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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.