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Wednesday, December 19, 2012

Rehman Malik's India Visit

Rehman Malik saheb has at last come and gone.

Why did he come ? He came ostensibly to operationalize the liberalized visa regime that India and Pakistan have agreed to lately. Could that have been the sole reason ? It is now obvious that it certainly was not.

He came possibly for three reasons. I state them in no particular order.

One, of course, the Americans are pushing both India and Pakistan to engage with each other extensively by meeting more frequently whether there is a need or not. There was absolutely no need for Rehman Malik to come to India to operationalize the new visa regime which was a routine matter at official level and yet he insisted on coming here so that his visit would add one to the count of the number of meetings and convince the Americans of the sincerity of Pakistani intent.

Two, Zardari saheb has not yet given up hopes of a visit by the Indian Prime Minister to Pakistan before the caretaker government takes charge ahead of the elections there. The Indian PM continues to talk tantalizingly of his intention to visit while the MEA officials, without identifying themselves, give a few reasons as to why a visit was not in the offing. It might be a good cop-bad cop technique, but Pakistan is too clever to dissect that and continue plugging away at softening Man Mohan Singh as it did at Sharm-el-Sheikh two years back. That episode must have encouraged Pakistan to entertain a glimmer of hope on the visit of the Indian Prime Minister to Pakistan. They have sorted out the Indian leaders (of all political parties). All that they have to do is to make impossible promises which would allow an Indian leader an excuse to offer concessions to Pakistan. They know that Indian leaders generally do not hold their Pakistani counterpart's feet to the fire on the unkept promises.

Three, Pakistani leaders always want to come to India, abuse our hospitality, sow seeds of dissension among communities, fly some kites to assess Indian reactions and mouth inanities such as how friendship can lead to economic development etc to lull India into complacency and hide their evil actions and designs even while planning for the same are going on in Pakistan. There are too many instances of these. Two of the recent instances would suffice for example. The Pakistani Army planned Kargil even as Vajpayee was visiting Pakistan on a peace mission. Pakistani Foreign Minister Makhdoom Shah Mohammed Qureshi was visiting Ajmer sharif when 26/11 broke out.

In this post, I  will not go into the first two reasons cited above. However, the third one needs some elaboration. Let us jog our memory back to circa 1972 when the then Pakistani Chief Martial Law Administrator (CMLA), Zulfiqar Ali Bhutto, came to Shimla for a summit meet with Mrs. Indira Gandhi to get back lost territory (14500 Sq. Kms.) and retrieve the 93000 Prisoners-of-War (PoWs) held captive by India. Zulfiqar Ali Bhutto was an inveterate India hater as his vow of a thousand-years war with India (which he announced grandly in the United Nations) and a determination to even let his people eat grass if only he could get nuclear weapons, prove. His quest for nuclear weapons, at all costs, which started after the massive defeat of 1971 goes to prove how much he wanted to destroy India because Pakistan never looked up to nukes as deterrent, but as offensive weapons to be used against India at the earliest opportunity, despite pious protestations to the contrary.

 But, even at the time he came to India as head of the Pakistani State in c. 1972 to negotiate with Mrs. Indira Gandhi an honourable exit from a very difficult situation, his deep hatred for Hindu India (Bhutto's characterization of India) must have been known to Indian leaders who were advising Mrs. Gandhi. Just six months before coming to Shimla, this son of a Hindu mother,  had already convened a meeting of Pakistani nuclear scientists at Multan and asked them to build nukes. It was this effort that eventually forced Ms. Indira Gandhi to order the Smiling Buddha test at Pokhran in c. 1974. He, as the Foreign Minister of Pakistan, was the one to precipitate the 1965 war through wrong advice to Ayub Khan. This wily character then accused Ayub Khan after the Tashkent Agreement and turned tables against him to remain unscathed from the massive failure. He was the architect of the border concession with China just so that Pakistan could forge friendship with its arch-enemy's enemy. As a Foreign Minister, he was known for his constant vitriolic attacks on India.  He called Sheikh Mujibur Rehman as an agent of Hindu India and a person devoid of any Islamic character out to wreck Islamism in Pakistan All these were known to India by the time he came on a charm trip to negotiate the fate of lost territory and captured prisoners.

Of course, we came to know much more about him later. For example, he secretly advised Ayub Khan to not only yank the State of Jammu & Kashmir from India (through Op. Gibraltar), but also North Eastern Frontier Agency (NEFA, now Arunachal Pradesh) with assistance from China. His initiation of measures for greater solidarity among Islamic countries was not benign but was directed at India as he used this platform to launch political and diplomatic manoeuvres against India and further polarize communities within India on religious lines. Bhutto agreed with Ms. Indira Gandhi to make the de facto Cease Fire Line (CFL) which was thenceforth to be called Line of Control (LoC) as de jure International Boundary (IB) once the situation stabilized but pleaded with Ms. Gandhi not to include any of this as part of the Agreement as it would lead to complications for himself within Pakistan. He knew that a generous India would agree and so it did. Once he consolidated his position after returning victoriously from Shimla, he resiled from his promise made at Shimla.

So, it was to this man, by the name of Zulfiqar Ali Bhutto, that India surrendered without demurring at Shimla in July, 1972. He mouthed all the inanities and sweet-nothings that we continue to hear to this day from Pakistani leaders, opinion-makers and analysts. He told the Indian delegation as to how the two nations could improve the lot of the millions of the poor people if only they eschewed their enmity and diverted the funds for social development. He said how enmity was not the way forward, how the new LoC would become LoP (Line of Peace), how India needed to support a fledgeling democracy in Pakistan, how there was only the Army rule if he went back empty-handed from Shimla (the-after-me-deluge threat that all successive Pakistani leaders have successfully used) etc. Haven't we heard these arguments repeatedly from Pakistan ever since then and even now during Rehman Malik saheb's latest visit ?  For their part, the Indian interlocutors at Shimla (especially Foreign Secretary T.N. Kaul, and D.P.Dhar) were idealistic and wanted to see the 'larger picture' of 'durable peace' and the 'historic opportunity' and did not wish to 'impose harsh terms'  upon Pakistan. These two gentlemen should bear the cross for meekly surrendering all our cards without gaining anything in return and squandering away the greatest opportunity till date of settling the issues between us and them. Haven't Indian interlocutors (and a vociferous liberal section of voices) been mouthing the same useless arguments ever since ?

India's concessions at Shimla were aimed at 'removing the mistrust', end the cycle of 'enduring hostility' and to 'create conditions for long-term peace and cooperation''. But, those were not Pakistan's intentions. They wanted to recover lost territory and men and prepare to fight India another day.  We miserably failed to read what was clearly written on the wall that even a visually challenged person (no offence to them and with all due respect) would have read. The two contrasting intentions converged only on two points, exchange of territory and PoWs. True to his colours, Z.A. Bhutto simply forgot the Shimla Agreement after he achieved his goals and redoubled his efforts to destroy India. It was naive on our part to have hoped that a man who was furious after the Tashkent Agreement in c. 1965 would now implement the Shimla Agreement.

What have Zulfiqar Ali Bhutto and Shimla got to do with Rehman Malik ? Rehman Malik is the personification of Z.A.Bhutto and his sugar-and-honey promise on 26/11 is the equivalent of the Shimla Agreement. Similarly, we have some lofty objectives for the implementation of the liberalized visa regime, which is to further people-to-people contact, improve trade, remove mistrust, and encourage cultural exchange. But, Pakistan has none of these. They want to make it easy for Pakistanis to visit India only for their own nefarious advantage. The stalled grant of Most Favoured Nation (MFN) status to India belies their tactics. The point is that Rehman Malik will go back and do exactly the opposite of whatever pious words he uttered in New Delhi, like Zulfiqar Ali Bhutto of 1972.

Now, what did Rehman Malik saheb do upon arrival in India ? He decided to follow a three-pronged approach to achive the three objectives that he was entrusted with. First and foremost, protect Pakistan's interests which required going on the offensive from the moment he landed in New Delhi. He equated the demolition of Babri Mosque with 26/11. He knew that this would stir a hornet's nest but that was exactly what he wanted. He wanted to dominate the narrative in India while he was here. He knows that the Indians have an enormous forbearance for insults heaped on them and he tested the extremities. He proceeded to do so without wasting much time.

In fact, he carefully chose Babri Mosque because he wanted the insult to connote three different sub-texts. He wants to kindle communal tension, open raw wounds and draw support for his position from those liberal sections of the Indian society waiting in the wings to pick up on the issue of the so-called oppression of minorities in India. There was another sub-text to this reference to Babri Mosque which was to implicitly equate India with Pakistan on the question of ill-treating minorities. Rehman Malik made it explicit when, while explaining his intention for referring to Babri Mosque, he said that his reference was in the context of killing of Shias in Pakistan. (In fact, he cleverly included the killing of Sunnis also in Karachi in that list. But, Sunnis in Karachi are getting killed not by Shias but in intra-Sunni sectarian violence and ethnic violnce among the Pashtuns, Mohajirs and native Sindhis) He thus made it very clear that his intention was equating the state of wahhabi/salafi/Deobandi anarchy in Pakistan with India. The third sub-text was to assert the very long-standing Pakistani claim that anything Islamic in Hindu India naturally belongs to Pakistan and Pakistan alone is the protector of Muslim rights in Hindu India. This goes back to the days of Jinnah when he said that the minorities in the two nations were guarantors of peace, which later resulted in a foolish (foolish on the part of Nehru, not Liaquat Ali Khan) Nehru-Liaquat Ali Khan Pact after horrendous massacre of Hindus in East Pakistan post Partition and Independence.

The second approach was to simultaneously deflect any critical questioning by his Indian counterpart, Sushil Kumar Shinde, on the progress of the 26/11 case in Pakistan. Of course, he came well prepared. He charmed his Indian interlocutors by promising things that he has no control over such as completing the case within three months after the second Pakistani judicial commission visited India.

The third and the most important approach was to cajole the Indian Prime Minister into visiting Pakistan as soon as possible, before the PPP government bowed out ahead of the upcoming elections. There are two important reasons why Pakistan is desperately trying to get the Indian Prime Minister to go across the border. The ruling PPP (Pakistan People's Party), which is in dire straits in the upcoming elections, would like to take advantage of the Indian Prime Minister's visit politically to bolster its chances. The other is that whenever an Indian Prime Minister met his Pakistani counterpart in a one-on-one session, the Indian leaders tended to concede a lot more than otherwise. The incumbent Indian Prime Minister had demonstrated that conclusively at Sharm-el-Sheikh two years back.  One does not know what transpired in the meeting between the itching-to-visit-Pakistan Indian Prime Minister and the representative of Zardari from Pakistan. Time will tell.

During the three days of his stay here in India, Rehman Malik saheb created furore after furore and insulted Indian hospitality and intelligence to an extent that no other Pakistani leader before him had done so. Let us list them.
  • Equating 26/11 with the demolition of the Babri Mosque.
  • Claiming that the mutilation of Lt. Saurabh Kalia was either because of some wild animals (also known as Pakistani soldiers, perhaps ?) or inclement weather
  • LeT (Lashkar-e-Taiba) could not have been behind 26/11 because it was already banned and its cadres had joined the TTP (Tehrik-Taliban-e-Pakistan)
  • India had never given any solid evidence against Professor Hafiz Saeed; all the dossiers were mere information
  • India should forget 26/11 and move on
  • 26/11 happened because of Indian intelligence failure and Pakistan cannot be faulted (He probably meant that the jihadis should also not be blamed because it is the sacred duty of the jihadis to attack kafir land. Only the kafir should be careful and prevent it.)
  • Had India allowed the judicial commission earlier, the case would have been wrapped up by now
  • Abu Jundal was an Indian R&AW (Research & Analysis Wing) agent who went 'rogue' just like David Coleman Headley
  • There is no infiltration of terrorists from Pakistan across the border into India. It is simply migration as happens between Mexico and the US. It cannot be stopped

  • Then, of course, were his promises. He promised to give then and there a copy of the 26/11 charge sheet filed in the Adiala Anti-Terrorism Court (ATC) and asked one of the Secretaries of his Interior Ministry who actually filed the charge sheet in ATC, to do so, only to be told by him that he did not carry a copy of the same. Malik saheb also promised, during the meeting with Sushil Kumar Shinde, to give details on call details, IP addresses and bank account details of the terrorists who are now jailed, but the accompanying delegation feigned complete ignorance on these. He promised to allow the National Intelligence Agency (NIA) sleuths to interrogate the jailed terrorists in Adiala and even offered to take them with him in the same plane, knowing fully well that such a flight of fancy (pun intended) was impossible.
    Now, Shinde has told the Parliament that perusing the documents handed over by Rehman Malik on the charge sheets filed against Professor Hafiz Saeed saheb, it was clear that they pertained to something else (probably nuisance to public law and order) and not related to the conspiracy angle in the 26/11 case. So, Pakistani perfidy (and, of course, Rehman Malik's own) stands out once again clearly. So, they never used material furnished in the Indian dossiers and never cared to gather, on their own, more evidence based on these, but continue to fraudulently claim that Indian evidence against Professor saheb could not stand in a court of law.
    So, Rehman Malik saheb came here for no official reason at all (the new visa regime would have come into force in any case), enjoyed our wonderful hospitality, abused us all and our collective intelligence roundly, floated his conspiracy theories (for which Pakistan is justly famous), disabused us of any hope that Pakistan may indeed pursue its relationship with India more seriously, flew some kites such as his vision of  Pakistanis being able to drive into India in their own cars (perhaps laden with suicide bombers and tonnes of explosives) and freely visit any part of India without having to report to the police etc. It begs the question as to why arch-enemy kafir Hindu India should roll-out red carpet to jihadi terrorists from Pakistan when the rest of the world has tightened their visa rules and entry procedures at border checkpoints as far as Pakistanis are concerned.

    But, who knows ? A dhimmi India might just as well accede to these incredible demands from Rehman Malik saheb and dig its own grave even deeper.

Thursday, November 22, 2012

Jihadi Terrorist Mohammed Ajmal Amir Kasab and Indian Liberals

Mohammed Ajmal Amir Kasab, only one of the ten foot soldiers to be caught alive by the bravest of the brave police officer Tukharam Omble, was at last hanged until dead in the historic Yerawada Jail in Pune. The late Tukharam Omble must now feel that his duty as a law enforcement officer is now complete. Nothing gives a greater pleasure to a police officer than the court (in this case up to the highest court of the land) punishing the criminal caught by the officer. In this case, the sense of elatement must be phenomenal because Omble caught hold of the hot barrel of an AK-47 with his bare hand to catch a jihadi terrorist waging an urban guerilla war against our country. It was Shri Omble's bravest act and his martyrdom in the process that have conclusively exposed the villainy and perfidy of Pakistan. Not for nothing then that Shri Omble was awarded the Ashok Chakra, the highest peacetime gallantry award of this grateful nation.

The Government of India needs to be praised for the quick action once the mercy petition was rejected by the President of India. The only aberration in an otherwise well executed plan, was the burial of Kasab's body within the precincts of the jail itself. One associates Yerawada jail with the incarceration of intrepid freedom fighters for India's Independence from under the British yoke. That such a place should now permanently hold the remains of the incarnation of evil, Kasab, is somewhat troubling. It would have been better had Kasab been given a sea burial in international waters, if Pakistan refused to accept his body, as was done in the case of Osama bin Laden. There should have been no trace of this personification of evil left behind in India.

However, true to its tradition of being argumentative as well as being bleeding heart, some Indians have voiced their dissent to the execution of this evil-personified, Mohammed Ajmal Amir Kasab. These voices were heard even at the time the death sentence was pronounced by the trial court on May 6, 2010, later when the Mumbai High Court upheld the appeal on February 21, 2011. The trial court had convicted Kasab and awarded death punishment to him  on four counts of murder, conspiracy to murder, waging war against the country and committing terrorist activities under the Unlawful Activities Prevention Act  Though the trial court pinned 56 counts of murder on Kasab and his partner Abu Ismail, he was held solely responsible for seven deaths including three top Maharashtra police officers who were killed in their discharge of duties, ATS Chief Hemant Karkare, ACP Ashok Kamate, and Senior Police Inspector Vijay Salaskar.

These Indian liberals are at it again. See an earlier thread on this blog as to "Why Ajmal Amir kasab Should be Hanged Quickly". Leading the pack is the ex-Supreme Court judge, V.R. Krishna Iyer. Presiding over an organization called, 'People's Movement Against Death Penalty', he has termed Kasab's execution as an 'unconstitutional act'. One wonders how this learned ex-judge has today forgotten the Constitution of India. Indian Penal Code retains death penalty as of this moment of writing and hence the award of death and the implementation of the same are *not* unconstitutional as V.R.Krishna Iyer proclaims. Besides, Kasab has gone through all legal avenues open to him under the Indian Constitution and the award of his death penalty has been confirmed by the Bombay High Court as well as the Supreme Court of India as the 'rarest of rare case' fit for death by hanging. In fact, the Supreme Court opined that Kasab's was the rarest of the rare case to have ever come before it since the birth of the Indian Republic itself. His mercy petition had been reviewed by the Ministry of Home Affairs which sent its recommendation rejecting it to the President of India. The President of India applied his mind and rejected the mercy petition, after which Kasab was executed. Where is breach of constitutionality in this chain of events ?

He goes on to claim that Kasab's 'execution was no solution to crime'. Does the learned ex-judge recommend the dissolution wholesale of the Criminal Procedure Code because this argument can be taken to the extent that no punishment was solution to any crime, why only death penalty. Punishment for a proven crime serves two purposes, one dispensation of justice under a duly established justice system and two deterrence against further occurrences of a similar crime as it sends a clear message to potential criminals as to what they can expect. It might have other effects as well such as establishing the writ of a nation-state or bringing a sense of closure to the aggrieved party etc. The question to ask therefore is why should one say that 'execution was no solution to the crime'. Mr. Krishna Iyer answers that by claiming that " there was scope to reform the convict through rigorous imprisonment"

Is Mr. V.R.Krishna Iyer right when he claims that there was scope for reforming Kasab, making him abhor violence stemming out of religious bigotry and hatred and making him a productive member of a civilized society ? Mr. V.R.Krishna Iyer has given no reason as to how he knew that Kasab was quite amenable to reformation had he been awarded rigorous imprisonment. However, we can only go by evidences of news snippets that have regularly appeared over the years regarding his behaviour during incarceration. Going by those, one can easily conclude that Shri V.R. Krishna Iyer is over the top when he makes his fantastic claim that Kasab would have reformed.

We will first go by the statements of the equally learned judges (as Shri V.R.Krishna Iyer) of the trial court, the Bombay High Court and the Supreme Court.

The Special Anti-terror Court of M.L.Tahaliyani said in its judgement, "In the court's opinion, Kasab has no chance to reform. Keeping such a terrorist alive will be a lingering danger to the society and the Indian government," He also said, "The Probability of reform is ruled out. The way he has committed the offence doesn't give scope for it. The court has noted that this man has voluntarily gone to the doors of the LeT in Rawalpindi. He Himself offered to become a mujahid".   The Bombay High Court similarly discounted the possibility of reforming Kasab. It said, "There is no scope of reform or rehabilitation of the convicted-accused. It is a rarest of rare case and the court cannot be more confident than it is today that death penalty must be given."

Let us also look at how Kasab himself behaved during the four years he was a captive. Did he betray any emotions that would have hinted at him being amenable to reformation as Shri V.R. Krishna Iyer conveniently claims ? While confessing before the magistrate, he was angry with himself that he could not kill more Indians. That was why the public prosecutor, Ujwal Nikam, characterized Kasab as a 'killing machine manufactured in Pakistan'.

At no point of time in the four years, whether in private or in his appeals to the court, did Kasab express any remorse for his evil acts. The Bombay High Court observed, "Kasab has never shown any remorse after his arrest and we have observed that even on video conference he has not shown any signs of regret".  In the Special Leave Petition to the Supreme Court, he simply requested for leniency because he was 'brainwashed like a robot, in the name of God' and that he was 'too young to die'. Countering this argument, the Supreme Court said, "We are unable to accept the submission that the appellant was a mere tool in the hands of the Lashkar-e-Taiba. He joined the Lashkar-e-Taiba around December 2007 and continued as its member till the end, despite a number of opportunities to leave it".  Kasab neither apologized for his actions, nor did he feel any remorse at any point of time. "He kills without the slightest twinge of conscience," the supreme court said and added "Unfortunately, he is wholly remorseless and any feeling of pity is unknown to him". How Shri V.R. Krishna Iyer alone concluded that Kasab was fertile for reformation is better left to him to explain. He has not bothered to explain that except to say that Kasab could have been reformed.

Apart from the fact that Kasab was unapologetic and unremorseful until the very end and hence not a candidate for any reformation, there was every possibility that a Kandahar-type operation could have been mounted by Pakistan to free him. This was the fear expressed also by the learned judge M.L.Tahaliyani of the special trial court when he said, "If Kasab is kept alive, this situation may occur again".

The appalling depths to which this nation has fallen is proved by the utterances of the liberals who demand a kid-glove treatment even when day-in and day-out ordinary and innocent Indians are subjected to terror of the worst kind from the likes of Kasab and his masters. if these jihadi terrorists are amenable to reformation, why don't these bleeding hearts go across the border and reform them ? Their task has been now made easy by the liberalized visa regime. If they are not willing to do that, they should simply shut up and let the State and Judiciary follow the Constitution of this land.


Monday, November 12, 2012

Collision Course among the Army, Government and Judiciary

A very interesting day it was, the 5th of November 2012.

The three important pillars of Pakistan, namely the Army, the incumbent Government and the Judiciary (the judiciary being the latest addition in recent years to the power equation) all spoke on the latest developments in Pakistan and sparks flew.

First, it was COAS Gen. Kayani who said mistakes of individual officers should not be blamed on the institution of the armed forces as a whole and any effort to drive a wedge between the armed forces and the people of Pakistan would lead to serious consequences. To any layman person who follows developments in Pakistan, it was apparent that Gen. Kayani was referring to the judiciary which in a recent spate of judgements, had severely criticized the army including asking for an end to its political interference. Just to ensure that Kayani's message was not misinterpreted, an Army officer was detailed to inform the press that the General was indeed referring to the judiciary. The immediate provocation was the about-to-be-delivered detailed verdict (finally given on November 8, 2012) in the 1990 poll rigging case in which the Supreme Court held the then COAS, Gen. Aslam Beg and the ISI Chief Lt. Gen. Asad Durrani guilty of violating the Constitution.

Incidentally, the Chief Justice of Pakistan (CJP), Iftikhar Choudhry, asserted in a bar council meeting on the same day ( it would be interesting to see if chronologically he spoke after Kayani's speech to his army units) that the security paradigm which necessitated Pakistan to acquire tanks and missiles was outdated and real security came from empowerment of people. He minced no words in declaring that the Judiciary had sky-high limits that cannot be questioned. He also said that nobody should be mistaken about the 'ultimate authority' of the judiciary.

Not to be outdone, the Pakistani President, Asif Ali Zardari, also spoke about the latest state of affairs in Pakistan at a conference of SAARC Speakers of Parliaments. He said that democracy was now firmly established in Pakistan because an elected government was likely to complete its term ! He also said that the 'old order' was still active but its kicks were convulsions of a person in death bed. One can easily conclude that the reference to the 'old order' was indeed a reference to the Army. As a sop, the Pakistani prime Minister, Raja Pervez Ashraf, said that there was no collision among the institutions of the state and such impressions must be dispelled.

The seemingly conflictual statements could have been completely coincidental, but, one makes such an assumption only with great peril when it comes to Pakistan. So, what prompted these three gentlemen to speak their mind out in that fashion ?

The Pakistani Army (PA) has been under pressure from different quarters, both from external and internal sources, in recent times. There is no doubt that some sheen (in the eyes of the common folk Pakistanis) has gone off the PA. To be fair to the PA, I must say that the loss of sheen is not a recent development but is a culmination of a series of defeats and failures since October 1947 (though the PA covered itself with fabricated glory as dictated by the security paradigm that the CJP has now shredded). J&K (Gilgit was a treachery by a British Army Officer and cannot be attributed to the PA), 1965, 1999, operations in Balochistan or FATA et al have all been unmitigated disasters. Adding insult to these deep injuries have been Salala, Abbottabad, Raymond Davis etc. The 'bad Taliban', for their part, almost captured the GHQ at Rawalpindi along with top Generals as hostages. They have been successfully harassing and tormenting the armed forces by attacking their nuclear weapon complexes, bases, buses carrying their personnel, top individual officers  (including their creator and mentor Col. Imam), recruitment and training centres, offices of the various intelligence agencies , convoys etc. The series of 'Peace Agreements' with the 'bad Taliban'  all collapsed within a matter of a few months each and the 'bad Taliban' considerably gained in the process.

Externally too, the PA-US relationship had at several times reached breaking-point in recent times only to recover just in the nick of time. Various American interlocutors have spoken openly and harshly of Pakistan's duplicity, an unusual occurrence. These have weakened the bond between the US and the PA, a relationship that has been purely transactional since the 1960s, after the initial American euphoria about 'ramrod straight Pakistani soldiers' being surrealistically 'out of a Hollywood movie' etc. However, the frequent  downs in the US-PA relationship had not substantially affected the PA's projects against India because the 'ups' had stocked the PA sufficiently to coast through the bouts of 'downs'. However, this time it looks very different because the American anger had cut across the political divide and the lay Americans have understood the Pakistani perfidy. The US also has a deep strategic relationship with India now while it was at the best indifferent and at the worst hostile to India's concerns in the three decade period between the 70s and the 90s. The PA-USA dream has gone sour, at least for now though there is no guarantee that it would not recover. All it needs is another event like 26/11 or December 24, 1979 or clever manipulation by Pakistan that would make the US dependent on Pakistan for 'services'.

In recent times, a series of high-profile events has dented the image of the PA. There was a setback in the Hussain Haqqani case for the PA as the main prosecution witness setup by the ISI was found to be unreliable. An angry Prime Minister, Gilani, dismissed the hand-picked PA General who was holding the post of Defence Secretary and replaced him with a woman. The Generals were forced to discuss military matters with a civilian and that too a woman, a shame in a country that prides itself on its martial misogyny. Abbottabad and Salala exposed the helplessness of the Pakistani armed forces in spite of brave words of shooting down intruding flying machines. At both these places, things happened even before PA could realize what was happening. The Supreme Court, led by the CJP who was reinstated by the Army Chief himself, revived the long-running Air Marshal Asghar Khan case. The Supreme Court (SC) confirmed that money indeed had been disbursed by the PA to influence politicians in the 1990 general elections and passed severe strictures against no less a person than the then army Chief, Gen. Aslam Beg, and his ISI Chief Lt. Gen. Asad Durrani (who is normally spoken of in Indian TV channels as a moderate voice of Pakistani military). It asked the ISI (and by extension the PA) to ensure that it dismantled its 'political intelligence wing' and did not interfere in politics henceforth. Then, there have been other cases as well like the corruption in the pilferage and disappearance of thousands of NATO containers sent through National Logistics Cell (NLC), a transportation unit owned and operated by the military. More than 29000 containers simply disappeared and an equal number were pilfered with. Of course, this behaviour of the NLC does not come as a surprise to regular Pakistani watchers because it has been the main conduit for heroin and smuggled goods from Afghanistan into Pakistan.

The warning shot fired by Gen. Kayani across the bow is understandable because the PA is entering a crucial period as denouement nears in Afghanistan. The PA is quite firm in its India-revenge project and Afghanistan plays the most crucial role in its scheme of things against India. The pivotal Doctrine of Strategic Depth, conceived and developed by the likes of Gen. Zia-ul-Haq, Gen. Mirza Aslam Beg, Lt. Gen Akhtar Abdur Rehman, and Lt. Gen. Hamid Gul continues to define the approach of the PA towards war mongering with India. The fact that the Quetta and Haqqani shura are being protected within Pakistan is a proof that Pakistan is as vigorously pursing today its Afghan strategy as of the late 1990s. Both the US and the Afghan governments have been frustrated by the stonewalling of the Taliban interlocutors under a PA advice. We must expect a very bloody war of attrition in c. 2013 when the Americans and the Taliban try to degrade and demoralize the other party before crucial talks and the withdrawal of the ISAF in c. 2014. With a not-so-friendly US around and a number of neighbouring countries not wanting a return of the Taliban to power, the PA does not want any derailment of its Afghanistan strategy either through an internal issue or through a war with India at this stage. This would also explain the relative easing up of terror attacks on India this year (except for the fizzled out Pune bombs). It is therefore working overtime to install a PA-compliant jihadi Prime Minister in the form of Imran Khan in Islamabad. The CJP, through his various actions and utterances, seem to be undermining this noble PA project and the PA is incensed. Could the CJP be, wittingly or unwittingly, following an American agenda ? We should see, in coming months, a slew of PA-sponsored planted stories about the CJP to tarnish his reputation.

All along, the judiciary has either been a vociferous supporter of the PA (invoking the 'doctrine of necessity' to support the Army's frequent usurpation of power) or a cowering mute spectator. Judicial activism started when an arrogant Gen. Musharraf upbraided the CJP, Iftikhar Chaudhry and put him under house arrest. After PPP regained power in c. 2008, Asif Ali Zardari was unwilling to reinstate the dismissed Iftikhar Chaudhry leading to nation-wide protest. The COAS, Gen. Kayani, threw his weight behind the CJP and he was quickly reinstated. How could Zardari go aginst the wishes of an Army Gneral, much less a COAS ? Gen. Kayani must be ruing his decision now. Who knows ? The CJP, Iftikhar Chaudhry, might very well be nurturing political ambitions. The undue haste with which he initiated suo motu proceedings in the case involving his own son (Malik Riaz Vs. Arsalan Iftikhar) and in which he himself participated as the judge, thereby throwing to the winds tradition and propriety, show that the CJP is not 'lily white' as he has carefully portrayed himself so far. His intention could be to discredit both the PA and the politicians (which they both surely deserve) so that he comes out as the Knight in the Shining Armour.

Zardari and his PPP would be watching the developments and adding to the war of words appropriately for their own advantage.

Thus the French proverb, Plus ca change, plus c'est la meme chose, fits Pakistan exceedingly well. Every party in this triangular equation hates the other two at this point of time. 

Thursday, September 27, 2012

Should Dr. Man Mohan Singh Visit Pakistan Now ? Part - I

The recently concluded foreign ministers’ meeting between India and Pakistan at Islamabad saw the Pakistani side demanding yet again a visit by the Indian Prime Minister Dr. Man Mohan Singh to that country in November coinciding with the Guru Purnima, a holy day for the Sikhs, to which community the Indian Prime Minister belongs. The crescendo has been building up for a while now and was brought up by President Asif Ali Zardari himself when he came over to India in June, 2012 ostensibly to pay obeisance at the Ajmer Sharif dargah of Khwaja Moinuddin Chishti, a holy place for Sufi Muslims of the Indian subcontinent. The sudden and an inexplicable visit of President Zardari to Ajmer Sharif, appears in hindsight, to be for no ostensible reason other than eliciting a reciprocal religious visit by the Indian Prime Minister through subtle pressure.

Though speculations have abounded as to why such an incessant request, even demand, has been made to the Indian Prime Minister when there has been apparently no significant progress in the on-going dialogue between the two nations, ranging from possible political gains to the much beleaguered Pakistan Peoples' Party (PPP), to mounting American pressure in view of the looming withdrawal of the International Security Assistance Force (ISAF) from Afghanistan and therefore a need to forge a regional consensus, one is not certain about the real reason behind this request. The political dimension appears to be a more plausible reason. Recently, Pakistan delayed the signing of the documents for the new 'liberalized visa regime' when the Indian Home Secretary visited Islamabad,  by claiming that only political leaders should sign such an important agreement. Thus, Pakistan was even willing to wait longer for something that it has been vociferously demanding for many years now, just in order to get some political mileage out of this event.

The non-stop demand for the Indian PM's visit to Pakistan also appears, therefore,  to be a political stunt by the ruling PPP which otherwise is hopeless about retaining its rule after the elections which are just around the corner. Coming in the wake of a series of D-Days for the PPP government in the form of pronouncements from the Supreme Court of Pakistan, one can only conclude that the visit of an Indian Prime Minister is desperately being sought to bolster the sagging fortunes of the ruling party. The announcement of an agreement on withdrawal of troops from the Siachen glaciers, for example, could contribute significantly towards a turnaround of fortunes for the PPP. Since June, 2005 when Mr. Man Mohan Singh visited Siachen, he has been determined to work out a deal to withdraw Indian troops from the advantageous and commanding positions that they have enjoyed along the Saltoro Range. This obsession by the Indian Prime Minister to commit a harakiri in Siachen is of course, music to Pakistani ears and they have been massaging him and his advisers to agree to Pakistani promises of good behaviour which is worth much less than anything written on a sandy beach washed by smashing tidal waves. Since that is something that the Pakistani Army also demands, especially after the recent Gyari incident, there is a rare approval of the PPP by the Army at least on this issue. Since Indian Prime Ministers have regularly conceded Pakistani demands in one-on-one meetings, it may be Pakistan's calculation that if Mr. Man Mohan Singh visits Islamabad they may have a chance of striking a deal on Siachen favourable to Pakistan.
Whatever may be the reason or reasons for Pakistan to demand this visit, we need to debate whether such a visit would do any good to India at all. Some Indian analysts have opined that such a visit must be undertaken now because they see no deleterious effect at all while there is a possibility of a progress, even if not a breakthrough, in one or more of the issues such as Sir Creek or Siachen or the Indus Water sharing disputes. At least one of them has cited how the meeting between Pandit Jawaharlal Nehru and the then Pakistani Prime Minister Liaquat Ali Khan led to the Nehru-Liaquat Pact of  April 8, 1950 on the protection of the rights of religious minorities in both the countries in the wake of continuing violence after a genocidal Partition. Then, there is a reference to the Indus Water Treaty(IWT), signing for which, Pandit Nehru went to Karachi (September, 1960) and met Field Marshal Ayub Khan. The visit of Rajiv Gandhi to Islamabad (December, 1988) is also thrown in as a proof of a meeting that resulted in instituting a mechanism to exchange data about nuclear installations in either countries that would not be attacked in case of a war, thus paving some way for nuclear Confidence Building Measures (CBMs). Last, but not the least is the citation of Atal Behari Vajpayee’s bus-trip to Lahore (February, 1999) that realized a long-standing dream of bus travel and border trade between the two divided portions of Kashmir. The point being made by such an analysis is that summit meetings between Indian & Pakistani Prime Ministers can lead to some positives even if not a breakthrough is achieved resolving the ‘enduring hostility'. But, is such a conclusion correct and warranted ?  No, not at all, in my opinion.

Between circa 1972 and 1989 (when Pakistan-sponsored terrorism erupted in all its glory in India eventhough Pakistan has been sponsoring terrorism in J&K since c. 1947 itself), the Indian Prime Minister  and his / her Pakistani counterpart had met eight times in either countries. I have not included the meetings between them in third countries which account for another eight such meetings. In spite of these meetings, cross-border terrorism of the worst kind was inflicted upon India by Pakistan. Since circa 1990, there have been many more such meetings, and though some progress has indeed been made, the reasons for which are the dire economic necessity of Pakistan and the enormous pressure exerted on both countries by the USA, the fundamental differences continue to exist and have not been touched at all. And, Pakistan continues to pummel India with terrorism in all parts of India.

Less than two months back, there were serial bomb blasts in Pune and much fatalities, maiming and damage were averted because of pure luck: rain and a failed electronic circuitry. In July 2011, the most sought after target in India, Mumbai, was rocked once again by three serial bomb blasts that killed over two dozen people and maimed 150. In December 2010, the Varanasi temple was bombed and a toddler was killed. In February 2010, the Best bakery in Pune was bombed, again killing a dozen and injuring over 50. Yet another attack was exactly a year ago almost to this day at the Delhi High Court which killed a dozen people and injured over 70. How quickly we have forgotten all these ! May be, we no longer classify such attacks where the fatalities are less than a hundred, as terror attacks. These are cases which happened. We will never know how many attempts were nipped by the intelligence agencies. So, Pakistan believes that it needs to continue the terrorism pressure on India even while it tricks her into summit talks to get more and more concessions from the very big neighbour. The demand has always been that India must be more generous, something to which the Indian Wagah Kandle Kissers (WKKs) have regularly subscribed too.
Above anything else, we have to recognize one grand difference (among many others) between the way Pakistani and Indian leaders approach India-Pakistan relationship and the way to go about resolving disputes. Pakistan has always been governed by a powerful central leader (Jinnah, Liaquat Ali Khan, Z.A.Bhutto or military dictators from the front seat or Chiefs of Army Staff from the backseat). I have not included either Ms. Benazir Bhutto or Nawaz Sharif or Yousuf Raza Gilani in the list because while they were powerful (at least the first two), they were circumscribed in their handling of relationship with India by the powerful Army. These powerful central leaders (Jinnah, Liaquat Ali Khan or Z.A. Bhutto) and military dictators or the Army Chiefs (COASs) were answerable to none and handled the India-situation as they liked. Their goal was tactical and always to bring India down to her knees at any opportunity and they worked towards that goal, mindless of consequences. If the Pakistani Army sensed any small change in the government's policy from the conflict-mode to a peace-mode, it immediately stepped in to nip such changes in the bud. The characterization of Ms. Benazir Bhutto as a 'security risk' during her first term in office as the Prime Minister is an example. That she atoned for this lapse in her second term by vigorously supporting jihad against India is another matter though.

If a servile relationship with Western powers were to be forged, Pakistan was willing to do that without much of a debate. If jihadi Islamism were to be nurtured, they were happy to do so without worrying about the backlash. If a capitalist Western friend were to be substituted by a communist country at the height of Cold War even while being part and parcel of the Western military alliances against spread of communism, because that suited Pakistan at that particular moment, they did so without batting an eyelid. If thousands of square kilometres of land were to be ceded to China just so that friendship could be developed with that country to target India later, they did so without much of an internal debate. All these were explained away casually as decisions taken in the 'best national interests' to Pakistanis. Generally, the people of Pakistan including opposition political parties never questioned such short-term deals because these were acceptable tactics against  the mortal kafir enemy, India. They were never discussed in the Parliament firstly because there was no worthwhile Parliament most of the time (as military dictators have ruled for almost half the life of Pakistan) and even when there was one, everybody understood that such important foreign policy decisions would have been taken by the Pakistani Army and it was futile and even downright dangerous to discuss such 'sensitive' decisions. Even a few feeble attempts to bring the Pakistani Army and its notorious intelligence wing, the ISI, have been failures to this day.
Indian leaders cannot behave like that and have not behaved like that. They are answerable to the collective responsibility of the Cabinet, to the elected representatives in the Parliament and to the people at large. They have to and they do respect international conventions and agreements. A country encompassing roughly one-sixth of humanity within itself cannot take decisions without bothering about the consequences. An Indian leader cannot simply visit Islamabad and take a decision on the spur of the moment. The Indian Cabinet would authorize the Prime Minister for certain decisions before embarking on a summit meeting and he or she has to keep himself/herself strictly to that script. There have been a few exceptions like when Dr. Man Mohan Singh went out of his way to please and placate a fellow Punjabi, Yousuf Raza Gilani, by almost implicating India in Pakistan's Balochistan mess at the Sharm-el-Sheikh meeting in mid-July 2009. This caused such a massive uproar within the country and within his own Congress party, that a huge damage control exercise had to be resorted to contain the fallout. But, such incidents are rare and almost unheard of even when a steam-rolling and all-powerful Nehru was in charge of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs.
Let us also see if the Nehru-Liaquat Pact or the IWT or even the Nuclear CBM between Rajiv Gandhi-Benazir Bhutto came about just because the two Prime Ministers met or they met just to sign a deal that had been worked out after extensive preparatory work between the secretaries and ministers of both the countries.
Only Nehru-Liaquat Pact of April 1950 could qualify as something that was signed in a very quick time, without elaborate discussions. However, the exigencies of the grave situation were such that a quick action had to be taken and the Pact was a result of that. Why such a haste, one may ask ? I would only quote from the resignation letter tendered by a federal Pakistani minister and one of the staunchest Muslim League supporters, Jogendra Nath Mandal, in the wake of the 1950 genocide of the Hindus in East Pakistan. Mandal, a Bengali, was a freedom fighter and a Harijan (nowadays referred to as Dalits) leader, but was brain-washed by the Muslim League and enticed to support its causes and stay in Pakistan. Pakistan desperately wanted the services of these depressed people as no Muslim was expected to do the menial jobs in their cities and they feared that if Mandal left, the people would also follow him. In her wonderful book, 'Empires of the Indus', Ms. Alice Albinia recalls a similar incident with another Harijan leaders in Karachi in c. 1948. Mandal did not realize that the Muslim league had already accorded 'third-class citizenship' to the Harijans. Therefore, he received the shock of his lifetime one day in February, 1949. When Mandal raised the fear of the minorities during a discussion in the Constituent Assembly over the introduction of the Objectives Resolution, he was told by Maulana Shabbir Ahmed Usmani, the sponsor of the Resolution, that as a Hindu he should not have been in the first place in the cabinet of a Muslim nation and that he should be paying jizya. Mandal simply shut up. Now, let me quote a portion of Mandal's resignation letter:
It must be noted that stories of a few incidents of communal disturbance that took place in West Bengal as a sort of repercussion of the incidents at Kalshira were published in exaggerated form in he East Bengal press. In the second week of February 1950 when the Budget Session of the East Bengal Assembly commenced, the Congress Members sought permission to move two adjournment motions to discuss the situation created at Kalshira and Nachole. But the motions were disallowed. The Congress members walked out of the Assembly in protest. This action of the Hindu members of the Assembly annoyed and enraged not only the Ministers but also the Muslim leaders and officials of the Province. This was perhaps one of the principal reasons for Dacca (now Dhaka) and East Bengal riots in February 1950.
 It is significant that on February 10, 1950 at about 10 o'clock in the morning a woman was painted with red to show that her breast was cut off in Calcutta riot, and was taken round the East Bengal Secretariat at Dacca. Immediately the Government servants of the Secretariat stuck work and came out in procession raising slogans of revenge against the Hindus. The procession began to swell as it passed over a distance of more than a mile. It ended in a meeting at Victoria Park at about 12 o'clock in the noon where violent speeches against the Hindus were delivered by several speakers, including officials. The fun of the whole show was that while the employees of the Secretariat went out of procession, the Chief Secretary of the East Bengal Government was holding a conference with his West Bengal counterpart in the same building to find out ways and means to stop communal disturbances in the two Bengals. 
The riot started at about 1 p.m. simultaneously all over the city. Arson, looting of Hindu shops and houses and killing of Hindus, wherever they were found, commenced in full swing in all parts of the city. I got evidence even from the Muslims that arson and looting were committed even in the presence of high police officials. Jewellery shops belonging to the Hindus were looted in the presence of police officers. They not only did not attempt to stop loot, but also helped the looters with advice and direction. Unfortunately for me, I reached Dacca at 5 o'clock in the afternoon on the same day, in February10, 1950. To my utter dismay, I had occasion to see and know things from close quarters. What I saw and learnt from firsthand information was simply staggering and heart-rending.
During my nine days' stay at Dacca, I visited most of the riot-affected areas of the city and suburbs. I visited Mirpur also under P.S. Tejgaon. The news of the killing of hundreds of innocent Hindus in trains, on railway lines between Dacca and Narayanganj, and Dacca and Chittagong gave me the rudest shock. On the second day of Dacca riot, I met the Chief Minister of East Bengal and requested him to issue immediate instructions to the District authorities to take all precautionary measures to prevent spreading of the riot in district towns and rural areas. On the 20th February 1950, I reached Barisal town and was astounded to know of the happenings in Barisal. In the District town, a number of Hindu houses were burnt and a large number of Hindus killed. I visited almost all riot-affected areas in the District. I was simply puzzled to find the havoc wrought by the Muslim rioters even at places like Kasipur, Madhabpasha and Lakutia which were within a radius of six miles from the District town and were connected with motorable roads. At the Madhabpasha Zamindar's house, about 200 people were killed and 40 injured. A place, called Muladi, witnessed a dreadful hell.  At Muladi Bandar alone, the number killed would total more than three hundred, as was reported to me by the local Muslims including some officers. I visited Muladi village also, where I found skeletons of dead bodies at some places. I found dogs and vultures eating corpses on he river-side. I got the information there that after the whole-scale killing of all adult males, all the young girls were distributed among the ringleaders of the miscreants. At a place called Kaibartakhali under P.S. Rajapur, 63 persons were killed. Hindu houses within a stone's throw distance from the said thana office were looted, burnt and inmates killed. All Hindu shops of Babuganj Bazar were looted and then burnt and a large number of Hindus were killed. From detailed information received, the conservative estimate of casualties was placed at 2,500 killed in the District of Barisal alone. Total casualties of Dacca and East Bengal riot were estimated to be in the neighbourhood of 10,000 killed. The lamentation of women and children who had lost their all including near and dear ones melted my heart. I only asked myself "What was coming to Pakistan in the name of Islam."
It was after this terrible assault on the Hindus of East Pakistan, aided by the government, Muslim League leaders, and the state machinery, that Hindus began to migrate from East Pakistan on a large scale (first such large-scale migration after the traumatic Partition). Radio Pakistan was used to propagate a lie that tens of thousands of Muslims had been killed in West Bengal. This was very reminiscent of how Jinnah's own newspaper, Dawn, was used to put pressure on the Hindus (except for the Harijan) to leave the Sind in c. 1948. The East Pakistan riots spread like a wildfire from Dacca to other districts such as Chittagong, Khulna and Barisal. The 1950 massacres were preceded by several attacks on Hindus throughout East Pakistan, though not on the same large scale, for several months. The February 1950 massacre of the Hindus in East Pakistan was a re-run of the massacre of the Hindus in Calcutta (now, Kolkatta) during the Direct Action Day of August 16, 1946 when the Chief Minister of Bengal, Huseyn Shahid Suhrawardy himself, incited the Muslim rioters and murderers with highly inflammatory and objectionable speech and continued to protect the criminals while blaming the victims for the incidents. After the East Pakistan massacres of c. 1950, there were fears that there could be retaliatory attacks on Muslims within India. The situation became explosive.

Nehru visited Calcutta on 6th and 16th March, 1950 to assess first hand the plight of the thousands of Hindu refugees from East Pakistan, His appeal to Liaquat Ali Khan elicited no response. Then, serious anti-Muslim riots broke out in Howrah by end of March. It was only then that Liaquat Ali Khan decided to travel to New Delhi.

Did the Nehru-Liaquat Pact serve the purpose for it to be taken as an example of what can be achieved when Prime Ministers meet ? The very first paragraph of that pact brings out its farcical nature. It says "The Prime Minister of Pakistan has pointed out that similar provision {for protection of minorities} exists in the Objectives Resolution adopted by the Constituent Assembly of Pakistan". It speaks volumes for the brazenness of Pakistan to claim fraudulently that the Objectives Resolution protected the non-Muslim minorities and it speaks even more volumes for the gullibility of India to accept such a duplicitous claim and allow it to be even incorporated in a pact that was supposed to help protect the minorities. What a pathetic bunch of leaders have we got in India.

Let us see what the 'Objectives Resolution' entails. Under a growing intolerant Deobandi influence, Prime Minister Liaquat Ali Khan helped the passage of the Objectives Resolution (known as 'Qarardad-e-Maqasid) in the Pakistani Constituent Assembly on March 12, 1949 within six months of the death of Quaid-e-Azam, Jinnah. All the ten non-Muslim members of the Constituent Assembly opposed it but the bill was eventually passed 21 to 10.  All the Muslim members voted for it except for the lone Communist member Mian Iftikharuddin who absented himself. It made clear the contours of the up-coming Constitution. It said, among other things:

Whereas sovereignty over the entire universe belongs to Allah Almighty  alone and the authority which He has delegated to the State of Pakistan, through its people for being exercised within the limits prescribed by Him is a sacred trust;

Wherein the principles of democracy, freedom, equality, tolerance and social justice as enunciated by Islam shall be fully observed;

It was this infamous Objectives Resolution that Nehru allowed Liaquat Ali Khan to include in the Pact as though it was a fount of law for the protection of non-Muslim minorities in Pakistan. He should have pointed out to Liaquat Ali Khan that all non-Muslim members (and also one Muslim member) of the Constituent Assembly opposed the formulation and a reference to that controversial resolution in the Pact would send the very opposite signal. He did not do that, one of the many blunders of Jawaharlal Nehru. The signing of the Nehru-Liaquat Pact led to serious rift within the Congress and two prominent ministers, Shyama Prasad Mookerjee and Neogi, both from West Bengal, resigned from the cabinet citing the pact as an appeasement of Pakistan. There was a very serious division between the Prime Minister and his Home Minister Sardar Vallabhai Patel. When the Pact did not serve its purpose, Nehru is reported to have offered his resignation to President Rajendra Prasad. 

In a research study on life after Partition, Anusua Basu Raychaudhry has the following to say about the failure of the Nehru-Liaquat Pact 
It is worth mentioning that, the Nehru-Liaquat Pact, signed in April 1950, failed to provide the way for the return of the refugees to their homeland. Later on, when the passport system was introduced for travel from Pakistan to India on 15 October 1952, more people started to arrive. It was a now or never kind of situation, which scared many people during this phase. 
The Pact equated a state which was constitutionally, wilfully and systematically  discriminating against minorities and driving them out in thousands, with a declared secular state from which minorities did not flee due to persecution. One of the provisions of the Pact was that minority members must hold political or other offices and must be taken in the armed and police forces. The first Sikh was admitted in the Pakistani Army in c. 2005, a full 58 years after the creation of Pakistan and 55 years after the successful Nehru-Liaquat Pact was signed. There is as yet no Hindu in any branch of the armed forces in that country. The first Hindu foreign service officer, Gyan Chand, was appointed 62 years after Independence in c. 2009. Even today, it is difficult for Hindus to get their NADRA ID card, or passport or marriage registration. So much for the Nehru-Liaquat Pact.

To claim the Nehru-Liaquat Pact as a success that came about because of a meeting between the Prime Ministers of both the countries and therefore worth emulating now, is falsehood on two counts. One, the Pact itself was a failure even then and two the context of the situations is entirely different too. Over the years, the continued exodus of minorities from Pakistan to India never stopped. The latest surge in the exodus of Hindus from Pakistan is a continued reminder of the abject failure of the Nehru-Liaquat Pact. An analysis of the failure of the pact can only show two reasons; one, the unabashed militant Islamism in Pakistan, supported by the officials, judiciary and the society at large,  that wants the minorities to either convert or flee; two, the utter insincerity and duplicity of the Government of Pakistan in dealing with this issue.

To cite such a failed pact as a reference template for a new meeting between Indian and Pakistani prime ministers yet again, either shows a naivety of enormous proportions or a bankruptcy of thoughts or a combination of both.

(To be Continued ...)

Monday, September 17, 2012

Jinnah and his Religious Vision for Pakistan

At the time of Partition in c. 1947, the minorities in Pakistan accounted for nearly 30%. Today, they are hardly 4% and their numbers are dwindling faster with every passing day. Why is that happening ? It is not happening because the non-Muslim minorities of Pakistan have suddenly found a new route to salvation through Sunni Wahhabi or Deobandi or even Berelvi Islam. It is happening because of unbearable pressure on the minorities to freely practise their religion, because of forcible conversion and because of a sense of helplessness brought upon them by all organs of the State in collusion with the Islamists through legal and illegal means. I would blame the Quaid-e-Azam (or, Great Leader), Muhammadali Jeenahbhai Poonja (he later changed his name Muhammad Ali Jinnah) of Karachi, for this squarely. Every succeeding visionless leader, which all of them were in Pakistan, raised the religiosity bar a little higher than before; some of them like the 'secular socialist' Z.A.Bhutto or a confirmed Islamist like Gen. Zia-ul-Haq not only raised the bar several notches but also ensured that all avenues for lowering the delirious fever of Islamism by any future leader were permanently shut. But, Jeenabhai it is, who must take the blame for creating this bigotry. Let us see why.

Just a few weeks back, a Hindu boy was converted to Islam live on a TV show. There was great rejoice and jubilation all around, no doubt. A couple of months' back, three Hindu girls, Rinkle Kumari, Dr. Lata and Asha, were kidnapped, forcibly converted to Islam and married off to three men who falsely claimed that the girls were in love with them. One of the girls, Rinkle Kumari, in a heart-rending and desperate plea in a lower court said, "In Pakistan there is justice only for Muslims, justice is denied Hindus. Kill me here, now, in court. But do not send me back to the Darul-Aman [Koranic school] ... kill me". Her statement went unrecorded by the court which said that she had converted out of free will and ordered that she should go with her husband. As the case finally went to the Supreme Court, the judiciary offered not even a legal protection for the hapless woman. It just conducted a fig leaf of a hearing. By this time, the women had been threatened sufficiently that they decided to save the rest of their family at least by sacrificing themselves, under fear and  enormous pressure. Ever since then, the threatened-to-extinction Hindu community of Pakistan is fleeing that country in droves and seeking asylum in India.

Hindus, Christians, Sikhs, Buddhists, Ahmedis and Shias live under ever increasing danger to their lives and property in Pakistan. A couple of years back, the Taliban operating in the Khyber-Pakhtunkhwa area imposed jizya (a special Islamic tax on non-Muslims) on the Sikhs living there, even kidnapping them until they paid a ransom. The burning down of Christian churches is a very common occurrence in Pakistan. Frequently, inescapable cases of blasphemy are foisted on the hapless Christians. The on-going case of Rimsha's, a eleven-year old mentally-challenged poor Christian girl, incarceration is a case in point. All the various players such as the Prime Ministers, Presidents, Military chiefs, and Political parties have however been united in their antagonism towards religious minorities. They have been especially hard-hitting against the Ahmedis through the concept of Khattam-e-Nabbuwat (the finality of the Prophethood). So much so, that every Muslim Pakistani has to declare the following in the application form for a Passport: “I consider Mirza Ghulam Ahmad Quadiani to be an imposter nabi {Prophet} and also consider his followers whether belonging to the Lahori or Qadiani group to be Non-Muslim.” The hatred against the Qadianis is so much within Pakistan that the Pakistanis could not bring themselves around to recognize the greatness of the only Pakistani Nobel Laureate Dr. Abdus  Salam because he was unfortunatley a member of the much reviled Qadiani sect. When he died at Oxford and his body was brought to Pakistan for burial according to his last wish, there was no official to receive it at the airport. The word 'Muslim' in his headstone was later forcibly removed by Sunni Islamists after his burial and today it reads, “Abdus Salam the first (blank) Nobel Laureate . . .”

Gen. Zia-ul-Haq, who is unfairly accused for the present day religious situation in Pakistan (unfairly only because Zulfiqar Ali Bhutto must take precedence and distinction for introducing deep, irreversible and widespread official Islamism in the country) introduced, for his part,  two new sections in the Penal Code (298-B and 298-C) restricting certain religious practices of the Ahmedis and punishable by imprisonment otherwise. Ordinance XX of 1984 made it a crime for the Ahmedis to call themselves as Muslims and when challenged, Zaheer-ud-Din Vs. State (1993), the courts not only confirmed the validity of the ordinance but also invoked Copyrights Act and how Coca Cola, for example, would not tolerate anybody selling colas under its brand name.  The Court said, “the Coca Cola Company will not permit anyone to sell, even a few ounces of his own product in his own bottles or other receptacles, marked Coca Cola...The principles involved are: do not deceive and do not violate the property rights of others”. The implication was that the Ahmedis were packaging their product under the brand name of “Islam” which was clearly unacceptable. To the credit of Nawaz Sharif who at one point of time was about to crown himself as the new 'Amir-ul-Momineen', he changed the name of the Ahmedi headquarter town, Rabwah – a name from the Holy Quran – to Chenab Nagar because no association with Islam was permitted for the Ahmedis.

The Army believes that they are the defenders of the “Ideological Frontiers of Islam” and they are the “Army of Islam”. "This (Pakistan Army) is the army of Islam. This is the army of Pakistan. My soldiers recite the Quran everyday and say prayers five times a day. How can they fight for foreign forces? Anti-Islamic forces are out to damage this army as enemies of Islam are real enemy of the Pakistan Army ". So said, Col Mujahid Hussain, the Mahsud Scouts commandant in Khyber Agency in April 2008 after another pasting received from the practitioners of the purer brand of Islam, the AQAM (Al Qaeda & Allied Movements). A few months later, top Army commanders referred to jihadi terrorists like Baitullah Mehsud (chief of Tehrik-e-Taliban Pakistan, TTP) and Maulana Fazlullah (also known as 'Mullah FM Radio') as 'patriots'. A top security official told a group of senior journalists: “We have no big issues with the militants in FATA. We have only some misunderstandings with Baitullah Mehsud and Fazlullah. These misunderstandings could be removed through dialogue.” The ISI Chief, Lt. Gen. Shuja Pasha called them ‘strategic assets’ in his briefing to national and foreign correspondents. The Army prided itself in being seen in the company of hardcore jihadi Islamist Taliban and also in identifying with their line of thinking. Addressing a gathering on April 29, 2008, the same Colonel Mujahid Hussain cited earlier, said that he was an admirer of Haji Namdar, the chief of AQAM-aligned Amar-Bil-Maroof-Wa-Nahi-Anil-Munker (the dreaded Organization for Promotion of Virtues and Prevention of Vices). The Pakistani Army never fights shy of inviting the much sanctioned terrorist chief of the Lashkar-e-Tayba (LeT), the venerable Prof. Hafeez Sayeed saheb,  for Iftaar parties during the Holy month of Ramadaan.

Leaders of various political parties, including Prime Ministers, have echoed such a jihadi Islamist sentiment by referring to the need for the Pakistani Army to not only defend geographical borders but also the 'ideological frontier'. No other Muslim or Islamist country's head of state has ever spoken of such a job objective for their armed forces ! The accommodation between Ms. Bhutto and the Sipah-e-Saheba-Pakistan (SSP) in c.1993 or between Nawaz Sharif’s PML-N and SSP in c. 2008 and later in c. 2010 or his continuing association with Jama'at-ud-Dawah (JuD) are cases in point.

So, how did Pakistan fall into such an Islamist routine within a matter of six-and-a-half-decades when countries with a thousand-year long history of Islam or those with higher Islamic credentials (or both) do not confer it upon themselves such titles as 'defenders of Islam' ?

That is where Muhammadali Jeenahbhai Poonja comes into the picture.

There is a tendency, among Pakistani elites and peaceniks in India (who are derisively referred to sometimes as Wagah Kandle Kissers, WKKs) to frequently refer to Jinnah's  August 11, 1947 speech, whenever they need to find a way to blunt criticism of Pakistan's ever galloping Islamist jihadi terrorism, sectarian massacres, and religious intolerance. Even within Pakistan, there has been some debate going on about Jinnah these days. See here for an example. It is therefore interesting to delve into Jinnah's vision of Pakistan, or even debate whether he had one at all, as far as what he wanted for Pakistan religiously (pun intended).  I quote from the archives of The Hindu,
Addressing the minorities in particular, Mr. Jinnah said: "If you work in a spirit of co-operation, forgetting the past and burying the hatchet, I will say that every one of you, no matter to what community you belong, no matter what colour, caste or creed, is first, second and last a citizen of this State with equal rights, privileges and obligations."

If one reads the above carefully, one can conclude that Jinnah has put the onus for equal citizenship right on the good behaviour of the minorities. Their plight nowadays should therefore be simply due to their bad behaviour. Full stop.

Recently unnecessary doubts have been raised as to whether Jinnah did indeed refer to a state where religion would not play a central role when he addressed the Pakistani Constituent Assembly on August 11, 1947. This is especially in light of the fact that no recording of that speech exists either with Pakistani broadcasters or the All India Radio (AIR) whose Delhi office was deputed to cover the events of that day. But, The Hindu reports that Jinnah had indeed said those ringing words about Hindus ceasing to be Hindus (which in fact has literally happened incidentally) etc. The fact remains however that neither before that speech nor after that speech he had ever spoken of or done anything about minority rights and protection. So, August 11, 1947 speech was a one-off to hoodwink the powerful friends, probably done even at their prodding.

Who was Jinnah in terms of his religious beliefs and practices ? 

It is common knowledge that Jinnah was a non-practising Westernized Shi’a  Muslim who married  a Parsi. His family was a recent convert to Islam (Sevener Ismailism) from Hinduism and he himself later converted to another Shi’a sect, the Twelvers (Athnaashri Shiism) . Much later, he even rejected his sectarianism, though his funeral was conducted according to Deobandi Sunni rites. He drank whisky, ate pork and loved dogs, all of which are forbidden by Islam. He also opposed the attempts to resurrect the Ottoman Empire, the last of the Islamic Caliphates (after the Umayyad and the Abbasid),  for he feared the effects of its pan-Islamism fervour and hence was against the Khilafat movement. He wore exclusive Saville Row suits, never used a silk tie more than once, wore custom-made shirts, shoes and accessories made in exclusive shops in London, practised law in the UK for the most part,  possessed a private plane and possessed expensive houses in Mumbai, Karachi and London. When he died he had 200 Saville-Row suits in his cupboard. A strikingly complete anti-theis of the ‘half-naked fakir', Mahatma Gandhi. In Jinnah's Pakistan of today, shalwars have to be worn above the ankles and beards have to be flowing and unkempt for one to be accepted as the true Muslim citizen of the Land of Pure. In Jinnah's Pakistan of today, his Shi'a credentials would have earned him a possible candidature for 'wajib-ul-qatl' (death)

Though Jinnah was personally a non-practising Muslim, he, on the other hand, readily agreed with the ulema to impose Shariah in a free Pakistan to win their support. The letter that Jinnah wrote to the Pir of Manki Sharif, in Naushera of NWFP, in which he said that Shariah will be imposed in Pakistan to manage the affairs of the Muslim Community, was produced in the Constituent Assembly in 1949 to support the Objectives Resolution. It was this Pir's support, based on the promise of Shariah in Pakistan, that helped the Muslim League to turn the situation favourable to itself in NWFP which was otherwise under the Congress Rule. It was this Pir who let loose violence when Nehru visited that region. He also helped in procuring manpower for jihad in J&K in October 1947. As a result of Jinnah's promise, the Pir of Manki Sharif declared jihad to achieve Pakistan and ordered the members of his anjuman to support the League in the 1946 elections

While addressing the Karachi Bar Association on 25 January 1948 on the occasion of the Holy Prophet’s birthday, Jinnah said: “Some are misled by propaganda. Islamic principles are as applicable to life as they were 1,300 years ago. The Constitution of Pakistan will be made on the basis of the shariah”. Thus he reassured Pakistan that what he had promised (to the likes of Pir of Manki Sharif or Maulana Abu Ala al Mawdudi or a section of Deobandi clerics who supported the creation of Pakistan) before 1947, he would ensure its implementation. There was no wonder therefore that his most trusted deputy, Prime Minister Liaquat Ali Khan, ensured the passage of the Objectives Resolution bill on March 12, 1949 in the Constituent Assembly within six months of Jinnah's death. The minorities opposed it en masse but they were given promises that most had no doubt that a Pakistani government would not be able to keep.

Such a fundamental resolution would have been discussed with Jinnah and could not have come about all of a sudden. As Governor General, Jinnah amassed all powers to himself and it is impossible to imagine that he was unaware of the deliberations. Jinnah must therefore be held complicit in the tabling of the Objectives Resolution. This is the most fundamental legislation that set the groundwork for the jihadi Islamist edifice of today's Pakistan.

Even as early as the 14th of August, 1947, in a speech in which, in answer to Mountbatten’s reference to Akbar the Great, as the model for the new Muslim state, he pointed to the greater example of the Prophet of Islam, Muhammad, thereby indicating where Pakistan's Constitution was headed to.

One of Pakistan’s renowned political scientists, Prof. (Late) Khalid bin Sayeed narrates in his book, ‘Pakistan: The Formative Phase 1957-1948’ Jinnah’s assurances to a group of visiting Islamists thus: “…Constituent Assembly…will be predominantly Muslim…and would be able to enact laws for the Muslims not inconsistent with Shariah Laws and the Muslims will no longer be obliged by un-Islamic laws…” While portraying himself as a secularist and a Constitutionalist, Jinnah nevertheless asked only an Islamic clergy, Maulana Shabbir Ahmad Usmani who had apostatised Shias, to raise the flag of Pakistan on Aug. 14, 1947. Later, Maulana Shabbir Ahmad Usmani, who had apostatized Ahmedis too, even calling for them to be stoned to death, (poor Ahmedis, what chance do they have when the Shia's themselves were to be apostatized in the Land of the Pure) was made Sheikh-ul-Islam-i-Pakistan. It was Maulana Shabbir Usmani who later drafted the Objectives Resolution.

In passionate speeches that Jinnah delivered to masses of the new state of Pakistan, he addressed them as ‘Mussalmans’ instead of as ‘Pakistanis’ and used terms like ‘mujahid’, ‘tenets of the Holy Quran’, and referred to Pakistan as a ‘bulwark of Islam’.

Again, on Oct. 30, 1947, with the plan of his Kashmir invasion to grab it floundering badly, Jinnah resorted to appealing to Islamic fervour. He asked Pakistanis to make sacrifices for ‘the honour of Pakistan and Islam’. He exhorted his countrymen to ‘lay the foundations of democracy on the bases of truly Islamic ideals and principles’. His muddled thinking but his unequivocal support for an Islamic governance was amply demonstrated in his Feb. 1948 public address over Radio Pakistan when he said that Pakistan’s to-be-drafted Constitution should be based on Islam but he hoped that Pakistan would not be a theocratic state. Even as far back as c. 1941, Jinnah had assured a representative of the influential founder of Jama'at-e-Islami, Mawdudi that he saw no incompatibility between their two approaches. He said that as the events were unfolding yet, he was constrained from openly asserting the Islamist nature of Pakistan !! His further words to Mawdudi's representative really betrayed what he was up to. "I will continue to strive for the cause of a separate Muslim state, and you do your services in this regard; our efforts need not be mutually exclusive. I seek to secure the land for the mosque; once that land belongs to us, then we can decide on how to build the mosque.” The noted Pakistani analyst, Khaled Ahmed interprets this as follows: What this meant for the Jama‘at was that a continuum existed between the activities of the Muslim League and those of the Jama‘at; where one ended at partition the other began: the Jama‘at-i Islami was to inherit Pakistan. Thus Mawdudi reconciled with the Quaid-e-Azam whom he once referred to as Kafir-e-Azam (the Great Infidel).

It is a different matter though that in circa 2007, clerics belonging to the same Ulema community denounced the Quaid as not a hero of Pakistan because by that time Islam had become more distilled in the mosque for which the Quaid recklessly and thoughtlessly acquired land.

Friday, August 31, 2012

The Root of all problems in Pakistan

This has been posted by a friend, JohneeG

I think I have zeroed in on the root of all the problems of the Pakistanis(imagined or real) which has lead to its present state and which will lead it to further ruin(unless and until it is addressed).

I think the problem started right at the time when the idea of Pakistan(as an Islamic state) started. No, I am not opposing the Two-nation theory(and no, I am not supporting it either). I am not going into the merits or demerits of two nation theory. I won't criticize the idea of religion as the basis of a nation either.

Let us, for the sake of analysis, make some assumptions:
a) Two- nation theory is valid(or justified).
b) the idea of religion as a basis for a nation is also flawless.
c) Islam is perfect and muslims don't kill each other(and further, that muslims love each other).

I know that each of the above assumptions is bogus(or at least highly debatable). But, lets assume them regardless, because I wish to make a different point.

Now, people may complain that if we assume all that there is nothing left to criticize. I disagree.

Anyway, the important point is that a regular Pakistani has made all these assumptions. So then, what is the source of his takleef?

The root of all the takleef is that no one has yet clearly defined what is 'Islam', who are 'muslims'. In any other country, this may not be a major issue. But, in a country which claims to be founded for 'muslims' by 'muslims', this becomes a major issue.

The sectarian war that we are witnessing within Pakistan is the direct result of this lack of clarity.

This question should have been raised when the idea of  Pakistan was first floated. The Brits or the Congress must have asked the 'Muslim' League to define 'muslim'. They did not. Jinnah claimed that muslims were completely different from Hindus in every way(and hence, need a different nation). But, curiously, he never defined what is 'Islam' according to them.

One may ask, "Why is there a need to define 'Islam' or 'muslim'?"
The simple answer is that because there are diverging definitions of what constitutes 'Islam' or 'muslim'. Each sect has its own definitions of 'Islam' or 'muslim'. Each sect considers other sects as 'munafiqs'. Munafiq means a religious hypocrite who pretends to be a 'muslim' when he is not. And in Islam, the only people who are hated worse than kafirs are munafiqs.

Some of the major sects that claim to be 'muslims' are: Sunni, Shia, Kharijis, Druze, Alawi, Ismali, Ahmadiyyah, Sufi ...etc. I have come across one site that claims there are 73 sects in Islam.

What is more, each sect has many different schools. Each school again differs with others on the definition of 'Islam' or 'muslim'. To give an example: Deobandi, Barlevi, Wahabi, Salafi...etc are all sunni schools.

Among all these variant claimants, who is correct? Whose version of Islam is correct? The importance of this question cannot be over-estimated, especially when a nation itself claims that it is primarily based on this idea.

It should have been properly defined at the time when the idea of Pakistan was first floated. That was not done. Maybe muslim league wanted as many people to support the idea as was possible. So, they may have cunningly and/or cautiously avoided defining 'Islam'. But, once they achieved their goal of carving out a new country from India, they should have legally(and constitutionally) defined terms like 'Islam' and 'muslim'.

They did not do that. Instead, there was power struggle between various regional factions. Mohajirs had the initial grip on power. Very early, pakjabis(using their control of on army) sidelined the mohajirs and seized the power. Large demographics of Bangladeshis(or East Pakistanis) was becoming a threat to the pakjabi domination. So, there was a power struggle which culminated in the genocide of East Pakistanis by the pakjabi army. Ultimately, East Pakistan seceded.

The country was broken. As a direct reaction, the islamization of Pakistan was further fueled. Pakistanis believed that they failed because they were not 'islamic' enough(not because of pakjabi genocide of banglas). So, there was further radicalization of the Pakistani society and state(including army).

But, the basic question was not raised by anybody: what is 'Islam'? or who is 'muslim'?

Without answering this question, Pakistanis assumed that they had to resort to 'more Islam'. So, each sect (and each school within a sect) radicalized itself. Over time, the clash was inevitable.

Even in a liberal polytheistic environment(like the Hindu society), such differences can lead to irritation. In a monotheistic environment, the effects are amplified. In a radicalized situation, they most certainly lead to violent clashes.

Since there is no clear definition(especially by the establishment), the only other way to prove that one sect/school is right and others are wrong is by defeating it(or eliminating it) in a war. This is the idea prevalent in that society.

This has resulted in its present chaos. Each week witnesses at least one major sectarian incident killing people. There are bombs blasting each other's 'mosques'.

Right now, sunnis have control of the establishment, so they are ahead in the race. Others are suffering heavy causalities. They face either subjugation or elimination unless they are able to reverse the trend.

The full extent of effects of differences among the various schools has not yet come forth. It is another time bomb ticking.

In conclusion, even if we assume that:
a) the Two-nation theory is valid(or justified).
b) the idea of religion as a basis for a nation is also flawless.
c) Islam is perfect and muslims don't kill each other(and further, that muslims love each other).

Pakistanis first have an important task of defining 'Islam' and 'muslim'. Once they define them, then the assumptions can be put to test.

Unless there is an equal equal of every Pakistani problem with corresponding Indian problems, the WKKs (Wagah Kandle Kissers) are not happy. So, let me give an equal equal of the above Pakistani problem:

India's social and political problems are partly due to lack of official definition of 'secularism'.

Let us assume that 'secularism' is perfect and it is the correct method for India. But, there must be official definition of 'secularism'.

What is 'secularism'? How will it be implemented?

These two questions must be answered in detail. Without an official definition, each one(person/party/community) comes up with their own definition of secularism which leads to confusion.

Of course, some sections prefer this confusion(just like in Pakistan some people prefer confusion over what exactly is 'Islam'). At the same time, they will claim that 'secularism' is absolutely above reproach (just as they claim the same about 'Islam'). The essential goal is to keep the idea of 'secularism' flexible enough to twist it to suit their needs (the same purpose is served by 'Islam' for establishment in Pakistan)