Pakistan Interior Minister Mr. Abdul Rehman Malik is not famous for his tact and diplomatic skills. Not surprisingly he peppered his recent visit to India with a string of tactless and unnecessary remarks that badly muddied the atmosphere. Predictably this raised hackles among Indian media and official circles. But there is need to distinguish between what Mr. Malik was trying to convey and what he actually said. New Delhi should be mature enough to reject the messenger without rejecting the message.
What in substance did Mr. Malik say?
Apart from his provocative observations about Babri Masjid, Kargil martyr Saurab Kalia and terrorist Abu Jundal Mr. Malik also pointed out that Indian agencies could have prevented 26/11 and that terrorist links had penetrated the American and Indian establishments as well as the Pakistani establishment. Recalling the episode related to 26/11 operative David Coleman Headley Mr. Malik said:
“If you put things together, there are three guys, one coming from the US, and he has money, he has got credit cards, he has moved all over, he has created franchise, he has created a social circle. All these should have come to the attention of some agencies. Now the agencies failed. Both here and in Pakistan. Why? Because there was no interaction between Pakistan and India.”
Was Mr. Malik wrong in saying this?
After the David Coleman Headley exposure this scribe wrote on December 18, 2009:
“Circumstantial evidence suggests that Headley could have received logistical support from rogue official sources in America , Pakistan and India . In other words he may be more than a rogue double agent. He could be serving a rogue fifth column that aids terrorism and has penetrated governments in America, India and Pakistan .”
A few days later on December 23, 2009 one referred to a page one Statesman report by Raju Santhanam which said:
“Had 26/11 occurred on 29/11, the Prime Minister, Dr Manmohan Singh, would have been at Mumbai’s Trident Hotel. On the very day that the attacks took place, India’s top security agencies, including Intelligence Bureau and the Special Protection Group, had “cleared” Dr Singh’s engagement there that was scheduled three days later.”
It might be recalled that earlier FBI had specifically warned Indian authorities about an impending attack from sea against the hotels that were targeted, including the Trident hotel. Security ordered at these hotels was inexplicably lifted before the attack as the Statesman had reported.
Commenting on this report this scribe asked:
“If the above quoted reports are correct, who took the decision to lift security from the targeted hotels before 26/11? Was the decision to clear the Prime Minister’s engagement in the Trident Hotel on 29/11, which was cleared on 26/11, within the knowledge and consent of the National Security Adviser? If not, why not? These are questions that Home Minister Chidambaram cannot evade. With regard to national security the government is either criminally negligent or criminally subverted. Will the government respond?”
On 17 October 2010 it was further noted:
“Mr. MK Narayan who was the National Security Adviser was quietly removed from his post and made Governor. There is no way of knowing whether the decision had anything to do with the scandalous security lapse. Had the agencies acted on the specific FBI warning 26/11 could have been averted. There is no public report of any official inquiry into this serious security lapse. Why?”
Need one recall that currently Mr. Narayan is involved in another controversy related to the probe of Rajiv Gandhi’s assassination created by revelations in a new book by a former official who investigated the case? Mr. Narayan’s integrity may be beyond doubt as would be about a host of other officials. But can one say the same about their judgment? Modern subversion and warfare has perfected techniques of manipulating officials who are made to act without knowledge of what purpose they are in truth serving.
The pathetic gap between the challenge of global terrorism and the response to it by our government can be gauged from how the Ministry of Home Affairs (MHA) reacted to Mr. Malik. Responding to Mr. Malik’s allegation that Abu Jundal had served Indian Intelligence at one point of time the government stated that the main issue was that the Mumbai attack was conceived and planned and directed from “the soil of Pakistan” and Islamabad failed to prevent it.
May one remind the government that the 26/11 terrorist attack occurred on the soil of India and the Indian government failed to prevent it? While fighting global terror it is laughable that location gets precedence over identity of the terrorists. Let our government rest assured that there are today pro-China elements working against the US from American soil. Likewise there are pro-US elements working against China from Chinese soil. That is what global terrorism is all about. The enemy is not this or that government, however incompetent or subverted any government might be. The enemy is a global force fighting peace and stability. Abu Jundal should be viewed neither as Indian nor Pakistani. He is a terrorist with no abiding loyalty to any government.
That is what fighting global terrorism entails. Governments must know the enemy in order to fight him. As long as officials in New Delhi and Islamabad continue to score debating points against each other they serve global terrorism. Mr. Malik said that terrorism will continue to succeed as long as there is “no interaction between India and Pakistan”. That statement provides a good starting point.
Instead of scoring brownie points against Islamabad our government should ask:
“Fine! What kind of interaction is required? Will the Pakistan army, the ultimate saviour of security in Pakistan consent to enter joint defence with India as former President Ayub Khan had suggested in 1959 and our government had foolishly refused? Today if India makes that offer will Pakistan as foolishly refuse it?”
That is what needs to be addressed. Merely exposing this or that action of the Pakistan government that reveals complicity or negligence is futile.