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A common enemy


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THE Indian home minister’s claim that the country’s largest opposition party is sponsoring “Hindu terrorism” is an explosive and alarming one, not just for India but also for Pakistan. It is a claim so serious, in fact, that it will not be taken seriously by some sections of its domestic audience unless the home minister shares at least some of the evidence he says he has; the current dynamics of Indian politics, with a government under pressure and elections within sight, will make it tempting not to take his allegation at face value. Presumably he would only have made it on the basis of reliable investigations at the highest levels. As a first next step, then, he needs to share whatever information he can.

But if we assume for a moment that the remark could not have been an off-the-cuff one, it is as disturbing here as it should be across the border, because religious extremism in India and Pakistan is rarely just a domestic issue. For one, there is the threat of cross-border terrorism, as in the case of the Samjhauta Express bombing, which killed mainly Pakistanis and which the home minister has also traced to the Bharatiya Janata Party. Second, just as some Pakistani right-wing and extremist groups are both anti-Hindu and anti-India, there is a fine line between anti-Muslim and anti-Pakistan sentiments when it comes to the BJP’s affiliate, the Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh. The growth of violent religious extremism in India, if it is taking place in the way the home minister suggests, can only fuel animosity towards Pakistan and hinder the peace process.

And it does the same here; Hafiz Saeed has reportedly already taken this opportunity to blame our domestic terrorism on Indian actors. The development underlines how important it is for both Pakistan and India to take seriously the spread not just of external threats, but also of home-grown violent extremism. Focusing on the former allows the latter to flourish, so that both feed off each other in a cycle that makes the entire region more violent. More importantly, as Pakistan knows only too well, religious extremism is insidious. It spreads faster and wider than is obvious, not just strengthening violent organisations but also transforming societal attitudes in a way that supports the growth of those organisations. Pakistan has seen the fallout from its own history of concentrating on foreign threats at the expense of fighting domestic ones and controlling the spread of right-wing ideas at home. As extremist viewpoints gain ground next door, India would do well to avoid the same mistake.

Comments (14) Closed

Desi surfie. Jan 23, 2013 11:06am
Very well said....:)))))
Ghalib Khan Jan 23, 2013 10:26am
Dear Anuj, After reading your comment one just remembers the ostrich who buries its head in the sand and feels everything is okay, best of luck, friend
Anuj Jan 23, 2013 06:44am
yeah right, India and Pakistan are BOTH equally terrorist nations...... well said Dawn ! Poor Pakistan is unfairly tarnished. Oh, and also, Pakistan is doing a fantastic job at controlling and reducing it's home grown terror, and an even better one at disowning the export ;-). Isn't it? Now EVERYONE knows that terror in Pakistan is rapidly coming down with terror infrastructure inside being targeted by deep ranging battles by the army, by police taking a v hard line on sectarian killings, by the law enforcing judgements on those who have killed in the name of religion, for example a certain young security guard who killed the Punjab Guv; and most importantly, Pakistan's super fast track terror courts have finished trying and sentenced the people found guilty of Mumbai attacks. All done, dusted and over. Hence, with this background firmly in place, Pakistan is now advising India and maybe rest of the world on How To Handle Terror 101 ;-)).
Iftikhar Husain Jan 23, 2013 01:17pm
The religion is most important factor in the life of both countries and nobody is ready to compromise on this issue. It seems the argument will go on for ever until a time comes when the views become liberal. I find it very difficult that this can be solved easily.
Jagdish Jan 23, 2013 01:07pm
Look who is talking...
raika45 Jan 23, 2013 12:48pm
Trouble creators do not need a religion.They are everywhere hiding behind religion.Be it Pakistan or India.Only difference is that in Pakistan it is widespread while in India it is sort of contained.Bad people are bad people. One should not bring religion into this.
Deb; India Jan 23, 2013 02:01pm
I agree.
Syed from Australia. Jan 23, 2013 02:10pm
My believe is that all religion teaches good, be it Islam , Christianitiy, Bhudism, Hindusim etc. It is the bad people in the society who does not have any religion and they cover themself under the name of religion create problem. These people need to be traced down by the true believers in the religion and must be rooted out so that they can not bring bad name to that particular religion under which they are hiding their evil spirit.
girish Jan 23, 2013 03:03pm
Gr88 Anuj Bhai :):):)
Malik Zeeshan Jan 23, 2013 08:06pm
@anuj your own minister is admitting extremism in your counry how come u deny that? your extremists and terrorists are that strong that they have not let the hockey players from Pakistan play there, stage performers have been asked to stop performing,and yet you call yourself a democratic country?India is filled with extremists and terrorists, look at your poor media, how it portrays the situation.. I simply feel pity for you Indians when u blame Pakistan. If you have any reservations regarding your country that it is not extremists and terrorist, go ask your Home minister who is giving such statements
akbar bajwa Jan 23, 2013 09:10pm
Well, more indians read dawn than pakistanis, thats for sure
Genuine Indian Jan 24, 2013 01:21am
well said bro
bnath Jan 24, 2013 02:24am
Who do you think is the ostrich here?
Alexander Jan 24, 2013 02:37am
My dear Ghalib, who is the ostrich here? It is utterly ridiculously that Pakistan advises India. May be one should ask the world which one is that drunk ostrich (s) preaching sermons about terrorism. Just because one is silent does not mean blame is on. Pakistan needs to just know where it stands in the global view on secular societies and let us not even go into the magnitude of terror that has penetrated the society. Too many ostriches out there isnt it?