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|November 1, 2001||
Other people's wars: we need to worry only about our national interests - Part II
The monomaniacal American obsession with Osama bin Laden is entirely foolish. Terrorist, Inc. is a hydra-headed monster with many shadowy commanders: for instance, there are the Egyptian doctor and the shadowy Arab (Mughniyeh?) who has undergone plastic surgery so nobody knows what he looks like. It is entirely possible that bin Laden isn't really the mastermind behind the WTC bombing.
It could well be the Pakistani ISI. Was it pure coincidence that General Mahmood Ahmed, head of the ISI and godfather to the Taleban, just happened to be in the US on the fateful September 11th? Is this all a vast production with the intent of getting Musharraf and the Pakistanis back on good terms with the gullible Yanks? Diabolical, that would be. Well, they did assassinate Ahmed Shah Masoud just days before the WTC bombing, figuring, correctly, that the Northern Alliance would find it difficult to regroup after his death. Someone was able to figure this out, I would argue most likely the ISI: clever fellows, these.
It really is a fight between two world-views. Samuel Huntington's "clash of civilizations" predicts that Western/Christian civilization will engage in mortal combat with the Islamic civilization. It is again someone else's war, a continuation of the Crusades that pitted Christians against Muslims. Let them savage each other. What business is this of India's? Better to stand on the sidelines and try to avoid collateral damage. And fight our battles alone, as we always have.
They understand each other, these Muslims and Christians: they, and the Marxists, all monotheists who believe in revealed scripture, are all capable of descending into fundamentalist terrorism quite easily: consider the Spanish Inquisition, the Taleban, and the Khmer Rouge. In all these cases, a vacuum was created, which was filled by fiery extremists. We of gentler faiths find these Reigns of Terror incomprehensible. We have no role in this blood-letting, as Pontius Pilate allegedly said. Let us sit tight and bide our time, mouthing platitudes. We are good at that.
Meanwhile, back at the ranch in Beijing, things are cooking, too. Did anybody notice the Taleban's offer to hand over Osama bin Laden to 'neutral' China? A report in The New York Times said a Bulgarian arms-merchant met bin Laden somewhere in China (he found out from a quick look at his Magellan GPS receiver) to discuss getting hold of Ukrainian nuclear material and bombs. A recent report says that the Chinese paid many millions to bin Laden for unexploded cruise missiles from the Clinton attack on Afghanistan -- no doubt to reverse-engineer them.
So, all in all, there is a cozy relationship between Islamist extremists and China despite Chinese brutality to their Uighur Muslims: clearly there is a Sino-Islamic Axis, as I have been saying for some time, echoing Huntington. A number of Chinese have been killed fighting on the side of the Taleban recently. Besides, did you notice how the tensions between China and the US post the spy-plane incident have vanished, and they are on very good terms again? China has acceded to the WTO with no fuss whatsoever in the middle of all this blanket coverage of Afghanistan.
China too, just like the US, has its eyes on Central Asian oil, mainly from Kyrgyzstan. Remember that a large part of America's interest in the 'New Great Game' is Central Asian oil, to be piped through Afghanistan to Pakistan? Unocal, an oil major, gave visiting Taleban an all-expenses-paid gala tour of Houston, I believe, a while ago: they have been waiting to build this pipeline. China would rather divert it through Xinjiang for its own burgeoning consumption. With America embroiled in this nasty war against Afghanistan, it looks the Chinese have won this round.
If you were to look strictly at benefits from the WTC bombings, the major beneficiaries are China and Pakistan. Would it make sense to wonder if there is cause and effect as well? Arabs believe the total disinformation that 4,000 Jewish Americans working at the WTC did not show up on the fateful day. Has anyone checked how many Chinese called in sick?
In any case, it is increasingly clear that this war is not ours. Let America fight its battles. The only thing that is alarming is the thought of Pakistan's nuclear weapons falling into the hands of the true terrorists; that is, if they haven't already. Recent reports talk of Pakistani nuclear scientists being arrested for being close to bin Laden and company. It is well-established that the Islamists have been looking for nuclear material for some time, so it is possible especially with the loose controls in countries like the Ukraine, that they have found what they sought.
However, this is no reason to be tender towards Musharraf and his boys. For, they are themselves, thanks to Zia-ul-Haq's policies, a highly Islamist army these days -- full of fundamentalists. So, in reality, the 'Islamic Bomb' is already in the hands of Islamicists. The only good thing about the Pakistani Army holding the bomb is that -- one hopes -- they are not quite as ready as some wild-eyed terrorist to blow everybody up in search of martyrdom. Musharraf has somehow convinced the Americans that he is all that stands between the Islamists and their bomb. This is a nice myth, good blackmail tactic. What, apres Musharraf, la deluge?
India needs to create a contingency plan to 'liberate' the nukes and the nuke-building infrastructure from the hands of the Pakistanis. It would be much easier for the US to do this, but they are unlikely to do it. Therefore, India needs to be able to do it, much like Israel did with Iraq's Osiraq reactor years ago. The Israelis offered then to pulverize Kahuta too, but the oh-so-sanctimonious Nehruvian Stalinists were horrified: whatever would the Arabs think?
US Senator Joseph Biden, a non-proliferation fundie who is no friend of India's, has just wagged his finger admonishingly at India: do not grab Pak nukes, he says. And if we do, what exactly will Biden do? Throw a tantrum and call mommy? We should ignore the blighter and just go ahead. If the nukes are neutralized, there is no further reason to be worried about the implosion of Pakistan, and its possible fragmentation into small, tribal, enclaves that will be perpetually at war with each other, roughly like Afghanistan.
Indian 'secular' 'progressives' submit without proof the assertion that "a prosperous and stable Pakistan is in India's best interests". Really? Why isn't a failed, impoverished and broken Pakistan a better solution for India? Each of the resulting statelets would be too weak to threaten India, that is when they can tear themselves away from fighting each other and the Punjabis, their common enemy?
Pakistan is a failed state: it has not been able to build an identity for itself after all these years. That is because it stands for nothing at all other than being "not-India". There is no basis for nationhood. It is a collection of people who have nothing in common other than Islam. And that has clearly not been sufficient for a cohesive nation, see 1971. Indeed, the various varieties of Islam have been busy demonizing each other and killing their supporters and declaring each other to be heresies.
India's war is against the real terrorists nurtured by Pakistan, Saudi Arabia and China. The Americans are shadow-boxing: they only want to make a lot of noise, declare victory and go home. Which they will, come what may: they may even get bin Laden, but that would be a Pyrrhic victory as they would have created a martyr out of him. India's problem is much greater: the daily grind of finding terrorists and neutralizing them. We will muddle on with this, while the great American circus will come and go, full of sound and fury, signifying nothing.
Reader Karna asked me about the linguistic gyrations English-language journalists in India are going through to describe the perpetrators of violence in Jammu and Kashmir. Why are they referred to as 'militants', 'guerillas', 'mujahideen', 'fidayeen', etc., he asked me. I honestly don't know why. It must be woolly-headed 'secular' 'progressive'-itis: they cannot bring themselves to acknowledge what these people are: simply terrorists.
It's beyond me why we need to sanctify their acts with Arabic terms that may have resonant meanings (for instance a martyr's alleged ascent to paradise where 72 eager virgins await him. I am told this is a major incentive for suicide bombers. 72? Most men are hard pressed to handle just one eager virgin!)
I like the robust American way of simply calling them 'terrorists': it dehumanizes them; killing them is just like getting rid of vermin. The Americans are good at this: it is exactly the same way they used to treat the American Indian -- as vermin to be exterminated, with a price to be paid for each scalp. It worked, too.
In India, the only people who have been so dehumanized are the RSS. I mentioned in a previous column that Hindus were being killed by Marxists in Kerala. A few readers wrote to me saying these were not Hindus, they were only RSS. Oh, RSS are not people, so it is okay to kill them, right? The 'secular' 'progressives' have managed to label them and demonize them thus. Incidentally, when someone converts to Marxism, they should be required to take on a new name like Stalin, Mao, Marx, Che, Fidel (just like when they convert to Islam): so that no one confuses them with people of other faiths.
Some time ago, we were advised to not take violent revenge against the Bangladeshis who tortured and mutilated Indian soldiers (note: torture and mutilation seem to be standard practices when one wishes to induce terror in the hearts of the enemy). The argument was that any drastic action would lead to significant political losses for "India's friend", Sheikh Hasina, the then prime minister of Bangladesh.
Well, India didn't do a thing, the families of the soldiers suffered in silence. We believed Sheikh Hasina, India's friend, would come through in the general elections. Alas, so much for intel: she lost in a landslide to Begum Khaleda Zia, who, with the help of fundamentalist Muslim parties, has now formed a government. And immediately begun their favorite pastime, harassing Hindus. Murders, property-grabs, rapes, forcible conversions and forced marriages, especially of teenaged schoolgirls, the long sorry columns of refugees into India: the usual, you know.
And this, right when Muslims are trying to put their best foot forward and show that they are peaceful people! But, of course, they knew that the Indian media would never pay attention to this. And they were right. According to the Marxists in the English-language media, it is the proper fate of Hindus to be thus harassed. The sooner all the Hindus convert, the better, they think.
And so much for the fabled 'composite culture' of Muslims and Hindus living together, one big family. They always tell me that Bengal is different, they love their language so much that they don't really care what your religion is, being Bengali is enough. But this is a myth: for it was Muslim Bengalis who originated the idea of Partition.
It is exactly the same in Kashmir: there too, there is some mythical kashmiriyat, with an allegedly tolerant Sufi Islam co-existing with Hinduism and Buddhism. Only, there are now no non-Muslims left in the Vale of Kashmir to co-exist with: they have all been ethnically cleansed, murdered, or converted. No, it is the old Koranic idea of "lands of the faithful" and "lands of the infidel". The objective is to turn the latter into the former through whatever means are available.
But I guess there is no reason to worry, General Musharraf assures us that "Islam is the most tolerant religion". A friend asked me, "On which planet? Surely not on this one!"
That all this coincides with the Hindu Bengalis' most important religious festival, Durga Puja, which they almost had to cancel on account of severe oppression, is of no consequence to the Muslim Bangladeshis. But on the other hand, the Americans must not continue their bombing into the "Muslim holy month of Ramadan", otherwise it will hurt Muslim religious sentiments, again says the inevitable Musharraf. So their Muslim sentiments shouldn't be hurt, but others' religious sentiments can be hurt with impunity?
Now that India manifestly has no 'friends' in the corridors of power in Bangladesh, why should India step on eggshells in regards to that country? Our stock couldn't possibly any lower. Why don't we do some discreet and covert things there?
At the very least, I'd like to invite you to sign a petition to the United Nations, at www.petitiononline.com/HRCBM101 . The Human Rights Congress for Bangladesh Minorities www.hrcbm.org has a comprehensive website describing the atrocities.
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