Monday, August 27, 2007

TAKE OUT PAKISTAN TO TACKLE TERROR

Yesterday it was the turn of Hyderabad to face the latest in the series of terrorist attacks which once again claimed many innocent civilian lives.

I have been saying for years now that the only way to put an end to this menace is to take out the nation-state of Pakistan. Drastic as it may sound, there appears to be no other way. Earlier, the West had thought that this Pakistani ‘export’ was purely an India - Pakistan issue and had conveniently looked the other way. 9/11 changed all dramatically and made the rest of the world realize that Pakistan was the real cradle of terrorism, not just against India but the West too.

The Taliban, Lashkar-e-toiba, 'freedom struggle' in Kashmir etc are all visible faces of the extremely dangerous and destructive state policy of Pakistan, nurtured and pursued for decades. Pakistan had for years carefully projected this as a Kashmir-centric India-Pakistan issue to curry favor with the West. That is perhaps how the Pakistani establishment conceived it, to begin with. It, however, soon mutated into a war of Islam versus the Rest. The proliferation of nuclear weapon technology by the highest ranking members of the Pakistani establishment in the quest for an Islamic bomb had nothing to do with India at all. The blossoming of the Al Qaida with complete knowledge, support and encouragement of Pakistan government and military was not aimed at India either.

These were concerted efforts by Pakistan towards achieving the objective of bringing to an end the domination of the Islamic world by the Christian West. This sounded illogical to the West earlier. Some continue to pretend so even now, overwhelming evidence to the contrary notwithstanding. But dig into history and look. Pakistan is an artificial entity created on the basic premise that Muslims cannot co-exist with people of other religious beliefs, no matter how closely related they may be ethnically, except when Islam is dominant. This idea was tenuously floated in the 30s as a bargaining political tool, but, thanks in no small measure to the British, it legitimized a concept whose ‘benefits’ are being globally reaped now.

Jinnah, the founder of Pakistan, was a westernized, educated and tolerant gentleman who saw Pakistan as a country in which people of all religions would be free to live and practice their faiths, with the state having no role to play in their personal beliefs. His vision was, however, never even considered by other political and military leaders of Pakistan. As a result Pakistan has, over the years, become increasingly and intolerantly Islamised. The creation of Pakistan has been interpreted a manifestation of the 'divine' right of Islam to rule, yet again, after being in an eclipse for a couple of centuries. In the process, the idea has progressed, as it logically had to, to the belief that Islam cannot accept domination of not only Hindus but also Christians, who, in their view, are presently dominating the global power balance unequivocally, at the expense of Muslims.

Thanks to the Soviet invasion of Afghanistan and the liberal funding and funneling of weapons by the US into Pakistan and Afghanistan, the poison of hatred and extreme religious intolerance has given birth to a well armed and therefore powerful industry of terror and violence, drawing extremists from other Muslim countries too. Skeptics who conveniently overlook the extremely dark face of this pernicious ideology would do well to read 'Who Killed Daniel Pearl' by Bernard-Henri Levy.

Not just in Pakistan, but in India too, extremist Muslim organizations have been springing up, clearly on the strength of the ideological and material support provided by organs of the state of Pakistan. One has to just read posters openly displayed in the offices of the Students Islamic Movement of India (SIMI): 'Waiting for Ghaznavi'(The Afghan king who looted the famous Hindu temple at Somnath, Gujarat), 'No Democracy, No Secularism, Only Islam'. What else is Pakistan about? What else is international Islamic fundamentalism and terror about? This is the real threat which Indian politicians and opinion makers are ignoring in their misplaced zeal to sound 'secular' and bipartisan. That is precisely what such outfits need to flourish and mount an increasingly formidable challenge to the perceived domination of Islam by Hindus in India and Christians in the West.

And yet, Indian media and politicians choose to completely ignore this foundational challenge to the nation. They want to remain in their cozy make-believe world of engaging with and publicizing secular Muslims, who are a rather scared lot with little influence among Muslims at large. Indian politicians have consistently displayed a remarkable lack of integrity in their desperation to be on the right side of electoral mathematics. That is partly understandable, though despicable, considering the enormity of the problem faced by the country.

However, the media's naiveté in believing that the real Muslims living in large numbers in the ghettos will bare their real beliefs in front of the camera is, indeed disturbing, to say the least. One wonders about the compulsions of the media which has played a key role in ensuring that India now has no specific law to deal with terror. The most laughable reason given by some media luminaries is that since despite POTA (earlier terror law) there was no reduction in terrorist violence, there is no need for any such law! Why have even normal criminal laws then, since crimes are still being committed? Why have locks on your doors since thieves are going to steal anyway?!

I may be wrong, but at a macro time and space level, I see events involving the Islamic world in the last two centuries or so, as the painful pangs of the dying and almost dead dominance of Muslim rule over large parts of the globe. Though the rule was of kings and emperors who coincidently happened to profess the faith of Islam, it is being seen by Islamists as the decline of the military and political power of Islam the religion. The pangs are getting more frequent, more painful, and deep down there is a frustrated sense of helplessness and fear finding expression in the spiral of ever increasing violence and self-destruction.

The effective religious leaders of Islam based in Pakistan do not seem to be able to make the necessary distinctions between empires and religion and are, therefore, not able to teach their followers to live peacefully with others in a plural world. Pakistan has allowed itself to be sucked irreversibly into this vortex willingly. There seems to be no way out of this mess without destroying the very concept which Pakistan has identified itself with. It seems to be the End. Somewhere deep inside Pakistanis know it too, but want to either delude themselves into believing that the End is of others or are helpless to do anything about it.

The rest of the world has a responsibility to ensure that the fallout of the impending quake is minimized and not prolonged unnecessarily. For that, it is imperative that the ideology of the nation state of Pakistan is taken out quickly and surgically and the country is re-invented as the modern, secular state that Jinnah had envisioned. Is it possible at this stage? Depends on whether Pakistan chooses to get into the survival mode fast or remain stuck in the intolerant and hate based sacrificial mode that is hurtling it towards self destruction.

In the latter case, the country simply has to be helped to disappear from the map. Sooner the better.
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Readers may also like to read:

1. Pakistan: dangers of the multi-ethnic Islamic state
2. 'A thousand cuts' bleeding Pakistan
3. A vote to save Jinnah's Pakistan. Will it?
4. Musharraf mauled: Jinnah's Pakistan next?