Terrorists within & without
A FEW days ago (September 3), Mr Faisal Saleh Hayat, the interior minister, offered the sobering, but probably correct, prediction that the war against terrorism would continue for many years. His government would wage this war relentlessly and at all levels. He went on to say that plans for controlling access to weapons, generally considered essential to the eradication of terrorism, would come to naught unless they were backed by the requisite political will. Moreover, if the people were assured security of life and property, they would voluntarily give up resort to weapons for settling scores.
Terrorism as a political act involves, among other things, killing or hurting persons who bear some close relationship with the mainly targeted enemy force for the purpose of disrupting its support base by spreading fear through the latter’s ranks. A serial killer, or a disturbed person going on a mindless killing spree, is not a terrorist. But a gangster, killing the actual or potential supporters of a rival warlord at random, may be regarded as one, and the same may be said of an ideological fanatic who kills “non-believers,” because he thinks the world should be rid of them.
It has become customary to say that terrorism cannot be abolished until its causes are identified and removed. This is superficial reasoning. One of the most potent of these causes is real or perceived injustice perpetrated by a resourceful group upon a weaker one, some of whose members then resort to violence as a strategy of resistance for want of a viable alternative. Taking away that which rightfully belongs to others is typically injustice.
This practice has gone on since before Noah. It can possibly be mitigated, but there is no reason to expect that it will ever be ended. Kashmiris and Palestinians are most notably victims of injustice at the present time, and some of them make moves that outsiders regard as acts of terrorism. We can be sure that once their grievances have been met, other aggressors and other victims will capture the headlines.
There are countless cases of indiscriminate violence that have nothing to do with issues of justice. I was reading a novel the other day in which at one point a detective superintendent at Scotland Yard in London (an intellectually inclined policeman) tells one of his inspectors that “there is no one more dangerous than a Christian who believes that his faith is the only true one.” We have plenty of Muslims who think the same of their own ideological preference. When two Sunni motor cyclists throw a bomb at a Friday congregation in a Shia mosque, and kill a dozen or more worshippers, they are not avenging injustice; they are acting purely from passion, in this case, an intense hatred of the targeted group.
It is not uncommon to hire “terrorists.” They are professional killers who have no personal feeling towards the intended victim. They will kill for a certain sum of money, with no questions asked. The “assassins,” also known as “hashisheen” (followers of Hasan bin Sabah), the first known terrorist group in Muslim historical experience, began their career as ideologically motivated terrorists, killing political notables, during the second century of the Abbasid caliphate. But later, with the onset of the crusades, they offered themselves for hire to kill both Muslim and Christian dignitaries. A related type of activity in our time is terrorism engineered or sponsored by governments. The perpetrators are either employees of a government (“secret agents”) or persons hired by it to destabilize a foreign government or a hostile group within their own country.
All of these types will be found in Pakistan. Those retaliating against usurpers and oppressors have operated in Kashmir, Afghanistan, Bosnia, Chechnya, and other places away from home. The governments of India and Pakistan accuse each other periodically of having instigated acts of terrorism across the border. Exaggerated though these allegations usually are, they may have a measure of validity in certain instances. These moves will abate as the two counties resolve the more nagging of their disputes and as their relations become friendlier.
Many observers have noted that members of Al Qaeda and Taliban, and persons sympathetic to them, mount acts of terrorism in Pakistan. Our government acted as a conduit for the delivery of American funds and supplies to these groups to fight the Soviet forces in Afghanistan which they did for almost ten years. Later they fought rival factions of fellow-Afghans for another ten years, and during this phase our own intelligence agencies funded and otherwise aided them. In other words, they had been fighting for as long as nearly twenty years, and fighting had emerged as the work many of them knew how to do.
Following the events of September 11, 2001, the United States concluded that since the Al Qaeda and Taliban were no longer serving American purposes, and since they had started acting for their own reasons, sometimes even contrary to American interests, they should be asked to disband. When they declined to oblige, the United States, aided by Gen Musharraf’s government in Pakistan, disbanded them by the force of superior arms. Hundreds of thousands of them were killed, and those who survived scattered hither, thither, and yonder.
It was entirely fanciful on the part of the American and Pakistani governments to expect that the Al Qaeda and Taliban warriors would suddenly unlearn and abandon the skills and attitudes of mind they had developed over the preceding twenty years and become carpenters, plumbers, or potters simply because the change suited the new goals and purposes of their former patrons. Changes of this kind simply do not happen. When you make someone proficient in the art of killing and pay him to kill for your purposes, he will do so, but after your direction and purposes have ceased to be operative, he will find his own reasons to kill. His conduct confirms the maxim that ends do not justify the means. If the means are wrong, the wrong wrought by them will perpetuate.
A number of the Al Qaeda and many of the Taliban are living in anonymity in the villages and towns of Pakistan. They cannot all be apprehended and handed over to the American CIA and FBI. Some of them may be willing to undertake terrorist acts for causes of their own choosing, while others may hire themselves out. Their detractors’ denunciations of their role have not caused them to lose respectability. The leaders of our Islamic parties hold them in high regard. There is the widespread impression within Pakistan and abroad that organs of our government are double-minded in their approach towards terrorist groups. In certain interpretations they want to hold on to the option of using them for their own ends.
It is well known that the ISI and other intelligence agencies intervene in our politics. They manipulate elections, make and break political parties, set groups against one another, and on occasion even fund political violence. The other day a government spokesmen asserted on the floor of the National Assembly that Qazi Hussain Ahmad, head of the Jamaat-i-Islami had received 100 million rupees from the ISI. Opposition speakers condemned this allegation as character assassination. One may wonder why they did not ask the government to explain why the ISI had given Qazi Sahib this money even while knowing that he did not oppose extremist groups.
Factions of the MQM, Shias and Sunnis, various ethnic and tribal groups have been killing one another on a large scale for twenty or more years. Can there be any doubt that the police and intelligence agencies have known all along who the planners and directors of terrorism in Sipah-i-Sahaba, Sipah-i-Muhammad, Lashkar-i-Jhangvi, and other such outfits were? Yet they were left free to do their dirty work for years.
What can one then say other than that the law enforcers were incompetent or unconcerned, or that they were the terrorists’ partners in crime? The same would have to be said of their political superiors (president, prime minister, chief executive). Terrorism will remain a part of our political scene unless our government, as a coherent whole, rejects postures of ambivalence and adopts that of single-minded opposition to it. Our “secret agents” cannot, any more than the rest of us, play both sides of the street against the middle.
There is a facilitative, if not a causal, connection between terrorism and easy access to weapons. A determined terrorist will find weapons, but their easy availability will make killers of those who might otherwise have settled for a fistfight. Moreover, it is a lot easier to kill twenty persons in a restaurant with a bomb than it would be if one were limited to a dagger. Modern technology now enables even unlettered persons to make their own bombs.
De-weaponization programmes are hard to implement. Every time a president or a high profile politician gets shot at in America, bills to restrict the sale of guns surface in Congress but, more often than not, they get nowhere. Not only does the American constitution protect the citizen’s right to bear arms, the gun manufacturers maintain one of the most influential lobbies in Washington.
Faisal Saleh Hayat says a campaign to control access to weapons cannot succeed in Pakistan unless it is backed by the requisite political will. Whose will is he referring to? His own government’s, that of its backers in parliament, or that of the opposition politicians? If the government and its supporters lack this will, it follows that they lack also in the will to combat terrorism.
Mr Hayat is of the view that if the society is provided security of life and property, folks will not want to have weapons. He implies that the present government does not provide security, which is to say that it fails to meet its most basic responsibility, indeed its raison d’etre. In that case he, being head of the ministry whose main function is to oversee law enforcement, should step down from his high office.
Recognition of Israel
MAULANA Fazlur Rahman’s visit to India has brought a breath of fresh air into Pakistan’s politics of religious fanaticism. It may not have changed much the rhetoric of it, but what the Maulana said in India has indeed dealt a blow to the rigid view deeply embedded in the minds of the common people that jihad means no more than fighting to kill and, in turn, get martyred.
Strangely enough the Maulana’s own party and its forerunners were the most strident exponents of this view. The demand of the time and the circumstances, the Maulana is reported to have said at Deoband, is to wage jihad against ignorance, poverty and other evils. Though the Maulana has said it too late yet it marks a radical change in the thinking of a theological school which spearheaded jihad in Afghanistan and indoctrinated and trained fighters for it.
Had the primacy of jihad as a force of reform and not a combat been recognized when it was put forth by the saints and scholars of the time a hundred or more years ago, the Muslims of the subcontinent would have been spared the psychological and economic damage they have since suffered. They sank into sullen isolation or wasted time and talent in schism while the other communities forged ahead acquiring knowledge and skills of the new age.
It is a measure of the blinkered vision of the theologians and political leaders in awe of them that Islamism, terrorism and backwardness are now mentioned in one breath as a combined force threatening the security of mankind. Islam from a religion of peace has thus been transformed into a force of terror.
So widespread is the alarm that even the scholars of Saudi Arabia, the home of militant Wahabism, have been persuaded to declare that those who “hold sabotage, bombing and murder as jihad are ignorant and misguided” and sheltering them is the greatest of sins. The Saudi authorities in recent months have dismissed or silenced 2200 clerics for dissenting with this decree. The tremors caused by militancy has now shaken its home ground. The leaders of Islam loathed by their adversaries but admired by others are not its oil kings or military presidents but Osama and Amrozi.
Pakistan’s jihad in Afghanistan degenerated into a civil war and then sank into anarchy and, in the second phase, out of its rubble rose a puritan rabble militia, later driven out by the Americans with its remnants are now sniping at the occupation forces. Pakistan’s jihad in Kashmir too is dissipating into a factional strife with its local leadership exhausted by bloodshed, hopelessness, divisions and Pakistan’s lost lustre as their suzerain instead of India.
In the evolution of jihad into terror over the last fifteen years Pakistan thus has played a pivotal role. Ironically, when Pakistan gloated over its successes America stood by it and now that it rues its consequences America again stands by it. And where Pakistan still supports, half-heartedly though, the struggle in Kashmir, America looks the other way.
The time however is fast running out for Pakistan to make a clean break from its jihadi past for the ring of forces around it which feel threatened by its militancy and nuclear missiles is fast tightening. Internally, the danger that Pakistan faces is that from a limited political creed. Jihad is tending to become a mass culture, a passion and its occasional gang terror is seeping down to become rampant individual crime.
The latest and most worrying development in the threat from abroad is Israel’s plan to equip and train Indian forces to fight terror and provide fences and electronic gadgetry to stop infiltration. That should send waves of fear through the Kashmir Valley. The precision in targeted murders and brutality of Israel in dealing with the Palestinian Intifada is legendary. The coordination between its intelligence and striking force is so remarkable that every Hamas leader has to change his position a number of times in a day to avoid missiles, and no explosion can take place in its territory or in settlements on the West Bank except by a suicide bomber.
Israel’s deputy prime minister, Yosef Lepid, accompanying Sharon to India said Israel had no ill-will towards Pakistan. It is Pakistan that closes doors on Israel. Pakistan denounces the Jewish state because it has usurped the land of the Palestinians. Israel has done Pakistan no bad turn nor, ironically, have the Palestinians ever reciprocated Pakistan’s warmth and devotion to their cause. In fact, the Palestinian leadership is much closer to India than it is to Pakistan.
It is an unenviable situation for Pakistan where India and Israel are allies in arms, Palestinians are friends of India and indifferent to Pakistan and yet Pakistan loaths Israel and refuses to recognize its existence.
Here too as in many of its other doings Pakistan looks at a political problem through an Islamic prism. The Palestinians — Christians and Muslims alike — are fighting for their national sovereignty and human rights. They are reconciled to the existence of the state of Israel and no longer seek expulsion of the Jews from their land. At best it is an Arab cause. Pakistan must stand by the Palestinians but not become the arbiter of their destiny which they know better through years of exile, death and deprivation.
Pakistan, putting an end to its estrangement of Israel would help the Palestinians and also, the Kashmiris. Prime Minister Jamali should try his hand at it where president Musharraf has balked. The Palestinians should welcome his overtures to Israel for Pakistan’s special position in the war on terror can win them back some of the American support they recently lost.
The trouble is that Musharraf, Jamali, Shujaat all have been made to believe that the lifeline of their government is held by the clerics who will pull the plug on them if they were ever to talk to Israel even if it is in the interest if the Palestinians, Kashmiris and Pakistan itself.
To fight this fear, the government may send a delegation of the heads of some religious groups to see Yasser Arafat and Abu Ala to ascertain how best can Pakistan help shorten their agony and fulfil their aspiration.
The hard reality which our clerics also cannot overlook is that the world at large is no longer prepared to condone violence even in pursuit of most just of causes. Palestine and Kashmir are two of them.
Law what law?
MOHAMMAD Ali Jinnah, founder and maker of this nation, Pakistan, was a man of perception and prescience. On August 11, 1947, three days before the country came into being, he told its future legislators one hard home truth (not that anyone was listening) : “. . . the first duty of a government is to maintain law and order, so that the life, property and religious beliefs of its subjects are fully protected by the state.”
That they were not listening is borne out by the fact that six months after he died, in March 1949, they wilfully negated all he stood for, brought in the ‘objectives resolution’, and made it impossible for the state to exercise full protective powers. This, in fact, opened the door to the abuse of protective powers, an abuse that continues to this day.
The tanker Tasman Spirit lies wrecked at the entrance to Karachi’s harbour. As frustrated as he should be, the owners’ Kapitaan-Enginere, Tryfom Giorgios Kalaitzakis, met me last week. ‘You are sheeponer, you tell me, why for I am here, cannot go to Greece ? Under what law and for why?’ he angrily asked in his Graeco-maritime English which to the likes of me is fully comprehensible. Kalaitzakis is a marine superintendent who works for the Brothers Adamantios and Spyros Polemis, the virtual owners of the ship which ran aground on July 27, over six weeks ago. He flew into Karachi three days later.
He does not understand how the law works in this country with its ‘restored’ democracy and is unable to fathom out where a man’s liberty begins and ends with laws administered by ‘democrats’ unfamiliar with democracy, supervised by a military dictatorship. As an illustration of the application of law under the first of our democratic dictatorships, I told him an old tale of how the law operated under the Constitution of 1973 promulgated by Zulfikar Ali Bhutto, the first civilian martial law administrator to rule under the guise of democracy.
One afternoon in February 1976, three station house officers of the Clifton, Frere and Civil Lines police stations came to my house and asked me to accompany them to the Civil Lines police station to be ‘questioned’. Summons or warrants they had none. They were asked to have a cup of tea and go in peace. No, politely and respectfully they suggested I call fellow Parsi Nusserwanjee Ogra, known to us all, who was familiar with police operations and would be better able to explain the situation.
Ogra arrived with his ‘explanation’. ‘Uncle, they respect you. Not one but three have come to accompany you. The State has no case against you right now, but if you do not go with them, they will plant a bag of hash in your compound during the night and by tomorrow you will have to face a substantive charge. These men are merely following orders.’
So off I went to be questioned and to spend a few days at the police station before being escorted to Karachi Central Prison. It transpired later that I had referred to Bhutto as a ‘rotten man’, the adjective had been duly embellished as it was passed along, and a furious prime minister had ordered : ‘Jail the man.’
After 72 days of incarceration I was warned ‘don’t do it again’ and released. Later a DO letter dated July 20 1976 was issued by Muhammad Khan Junejo, home secretary, government of Sindh, addressed to the district public prosecutor, Karachi : “Subject : Withdrawal of case. The provincial government of Sindh have been pleased to order withdrawal of the case registered under section 16 MPO at Civil Lines Police Station against Mr Ardeshir Cowasjee. You are requested to please move an application u/s 494 Cr.PC before the assistant commissioner/SDM Civil Lines, Karachi, where the case is pending for its withdrawal and report compliance.”
What charge, what case asked a puzzled DPP. Junejo produced two other documents. One, as recorded in the Court of the AC & SDM Civil Lines :
“An information report of the Special Branch has been received through higher authorities according to which Mr Ardeshir Cowasjee, ex-Chairman PTDC, was indulging in activities [prejudiciail] prejudice to Public Safety and maintenance of Public Order in Karachi. This information discloses offence falling u/s 16 of MPO. Offence cognizable and non-bailable, a case is being registered on behalf of the state and being investigated.” (February 16 1976.)
The second, a charge sheet 12/76, in Case No.107/76, of February 20 1976 : “Brief facts of the case are that : An information report of the special branch has been received through higher authorities according to which a closed door meeting (10-12) was held at the residence of Mr Ardeshir Cowasjee on the night of 5th and 6th February 1976. The participants included some old employees of the Shipping Corporation and the Karachi Shipyard. Mr Ardeshir Cowasjee addressing the participants assailed the nationalization policy of the present government and charged that the underlying object of this policy was to further exploit the labour.
“He told the participants that when the management of the shipping concerned was under his control, the condition of the employees was far better as they were not only better paid but also looked after well. He alleged that the government was making misleading propaganda as to the benefits of the nationalization policy whereas in actual fact it was sucking the blood of the labourers. He said it was high time that the labour community woke up before it was too late.
“He asked the participants to rise to the occasion and start their work immediately. He told them that the best way to achieve quick results was to attack government official, burn government properties, and indulge in acts of sabotage whenever they get an opportunity. In the end he told the participants that so far as he was concerned he was prepared to finance their mission and to start with he was placing at their disposal a sum of rupees ten thousand immediately.
“From the investigation of the case and statements of witnesses, the charge has been proved against the accused u/s 16 MPO, hence charge sheet is being submitted for kind perusal and trial.” (February 19, 1976.).
So, my advice to the good superintendent, advice from a man familiar with the protective laws of this odd land, from a shipowner whose ships were nationalized in 1974 by the man who jailed him, and from a former handler of ships owned by Stavros Livanos, Kulukundis, Goulandris, Lascaratos, Nomikos and other Greeks of the sea : ‘Keep calm, swim with the tide, make the most of your five-star detention. If you agitate and frustrate your captors, they may jail you and your 15 men ‘detained’ with you in the hotel. If you and they must come to Pakistan, be well prepared to face the perils of its seas and its shores.’
Stopping Prison Rape
The most important aspect of the Prison Rape Elimination Act of 2003 is not the specific steps the bill mandates. These represent a useful beginning to addressing a problem of alarming, if inadequately understood, magnitude _ but they are only a beginning. The bill’s greater significance is the unanimous recognition in both houses of Congress that prison rape is a problem that can no longer be ignored. For too long it has been common knowledge, and part of the popular culture, that rape is a routine feature of prison life in the United States. And there has been a tendency to regard it as an inevitable part, one of those extralegal punitive dimensions of the prison experience that makes a life of crime dangerous. But with this bill, which now awaits President Bush’s signature, Congress has taken a decidedly different stance toward sexual violence among the incarcerated. Being raped, the national legislature has said, is not a part of a prison sentence, and all levels of government have a duty to ensure that prisoners are safe from coerced sex.
Nobody knows how many prisoners are raped in America every year. Congress cites expert findings that 13 percent of inmates in American prisons may have been sexually assaulted, and studies suggest that in some institutions, more than 20 percent of inmates may be victims. In other words, in a country with a prison population exceeding 2 million people, there probably have been hundreds of thousands of rapes. Yet as a report two years ago by Human Rights Watch documented, prison rape is generally tolerated, and prosecutions are rare. The tolerance leaves certain categories of prisoners _ young convicts, the mentally ill, gays, first-time offenders or those who are physically slight _ particularly at risk. —The Washington Post
Pakistan and global terrorism
PAKISTAN’s transition from inter-state (India/Afghanistan) conflict and wars (the Kashmir dispute), intra-state tensions/polarization (East-West Pakistan), domestic unrest/destabilization (Sindh/Balochistan/NWFP, etc.), to its widely-debated role and place in global terrorism needs to be examined incrementally, through a number of stages from its very inception.
At its very inception, Pakistan found itself in a double geo-political (geostrategic) bind — India to the east and Afghanistan to the north and the north-west. Pakistan’s border to the east with India, though roughly drawn on the map, was yet to be firmly demarcated on the ground. To this was added yet another hot frontier sans border in the aftermath of the Kashmir war.
What lent a strong touch of ‘jihad’ or ‘jihadism’ (today’s terrorism) to the Kashmir war was the tribal invasion of the state preceding the actual inter-dominion war. Afghanistan, for its part, challenged the international status of the Durand Line after the British, the co-signatory to the Durand Line agreement of 1893, were gone. To press its theoretical claim to the Durand Line, Afghanistan demanded creation of a Pathan state (Pushtunistan) after the elimination of the Durand Line.
That was stage one containing the roots of latter-day terrorism. The period between 1949 and 1965 was an era of the absolute supremacy of the professional military establishment under Field Marshal Muhammad Ayub Khan. Except for the assassination of prime minister Liaquat Ali in Rawalpindi in 1951 in murky circumstances by an Afghan fanatic, Sayed Akbar, there had been nothing to suggest the incubation of terrorism.
The 1965 war, its inconclusive denouement and the spirit of unassuaged revenge calling for a final round encouraged a climate of religious fervour to make ‘jihad’ almost a part of military doctrine. However, except for an oral exercise, the ‘jihadi’ sentiment remained subordinated to the demands of the essentially secular military culture and professionalism. General A.M. Yahya Khan assumed army command in September 1966. The army under him had nothing to do even remotely with ‘jihad’ or ‘jihadism’. The civil war in East Pakistan and the impending threat of invasion from India, however, revived the ‘jihad’ sentiment which evaporated soon after the military surrender in Dhaka.
The post-Yahya period under Zulfikar Ali Bhutto, as president and prime minister, and General Tikka Khan as army chief, saw the ‘jihadi’ (latter-day terrorist) motif pale into relative insignificance. Except for launching his nuclear bomb-making programme labelled by the foreign press as the ‘Islamic Bomb’, Bhutto had been discreet in his use of the ‘jihadi’ theme. General Tikka Khan scrupulously avoided any intrusion into politics except under orders of the supreme civil authority, the prime minister, of which military action against the political dissidents in Balochistan was a daunting example.
Bhutto’s relatively secular period ended, quite ironically, in a blaze of Islamic sentiment returning under the banner of the Pakistan National Alliance (PNA) and its uncompromising, nation-wide demand for the establishment of Nizam-i-Mustafa (Order of the Prophet Muhammad, upon him be peace). Bhutto’s massive manipulation of the vote through the 1977 elections and gross mishandling of the political crisis ended in his overthrow after a successful coup d’etat by the army chief, General Muhammad Ziaul Haq.
Zia readily seized upon the surging pro-Islamic sentiment to introduce his own version of a mixed mulla-military rule as the base of his personal power. He hastened to give the army (less the navy and the air force) the triple motto of ‘Iman, Taqva, Jihad-i-fi Sabilillah’. His was the first experiment and attempt at converting a professional army into an indoctrinated ‘jihadi’ force. However, he would do all that without compromising the essentially non-ideological / secular professional culture and character of the army, its dress code, mess life (minus alcohol), training manuals, etc.
Less than three years after Zia’s coup came the Soviet invasion of Afghanistan, with America jumping into the fray via Zia’s Pakistan. That set in the second stage ideal for the growth and consolidation of the jihadi culture and spirit. The battle-cry of Islam vs Kufr (Godless Soviet communism, that is) was never raised with such force and consistency in Pakistan’s history as through the US proxy war against the Soviet Union in Afghanistan via Zia’s Pakistan. Armed and financed by the US, the ‘jihad’ went on for nearly a decade.
What with its hold on the Afghan Mujahideen, its role as the conduit for the rapid transit of US arms to Afghanistan and the professional back-up of the ISI, Pakistan emerged as the key player — the hero or the villain of the piece of the Afghan war. In return, Pakistan was amply rewarded by America, but not without paying heavily in terms of the infusion of the drug-Kalashnikov culture within its own domain. This was the initiation of a sort of professional, multinational jihadism largely sponsored by non-state actors, predominantly of foreign origin. They drew their financial support and logistical back-up from the global drug mafia and traffickers. The third stage remains the one on-going and largely out of control as yet. For Pakistan, by far the most significant consequence had been transition of ‘jihadism’ from Afghanistan to Kashmir through its territory. Quite fortuitously (and as unfortunately) the strategic shifting of ‘jihadism’ coincided with the beginning of the Kashmiris’ own liberation struggle to mix it with foreign-aided and manipulated ‘jihadism’, thus compromising its indigenous character. It enlarged its dimension to become a part of global ‘jihadism’ labelled as terrorism. In addition to Kashmir, the mujahideen also extended their moral and active support to the ‘jihadis’ of Bosnia, Chechnya, the Philippines, etc., to draw Pakistani (non-state) ‘tanzimat’ into the global terrorist dragnet.
The emergence of the Taliban as a cohesive force in southern Afghanistan in 1995 and their triumphant entry into Kabul in 1996 marked the fourth stage of ‘jihadism’. Instead of a vagrant stateless creed, ‘jihadism’ became the declared article of faith of the state and government under the Taliban. Pakistan’s instant recognition of the Taliban government and support to it tended to do more harm than good to both the Taliban and Pakistan. Rather than behave as a responsible state and government to win over the recognition and support of the world community, the Taliban turned their sights inwards to restrict their world view and place it in a narrow and rigid fundamentalist perspective. They would thus hurt themselves as much as they would hurt Pakistan.
After India’s nuclear test explosions in May 1998 and Pakistan’s tit-for-tat response to it, the Kashmir jihad acquired a two-fold conventional-nuclear dimension. It was hoped that the simultaneous acquisition and declaration of nuclear capability by India and Pakistan would act as a deterrent against future armed conflict.
This did seem so up to a point without stopping the Kargil episode. Though limited in space and deployment of tactical military forces, Kargil came to signify the high watermark of strategic mistrust between the two neighbours. It led from one crisis to another, one bigger than the previous one.
The Agra conference of June 2001, a ray of hope, disappeared into the thickening post-Kargil clouds as quickly as it appeared. India used Kargil as the high point to prove Pakistan’s active involvement in so-called proxy war in Kashmir. Thenceforward its diplomatic and military mantra would be cross-border terrorism’ from the Pakistan side as the principal source of the low intensity conflict in Kashmir.
The catastrophic episode of September 11, 2001 staged by Islamic ‘jihadis’ drew Pakistan inexorably into the trap and fight against global terrorism under the US. About two months later, on December 13, 2001, ‘jihadis’ raided the Indian parliament, causing a number of casualties.
The event shocked India deeply and gave it an excellent handle to use against Pakistan. In addition to embarking on a global propaganda / diplomatic offensive against Pakistan, it mobilized and amassed its forces all along Pakistan’s eastern front. Pakistan responded, to bring the two countries to the brink of war.
The December 13 raid on the Indian parliament did inestimable damage to Pakistan and good to India in proving Pakistan as the emerging hub of global terrorism.
(To be concluded)
The writer is a retired brigadier of the Pakistan Army.