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The man who removes a mountain begins by carrying away small stones

Cosmopolitan Mumbai’s Tryst With The Jungle

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Pakistan’s vacillating stance after the chilling and brazen attacks in Mumbai has been disheartening but not unexpected. The United States should know this better as this is not the first time they are getting exposed to layers and layers of deception in Islamabad. The strategy of buying time in any possible manner and to relegate what happened in Mumbai to the dismal background of unresolved terror acts that are being investigated works very well for Pakistan. And why give up a strategy that has worked so well for so many years.

Pakistan has milked Washington for three decades now while following its own agenda. The confirmation of the New York Times story two years ago has come from the horse’s mouth this time as Gen Musharraf candidly admitted that the money given for the War on Terror was diverted to strengthen military options against India. Of course, a denial has also come within days.

Tavleen Singh in her column for The Indian Express a few weeks ago wrote about covert operations as a way to counter the threat of Islamist terror that originates from across the border—a dismal but realistic way to counter a state that uses non-state actors as its most potent foreign policy tool. We should though proceed in our own sensible manner.

The passionate piece of Arundhati Roy for the Guardian after the Mumbai attacks attempts to put the violence of those terrifying November days in context using her celebrated talent with words. The vast background she paints starts with the Radcliffe line and covers the Gujarat riots, the Kashmir issue, Babri Masjid and also the Batla House incident; all legitimate issues in themselves that offer a convenient and lazy explanation when considered together.

Roy is confronted with the same problem that the West faced in the immediate aftermath of 9/11; the search for the ‘root causes’ of terrorism. Her delusion is not rare and though she lashes out at George Bush, her approach is strikingly similar to the-then American president. When the refusal to use the word fanaticism is based on the reluctance to recognise the fact of fanaticism then the response automatically becomes a flight of fancy.

One of the Chechen terrorists said during the siege of the theatre in Moscow: “We will win in the end, because we are willing to die—and you are not.” The Chechen who said this hit the Achilles’ heel of a ‘modern rational society’. What background explains the actions of a young Egyptian man about to finish his architectural study in a Hamburg University from where he takes a detour to lead a suicide mission as the pilot of the first plane that hit the World Trade Center on a bright September day in New York? His companions were 15 Saudi Arabians, one Lebanese and two men from the UAE—no one was a veteran of the Afghan jihad and most had visited Kandahar for the first time between 1999 and 2000.

Lee Harris, a contributor to the Wall Street Journal’s ‘Opinion Journal’, rubbishes the naïve attempts of a cause and effect explanation. “Only a profound misunderstanding can explain the ill-fated American project to deal with terrorism by bringing democracy to the Middle East,” Harris commented on America’s misadventure in Iraq.

The Palestinian elections in 2006 indicate the scale of the mistake. The free and fair elections in Gaza produced a landslide victory for Hamas, regarded by the US and the European nations as a terrorist organisation. The rampant corruption of Fatah, Hamas’ main rival, was how the West explained this victory. Could it not be that Hamas won simply because it echoed in the most direct and vehement manner the populist sentiment of not accepting the state of Israel; the agenda that defines Hamas.

In a liberal society people are not harassed for their opposing view points; and we can disagree with Roy’s opinion but not with her right to express them. The author’s language skills, sadly though, are not enough to mask her misplaced sense of history, especially about Afghanistan. Kabul was once an elegant city of broad streets and walled gardens before it became a site of vicious urban battles that erupted seasonally and led to a state of physical ruin and human misery that compared unfavourably to the very worst places on Earth.

The Jungle Book by Rudyard Kipling is to entertain children and adults and should not be seen as a definitive work about the rules that govern the chaos from which mankind seems to have evolved. The first law of the jungle is that there is no law. And whenever the law of the jungle is the final arbiter of any conflict, those who are reasonable are always at a disadvantage. A ‘modern rational society’ needs order while the ‘fanatic’ wants to disrupt that order precisely because the resulting jungle is to his advantage. ….Continued. Click on the headline to read the full piece.

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