Tuesday, January 20, 2009

Miliband And Root Causes of Terrorism

Last week Britain's Foreign Minister David Miliband visited India and took time off from his diplomatic work in Delhi to spend a night in Amethi, the parliamentary constituency of Congress heir apparent Rahul . Himself the Labour Party's heir presumptive waiting in the shadow of the dour Gordon Brown, Miliband slept on a charpoy in a Dalit hut and told reporters that except for some restless cows in the next room, the night was uneventful. (The Indian side was, as ever, clueless that the Brits were using the opportunity to continue denting the India Shining image. Thank God they didn't have a kid jump into the local dung heap a la Slumdog Millionaire.)

The visit to the village was ostensibly to show Miliband in a context appealing to the "ordinary Indian". But the sight of him with cows and a charpoy failed to charm many Indians, especially after it got around that Miliband had published an article saying the resolution of the Kashmir issue would end terrorism in India. In fact, the responses from Delhi were decidedly tetchy. A Congress Party spokesman asked reporters rhetorically if Britain, when it suffered terrorist attacks, looked to its own policies as the source of the trouble. A BJP spokesman dubbed the minister's visit to India a "diplomatic disaster".

Both comments were apt, but inadequate, for neither took into account that Miliband's egregiously stupid statement was not meant for the audience in Delhi but in Islamabad, his next stop. It was meant to signal one thing very clearly: Britain will continue to back Pakistani terrorism against India. With that in mind, the political response from Delhi should have been something along the following lines:

"The situation in Kashmir is not the root cause of terrorism in South Asia. The dispute over Kashmir was deliberately created by the British to promote hostility and conflict between India and Pakistan. The root cause of terrorism in South Asia is the British attempt to continue manipulating the region more than six decades after the end of colonial rule.

"Initially the British propagated terrorism to drive Indian Muslims into supporting the partition of their country, a process that killed a million people and made 14 million refugees. After the independence of India and Pakistan, the British have used terrorism to keep both countries in a state of hostility towards each other.

"Pakistan has been more of a victim of this terrorist policy than India. While India has managed to make substantial economic and social progress, Pakistan has found itself reeling from one political crisis to another, becoming progressively weaker and more divided as its military leaders serve Western strategic interests.

"The Pakistani military created the Taliban and Al Qaeda movements to serve Western interests. Both movements have been responsible for the most reprehensible actions in the name of Islam, bringing into disrepute not only Pakistan but the entire Ummah. In addition, their actions have provided the justification for Western intervention in oil-rich and strategically important Muslim countries and the continued theft of their natural resources.

"As the leaders of Pakistan look to the future, the hope of all political parties in India is that the civilian and military authorities in Islamabad will weigh very carefully the wisdom of continuing to cooperate in policies that serve Western strategic interests but not those of the Pakistani people or the global Ummah."

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