Wednesday, December 17, 2008

In the epicentre of terrorism By Shamim-ur-Rahman

In the epicentre of terrorism By Shamim-ur-Rahman

The author is a Senior Correspondent of Daily Dawn - Karachi - Pakistan

FOLLOWING India’s proactive diplomacy in the aftermath of the Mumbai terrorist attack that put Pakistan in compliance mode for meeting the UN’s demand for a ban on Jamaatud Dawa, Indian prime minister Manmohan Singh has charged that Pakistan is the “epicentre of terrorism”.

Although it is a victim of terrorism, this impression plus reports in the media establishing possible links of the lone surviving terrorist with Faridkot in Punjab, has put Pakistan in deep trouble.

The situation has been further aggravated by the US warning of unintended consequences if Pakistan did not act against the non-state actors who allegedly used its soil to stage attacks in Mumbai. Signals from Washington ruptured the bipartisan comprehensive dialogue, emboldened New Delhi and caused it to adopt a combative posture perhaps to evade the demand for a bipartisan investigation of the Mumbai tragedy.

Amid this hype a Shiv Sena member of parliament Mohan Rawale said India should attack Pakistan in the wake of the terror strikes. Some analysts have called for taking over Pakistan. And the world community remains unconcerned.

With demands for Pakistan to ‘do more’, Pakistan has claimed that India has yet to provide concrete evidence. However, Pakistan initially did not take serious notice of Dr Manmohan Singh’s accusation and sank deep into its shell, perhaps with the hope that those who have a strategic partnership with New Delhi would bail it out of trouble. But questions are being asked as to why the Indians have raised the stakes. Do they really want to banish terrorism or are they trying to prove that Pakistan is an irresponsible state not worthy of being in possession of nuclear capability? Or is all this aimed at circumventing serious bipartisan responsibility for the Mumbai carnage?

Be that as it may, while the peace process has been converted into an exercise in warmongering, especially in India, Pakistan’s leadership, both civilian and military, has been unable to comprehend the consequences of being in denial and adopting an apologetic mode, despite being the target of several terrorist attacks, one of which took the life of Benazir Bhutto, the ruling party’s late chairperson, last December.

It was a failure of Pakistan’s diplomacy. Shrugging off responsibility is not the solution. Pakistan must engage the international community in a cooling-off period and embark on a determined diplomatic offensive focused on regional capitals, especially Beijing which did not oppose the passage of the UN resolution. The situation has arisen because the new government which was elected on the agenda for change, especially in its foreign policy including the war on terror that has destabilised Pakistan from within, continues to pursue Gen Pervez Musharraf’s policies.

Everything seems to be in a mess. We have been consistently maintaining that we have no involvement in the Mumbai incident and that the terrorists had nothing to do with us. But suddenly we launch a crackdown on organisations accused by India of complicity, with the US firmly stating that Pakistani soil has been used in the incident. The Indians maintained the pressure and even produced the electoral listing of the parents of Ajmal Kasab, one of the terrorists in the Mumbai tragedy. Media investigation reports have further embarrassed the government. In addition we misread the so-called telephone call by Pranab Mukherjee. Was it part of an elaborate plan to ratchet up the pressure on the Pakistani government to crackdown on militant organisations?

Fears were also expressed that the Indians were contemplating an attack on Pakistan. But why should they do so when we have provided enough of a pretext to Nato forces to embark on surgical operations inside Pakistan owing to our failure to provide security to their logistic supplies and in combating the Taliban? If they can operate with impunity in Peshawar, which place is safe? Many people think that the initial reaction to threaten to pull out troops from the western borderland, in response to the Indian tirade, was also mishandled and strengthened the Indo-US-Israeli plank. Our security agencies have a lot of explaining to do in this regard.

However, the fact remains that whether or not the world community is pressuring us, we must clean up our own house and eliminate the terrorists. While the operation against the militant groups must be a sustained process, we must also ask the world community to fulfill its responsibility by ensuring the early repatriation of 2.5 million Afghan refugees in Pakistan. Coalition forces in Afghanistan must create conditions for their settlement as equal citizens in their homeland. This is necessary because refugee settlements provide the best sanctuary for the militants. This is a failure of the international community which accuses Pakistan of harbouring the terrorists. Pakistan must also ask the allied forces in Afghanistan to ensure that while they launch operations against the Taliban, these elements are not pushed into Pakistan.

But most of all, Pakistan must insist on addressing the root causes of terrorism be these in Afghanistan, Kashmir, Pakistan, India, Sri Lanka, Nepal or Bangladesh by adopting a regional approach. Mr Pranab Mukherjee was opposed to including the resolution of the Kashmir issue in the context of terrorism, but Pakistan must insist on that besides stressing on joint investigation and the sharing of intelligence.

Despite media investigation reports about Ajmal Kasab, joint investigations are necessary because one cannot rule out the possibility that elements like the ones who were involved in the Samjhota Express blast and the Malegaon massacre have had something to do with aggravating the situation. After all India’s Anti Terrorism Squad chief Hemant Karkare, who was investigating the involvement of the serving Lt Col Purohit of the Indian military intelligence, along with others, was among the first victims of the terrorists in Mumbai. A joint investigation is also necessary to verify the controversial confessional statement of Ajmal Kasab and different accounts of the incident involving him.

No comments: