India should act wiser: A Pakistani advice - by Muhammad Ahsan Yatu Back   Home  
INDIANS on the day that shook New York, Washington and the World—offered all kind of support to the Americans. That included air, land and intelligence facilities, and even a joint army operation against terrorism. Pakistan too on the same tragic day offered its limited services, but with reasonable conditions that it would not render help beyond its borders. By aligning with America both did a right thing. Not that America is a superpower; that definitely was one factor, but more than that fighting the terrorism is a noble cause, because it is one way or the other hurting the entire world, and particularly our region.

Americans were pleased with the Indian support but practically they preferred Pakistan’s support; of course on the terms that were decided mutually. There were good reasons for that. Pakistan is placed at the best possible location with respect to Afghanistan. Not only that it was also the only country that had functional relations with Talibans’ Afghanistan. That is why Americans before their air attacks tried through this channel to have a peaceful settlement of the problem, but in spite of Pakistan’s hard efforts, Taliban didn’t oblige and they preferred to side with Osama bin Laden and his outfit for reason better known to them. Or it could be due to the rigidity that they have in their actions and announcements. Anyway we come back to the real question as to why the Americans preferred Pakistan? Apart from its geo-political relationship with Afghanistan, Pakistan was chosen also due to a much bigger dimension. It is a Muslim country. The American tragedy was more than destruction of men and material, it was destruction of trust between various segments of humanity. Since the identities of the terrorists disclosed were that of Muslim Arabs, hence involving Pakistan, and willingness of Pakistan to get involved have a pointed significance. Alongside eradication of terrorism, it is an attempt to reconstruct the destroyed trust, and to establish that the humanity, irrespective of its religious division, is united against the evil of terrorism. It was a wise decision by America, and it met a wiser response from Pakistan. However, it is strange that the Indian Government at initial stages did not examine the situation through so broader an angle that also affects them when seen through the large Muslim population they have.

The Indian media too failed to appreciate the intelligence behind America’s choice, and entered into a debate, that apparently appealed to a section of Indian mind, not realising that the problem was complex and was different than being conceived. Perhaps not many in India know that religious militancy was introduced and encouraged in Pakistan, and imposed on Afghanistan by America during a pro-Soviet government in Afghanistan. Before that Pakistan was having as open an environment as of any other country. Once the Soviets left Afghanistan, the American interests vanished and Pakistan was left with so many complexities, and Afghanistan was pushed into anarchy. Getting rid of after effects within Pakistan, and to address the situation in a demolished Afghanistan was not that easy due to the deep roots the war-gifted problems had taken, and which were widespread also. The incompetence of the rulers and the interests of various groups, external and internal, aggravated the problem. Religious militants captured the power in Afghanistan, and attempted to increase their nominal influence in Pakistan through aggressive means. The sad about the story is that America and its friendly States kept on funding the militant organisations of their choice. So, Pakistan had to live and fight with religious militancy from within. Now when the Americans have reversed and General Pervez Musharraf has sided with them to end a larger part of the Afghan war legacy from a larger area of the region, Indians must appreciate that. The exercise being conducted by coalition forces with the cooperation of all neighbouring countries of Afghanistan is bound to reduce some of India’s problems also. Though the statement of Foreign Minister of India wherein he said that India did not wish to escalate the problems of Pakistan was a timely gesture, yet their media is still carrying the pre-historic analysis, and that too even after President Musharraf‘s telephonic call to Prime Minster Vajpayee through which he expressed resentment over the attack by the terrorists on State Assembly in Srinagar.

About the words used for India by the General in his first speech after America was attacked on September 11, one must note that the speech was meant for a public that was so far shown an opposite and pleasant picture of Afghan Government. So a reverse action demanded a justification, and that was reasonably given. Talking about the Indian attitudes was part of that reference and the words used were appropriate but not soft, though milder choice of words and even ignoring Indians would have made the speech equally effective; because the topic being discussed was well understood by every body in Pakistan and most of the Pakistanis were prepared to side against the terrorists, even before the speech. Yet, such speeches are part of the normal practice of the states all over the world when they are facing abnormal situations. The attitudes of the leaders and the intellectuals of the oldest democracy in the world, after the tragedy of Black Tuesday were like that of the ranchers of the Wild West. The attitudes of the largest democracy were no different when it tested its atomic detonators in 1998. There was no need for George Fernandez the then Indian Defence Minister to say, “Our enemy number one is China”. Yet he said it and that too repeatedly. Accordingly the General could have delivered his speech without bringing India in, but he did it. Indians should have taken his speech as lightly as the Chinese took the statement of Comrade George Fernandez. They did not and a new war of words began. It is hoped that the wise move of President Musharraf to engage Indians again through the dialogue would be appreciated; the word war would stop and the two nations would turn to positive diplomacy. Here, I may repeat that sustained growth of economy of India, and start of growth of economies of Pakistan and Afghanistan depend on a greater interaction between the countries that are located in the region. By region here it is meant an area, which stretches from Bengal to Russia, and from Iran to China. So, the peace in Afghanistan in particular and in the region in general is a necessity for all: and all the countries, irrespective of who is actively involved or not with the coalition forces, should appreciate the on going efforts to have the peace.
Published in Pakistan Newspaper PakObserver. When I read such articles, many questions and an urge to convey my opinions in that matter arise in me. But there was no response to any of my mails to this newspaper which is a specialist in anti-India campaign. When compared to their usual tone for India, this is the softest one.