Pakistan’s anti-terrorist posture is once again under scrutiny as India- Pakistani tensions over Kashmir, which is a potential nuclear flash point, flare up. The recent Indian assertions, that President Musharraf is not a genuine ally in the global war on terrorism, is a blatant endeavour to undo the perseverance and resolve shown by the Pakistani President since post 11th September in the changed international milieu. The Indian move is an incredibly irresponsible self-centred action, which does not take into account the global ramifications of a destabilized Pakistan. A coup or change of government in Pakistan may bring about a new round of enduring national unpredictability and propel fringe fanatics closer to the corridors of power. The charges that President Musharraf has not done enough and has failed to clamp down on infiltration, across the disputed territory of Kashmir, trivializes the significant struggle which Pakistan underwent in order to contribute to the reining of the tentacles of Global Terrorists Inc. under Osama bin Laden. The bigger picture of continuing war against global terror cannot be overlooked! That war has far bigger horizon beyond present bilateral problem of Kashmir, it has collateral impact on global economy and future of the sheikhdoms in the Middle East and oil are all linked to the continuing war against global terror.
Indian suggestions highlighted in aCHIDANAND RAJGHATTA reported from Washington, stated that signalled to the United States and much of the world that it has completely lost faith in Pakistan’s General Musharraf and cannot do business with him. In a self-serving verdict the Times of India correspondent believes that ‘Musharraf is also rapidly losing Washington’s trust, except perhaps his last bastion, the State Department.’ The Indian view, communicated both directly and indirectly, means a return to normalcy in the region may now depend on Musharraf’s exit or what Indian officials say is “the unlikely event of him having a complete change of heart and forsaking terrorism as an instrument of state policy.”
India myopic view forgets that an effort of making an “Arafat” out of Musharraf is actually strengthening the hands of the Islamic global militants represented by Al-Qaeda. President Musharraf rather than President is probably more likely to head the list of the most wanted man by Al Qaeda! When it mattered the most post 11th September, Pakistan under Musharraf took the right decisions; which none of the strategists in the area ever thought that Pakistan was capable of. No one ever dreamt that moderation in Pakistan army would be an overnight change of heart by the commander in chief. Not that he did any favours to anyone, he owed it to humanity and mankind at large, however in a complete 180 degree turn which shocked Indian strategists who had always believed that the fruitless quest of fighting vain battles for Islam would once again steer Pakistan into taking a wrong decision and continue supporting Talebin. In a succession of quick decisions he cleaned the slate, wiped out Talebin sympathizers like Mehmood, the dismissed Chief of ISI, and started anew.
The 11th September attacks were two-pronged, one to hit America within the safe confines of its homeland, which was a kind of a cold-blooded message with the stated objective of cowing the USA into appeasement. That first assumption was a deadly error by Al-Qaeda. They misread American history and could not evaluate the natural American response. The second objective was to get Americans out of the Islamic world and leave the crescent of instability from Morocco to Pakistan in the hands of Islamic militants. As some believe the attacks were really not about the poverty or lack democracy within the Islamic countries, if this was the case, the hijackers should have been impoverished Afghans or Africans rather than rich Saudis. The top leaders of Al-Qaeda include a trust-fund baby, hailing from one of the richest families in the Saudi kingdom, and another is a surgeon from a prominent Egyptian family. Clearly the attackers were not motivated by economic discontent, so what drove them? Religion, of course — although not everyone is ready to fully admit the role of Islam in September’s attacks.
The struggle led by Bin Laden was not only to destroy the WTC but to create enough terror so as to move on and bring the ruled and the rulers of the Muslim world into a direct confrontation. Bin Laden and his cohorts, who undeniably represent the medieval era, are pitted against those who are slightly moderate and govern Muslim countries today. Bin Laden and Omar, the defunct Talebin Ameer-ul-Momineen, used Afghanistan as a base of their strategy, the ultimate aim of which was to launch a Sunni ‘Wahabi’ revolution across the Muslim world in a hope to bring down moderate regimes such as Pakistan in its first stage. Osama, a veteran of Afghan war found in Talebin enough of the tribalism and backwardness that could help him reincarnate the 1400 years old epoch once again. ‘Talebinisation’ is the Sunni answer to the Shia revolution of Iran. Osama wanted to become the Khomieni of the Sunni world. Talebinisation under Osama would have definitely moved south into the hinterland of Pakistan as a counter to the ‘Sunni global revolution’ had the response to the 11th September attacks would have not taken out the roots of this global intifida. Denying sanctuaries and breeding grounds to the global Islamic bandits under Osama is the biggest achievement of the US led campaign against Talebin. This campaign has been successful as a result of a total cooperation from moderate regime of President Musharraf. The task would have been much more complicated had any one else would have been at the helm of the affairs. His personal risk and his correct decision to save the region from medieval reincarnation have saved the Islamic world from a major turmoil. Today the global militants are far weaker and Musharraf’s contribution are undeniable reality.
The militancy in Kashmir in terms of its scope and impact on Islamic world has some limitations even less so on global level but Islamic militant led by Osama Bin Laden associated with hordes of Puritans from Afghanistan had all the making of a fire brand Sunni revolution that could have found a lot of sympathy in the Arab street. Once Pakistan strategic assets would have been under their control, the next step would be to bring Saudi Arabia within the fold and restore the caliphate from Morocco to Indonesia. By this view, the attacks on the World Trade Center and the Pentagon were just a preamble to win the hearts and minds of the worldwide community of Muslim believers. Bin Laden hoped that the attacks against the United States would spark uprisings by Muslims against their own American-backed regimes. As Sandy Berger stated very correctly, “bin Laden’s ultimate twin towers are Pakistan and Saudi Arabia.” The mixture of oil and strategic assets under one Caliphate spread out from Morocco to Indonesia would be a dreadful consequence. This theoretical but very possible scenario was averted by swift USA action and total acquiesce of the Pakistani President and the nation as a whole.
If export of new brand of Talebinised extremism would have not been checked from Pakistan’s northern borders perhaps extremist interpretation of the Koran would be taught in every school of Karachi and Lahore, and the mullahs from their pulpits might demonstrate to an already circumcised people the sanctity of the revelation and importance of martyrdom and terror. The prospective significant increase of the enactment area in case of fall of Pakistan to extremists’ fundamentalists sends shudders down my spine. 15000 Pakistanis who left on a voluntary ‘Jihad’ were a big threat to Pakistani society and these very people had taken the society as a hostage. They were the prospective material that if had not been decimated by the US bombs would have been prospective infiltrators in Kashmir. India if not anything else should be grateful to Musharraf for leading Pakistan out of a self-destructive cycle.
India for its own gains in Kashmir is undermining the coalition efforts to stamp global war against terrorism. Pakistan, out of default, is a key member due to the nature of the terror network objective and is a target of the militants as well, since they wish to control this pivotal member. By forcing a confrontation with India they can sell Musharraf short as the man who brought down the Talebin but was unable to repel Indian aggression due to the lack of American support. They will make Musharraf an example within the Islamic world that will term him as the “New Shah”, a friend of America who was betrayed. The last thing USA wants is this new categorization, America need trusted allies in the region the actions of India are not very helpful. India, considering the recent events in Gujarat and Bihar and with a restive Islamic population within its border, should know that they cannot afford a destabilized and radicalized Pakistan.
No one could ever challenge their hold on the society, now they have been flattened and never before Pakistani society as a whole has felt more freer from the threats of Talebinisation. That is good news for the regions and for India. A stable Pakistan helps a secular India grow stronger and provides calmness on her Northern Frontier and help her to concentrate to alleviate the condition of its people. It’s a win all situation for India and Pakistan. Curbing of extremists has helped India long-term prospects as far as intrusion are concerned and on the other hand, Pakistan as a nation are saved from a horrendous future under Talebin.
At this stage of this war against Global Terror Inc., India’s decision to weaken Pakistan and pose a threat to its very existence is not conducive to the war against Global Terror. India is a victim of terror and so is Pakistan. The militants presently engaged with Indian armed forces are the same people who have recently bombed the French engineers in Karachi, who were working on a very important Pakistani defence project. Hundreds of Pakistani Doctors have been killed by these very militants who find anyone who opposes them worthy of elimination. They are friends of no one, and are least bothered about Kashmir. It is the perpetual struggle of ‘Jihad’ and domination of Islam that drives them. The very objective of these militants is to create instability and they will thrive in this environment. The attacks on Indian parliament in December, the recent attack on Military camp are all timed to create conditions that war between Pakistan and India may break out. One of the ultimate result may be instability and fragmentation of Pakistan, a defeated Pakistan or a nuked Pakistan would be an ideal sanctuary for an extended sequel of new Talebin rogues which will have all the ingredients in this lawless land: a population that would be helpful, an army that would be defeated and a geography that can create instability in North of India to Arabian Gulf. India should have a bigger picture in mind, present mischief across the Line of Control is not a big enough reason to derail the Global war against Terrorism and push Pakistan moderates into ignominy.
The writer is in Paris, France.