By SHABNUM SHAH : Remarks of Pakistan’s Interior Minister Rehman Malik generated furore in the rational Indian minds and caused a lot of embarrassment to the Government of India. All this happened at a time when India Pak build up for improved relations were perceived as galloping. If the ramblings of Malik are seen from the prism of past, then nothing seems unusual and out of place. In fact, it is a perfect fit for the image, character and the political maturity that defines Pak’s polity. However, Indian minds are very prone to getting infected with ‘optimism’ and such expressions serve well to give us a wake up call. Analysing Malik’s controversial remarks, numerous possibilities with regard to the genesis of these expressions come to the fore.
There could be numerous reasons for making these remarks. It could have been a statement of Pakistan’s policy narrative for future or as effort to manage of internal compulsions. Before analysing the reasons, let us understand the probable constituency that each of his remarks could be aiming to serve. Firstly, there has been a lot of pressure against Pakistan to act against the perpetrators of 26/11 attacks. Hence, statement with regard to inadequacy of evidence against Hafiz Saeed is an old rhetoric, primarily indicating Pak’s inability to act against him. It was nothing more than a face saving exercise to express Pak’s inability to act against an individual who has been transformed into a larger than life institution. This could be well understood from the military doctrine of Pakistan Army, which while talking about sub conventional warfare states that there are ‘institutions and individuals’ who have become bolder due to the countries inability to act against them. Hafiz Saeed has created an establishment within Pakistan and had been enjoying the support from Pakistan Army, religious hardliners and even judiciary. Likes of Hafiz Saeed wield so much power within the polity that it is taking re-writing of military doctrine. So, how could Rehman Malik do anything else than keeping him amused. Under such circumstances, how can government of India expect Pakistan government to act against him. Secondly, statement on Abu Jundal Ansari that he is an agent of Indian Intelligence and Malik’s implied assertion that 26/11 was the handiwork of India as well as failure of Indian intelligence agencies was nothing less than mocking at the Indians and the Government of India on the Indian soil. Going by the psychology of Pakistani awam, Malik has done well to swell their pride by this act. Whether it was aimed at his personal glory or earning brownie points for his party, India has to decide the permissible limits that can be granted to people like him. Simple response from Home Secretary terming it as ridiculous is not enough to ensure that the nation is not subjected to such ridicules in future. If we can not teach him diplomatic decencies, we can surely define the diplomatic boundaries. Thirdly, drawing parallels between 26/11 and demolition of Babri Masjid shows his audacity to excite the Hindu psyche, in a way telling that the act of Hindus against Babri Masjid has been avenged by 26/11. Perhaps, he needs to take a lesson or two on the cord of harmony that exists between Hindus and Muslims of India, to assimilate the futility of making such efforts. It could also be an error of judgement on part of Rehman Malik thinking that such eruptions can disrupt the hormony between the two communities. Akin to remarks on Abu Jundal, this too was partly aimed at amusing his home constituency and partly at deflecting the demand for action on Hafiz Saeed. When it comes to India’s response, while use of such as emotive weapon for inciting the Muslim emotions in India may have been palatable to certain sections of the polity, it was surely an act of outrage when it comes to a nationalist. Other than BJP, no one reacted to it and even BJP’s reaction was half hearted. Perhaps, it is this feature of the Indian psychology that Rehman Malik was trying to exploit. Fourthly, the statement on Kargil Martyr Capt Saurabh Kalia was nothing short of being a mockery of the symbol of India’s glory and courage, yet we allowed him to go back without regretting for the foot in mouth disease that he may be suffering from.
While all these utterances indicate the arrogance of Pakistan, they also exhibit India’s political maturit (some may say unlimited ability to absorb the nonsense . It is a combination of these two factors that helped Malik to get away without being made to apologise for his ramblings. Every time Pakistan does a thing like this, we allow it to exploit our so called large heart (or may be timidity) and still follow up with the friendly initiatives. It is time to bench mark our behaviours, responses and limits of national dis-respect that the nation can be subjected to by a visitor. Bench marking should begin with 26/11 and unless Pakistan acts, the relations must remain below a threshold level. PM Manmohan Singh has done well to decline the invite for visit to Pakistan. Similar bench marks should be established for other visit and initiatives. Whether Malik should have been made to render public apology from the people of India before going back or should he be told that he will not be allowed to visit India unless he apologises is a mute question, that can be left to our polity to answer for themselves?