Lal Masjid - Pakistan's Blue Star?
Lal Masjid has become Pakistan’s Akal Takht of the 80s, Abdul Rashid Ghazi, the Bhindranwale of Pakistan, and the Musharraf campaign to cleanse the mosque, today’s Operation Blue Star. One wonders though, if any one has bothered to learn the lessons of Operation Blue Star. It is eminently macho that army generals should holler out blood curdling howls. So Pakistan President Pervez Musharraf told Islamists besieged at an Islamabad mosque to surrender or face being killed. "They should not prolong. They should surrender and hand over their weapons, otherwise they risk being killed," Musharraf told reporters in his first public comment on the confrontation.
India's leader at the time of the Operation Blue Star, Mrs. Indira Gandhi was often described as the only man in the cabinet, but she was a woman after all, and so she was perhaps more discreet in her challenge to Sant Bhindaranwale and his cohorts holed up inside the Golden Temple but her generals went n and did pretty much what Musharraf’s generals were doing, using copy book military strategies to take on fanatics driven more by passion and vision than by tactics or territory. A few months after the siege, Mrs. Gandhi was dead shot by her body guards who cared more about heir faith than her person. Pakistan’s President Musharraf has already escaped one rocket attack hours after the Lal Masjid siege. Is any one in Pakistan listening at all or is it that it has been a long time since a head of state died in office there?
India has its share of hawks who would say that the jackboot is the solution to every problem that the country has be it floods in Rajasthan, or communal riots in Aligarh, insurgency in Manipur or the Naxalites in Chattisgarh. There is little attempt to understand, why these movements arose, why they continue to thrive and prosper, what ideological props they possess and why they hold appeal here. Instead, the thinking of the establishment is that the army can go any where, do any thing, kill and suppress any one - veni, vidi, vici in the true style of Julius Caesar. The truth is that it is an incomplete perception. Army boots and flag marches can bully people into submission for a time, for a season, but not forever. Popular movements and beliefs can not be subdued easily, or else there would be no shriveled up monarch in Nepal, no moth-eaten Pakistan and no hemorrhaging democracy in Sri Lanka, not to mention India’s own numerous bleeding spots.
There is a lot of talk in India about winning over the hearts and minds of discontented people but no attempt is made to listen to the beating of the heart. Army doctors going and tending to wounds that other soldiers have inflicted or repairing huts and mosques and temples can feel the throbbing pulse but not the bleeding heart. When that effort is made and attempts made to listen, one can have some very pleasantly unexpected results. In a recent development, The Asom Sahitya Sabha, the apex literary body of Assam, has urged the ULFA and other insurgent groups to give up their demand for secession and sit for unconditional talks with the government.
The President of the literary body Kanak Sen Deka told reporters that the Asam Sahitya Sabha did not support any secessionist activities and was of the firm opinion that Assam was an integral part of India. The Sabha said the allegation made by secessionist organizations that colonial rule was imposed on Assam through the Constitution was only a conspiracy detrimental to Assam's interest. Moderate voices like this which speak with authority and credibility and challenge the voices of violence, no matter where it comes from are to be welcomed. Amongst Muslims, among Hindus, among Christians, among every one. For instance , many of us would find the policies , programs and ideologies of the leftists in India archaic. But given the fact that there is a leftist space in the political sphere and that space has to be occupied by some one, who you would rather prefer – Sitaram Yechury and the sedate Prakash Karat or some masked underground comrade screaming lal salaam as he kidnaps you for ransom or hold you on trial in a Peoples’ Court?
It is time that we encourage the State to think in terms of policies and initiatives that are not derived from the Mosaic 'eye for an eye' policy but encourage moderate and peace loving voices to rise, speak up and isolate violence as is beginning to happen in Assam. Or else a long and silent night will soon descend accompanying an unending winter.
Lal Masjid - Pakistan's Blue Star?
- » Published on July 10, 2007
- » Type: Opinion
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