Vol 9 - No. 6



   Shared Values



November 26 has come and gone. This year it has marked the first anniversary of the murder and mayhem in Mumbai in 2008 abbreviated as 26/11, 2008. There are two ways we can look at the intervening period. One is that the killers have not been brought to justice. The other is that some definite progress has been made in that direction. Let us take heart from the second inference and curb our feeling for the moment that not enough has been done. The reality is that it takes time to deliver punishments even in such proven mass murders. It is only recently that Bangladesh has succeeded in nailing the assassins of its founding father Sheikh Mujib-ur-Rahman and almost his entire family nearly three decades after they were shot. Many of these slayers actually had a field day after committing a heinous crime. They were honoured with diplomatic assignments by the rivals of the slain leader on grabbing power. Quite a few are still in hiding in other countries. Interpol has now issued red alert to nab the fugitives.

Eight years after the 9/11, 2001 the powerful United States is still groping the hills of Afghanistan and its borders with Pakistan for smoking out the fountain-head of Al Qaeda that has broken its air of invincibility. Uncle Sam may not have had the last word so far. Its single-mindedness has nevertheless drawn the global focus on the evil of terrorism. In the process its own reading about our sub-continent has undergone a remarkable even if not complete transformation. There is a vast change in its understanding compared to the pre-2001 era including about this State and the country. This healthy makeover reflects in the joint statement of Prime Minister Manmohan Singh and US President Barack Obama in Washington.

The two leaders have left little doubt that the partnership between their countries is "indispensable for global peace and security." The excerpts of the statement speak for themselves: "On the eve of its first anniversary, President Obama reiterated the US's condemnation of the terrorist attack in Mumbai in November 2008. The two leaders underscored the absolute imperative to bring to justice the perpetrators of this terrorist attack. They expressed their grave concern about the threat posed by terrorism and violent extremists emanating from India's neighbourhood, whose impact is felt beyond the region. The two leaders agreed that resolute and credible steps must be taken to eliminate safe havens and sanctuaries that provide shelter to terrorists and their activities. These undermine security and stability in the region and around the world. They vowed to redouble their efforts to deal effectively with terrorism, while protecting their countries' common ideals and shared values and committed themselves to strengthening global consensus and legal regimes against terrorism. They decided on a Counterterrorism Cooperation Initiative to expand collaboration on counterterrorism, information sharing, and capacity building. The two leaders reiterated their shared interest in the stability, development and independence of Afghanistan and in the defeat of terrorist safe havens in Pakistan and Afghanistan." The "shared values" have been identified as "democracy, pluralism, tolerance, openness, and respect for fundamental freedoms and human rights." The joint statement covers a wide range of issues. The underlying theme is the "deepening bilateral cooperation between the world's two largest democracies across a broad spectrum of human endeavours." There is confidence that together the two countries can help in "building a more peaceful, prosperous, inclusive, secure and sustainable world." To many it may sound ironical why the US while unambiguously blaming Pakistan for having "terrorist safe havens" is not able to persuade it to dismantle them affectively. After all, Islamabad is its chosen ally in the war against terrorism. For such state of affairs one can blame Pakistan's mulish approach born of mischievous intent to foment trouble in India.

One hopes that Pakistan listens to the sane advice emanating from the Washington declaration. It has gained nothing by building up and patronising anti-India terrorist outfits in its Punjab province and the occupied territory. Instead, these groups have joined hands with the Taliban and thereby become a threat to peace and security of Pakistan itself. It is for Pakistan to find a way out of the maze of its own making. The onus is all the more on it for, it does not want New Delhi's help to jointly take on the perpetrators of terror. On the present reckoning, therefore, it is unlikely to become a part of the Counterterrorism Cooperation Initiative that India and the US seek to establish. From our point of view there is another comforting development. Mr Obama has assured the Prime Minister that the reference to South Asia in the US-China statement is not aimed at mediation by any third party in the India-Pakistan dialogue. At a Press conference the Prime Minister has demolished the prophets of doom who feared a war between India and Pakistan in the days to come. He has let the US and the world know that New Delhi at least has no such designs and Pakistan has nothing to worry on this count. All that India is interested in is that the executors of the Mumbai carnage are brought to justice. One can appreciate that the judicial trial anywhere is a protracted exercise. What Pakistan is not exhibiting is requisite will, initiative and enthusiasm in this matter. It must get its act together and learn to say no to terror which in any case is eating it like termite. It will achieve nothing if it thinks it can set up armed hoodlums upon us with the intention of nibbling into our territory. The Prime Minister has already asserted that the borders of Jammu and Kashmir can't be redrawn but can be made irrelevant. Islamabad also ought to have heard what a European Union team has said at the residence of a secessionist leader in the Kashmir Valley: "Kashmir is an integral part of India." 

[Kanayalal Raina is a Brampton-based engineer by training, project consultant by profession and freelance writer by passion. He is a Kashmir Pandit now staying in Canada.]


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