Thank you, Osama!

"We may in the not too distant future be able to go to our Masajid and our Imam-bargaahs without police protection"

If September 11 had happened ten–years–ago Pakistan would have be come a better coun-try by now. Thanks to Osama, we were hauled back to senses from the strategic depths of the Taliban. If September 11 were to happen in the next decade then we would have been even poorer by virtue of sending additional billions down the same Afghan hole. Thanks to Osama, again, we may in the not too distant future be able to go to our Masajid and our Imam–bargaahs without police protection.

The unprecedented crackdown on the extremist elements within our society is on. It must be awfully painful. Just ask anyone who had to put his favourite Doberman to sleep.

Are we on the verge of breaking the status quo? If PTV is any guide then we are not. PTV’s propaganda is not conducive to peace at all. It’s like one arm of the government goes out to shake Vajpayee’s hand while the other is trying to sabotage the whole effort. If the government leads the people to believe that "Kashmir will become Pakistan" and then fails to deliver there is bound to be a backlash. Ayub learnt the hard way and Tashkent finally brought him down.

My legal eagle tells me that all the people who are being arrested or who have been arrested under MPO (Maintenance of Public Order) in the on–going crackdown would have to be released. The last time he looked at the Pakistan Penal Code, keeping a beard or belonging to a madrassa was not against the law. They can be tried under the anti-terrorism law but the government of Pakistan would come short on evidence, as it always does.

To be certain, the state of Pakistan is fully capable of taking care of any non–state actor within its geographical boundaries. In a country like ours where the writ of the central government is reasonably strong, sustenance of on–state actors is actually more of a ‘host–parasite’ phenomenon.

The unprecedented crackdown on the extremist elements within our society is on. It must be awfully painful. Just ask anyone who had to put his favourite Doberman to sleep.

The host almost always gets sick (read: sectarian killings within Pakistan) but there always is an underlying state policy that governs most host–parasite interactions. In our case, the long–held policy has been to facilitate germ–cell migration through the LoC.

Welcome to Dr. Musharraf’s new chapter on parasite management and disease control (the ban on the Lashkar and the Jaish has been extended to Azad Kashmir). Identification of the parasites is easy and the right vaccine has been in store for long. Unfortunately, the state was either unwilling to administer it or our real decision makers thought that it was not in their institutional interest to do so.

Here are four questions sent in by a long–distance scribe. First, Kashmir runs in our blood–a biological analogy — but how can that be if Kashmir has never been part of our body? Second, if Pakistan is a ‘Fortress of Islam’ then why are there police squads outside each mosque? Third, in the age of information superhighways why do we want to remain a fortress (something that only has a heritage value and no military significance whatsoever)? Fourth, we advocate self– determination for seven million Kashmiri Muslims but why do we forget 140 million Pakistanis?

Moinuddin Haider claims that the vaccine has now been injected intravenously. Powell is of the opinion that the doctor should be given a chance because the vaccine needs time to work. Deep down, Jaswant suspects that the vaccine is actually a placebo.

The other issue is that of the adaptive capability of the parasites. Every parasite uses strategies to counteract and ensure survival. The only thing that the mullahs want is a war with India just so that what they now consider as their internal enemy can be humiliated. How equipped are we to fight the parasites? On a scale of 1 to 10, I would say, an 8.

In response to the January 12 "historic" address, the Indian print media exhibited a lot of political maturity. On January 14, The Hindu, in an editorial, said that the "political courage exuded by the Pakistan President, Pervez Musharraf, in addressing India’s concerns raises the vision of a truly promising turn in the crisis–ridden bilateral relationship." The Hindustan Times wrote, "Now that India will have to wait patiently for Pervez Musharraf to turn over a new leaf to begin, hopefully, a new and more moderate phase in his career…."

The American media, however, was less forgiving. The Washington Post wrote, "There were heroic flourishes in his January 12 declaration. But Musharraf’s role in creating the disasters that led to the need for that speech cannot be simply forgotten or forgiven, or compensated."

The divide is getting clearer by the day and the future less cloudy. Within Pakistan, one is either with the status quo or against it. All that the status quo brought us was misery and illiteracy. "Kashmir runs in our blood" represents status quo. Agreeing to resolve Kashmir through blood–less means amounts to breaking the status quo.

Have the Dobermen been put to sleep or have they gone into hibernation? The answer really depends on whether the defenders of the Land of the Pure shall continue to be the defenders of the status quo or are they now sincere in breaking away from the status quo. Is the crackdown a bid to cool off pressure from all sides or does it mean a genuine change in state policy? The settled issue is that what we have achieved so far we couldn’t have without Osama. 

Courtesy: The Friday Times, Pakistan.

Archived from Communalism Combat, January-February 2002 Year 8  No. 75-76, Cover Story 2



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