What if it were Connaught Place, not Times Square?

It's time Clinton and the US' western allies stopped playing the double-game with India


Prabhat Shunglu | May 10, 2010

Hillary Rodham Clinton could not contain her apparent anger when she spoke out against Pakistan in a lexicon only the secretary of state of the world’s lone super power could dare to use to chilling effect. In an interview to a news channel Clinton threatened Pakistan of dire consequences had the Times Square bomb scare been more than just that. "We've made it very clear that if, heaven-forbid, an attack like this that we can trace back to Pakistan were to have been successful, there would be very severe consequences," Clinton said in an interview to CBS' '60 Minutes' programme.

Faisal Shahzad, a naturalised American citizen who was born in Pakistan and who says he had terrorist training there, has confessed to planting the car bomb that fizzled out in New York last week. Investigations have also uncovered his possible links to the Pakistani Taliban and a Kashmiri Islamist group.

Now supplant an S M Krishna or a P Chidambaram in place of Hillary Clinton. Transport the theatre of violence from New York to New Delhi. From Times Square to Connaught Place. Multiply the per square inch human density into 10. The circumstances even graver. The threat perception stronger by 100 percent. The immediate backdrop of the 26/11 massacre. And a live Pakistani terrorist, Amir Ajmal Kasab, responsible for that massacre, finally convicted and awaiting guillotine. Now I would request you to read the lips of these two gentlemen. Or whoever of the two you have imagined in Clinton’s place. What you get is lip in sync, no doubt, but with a huge loss of sound. Forget the b(i)yte. A struggling nuclear super power with nuclear enemies on its either flanks can afford no further protestations. At least that’s what the South Block mandarins have always lulled themselves to believe since the time of Nehru. Whereas a Clinton could talk of “severe consequences,” which, in simple, unambiguous Hollywood film parlance roughly sounds like: nuke them man.

Every time the US suffers even as much as a minor scratch on its body on account of terrorism it never fails to make a song and dance about it and raises its fist of fury for the world to see. Those who dare to pay no heed to such threats are made to pay for their disobedience and indifference. The usual strong-arm method is economic embargo. The less fortunate amongst them see stockpile of weapons of mass destruction planted in their courtyard for the US to make a mince-meat out of them.

President Barack Obama with Hillary Rodham Clinton took office barely a month after the 26/11 massacre in Mumbai. But before the Times Square bomb scare never in the last 16 months after the Obama administration took office in January 2009 Clinton or her State Department has made such a stinging remark against Pakistan. Had the Nissan Pathfinder SUV exploded the propane tank that comprised the bombs would have turned the car into ‘boiling liquid explosive.’ The blast would have created a thermal ball sending blast waves in all directions. The resultant rain of shrapnel and flying shards of glasses could have turned the Times Square intersection into a huge graveyard. The involvement of a Pakistan-born naturalised US citizen made Clinton boil with rage.

It hurt the US at a time when they relied on Pakistan to help them finish off  ‘bad’ Talibanis operating under the garb of various religious and social welfare tanzeems from the Pakistani soil and sift the good Talibanis for the US to prepare a blueprint for the takeover of a new dispensation in neighbouring Afghanistan before they beat a retreat.

It hurt the US all the more for having propped the staggering economy and politics of Pakistan by plying the administration with the necessary financial and economic ‘aid’ (a euphemism for strategic military help) from time to time in return for Pakistan’s assured support to the war on terror the US declared against the men bred on the Al Qaeda school of terror. Despite its military might the US knew it could do precious little in its fight against ‘terror’ if Pakistan refused to actively cooperate with it. Molly-coddling its long-standing strategic partner in South Asia was the best and the most effective option available to it. But having spent billions of dollars on ‘aiding’ Pakistan and trillions of dollars on the ‘war on terror’ and having inflicted collateral damage of unprecedented scale and magnitude in its bid to track down Osama to the last fox hole on the earth the US never quite came close to capturing either Mullah Omar, Ayman Al-Zawahiri or bin Laden himself. 

While the US got busy with Afghanistan and then directing its new war play in Iraq’s theatre Mian Musharraf in the neighbouring Pakistan bucked his men in the military and the ISI to play the game of poker with the US. A clever Pakistani administration (read military) supported by the consummate cunning and guile of the ISI kept plying the White House war strategists with freshly harvested opium from Kandahar and Helmand topped by a thinly coated veneer of shimmering sweet nothings which would send the White House war strategists into a trance reciting, much as the animals would read out the commandments set out by Major the Pig in Orwell’s Animal Farm -  Four legs good, two legs bad – a commandment that sounded like this: Pakistan is good, Taliban are bad.

And now with a repeat of tragedy that befell the US citizens on 9/11 pre-empted just in the nick of time at the Times Square the secretary of state admits Pakistan has been taking it for a ride all this while. "I think that there was a double game going on in the previous years, where we got a lot of lip service but very little produced.” But why did you have to wait for a bomb scare like the one at Times Square to pull the lid on Pakistan, the state ii trusted past nine years to take its fight against terror to the next level?

What the US got was a scare or two post 9/11 in comparison with what terrorists and Talibani terror outfits working out of Pakistan destined for India. Pakistan along with its non-state players was seen giving India a thousand cuts on its body and soul. For Pakistan the dates of Mumbai massacre, Mumbai train blast or the attack on the Indian parliament and the trail of blood it left behind served as yet another trophy for a job well done.

And yet there is a difference in how the US and India pursue human rights and believe in the principles of international justice. Amir Ajmal Kasab, the lone surviving Pakistani terrorist and the main accused in the 26/11 massacre, was convicted by an Indian court of law on five counts of murder, massacre and waging war against the state after an elaborate, transparent and a fair trial far removed from the display of perverse revenge at camp Delta and camp X-ray at the Guantanamo Bay.

The Pakistan administration voluntarily swung into action looking for other clues and rounding up suspects at home related to Shahzad and the bomb scare in New York. India is still looking askance at Pakistan which has stubbornly refused to cooperate in the 2611 investigation despite all evidences squaring up to the involvement of dreaded terrorists operating from Pakistani soil. Initial investigation into bomb scare reveals Shahzad’s links with the handlers of 2611 Mumbai massacre also.

Pakistan claims it, too, is a victim of terrorism. This way it seeks to align itself on the side of peace. But Pakistan’s shenanigans have been unmasked. The veil over its ‘double-game’ has been lifted. India alone will not burn in the inferno of international terrorism which has its spiritual, political and commercial headquarters in Pakistan. Time for Clinton and the US' natural western allies to stop playing the double-game with India. They will only be paying lip service to India’s fight against terrorism if they fail to contain Pakistan and its perverse dream to spearhead an agenda that spells threat to global peace and security.



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