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Home > India > News > Columnists > Ram Kelkar

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It's time to hold Pakistan accountable

December 02, 2008

The entire world has been transfixed by the terror and mayhem that unfolded in Mumbai over the past week. Hundreds of Indians died at the hands of ruthless killers along with people of many different nationalities and faiths. Surely we can all agree that nothing can justify such terrible acts, and there can be no moral relativism about the act of killing an innocent person, regardless of nationality, location or so-called 'root causes.'

Surely terrorism is terrorism, right? Wrong.

On Fox News Sunday, on November 30, National Public Radio's Juan Williams had the audacity and unmitigated gall to say that '...(President) Zardari and his attitude towards going after Al Qaeda [Images] in the mountains in Pakistan is so essential if we are ever to take down Al Qaeda... you can't take sides... from Obama's perspective as President-elect... the re-emergence of these tensions between Pakistan and India will take attention away from fighting terrorists...'

Evidently, terrorism is terrorism only if Al Qaeda is killing Westerners in the West.

Apparently, President-elect Obama's sole goal should be to fight Al Qaeda in the mountains of Afghanistan, for which the help of our 'friends' in Pakistan is essential. Therefore India should please be ever so kind and not bother us about thousands of Indian casualties at the hands of terrorists, and not get in the way of the Global War on Terror.

And it wasn't just Juan Williams. As Dorothy Rabinowitz wrote in The Wall Street Journal, new-age guru Deepak Chopra, a 'faithful adherent of the root-causes theory' was bloviating on CNN about the need for a Marshall Plan for Muslims. She added that '... nowhere was there any mention of Islamic fundamentalism... nor did we hear any particular expression of sorrow from the New Delhi-born Dr Chopra for the anguish of Mumbai's victims.' Dr Chopra went on to add that '...this is the moment where India has to stop blaming Pakistan and actually ask Pakistan for help.'

Enough is enough.

The events in Mumbai are a clarion call for action for Indian-Americans and indeed anyone who cares about the true global war against terror. Pick up the phone, send an email or write a letter. Or, ideally, do all of the above. The message to Senators, Congresspersons, media commentators and Letters to the Editor should be simple.

No more coddling of Pakistan and other state sponsors of terrorism.

No more equivocation about Pakistani support of terrorist and jihadist outfits.

No more hypocrisy about the US having the right to fight Al Qaeda terrorists using drones while India has to live under the threat of another 9/11 in Mumbai or elsewhere.

No more hyphenating India with Pakistan.

No more seat at the table for Pakistan to discuss Kashmir.

No more moral equivalence between a secular democracy and a terrorist theocracy.

No more refuge for Dawood Ibrahim [Images] and his ilk in Pakistan.

No more gibberish about 'root causes' to justify terrorist acts.

While Mumbai 26/11 is hardly India's first brush with terrorism on a grotesque scale, the breadth and brutality of the attack on India's financial, cultural and business capital make comparisons to 9/11 quite apt. And that is why many lessons from the US experience after 9/11 are worth remembering.

The US drew a line in the sand after 9/11, and President Bush famously said that 'there was no room for neutrality in the war against terrorism.'

'A coalition partner must do more than just express sympathy, a coalition partner must perform... over time it's going to be important for nations to know they will be held accountable for inactivity,' President Bush said.

It's time to hold Pakistan accountable for inactivity. The West should stand in solidarity with India in telling Pakistan that they cannot allow Lashkar-e-Tayiba and other such groups to exist just so that they can be used to fight a proxy war in Kashmir. And Pakistan cannot allow killers like Dawood Ibrahim to live a life of luxury in Karachi.

Indian Muslims and moderate Muslims across the globe should take up the fight against Wahhabi and other extreme forms of Islamist ideology, instead of constantly repeating bland pieties about how Islam does not stand for terror.

While it may be difficult to speak up for moderation in Peshawar and the tribal areas in Pakistan, where moderates will surely be killed if they dare to speak up, there is absolutely no excuse for the leadership of Pakistan and countries like Saudi Arabia and other Islamic nations who need to speak up against the terrorism, without any reference to 'root causes.'

The evidence of Pakistan's official complicity with terrorists is clear. Even the CIA has acknowledged that Pakistan's Inter Services Intelligence aided and abetted the murderous attack on the Indian embassy in Kabul. The undeniable truth is that Pakistan is a State sponsor of terrorism, which tolerates and nurtures terrorist outfits like LeT and allows assorted armed militants and terrorists to cross the border into India and Afghanistan to kill Indians and Westerners with zero remorse.

Ashley Tellis speaking on Fox News Sunday said that the 'Indians have been developing a Cold Start strategy... which would involve a short cross-border punishing raid in response to any major terrorist act... diplomacy may not have time to work... and you may be preempted by an Indian military attack or a conflict on the border between the two countries.'

If 'Cold Start' scares the living daylights out of the incoming Obama administration because it would distract the Pakistani Army from fighting Al Qaeda in the North West Frontier Province, then so be it. Maybe the West will finally recognise that India has been fighting its lonely war on terror for much longer than the West. And while it maybe too much to expect sympathy and support, India could at least have the same rights of self defence that the West has reserved for itself.

Tell your Senator or Congressperson that either something changes, or else. Time is running out for the West to tell Pakistan that it is 'game over.' Pakistan's obsession with India's success and baseless paranoia about India's intentions cannot be tolerated.

Indians and Indian Americans have had enough. Enough already.

Ram Kelkar is a Chicago-based writer.

Complete coverage: Terror strikes at Mumbai's heart


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