Daily Times Editorial: No knee-jerk reactions, please!
The Pakistan Daily Times writes
the Foreign Office in Islamabad seems to have reacted excessively by “rejecting” the Indian claim — made by its Indian counterpart and the media there — that Pakistani groups were involved. A Foreign Office spokesperson stated that since India had not provided conclusive proof of the involvement of Pakistani groups the charge would have to be set aside. There are two reasons why the formulation is wrong. Firstly, the Indian prime minister had couched his communication to President Musharraf cautiously; secondly, in the past “Pakistani” groups have been involved in terrorism in India, and, if the Foreign Office doesn’t read the newspapers, the leaders of these groups — despite a ban on their organisations — daily issue statements of extreme rage over President Musharraf’s policy of normalisation with India.
It thus castigates the Pakinstani Foreign Office for toeing the usual shock, anger and denial to any accusation levelled against it. We saw that recently on the Chinook issue
despite clear evidence to the contrary.
The last time India and Pakistan went eyeball-to-eyeball on the border in 2001-2002, the escalation was triggered by a Jaish-e-Muhammad attack on the Indian parliament. Then too the government of Pakistan had denied that any Pakistani group was involved, but on March 10, 2004 General (retd) Javed Ashraf Qazi, a former director-general of the Inter-Services Intelligence and now a federal minister, stated: “We must not be afraid of admitting that the Jaish [Jaish-e Mohammad] was involved in the deaths of thousands of innocent Kashmiris, in the bombing of the Indian parliament, in Daniel Pearl’s murder and in attempts on President Pervez Musharraf’s life”. He could have added the hijacking of an Indian airliner to Kandahar whereby Jaish was able to get its leader Maulana Masood Azhar out of an Indian jail. One should also not forget that the leader of Lashkar-e-Tayba, Hafiz Saeed, had made it a habit of delivering all kinds of threats of “invasion” on Indian TV channels during the tense period of the 2002 confrontation.
This is a honest admission of the reality facing Pakistan today - that Islamist groups which have been designated as terrorist groups even by the Pakistani government are operating openly without any fear of repraisal. The strong political support of such groups by parties such as the MMA among other factors explain their continual survival despite promises made by Gen. Musharraf in the aftermath of 9/11, the attack on Indian Parliament in 2001, the July 7th London attacks - indeed an endless list of undelivered promises.
The world has come round to suspend some belief when the Foreign Office speaks from Islamabad on certain matters. For too many times in the past it has acted as an unthinking mouthpiece of organisations and individuals who waged a terrorist jihad in the country’s neighbourhood.
It is clear that there needs to be a strong rethinking on the part of the Pakistani Foreign policy establishment. For long, it has hidden behind the rhetoric of indigeneous "freedom fighters" operating in Jammu and Kashmir. But without the support (monetary) of the Islamist political parties and the logistical and material (read weapons) from the Pakistani military/ISI, these terror groups cannot survive. Ofcourse, a third factor is strong Pakinstani public opinion. Since the time of Bhutto and Zia the Pakistani civil society has been heavily Islamicized, especially it's maddrassah education system which indoctrinates tens of thousands of youth into the most virulent and intolerant form of Wahhabist ideology. The numerous attacks against Shia and Ahmediya minorities (Muslim subsects) bear testimony to this.
Given this background, there are two things that Pakistan must do: one, it must abandon the knee-jerk reactive rhetoric when issuing statements about India; second, it must get ready to take the decisive action it has not yet taken if investigation proves that Pakistan-related groups were indeed involved in the New Delhi weekend bombing.
This is a wise thing to do - a first step which Pakistan must engage inorder to pick itself up not only from the damage from the earthquake but also from the years of wrong-headed policy towards India.