Pakistani President Asif Ali Zardari made an honest plea to the world today in words you don’t see communicated often by a world leader.
Pres. Zardari’s Op-Ed in The New York Times titled, “The Terrorists Want to Destroy Pakistan, Too” affirms his commitment to expel terror from his country and create a viable democratic economy. From anyone familiar with the Former Pak PM Benazir Bhutto, assassinated almost a year ago, Pres. Zardari affirms his commitment to not allow his wife to have died in vain:
THE recent death and destruction in Mumbai, India, brought to my mind the death and destruction in Karachi on Oct. 18, 2007, when terrorists attacked a festive homecoming rally for my wife, Benazir Bhutto. Nearly 150 Pakistanis were killed and more than 450 were injured. The terrorist attacks in Mumbai may be a news story for most of the world. For me it is a painful reality of shared experience. Having seen my wife escape death by a hairbreadth on that day in Karachi, I lost her in a second, unfortunately successful, attempt two months later.
The Mumbai attacks were directed not only at India but also at Pakistan’s new democratic government and the peace process with India that we have initiated. Supporters of authoritarianism in Pakistan and non-state actors with a vested interest in perpetuating conflict do not want change in Pakistan to take root.
To foil the designs of the terrorists, the two great nations of Pakistan and India, born together from the same revolution and mandate in 1947, must continue to move forward with the peace process. Pakistan is shocked at the terrorist attacks in Mumbai. We can identify with India’s pain. I am especially empathetic. I feel this pain every time I look into the eyes of my children.
Pakistan is committed to the pursuit, arrest, trial and punishment of anyone involved in these heinous attacks. But we caution against hasty judgments and inflammatory statements. As was demonstrated in Sunday’s raids, which resulted in the arrest of militants, Pakistan will take action against the non-state actors found within our territory, treating them as criminals, terrorists and murderers. Not only are the terrorists not linked to the government of Pakistan in any way, we are their targets and we continue to be their victims.
India is a mature nation and a stable democracy. Pakistanis appreciate India’s democratic contributions. But as rage fueled by the Mumbai attacks catches on, Indians must pause and take a breath. India and Pakistan — and the rest of the world — must work together to track down the terrorists who caused mayhem in Mumbai, attacked New York, London and Madrid in the past, and destroyed the Marriott Hotel in Islamabad in September. The terrorists who killed my wife are connected by ideology to these enemies of civilization.
These militants did not arise from whole cloth. Pakistan was an ally of the West throughout the cold war. The world worked to exploit religion against the Soviet Union in Afghanistan by empowering the most fanatic extremists as an instrument of destruction of a superpower. The strategy worked, but its legacy was the creation of an extremist militia with its own dynamic.
Pakistan continues to pay the price: the legacy of dictatorship, the fatigue of fanaticism, the dismemberment of civil society and the destruction of our democratic infrastructure. The resulting poverty continues to fuel the extremists and has created a culture of grievance and victimhood.
The challenge of confronting terrorists who have a vast support network is huge; Pakistan’s fledgling democracy needs help from the rest of the world. We are on the frontlines of the war on terrorism. We have 150,000 soldiers fighting Al Qaeda, the Taliban and their extremist allies along the border with Afghanistan — far more troops than NATO has in Afghanistan.
Nearly 2,000 Pakistanis have lost their lives to terrorism in this year alone, including 1,400 civilians and 600 security personnel ranging in rank from ordinary soldier to three-star general. There have been more than 600 terrorism-related incidents in Pakistan this year. The terrorists have been set back by our aggressive war against them in the Federally Administered Tribal Areas and the Pashtun-majority areas bordering Afghanistan. Six hundred militants have been killed in recent attacks, hundreds by Pakistani F-16 jet strikes in the last two months.
Terrorism is a regional as well as a global threat, and it needs to be battled collectively. We understand the domestic political considerations in India in the aftermath of Mumbai. Nevertheless, accusations of complicity on Pakistan’s part only complicate the already complex situation.
For India, Pakistan and the United States, the best response to the Mumbai carnage is to coordinate in counteracting the scourge of terrorism. The world must act to strengthen Pakistan’s economy and democracy, help us build civil society and provide us with the law enforcement and counterterrorism capacities that will enable us to fight the terrorists effectively.
Benazir Bhutto once said that democracy is the best revenge against the abuses of dictatorship. In the current environment, reconciliation and rapprochement is the best revenge against the dark forces that are trying to provoke a confrontation between Pakistan and India, and ultimately a clash of civilizations.
This proactive approach by Pres. Zardari follows the grotesque game of political football being played by Indian PM Manmohan Singh and the opposition Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP).
The displaced anger within India should be expected amongst its people and for politicians to play with that fear is an insult to the hundreds who lost their lives in Mumbai and the heroes who lived for their fellow man regardless of their nationality in those days of horror.
Pres. Zardari echoes the philosophy of his late wife stressing that free, transparent, democratic societies of integrity are the great weapon against terrorism because the demonization of those promoting such societies is a victory for terrorism.
Joint Indo-Pak efforts are crucial to fight terrorism where it’s strongest: unified political morale. And Pak cannot be expected to get out of the dark regarding ISI without the sharing of intelligence and the best way to do so is to participate in the interrogations of those apprehended in Pak andPaki Kashmir
The Times of India reports that Pak will not allow the pursuit of justice for the Mumbai attacks to be a unilateral effort in the region as they are insisting to be involved with the interrogations of those they apprehend in Pak and Paki Kashmir because, as the president says, ‘the terrorists want to destroy Pakistan, too.’ Unfortunately, India is still tossing around the football — taking the cynical approach in the public eye, calling the Paki raids and arrests since the Mumbai attacks, “tokenism,” as Pak won’t release those arrested to India in the effort to not be shut out:
Pakistan has arrested two key terror suspects India wants and could permit New Delhi to interrogate them if this is done jointly, a senior Pakistan minister said on Tuesday.
Confirming the arrests of Lashkar-e-Taiba (LeT) commander Zakiur Rehman Lakhwi, a top suspect in the Mumbai terror strikes, and Jaish-e-Mohammad (JeM) chief Masood Azhar, wanted for his alleged role in the Dec 13, 2001 attack on the Indian parliament, Pakistani Defence Minister Chaudhry Ahmed Mukhtar Tuesday said India may be allowed to interrogate them.
“If need be, we can have a joint interrogation,” Mukhtar said in a telephonic interview.
Foreign Minister Shah Mehmood Qureshi was silent on the interrogation aspect but asserted that the suspects would not be handed over to India, as New Delhi has demanded.
“The arrests are being made for our own investigations. Even if allegations are proved against any suspect, he will not be handed over to India,” Qureshi said in Multan, adding: “We will proceed against those arrested under Pakistani laws.”…
Ruling out any movement of Pakistani troops towards the Indian borders, Mukhtar asserted that Pakistan will “help India in every possible way” and made a renewed pitch for joint investigations into the Mumbai attack – a suggestion that India has spurned.
Claiming that Islamabad was cracking down on terror groups, Mukhtar said: “No one can doubt our credibility. We have discussed how we can help our neighbours in fighting terrorism.”
“We are ready to help India in every possible way. Joint investigations will help in probing the Mumbai attack,” Mukhtar asserted.
“We will help India in joint investigations… India may be allowed to interrogate these people also,” he added.…
Following the Mumbai terror attacks, Pakistani security forces also sealed a camp of the Jamaat-ud-Dawah (JD), as the LeT is widely believed to have been renamed after it was proscribed, in the Shawai Nullah neighbourhood of Muzaffarabad, the capital of Pakistani Kashmir.
In a statement issued late Monday, a military spokesperson in Islamabad said in a statement that an operation to target militant organisations had started in the wake of the Mumbai attacks.
“The military confirms an operation of law enforcement is underway,” it said, adding that there had been arrests and investigations were underway.
Pakistani authorities on Monday placed restrictions on the movement of JeM chief Masood Azhar by confining him to his multi-storeyed concrete compound in the Model Town area of Bahawalpur.…
“It’s nothing more then tokenism. They want to take minimum possible action to appease the Americans,” Satish Chandra, a former deputy national security adviser and a former Indian envoy to Pakistan, told IANS.
The TOI reported yesterday of confirmation that LeT is backed by Pak spy agency, ISI, without any mention of it being a rouge agency as I’ve compiled many reports that confirm just that while reporting Pak’s strong efforts in the raid of a LeT/JuD camp in Paki Kashmir, referring to the raid as “intelligence-driven,” sends a complex message to the Indians. Again, it is crucial for PM Singh and the Indian media to make it very clear that ISI is apart from the civilian government of Pakistan.
As for Indian law enforcement, the identities and images of the nine dead suspected Pakistani attackers were released.