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Wednesday, December 31, 2008

Pakistan Needs To Introspect

Posted by: danish Ahmed 12:24 PM

The India-Pakistan schism is getting murkier day by day as war rhetorics on either side of the border continue to gain strength. What compounds this problem is the genuine conviction that the people of both the nations have of their respective stands being correct.

The initial reaction of Pakistani government had been one of disbelief and promise of cooperation, involvement of Pakistani (non-state? ) elements in the Mumbai terror attack had never been ruled out. But before the officials of both the countries could swing into action the mischief-makers did. Pakistani officials later revealed that right after the Mumbai terror attack someone pretending to be Indian Foreign Minister Pranab Mukherjee, had called up Zardari and threatened the Pakistani President with a war. That partly explains the knee-jerk reaction of Zardari and the Pakistan government but the real fallout was the Pakistani media and its civil society's response to their government's attitude. It is likely that their government's reaction to "India's threat" might have left them feeling humilated. That would explain why the Pak media went into an overdrive denying Indian perspective and spawning a string of conspiracy theories. Ironically, it is the Pak civil society represented by its media that had been expected to lead the charge against extremists and militants but what it did instead is play on nationalism and turn on the heat on its government to take tough stand against India.

As per the latest news coming in Pakistan may now be reconciling with the idea that the perpatrators might indeed be from its own territory and agencies but the leadership is unlikely to soften down a bit and co-operate with India. The demand for "credible evidence" by Pakistan and the Indian authorities' hesitation to share them is likely to keep the rumor-mill in Pakistan busy, India fuming and the perpetrators going farther away from the law.

From the Indian perspective it is a very tricky situation since there is no third-party authority to establish the credibility of evidence. Pakistan has already disowned Ajmal Kasab, the sole surviving terrorist even if a Pakistani news channel had already proved it through a sting operation. Indeed, if the Pakistani authorities so desire they can remove every piece of evidence and claim that Pervez Musharraf did not belong to Pakistan either! This may sound like a joke, which it is, but technically it is quite possible. In such a scenario it is very natural for India to hesitate sharing evidence with Pakistan which can be discredited by the latter. Let us not forget that whoever planned the whole thing had also planned to make it look like handiwork of a local Indian group from Hyderabad. It is quite likely that a lot of "evidence" might have been liberally "dropped" to mislead investigators. Perhaps the only thing that did not go according to the plan was the capture of one of the attackers. This convinces Indian authorities that the plot was hatched in Pakistan but at the same time this piece of evidence might not be deemed enough to convince Pakistan to act unless it itself wants to.

Nawaz Sharif may have now retracted from his statement but at that point of time he was being quite logical and reasonable by asking the Pakistani establishment and society to introspect. Instead of asking India for evidence to prove its national's role in the Mumbai terror attack what Pakistan shpuld do is ask itself if it is really difficult to believe that the militants who are attacking Pakistani cities (Marriott attack) on a regular basis would refrain from attacking Indian cities as well when given a chance? In fact, they also need to ask themselves if groups like L-e-T and J-e-M and their activists exist in Pakistan and if they do, what is their ideology, objectives and the means to achieve that objective. Once Pakistan has reconciled itself with these facts it would not need to look at India for evidence, Pakistan already has plethora of information that could be treated as evidence once the administration is ready to accept facts. Interestingly, a similar situation had been unfolding in India some years back when Indian Muslims were in the denial mode, it may have come as a shock but things changed after the acceptance. Currently, thousands of Indian Muslim clergies have through fatwas, sermons and the media condemned Islamic radicals for terrorism,calling it anti-Islamic. In fact, for the past few years there were indications of Hindu fundamentalists resorting to terror tactics but the fact was brought to light by the administration itself however belatedly. By living in denial, Pakistan is not only being unfair to India, it is also putting its future in great peril.

Posted By danish Ahmed 12:24 PM

Thursday, December 4, 2008

The Fourth Estate of India

Posted by: danish Ahmed 1:23 AM

ANGRY.
Thats the one word that sums up the prevailing mood across India in the aftermath of the horrific terror attacks in Mumbai. Terror attacks have evoked similar sentiments in the past but every time the emotion have died out in a very short period of time, especially after the political parties and the media are done extracting the mojo from it. But the sentiment this time is far more vehement than it has ever been which is quite understandable considering the magnitude of the attack both in terms of devastation as well as audacity. Talk to the common person on the street, 9.9 out of 10 people would hold politicians responsible for the attack on the nation’s sovereignty, and it is not just the politicians in the government that are being blamed, the people have been quite emphatic in holding the entire class of politicians as responsible. This sentiment is quite understandable when we see politicians squabbling among themselves for a share of the pie bought from the hard earned money of the tax-payer. What is worse is the fact that even after coveting the people’s property, politicians do not seem to realize that they have certain duties towards the very people whose money they are squandering away.

The recent terror attacks in Mumbai has actually catalyzed the situation so that the debate now goes beyond this dastardly act to the various commissions and omissions of the ruling class all along at the expense of the welfare and security of the nation. Martyrdom of the Mumbai terror attack like Hemant Karkare, Sandeep Unnikrishanan and others who in many ways represented the middle class Indians served as rude reminders of the fact that unless the common people take the charge, their basic security was at risk.

As the world continues to condense into a thoroughly connected global village, intellectuals, the tax-paying middle class, the students and even journalists have found on the Web and the TV, ways to express their anguish and call for a change. Social software tools like blogs, microblogs, syndicated content, forwarded emails etc and mobile penetration have provided not only a platform to participate in the social and political processes, voice their opinions but also form communities with like minded individuals. This is the Fourth Estate of the Indian state, the child of the information revolution, powered by information and communication technology of the 21st century.
This section of people is more dependable and least susceptible to corruption (in any form) simply because there are no personal gains or losses for them. No wonder, political that "lip-stick wearing, coat tie wearing" Indians should be entitled to political opinions. Naqvi may have belled the cat but he represents the deep-seated resentment that a lot of politicians across party lines have towards educated middle class Indians taking interest in politics. What more evidence do we need? Is it a coincidence that a Leftist CM of Kerala and National Vice President of the BJP, a Rightist, were speaking on the similar lines on the same day? In the past, we have seen all political parties bury differences and come when the question involves a raise or a decrement in salary and other perks granted to elected representatives. Even yesterday i.e. 03/11/08, when asked (by TimesNOW) why such a significant portion of the nation's security asset including the NSG commandos were being deployed for personal security of political leader who apparently had no serious threat to life, politicians from all parties were found to be defending the decision unanimously. Yet, a couple of minutes later, Arnab Goswami of TimesNow was left begging for a consensus between political parties (the Cong and the BJP) on how to deal with this latest terror attack.
There has been at least one positive outcome from this tragedy and that is the galvanizing effect it had on the people, rousing them from slumber and forcing them to stand up and take initiative. Turn on the TV and you could be witnessing a watershed moment, this attack can be taken as a wake up call to rouse a nation from its self-induced slumber.
Prasoon Joshi's poetry, "Is Baar Nahi", TimesNOW's slogan "Action not words", rallies in Mumbai and the chatter across nooks and corners of India indicate the growing assertiveness of a section of Indians. The Fourth Estate of India.



Prasoon Joshi's poem reflecting the sentiment of the aam Indian post Mumbai terror attacks.

Posted By danish Ahmed 1:23 AM