PAKISTAN’S DENIAL : PLAYING WITH FIRE
By Lata Jagtiani
“All of the nightmares of the 21st Century come together in Pakistan” – Bruce Riedel (ex CIA)
While India is no stranger to terrorists' attacks, no other Indian metropolis can even begin to grasp the impact of the repeated devastations that Mumbai has experienced.
While Pakistan continues to respond to all Indian evidence with a turn of the nose, treating it with the disdain and contempt reserved only for unsubstantiated accusations, the truth is that Pakistan is involved in this terror. Apart from causing emotional trauma to all Indians, Pakistan cannot expect India to take this attack that has taken roughly 200 lives, and orphaned, maimed and disfigured at least another 300, lightly.
It's ironical that Indians, instead of Pakistanis, are being subjected to lectures from peaceniks, telling them not to indulge in war-mongering; the same “friends” also warn India about hurting the Pakistani psyche and causing a situation that will escalate and be detrimental to world peace. However, at a recent heads of mission conference held on December 22, 2008, with 111 ambassadors, the Indian Minister of External Affairs, Mr Pranab Mukherjee, angrily demanded these states do more to pressurize Pakistan to come clean. In a strongly worded warning, Mr Mukherjee affirmed, “The terrorist infrastructure in Pakistan is the greatest terrorist danger to the peace and security of the entire civilized world.” These tough words go far beyond Stephen Schwatz and Irfan Al-Alawi calling Pakistan “a bus with no brakes” or even Ms Madeline Albright's observation that Pakistan is “an international migraine”.
The old charade, the merry-go-round plays on India offers evidence to Pakistan (remember how much evidence has been provided to Pervez Musharraf about Dawood Ibrahim's residence in Karachi by L.K.Advani?), but Pakistan is blind to it, and refutes its validity; the world then steps in, talks peace and goodwill, makes attempts to prevent a terrible war between two nuclear states but with time it fizzles out, and in a few months the two nations are shaking hands, grinning into TV cameras, back to talking peace and starting bus routes or air routes, etc.
However, this time it's different.
This time, there is a terrorist called Kasab captured alive, and he is singing loud and clear. He is telling the world the diabolical truth that the goal of their operation and of their leaders was for them to go to India and destroy not just 200 lives, but 5000. Kasab's devilish ditties are complete with names, places, dates, facts. This is not hearsay or circumstantial evidence, this is the recorded chilling truth, the confession of one mass murderer among ten, a guided human missile from Pakistan, sent to destroy, apart from human life, property and institutions, the peace and sanity that exists in India. The Pakistani Punjabi terrorist from Pakistan's Faridkot is sharing his truth not only with the FBI, the Mossad, and the Scotland Yard, but the world at large, about the ugliness, envy and jealousy that have taken root in the minds of several Islamist Pakistanis.
He spills their beans, and his own. There is sufficient firsthand information from Kasab not merely to hang him and the operatives of the LeT, the illegitimate proxy arm of the government, but to implicate the ISI, the legitimate arm of the government; Kasab's declaration of guilt is sufficient to fill 300 pages of the book “An Idiot's Guide to Pakistani Terrorism in Mumbai, November 2008, written by Ajmal Amir Kasab.”
Kasab has further revealed that he was told to kill till his last breath (Ian Gallagher, the Daily Mail) and that it was because Kasab had pretended to be dead, that he has lived to tell us his tale. Far from being a brave Pakistani zealot, willing to face death, Kasab, ironically, begged the medical staff at Nair Hospital, to keep him alive. He also said that he didn't want to die, and he asked to be put on saline. Gallagher further reveals that Kasab and his nine other friends had been instructed by their mastermind to “target whites, preferably Americans and British”. This nails the lie that Kashmir and its freedom is the motivation behind these attacks.
While it's true the LeT was formed in 1989 with Kashmir as its focal point, today, the LeT has, since, broadened its base. The choice of both Leopold and Nariman House as targets reveals that they were clearly gunning for Anglo-Saxon tourists and Jews. Additionally, five-star hotels are, for the most part, occupied by affluent Americans, Europeans, etc. Of course, by choosing Mumbai they certainly attacked Indians; but by selecting Nariman House and Leopold, they were delivering the world a message of terror that they were targeting what they regard as the “Crusader-Zionist-Hindu” nexus. It cannot be ruled out that the Al Qaeda is in some way involved in this operation; after September 11, 2001, Bruce Riedel of the Brookings Institution pointed out, it became clearer that Al Qaeda had formed alliances with the LeT; the high-level Al Qaeda prisoner taken after 9/11, Abu Zubayda, was captured in an LeT safe house in Pakistan; other Qaeda operatives who fled Afghanistan were also holed up with the Lashkar. Thus, the nexus between the Let and the Al Qaeda is not to be taken lightly and the Mumbai attacks need to be examined keeping the Al Qaeda in mind.
However, the strangest development during this crisis has been Pakistan's absolute denial in the face of all evidence. Apart from Kasab's own confession in which he states he is a Pakistani, even his father's identification of his own son, appeared to be insufficient for die-hard patriots in Pakistan; they were similarly unwilling to buy the story that the villagers of Faridkot had also identified Kasab as the boy they have seen grow up in their midst. President Asif Zardari has dug in his heels and insists for more evidence to be offered to him before he can crack down on gangs of terrorists breeding on Pakistani soil. Several days after a British newspaper published the serial numbers of the election cards of Kasab's parents (the Pakistani government had, initially, denied the existence of Kasab's parents too), Mr Zardari remains unimpressed. There is also evidence from the Kuber on which the ten terrorists sailed, which clearly establishes the nationality of all the ten terrorists. Some of the many items found on the boat, as reported by the Economic Times are a milk packet, dental gel, detergent and other medical items made in Pakistan; flour from a Karachi shop. Urdu instructions on a metal plate; clothes with names of Pakistani tailors; namaaz cap with a phone code of Multan; a diesel can from a petrol pump whose main office is in Karachi; and toilet paper, along with “Touchme” shaving cream from Pakistan. But to the President, these are all zilch. Till date, Mr Zardari resembles the blindly loyal wife of a straying husband, denying the significance of lipstick on her husband's collar. Not enough, not enough, happily smiles Mr Zardari while many other equally deficient citizens flare their nostrils, shocked at India's audacity to even point fingers at Pakistan. It is probably the world's worst-kept secret of the twenty-first century: Kasab's parents know it, his friends and villagers know it, Ms Rice and Mr Bush from USA know it, as does Gordon Brown from Britain, as do nearly one billion Indians, the Scotland Yard, the Mossad, and even the FBI. Everyone knows, but Mr. Zardari and his band of faithful but unintelligent compatriots.
Exasperated, with the President's lack of political experience and understanding, the ex Prime Minister of Pakistan, Nawaz Sharif decided to end the Pakistani comedy of horrors and declared, to our relief, “Yes, Kasab is a Pakistani.”
If Pakistan's denial is a ruse to buy time, a delay tactic aimed at slowing down the anger that is raging in India, then it will misfire. This time, the longer he waits to confirm the truth, the worse it gets; delay, instead of dousing Indian anger, is only fuelling it. Had this not been a case of 200 people being riddled with bullets, tortured, or being burnt alive, or killed at point blank range, this could even have been comic.
If Pakistan under-estimates the world's intelligence, it is a dangerous sign that, in fact, its leader lacks intelligence too. Zardari has not only seriously dented his own credibility, but he has shown the world that Pakistan is on the brink of yet another military coup, if not an implosion which might reduce it to nothing more than a rogue state.
The challenge is for Pakistani intellectuals including Irfan Hussain writing for the Dawn, to mobilize public opinion towards their honest line of reasoning. It wouldn't cost a lot to admit, “Yes, Kasab is a fanatic Pakistani, we have nothing to do with this barbaric behaviour, we are angry with all these terrorists for spoiling the name of Pakistan and of Islam. What they have done to India is unforgiveable. We apologize for it, and will try to redress the wrongs, in good measure. Let Pakistan and India join each other to root out these criminals from both our countries.”
That's all it takes, FINIS.
Instead of letting denial ruin Pakistan, this admission of neighbourly anger will go a long way in healing Indian relations and putting the Indo-Pak relationship on a new trajectory. However, if it continues to play with fire by resolutely denying the evidence presented to it, Pakistan is hurtling towards chaos, ready to be re-defined as a Taliban-like rogue state with no room either for similar structures such as the Bamyan statues or for the honest and intelligent thought.
Consequently, Pakistani denials are far more ominous than they appear: they signal the end of Pakistan's healthy but brief flirtation with the liberal and democratic way of life.
Lata Jagtiani is the Mumbai based author of “Sindhi Reflections,” and “Bhagavad Gita In 365 Days,” she is currently writing a book on the Mumbai terror attacks and the global response to them, along with providing factual data. The book should see print in March 2009.
(Lata can be reached via email at email@example.com)