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The News International, January 25, 2002

India does it again

Masud Akhtar Shaikh

The writer is a retired Colonel and freelance columnist

From Delhi to Calcutta is a pretty long distance, but not for those determined to carry on their professional assignments of committing acts of terror to malign Pakistan. It is a common knowledge that when the police starts investigation of a criminal case in real life, the first question to which it tries to seek an answer is: What could be the most likely motive of the person who committed the offence? This first step provides the clue that ultimately leads them to lay their hands on the offender. However, the Indian government seems to be in too great a hurry to trap Pakistan before the current international hype about terrorism subsides. I don't blame them because once this golden opportunity is lost, and Pakistan manages to become the apple of the international community's eyes, successfully putting its economy back on the rails, it would be futile for India to indulge in all ruses of this nature. It may then have to spend another few billion dollars from its exchequer to isolate and destabilize its nuclear opponent. Hence, the first step of determining the motive behind the latest act of terrorism in Calcutta can wait for some other time. The blame has already been laid on the shoulders of Pakistan. One may pardon India for skipping over the first step in a hurry, but then what about the subsequent steps which ultimately lead to the pin pointing of a culprit? You cannot make the whole process of investigation topsy-turvy for the sake of an ulterior motive. Somehow, this is what the Indian authorities have become accustomed of doing with respect to the cases involving terrorism. For instance, the procedure followed by all civilized countries is that a suspect is named as a result of the preliminary enquiry in which motive plays an important role. Then comes the process of gathering of evidence through various sources. The accused does not become a culprit till a court of law declares him to be so on the basis of the evidence produced by the prosecution. But in case of India, immediately after a crime is detected, the officials name a ready-made accused and simultaneously designate him as the culprit. Evidence is manufactured subsequently at leisure.

A striking feature of the Indian system of investigation of crimes relating to terrorism is that invariably, only one accused is named. And that happens to be Pakistan every time. This is done to simplify matters. The less the number of accused, the lesser the botheration of cooking up evidence and proving the case. However, keeping the Indian motives in view, proving a case against Pakistan should be no problem for them. Actually, rather than demanding the trial of a suspect in a court of law, India is more interested to use the international community as the judges to give their verdict. India knows well that over the years its aggressive media campaign has earned for it an international standing that makes the big countries of the world swallow the biggest Indian lies as the gospel truth.

This needs no proof. Even the events following the recent attack on the Indian parliament have made it abundantly clear that the major powers have found it more in accordance with their national interests to believe the pack of lies that India has been dishing out to them regarding the mischief Pakistan was supposed to have played at Delhi against its "innocent" neighbour. No wonder, every Bush, Powel, and Blair has been exhorting the Pakistani President to do the needful to satisfy India in order to reduce tension in the region. I am sure they all know the factual position but do not have the guts to sacrifice their national interests by annoying India.

Indian tendency to accuse Pakistan every time reminds me of the good old Mata Din, a class fellow of mine at the school in the early forties, who had somehow gained the notoriety of being the most naughty student of the class. In actual fact he was a very humble boy, a simpleton of the first order, who was always well behaved. His only weakness was that he could never defend himself whenever his class fellows levelled a false allegation against him. The moment there was some mischief in the classroom while the teacher struggled with his accounts and the fee register, the students would unabashedly blame Mata Din for the same.

The teacher would punish him straightway, without giving the poor fellow a chance to prove his innocence. It so happened one day that the boys blamed Mata Din for making noise in the class while the teacher was busy doing some work. Without even raising his eyes from the fee register, the teacher gave his verdict, ordering Mata Din to stand on the bench for the rest of the day. Finding no response from Mata Din, the teacher shouted again but was shocked to learn that the habitual "mischief monger" had not come to the class that day!

I always had all my sympathies with Mata Din, just as I have for Pakistan under the present circumstances. At times I find Pakistan to be in even a more pitiable state than Mata Din, especially when I see our worthy President and his team members making sincere attempts to convince the world about Pakistan's innocence of every charge levelled against it by India, and expressing their genuine desire for peaceful co-existence with the neighbours, without cutting much ice with the world powers that matter. At the risk of being labelled as an obedient servant of the United States, General Musharraf has been going out of his way to comply with the wishes of the American government to placate an obstinately haughty leadership on the other side of the fence, without any positive response to his noble gestures. It is a pity that India has been taking all this as a sign of Pakistan's weakness and seems determined to exploit it to its best advantage. Hence the never-ending list of Indian demands on Pakistan. The latest attack on the American consulate in Calcutta could be another Indian ploy to implicate Pakistan, thereby neutralizing the results expected from the Powel mission to the region. If India has found it convenient not to establish some reasonable motive on the part of Pakistan for going all the way to Calcutta just to kill four Indian policemen, what stops the international community from enquiring why, after all, should Pakistan undertake such a silly venture at this particular time when it cannot afford to lose even an inch of the ground it has managed to gain since it committed itself to join the international coalition against terrorism? At least to appear genuine to the naked eye of the world, India should have included in its list of suspects, those who could have a very legitimate motive to do what they did. It could be the job of desperados having some grievance against the police; or it could be a manoeuvre on the part of one of those extremist Hindu organisations that do not want de-escalation on the borders; it could also be attributed to the Indian freedom fighters of the next-door province of Assam or the NEFA region. How is it that India has ignored all these possibilities and picked up on Pakistan without the slightest hesitation?


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