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Archive for February, 2002

Labelling Enemies as Terrorist

At face value the brutal murder of Abdur Rahman, Afghanistan Interim Government (AIG) Minister for Aviation and Tourism, looked like a spontaneous mob reaction by Hajj-bound Afghans irate at not being provided aircraft for their pilgrimage. Actually it was a carefully planned execution deliberately carried out publicly with multiple intentions, viz (1) to eliminate a person within the regime viewed as a turncoat (2) to put the fear of God into the other leaders in the AIG for not complying with the dictates of the Punjsheeri Tajiks and (3) escape retribution by camouflaging the assassination as mob violence because of an emotional issue. Abdur Rahman belonged to Jamaat-e-Islami before a disagreement with late Ahmed Shah Masood forced him to flee to New Delhi. He later joined the Monarchists loyal to King Zahir Shah. To the Punjsheeri Tajiks Abdur Rahman was a traitor twice-over, a dead-man walking, waiting to be symbolically eliminated, a very public warning to someone who had the temerity to question the Punjsheeri Tajik-cult hero, late Ahmed Shah Masood.

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Back to the Friendship

Daniel Pearl’s kidnapping hitting the media headlines notwithstanding, there is surprisingly a lot of warmth in the US about Pakistan. This is a post-Sept 11 development. The quite unnecessary pronouncement by Richard Haas about Pakistan being on the way of being “a failed State” pre-Sept 11 was shocking, maybe it was meant to satisfy an Indian audience but coming from the Head of Policy Planning of the US State Department it was probably meant to shock. For the record there is as much association of Pakistan with terrorism as most other countries in the world, there being a fine line between freedom fighters and terrorists. Not the fallacy India has been desperately trying to project but one must accept that we have made our share of mistakes over the years, in this day and age it is no surprise they are coming home to roost. Wherever one went, people knew General Pervez Musharraf by name, he was spoken of with admiration. Everyone seemed to know that he was engaging in sweeping reforms at great personal risk. They held him out as an example of commitment to do the right thing. What they were surprised to hear was that the process of change had been initiated earlier, only the speed had increased manifold. More of a pleasant surprise was that Pakistanis of all ilk were united in the premise that Musharraf not only represented Pakistan’s best hope, he in fact was their last hope. Used to the edifying sight of a divided Pakistani community abroad, the contra elements were drowned out of contention and became a fringe element. The President’s visit came at a good time for Pakistan, for a change there was a receptive audience in USA for a Pakistani leader. Since the rest of the world does more or less at this time what the US wants, one expects a very positive fallout from his presence in the world’s capital.

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Davos in New York

Almost 150 days to the day that the Sept 11 horror struck New York, the 31st Annual World Economic Forum (WEF) opened in the Waldorf Astoria, the first time the annual gathering had travelled outside the ski-resort of Davos. As a vote of solidarity and sympathy, Klaus Schwab rang up (then) Mayor Rudy Guiliani to initiate the logistics feat of shifting the world’s “movers and shakers” to be able to discuss tangible issues under tight security. Seattle New York is not, New York Police Department (NYPD) outnumber Seattle’s 6,000 cops by many multiple times. Well trained, the city’s finest handled protesters without resorting to violence. Over 3,000 important figures from the world of business and industry, at least 30 Heads of State and Government (including a handful of monarchs), government functionaries, academics, media persons, NGO representatives, etc ran the gauntlet of protesters on Park Avenue and stringent security checks to discuss the theme of the Meeting, “Leadership in Fragile Times”.

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With Enemies like Advani

Believe it or not, it is increasingly becoming a fact that India’s Home Minister L K Advani is Pakistan’s biggest asset in the struggle to counter India’s motivated propaganda to declare Pakistan “a terrorist State”. His place on this pedestal would be a dead heat with George Fernandes but Fernandes is a Christian and despite his best efforts to sound like a Hindu revivalist, he lacks the venom that Advani generates inherently due to the basic character quirk in the conservative Hindu psyche bedevilling Hindu-Muslim relationship in the South Asian sub-continent. It is no coincidence that Sindhi Advani feels that his ancestors let the side down by allowing Muhammad Bin Qasim establish a foothold for Islam in the sub-continent in the first place. He has made eradication of Muslim rule anywhere in the regional hemisphere his personal war to wage, there being no comparable word in the Hindu religion for “Jehad” or “crusade”.

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