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Musharraf's moment of truth
Tarun Vijay
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July 19, 2007
Though there are views in South Block that we must support Pakistan President Pervez Musharraf [Images] in his hour of crisis -- as a neighbour's difficult times shouldn't bring joy to us -- in my opinion this exactly is the time when we must ensure his exit to ensure free and fair elections in Pakistan.

No doubt Musharraf's actions have proved once again that Islamism is the threat to humanity. We may appreciate his boldness in dealing with its poisonous fangs in a decisive manner, but the deeper truth is that he has reaped what he sowed for us, sending jihadis, encouraging and sponsoring bloodbath in our courtyard, doing a Kargil, labelling butchers and murderers as 'freedom fighters.'

Though the Lal Masjid has changed the scenario altogether for a Western audience, for Indians it is a battle between two evils.

Storming a mosque, that too with a VIP tag, would have been impossible in India.

We can only recall our brave leaders carrying biryani to the holed up terrorists in Hazratbal and scrapping the Prevention of Terrorism Act to the comfort of Islamists.

Musharraf is different for his country. His Turkish connections were always overpowering and he had never hidden his desire to be known as the Kamal Pasha of Pakistan; modern, forward looking, Westernised, yet logically religious.

I have heard Musharraf's speech thrice and all the three times I felt he is genuinely concerned to change Pakistan's image.

He would blast the mullahs and the madrassa education frozen in time.

'Zahili se bahar ao, tangdili se mulk nahin bana karte (Come out of the backward mindset, pettiness doesn't help build a nation)' were the words I noted in my diary while listening to him in Islamabad.

As a Muslim country, Pakistan has no reason for its creation other than an Islamic majority which has to prove 'they are different' since the first demand to create a separate homeland for Muslims was raised, and hence Partition was rooted deeply onto a hatred for Hindus.

Musharraf wanted to walk all these contradictions and yet modernise; he wanted to be looked upon as a victim of terrorism and yet a safe haven for purist Islamists to gain leadership corners in the comity of an elusive Islamic Ummah.

He won't stop the infiltration of terrorists to India through the Kashmir border, yet wanted to be a peacemaker and a reasonable negotiator.

He wanted everything good on both sides -� American dollars with the mullahs' appreciation.

Destiny preferred a one-sided advantage for him and here he is, ever to be known in history as a mosque-stormer general who had cleric Abdul Rashid Ghazi killed with hundreds of followers in a 'brave, courageous and bold' assault on the manufacturers of hate and intolerance.

As for Islamic beliefs, you only live once and wait for the final judgment day.

Musharraf believes he has changed his country's image worldwide as a different ruler in uniform who cared for better values and didn't bend before unrepentant mullahdom, even at a huge cost to his image among the common believer.

He forgets the Lal Masjid was the creation of those who were forced to storm it. It was a favourite place of generals and Inter-Services Intelligence officers to show off their faith.

Back home the general is not getting mass support. Political parties have accused him of acting in haste and regretted the loss of lives, while for a commoner he is an American stooge working against his own people to hold onto power.

Here in Delhi too, I haven't found a single Muslim supporting Musharraf's actions in Lal Masjid. Why? Because a mosque is a mosque and no matter what happens inside nothing should be done to violate its sanctity.

Sanctity? What was Ghazi and his Taliban with automatic weapons doing inside a mosque? Improving the levels of an Islamic centre of faith and learning?

No answer, but only one line gets repeated: 'Whatever be the activities inside, the army's actions were unwarranted.'

This is the mindset that supports Osama bin Laden, using endless examples of US 'arrogance', demands privileges wherever in a minority but refuses any for a non-Muslim society, issues a fatwa to kill Salman Rushdie and a Danish cartoonist but shuts its eyes to what M F Husain does to bruise Hindu feelings.

That is the common Muslim mind in Delhi, Karachi and elsewhere. This needs to be analysed and exposed.

This mindset explains the growing number of followers for hateful dogmas in Kuala Lumpur, Jakarta, Peshawar, Spain, Brussels, London [Images], New York and Paris and up the Silk Route in Xinjiang to Dhaka, and the tiny dot in the Indian Ocean -- the Maldives.

The interesting part, however, is that the oft-repeated false belief of the secular band in India that 'we are different, only a handful foreigner jihadis are engaged in a 'holy war' against India' has been finally torn to pieces by the young, professional, dedicated 'brave-heart soldiers' of home-grown jihad.

The men responnsible for the Glasgow adventure have brought a new introduction to the fabulously fast information technology industry's futuristic Kashi called Bangalore.

The truth is unless we recognise that it is the Islamist ideology -- in its pure, undiluted and uncompromising form -- that poses a threat to world peace, amity and the idea of a pluralistic society, we can't make a collective strategy to defeat it.

The Western Christian world is clear about its goal and pursues it for its own safety with all the resources at its hands.

It is only India, the worst sufferer of Islamic terrorism on this planet, that hobbles its choices and hides its pins as if feeling too embarrassed to point out the real aggressor.

India is the only nation that prides in shielding the culprits and blaming the victims for their woes. We love to announce the death of POTA, the talks with traitors in the valley, ignore the agonies and depressions of soldiers asked to defend a land for which negotiations are kept on for a deal and create new divisions through casteist and communal reservations.

While Musharraf stormed the Lal Masjid, we are encouraging new Lal Masjids for a vote bank.

The Lal Masjid episode is the climax for General Musharraf's career and he must look forward for a descent now, fast indeed.

The positive side of it can only be seen in the form of a deep reflection an influential and elite Muslim mind has gone into. Smaller in number, yet a vocal section of Muslim people in India and Pakistan have shown great courage and introspection post-Lal Masjid.

They need everybody's support and care should be taken that such incidents are not used for Muslim-bashing or teasing them -- look this is how you preach and behave.

The problem with Arabian Islamism, the root cause of all extremism propagated as a purist form of Islam, is that it dismisses any dialogue or a re-look at its beliefs. It should be discussed and analysed in the modern context.

Personal Law Boards, unless they change with the times and do not force a second parallel constitutional authority, should be made redundant and irrelevant because these are the centres of Wahabi separatism and fossilised attitudes -- like the madrassas that nourish hate and segregation.

Tarun Vijay is the Editor of Panchjanya, the Hindi weekly owned by the Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh.

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