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Terror at home

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    Terror at home

    Is this a fair assesment or Mr. Jamilur Rahman is a RAW agent.


    Terror at home

    Mir Jamilur Rahman

    The writer is a freelance columnist

    [email protected]

    A top official of the ISI (Inter Services Intelligence) in a rare Press interview has revealed that senior al-Qaeda leaders have filtered across Pakistan into major cities. He has warned that the battle at hand may be one for Pakistan. He acknowledged that there is anti-West, anti-American movement now in Pakistan. There could be danger to individuals; it could hit the president, or anyone.

    This assertion is borne out by the recent terrorist acts. The kidnapping and brutal murder of Daniel Pearl, the attack on a church in Islamabad and the bombing of the naval bus in Karachi point the finger at al-Qaeda and its misguided Pakistani followers. The attack on the Indian parliament and the terror killing of women and children in Jammu could well be the work of al-Qaeda too, which is now operating from the soil of Pakistan. These two incidents are the cause of the heightened crisis between Pakistan and India. President General Musharraf has correctly surmised that whoever perpetrated these terror acts wanted to destabilise Pakistan and cause a war between the two neighbours. Condemning these acts he rejected the Indian claim of Pakistan's involvement in them asking what advantage Pakistan stood to gain by these terrorist acts?

    The unidentified ISI official implicitly conceded that Pakistan had supported Kashmiri Mujahideen in the past, but held out that infiltration that has driven Pakistan and India to the brink of war was halted months ago. In the light of this statement it can be assumed that nine-eleven terror attack on World Trade Centre was the cut off date of infiltration, or cross-border terrorism as India calls it. The January 12 broadcast of President Musharraf reinforced Pakistan's resolve that it would not allow its soil to be used by terrorists. The broadcast was followed by swift action of banning the jihadi outfits suspected of al-Qaeda connection. Their bank accounts were frozen and many of their leaders put under arrest.

    Unfortunately, many in Pakistan are still not alive to the danger of terrorism that has spawned here after the fall of Taliban. They continue holding the view that killing of innocent and unarmed people, which include women and children too, may be evil but an unavoidable offshoot of the freedom struggle. However, the post nine-eleven world does not accept this argument. It is now time to realise that terrorism has harmed the Kashmir cause terribly and disadvantaged Pakistan in the international community. Almost every important country of the world, including our close friends, has admonished Pakistan and implicitly held it responsible for terror in Kashmir urging it to rein in the infiltrators.

    The extraordinary security measure being witnessed in Islamabad nowadays signifies the awareness of the government that terrorism now threatens Pakistan as never before. The capital has been turned into a citadel. The Diplomatic Enclave has been cordoned off. The security checks are rigidly applied to men, women and cars at hotels and public buildings. Police check posts have multiplied. Barriers have been installed every few meters to slow down the vehicular traffic. Even the ISI headquarters has been encircled with traffic barriers. The vehicular traffic is being diverted to side lanes, away from the VIP areas. The commuters are finding it hazardous and time consuming to reach their destinations.

    Traffic diversions, security checks and traffic barriers make life very disconcerting and unpleasant. However, the Islamabadians, and inhabitants of other major cities, are bearing the discomfort in good spirit for they know it is all being done for their safety. This has also brought home to them the fact that the threat of terrorism is very real, which may strike anywhere, any time and any body. To be certain, the terrorist has no religious affinity. He will strike indiscriminately for his aim is to destabilise the government and destroy the social and economic order. His ideology dictates that only on the ashes of anarchy and warfare he would be able to build the world of his liking.

    We have become the victims of self-righteousness and blame Indian propaganda for spoiling the image of Pakistan and its citizens. Many of us sincerely think that our troubles are the product of a conspiracy that America, India and Israel have hatched against us. We refuse to acknowledge that perhaps the fault lies with us. Do we have the right to complain if India takes advantage of our mistakes?

    Nowhere in the world a Pakistani is welcome any more. Not because a Pakistani is a potential terrorist but because Pakistan is now infested with various brands of imported terrorists who have been joined by some Pakistanis of the same ilk. After doing their ugly bit in Afghanistan and consequently made to hit the dust there by the international coalition, they have swarmed to Pakistan to continue their dirty work. Their activities have forced even countries friendly to us to stop issuing visas to Pakistani nationals. These countries are just trying to be extra careful considering that it is quite easy in Pakistan to acquire travel documents on false pretences or by greasing the right palm. An al-Qaeda terrorist thus would have no difficulty in acquiring a Pakistani passport and ID card.

    China is our closest ally and we pride its friendship. Its free port Hong Kong is open to all. Anybody landing there could get the visa instantly. From there many tourists cross over to Mainland China by paying the prescribed visa fee. Only the Pakistani is denied entry unless he has obtained the visa from the Chinese Embassy back home. He feels frustrated and angry when he sees people of other nationalities including Indians crossing over to Mainland China without any hindrance. Is it Indian propaganda or Chinese's own intelligence that has resulted in discrimination against Pakistani nationals? Last month even Hong Kong was closed to Pakistanis. In this wide, wide world only the Pakistani cannot go to Hong Kong unless he has obtained a visa before embarking on the journey.

    Even our Muslim brethren do not welcome us any more. In spite all the terror talk it is still easier to get the visa for the US or a European country than a Muslim country. Indonesia, Malaysia, Central Asian Republics and Arab countries are loath to issue visa to a Pakistani. Some of them flatly refuse to entertain the visa application and some take months to process the application. Here is the good news. There are still two countries in the world where a Pakistani could get the visa on entry; and both are non-Muslims. One is Hindu Nepal and the other is Buddhist Sri Lanka.

    It is not terribly useful to take refuge under the pretext that everybody is after us, conspiring against us. If we examine our conduct honestly and dispassionately we will discover to our chagrin that we ourselves are our worst enemies. It is a painful realisation that nowhere in the world the Indians are bad mouthed but in Pakistan; and nowhere in the world Pakistanis are praised but in Pakistan.