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Asian Tribune is published by E-LANKA MEDIA(PVT)Ltd. Vol. 20 No. 105

‘Sober’ thoughts on Samjhauta tragedy

By Allabaksh - Syndicate Features

Despite what many on either side of the border have said it is not easy to accept that the reactions to the gruesome and ghastly tragedy that led to the death of nearly 70 passengers on the Samjhauta Express have been uniformly ‘sober’, especially in Pakistan. The utmost that can be said about ‘sober’ reaction is that prominent Indian leaders were no longer unrestrained in immediately pointing the finger at Pakistan for the tragedy. That is a compulsion if the ‘unnatural love-fest’ between India and has to be kept on.

On the other hand, if one considers the reactions of Pakistani officials and its popular press to some of the recent terrorist attacks in India, including the Samjhauta Express incident, a disturbing fact that emerges is that Islamabad is now sharpening its undoubtedly superior propaganda skills to discredit India with breeding ‘Hindu terrorists’.

While the Hindu fundamentalists in India are justly condemned for what they have done and continue to do to bring their community and the country into disrepute by their rhetoric and actions, there is no evidence that they have been able to raise the kind of militant and terrorist organisations that have sprung up in Pakistan—with full official backing and patronage--over the past two decades. It is true that on a few occasions in the past whenever terrorist attacks in India had taken a heavy toll some maverick Hindu fundamentalists like the Shiv Sena leader Bal Thackeray had threatened to raise a ‘Hindu’ militant organisation to counter the moves from Pakistan.

But the fact is Thackeray and company have not been able to inspire any of their fanatical followers to give a concrete shape to their ultra nationalist ideas. There is no ‘Hindu fidayeen’ group, nor has anyone heard about a ‘Hindu’ group that even remotely resembles in its intent and purpose any of the dozens of outfits that operate in Kashmir and Afghanistan preferring to attack soft targets.

Even the Western world that talks about Pakistan being the cradle of terrorist activities, has not even remotely hinted that India was raising a counter ‘Hindu’ force. The Americans can be trusted to raise a hue and cry if India did have a ‘Hindu’ militant group potent enough to strike at Pakistanis.

Pakistan makes wild allegations against India to serve two aims: divide communities in secular India and soften the blow that is regularly directed at Pakistan from all corners of the world for its dubious role in fighting the war on terror. Indian policy makers will do well not to dismiss the new anti-India tool that Pakistan is increasingly using because it sounds so incredibly preposterous.

After the Malegaon blasts in Maharashtra in which nearly all the victims were Muslims, the Pakistanis were shouting about ‘Hindu terrorists’ being behind it saying that the entire community of ‘the Hindus’ is ‘traditionally’ inimical towards the Muslims. Some elements in India too said that ‘Hindu’ extremists were behind those blasts. The investigations into the Malegaon incident might not have been perfect—which investigation into terrorist acts has been perfect so far?—but the probe only pointed to the hands of the usual suspects who enjoy the backing of Pakistan, more specifically its ISI.

After the Samjhauta Express tragedy a common refrain heard in Pakistan--Ministers, officials, the media and the ordinary men and women--was that since the majority of the victims of the train blast were Pakistani Muslims it was all the handiwork of ‘Hindu’ outfits. This line was picked up by the BBC television in at least one of its bulletins that this writer heard in which the correspondent repeated the theory of a ‘Hindu’ extremist organisation planning the attack—without attributing the outrageous charge to Pakistan.

Those in India who have found Pakistan reacting ‘soberly’ to the Samjhauta Express tragedy need only pay attention to what one of the most influential newspapers of Pakistan, the rabidly anti-Indian Urdu newspaper called Nawa-e-Waqt, wrote. Reacting to a news item that quoted the Indian railway minister Lalu Prasad Yadav as saying that the Samjhauta train blast was the work of those elements who wanted to sabotage the peace process, this widely read and influential Pakistani paper advised Lalu Prasad to first find out ‘what elements in his country are opposed to the peace process and why their (Indian) government allowed them to go free.’

The purport of this comment is clear. It is to show that it is the Indians who are opposed to the peace process and it is a policy of the government of India to allow elements allegedly hostile to Muslims ‘to go free’. In the opinion of papers like Nawa-e-Waqt and those in Pakistan who subscribe to its theory, all elements in Pakistan, jehadis, fidayeen, fundamentalists and the like support the peace process with India and the government of Pakistan does not support any militant group ---‘freedom fighters’ in Pakistani parlance. Such supremely peace loving country is Pakistan but, alas, a prejudiced world refuses to see that!

Officials in Pakistan also rushed to denounce lax security measures on the train and blamed India for ‘not cooperating’ with Pakistan in carrying out the investigations into the Samjhauta Express blasts; many even hinted that India had deliberately lowered or downgraded security for the ill-fated train because most of its passengers were poor Pakistanis. Pakistan demands ‘cooperation’ from India so that investigations proceed on lines that absolve Islamabad of any complicity.

That tighter and better security measures would have perhaps averted the tragedy cannot be denied. But to suggest that it was a deliberate attempt by India to see Pakistani passengers suffer grievous losses is perversion. It is certainly not a ‘sober’ reaction.

- Syndicate Features -

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