce him as “an enemy alien” and summarily sentence him for the crime of “Waging or attempting to war … against the nation” under Section 121 of the Indian Penal Code and several related Sections where the punishment is death or life imprisonment. The effect of such a decision would have been electric on the nation and…on Pakistan, besides saving the nation the crores of rupees that are bound to be expended as Kasab’s trial goes through all the ladders of India’s judicial system.

Then there is, finally, the nine accomplices of Kasab who were killed but whose bodies, by all accounts, remain in a morgue in Mumbai because the Muslim community will not allow them to be buried in their reserved grounds and because Pakistan has refused to acknowledge them as being its citizens. If this be true, then the best solution lay in just hurling the nine deceased bodies across the Line of Control in Jammu & Kashmir.

The conclusion seems clear. Even before a year was over after 26/11, India was back to square one. That square of diplomatic dialogues, of suppressed inquiry commission reports, of scams, of soft approach to any terror activity, of creating vote banks. And our people too have become soft, by and large. Why, for instance, haven’t women come on the streets protesting against the killing prices of food articles? Why do they suffer the commonplace toor dal being available at over Rs 100 per kilogram?

(The author, Arvind Lavakare, 71,  is an economics post-graduate who hasworked with the Reserve Bank of India and other companies. He has alsobeen regularly writing on politics since 1997, and published amonograph, The Truth About Article 370, in 2005. )

The views expressed in the article are of the author`s and not of Sify.com

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