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Rumsfield, Say No!

Rumsfield, Say No!

Author: Editorial
Publication: The Statesman
Date: November 5, 2001

Introduction: Concern for Ramzan is hypocritical

There is something incongruous in retired Air Marshal Haider of Pakistan expounding to the BBC on the need for the United States to stop all offensive activities in Afghanistan, specifically bombing raids during the month of Ramzan; he was echoing what President Musharraf is expected to urge on Defence Secretary Donald Rumsfeld when he comes calling. Rumsfeld should have a few pertinent quesions for Musharraf. One, is he aware that in the internecine warfare going on within Afghanistan, between Muslim Taliban and Muslim Northern Alliance forces, this past decade and more, has there ever been a halt to the fighting during Ramzan. The answer is clearly in the negative and the follow up question should be - if Muslims on both sides have not respected Ramzan is there any reason for America to do so? The Air Marshal was waxing eloquent on how 80 per cent of Muslims are in mosques during this period and how the month is devoted to prayer, goodwill, and asking for forgiveness. Two, the terrorism in Kashmir has gone on for over a decade; is the wily Pakistani president able to confirm that Muslims infiltrators have stopped killings, rape, and other forms of violence against Muslim civilians in deference to Ramzan? It should be within his knowledge that there was no such let-up; he himself was actively involved in training, financing and pushing in his regular troops into Kashmir for terrorist activities and aiding and abetting the Taliban to do the same and no one has ever heard that they respected the sanctity of Ramzan. The truth is that Musharraf is getting increasingly desperate over the plight of the Taliban. It is understandable from his point of view that he should be pleading for a halt to the bombing on any excuse and Ramzan is only an excuse. The purpose is not religious observances; the purpose is to give his friends a respite to regroup, rearm and re-equip if America is so ill-advised as to succumb to what can be aptly described as religious blackmail.

For Rumsfeld's convenience, Musharraf, earlier with American connivance, has been supplying Taliban with weapons, an activity that has never ceased because Musharraf's army has developed intimate and mutually profitable bonds based on the huge drug trade and under the cover of Islamic fundamentalism which has become such a menace to the world. He has called for a quick, sharp campaign, knowing that this was impossible; he has extracted millions of dollars in return for being at America's side, but it does not mean that he has changed sides. He is an expert at double dealing as was shown at Lahore; while he was infiltrating his troops and mercenaries, including Afghans into the Kargil sector of the Line of Control, his prime minister was talking peace with Indian prime minister Vajpayee. His soldiers did not hesitate to mutilate bodies of Indian soldiers killed in action and he has had no hesitation in killing innocent Kashmiri civilians in an effort to prise Kashmir out of India's grasp where it belongs. In the current operations, Musharraf has misled the Americans with doctored intelligence, in particular the Afghan anti-Taliban leader, Abdul Haq was delivered into the hands of the Taliban while he was reassuring America that he was helping to identify the moderate Taliban. Moderate Taliban is a contradiction in terms; to look for them is to look in a dark room for a black cat that isn't there! It has taken the Americans a long time to unmask Musharraf, and even now it is not absolutely clear that they have fully succeeded.

A month's halt ot the bombing is intended to give the Taliban the time they need; if forgiveness is what they seek, it should not take that long.

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