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Periscope
From September 11 to December 13 & after
By Saeed Suhrawardy

International and national events between September 11 and December 13 have special significance for Indian Muslims. Important inferences have to be drawn. Challenges have to be outlined.

The last post of Taliban regime has fallen in Afghanistan. It appears that September 11 has provided USA the opportunity to level out the mountainous region by furious bombings. It has got an excuse for reviving and pursuing the arms race. In the final analysis, USA has come out as the major beneficiary of the terrorist attack on World Trade Centre and Pentagon on September 11.

Before the Provisional Government could take over, the US flag was unfurled in Afghanistan. After pushing out erstwhile Soviet Union from that unfortunate country, it has got a firm foothold in the strategic region of central Asia. The task has been accomplished by involving very few US Marines and only at the cost of American arms. The final goal of the long-term strategy of USA has been achieved.

From there, USA can keep a watch over the ongoing developments in Russia and China. The two countries at present have a firm strategic alliance. The US has tested each and every weapon of its vast armoury, with the exception of exercise of nuclear option. 

There were veiled threats to exercise that option too. But that would have been a diplomatic disaster. The violation of international treaties and commitments might have triggered Third World War. The fall out would have been beyond the competence of the best public relations specialist, assigned to justify the adventure. 

If the September 11 terrorist attack meant to punish USA for continued support to Zionist terrorism, that purpose has not been served. This has been confirmed by the recent US veto obstructing the resolution of UN Security Council condemning Israeli terror against Palestine Authority. It is one more example in the series of a similar kind. It clearly demonstrates that there is no change in pro-Israel stance of US foreign policy. So September 11 has not brought about any development that would benefit the cause of Palestinians. Israeli terror continues unabated, with greater ferocity.

Indian Muslims have been critical of Taliban regime. Every important segment of Muslim public opinion condemned the destruction of the famous statue of Buddha at Bamiyan. Few tears have been shed over the exit of Taliban from the scene in Afghanistan. However, the most dangerous fall out of September 11, is that it has provided several States the chance of pursuing their own specific agenda. That applies to India also.

The inferences from September 11 have legal, constitutional and political implications. So far, Indian Muslims have been neutral or indifferent to the ongoing debate about the comparative merits or demerits of parliamentary and presidential forms of the government. 

The events after September 11 have firmly established that the presidential form of government as in USA is virtually a negation of democracy. It ensures stability of the government for the fixed period, but erodes its accountability. In practice, the American people elect a dictator with vast absolute powers.

The vast powers enjoyed by the US President have been a grave threat to the international peace, order and security. US President has presided over under-cover operations through the infamous Central Intelligence Agency in the internal matters of a large number of countries. The leader of the most powerful democracy in the world has been guilty of conspiracies against democratically elected governments. Recent attack on Afghanistan is not an exception. USA has judged events unilaterally from its own angle. It has disregarded all international rules of civilized conduct.

The terrorist attack on World Trade Centre and Pentagon exposed a chink in the security armour of the superpower. Any action to repair that would have been in the best interests of the nation. But instead of doing that, the US Administration announced a war against terror. It claims the leadership of a coalition against terror. But the leader of the coalition appears to be Israel, which is acting in realizing its long-term goal-- the end of Palestine Authority.

For Indian Muslims, patriotism and loyalty to the country should mean allegiance to the secular democratic Constitution of the country, and nothing else. There lies the hope of playing a meaningful role in the affairs of the country. They should firmly oppose any suggestion for replacing the present parliamentary form of the government of Westminster type with presidential government of US variety.

There has been a pro-Israel tilt in the foreign policy of India, ever since Mr. P.V.Narsimha Rao became the Prime Minister of the country. It has now assumed a dangerous anti-Islam and anti-Muslim posture. The victory of Northern Alliance with the help of American arms may enlarge the area of Indo-Pak conflict. So far the conflict has been confined to Jammu and Kashmir. There is a risk of Afghanistan becoming another arena of Indo-Pak rivalry. The recent controversial statements of certain Afghan leaders in New Delhi point in that direction.

Indian Muslims have been firmly and persistently supporting the stand of the Government of India as far as the security, solidarity and the sovereignty of the country is concerned. They have been the worst sufferers of partition of the country. But whatever they may feel and say, every Indo-Pak conflict or conflagration becomes a fresh test of their patriotism and loyalty to the country.

The attack on the State Assembly of Jammu & Kashmir and the recent attack on the Indian Parliament should serve as alarm signals for the country and particularly Indian Muslims. The terrorist attacks have provided a reason for consolidation of votes on communal lines. Those who have an eye on Uttar Pradesh Assembly elections, seem determined to derive maximum mileage from the outrage. The terrorist attacks have provided the audacity to Mr. L.K.Advani, an accused in the Babari Mosque demolition case, for imitating the intemperate tone and language used by US President George W. Bush. 

Public attention has been diverted from the coffin-scam targeting Defence Minister Mr. George Fernandes. It is not clear how terrorist attacks allegedly directed by Pakistani outfit ISI serve the cause of Kashmir and Pakistan. Of course, suicidal attacks get media attention, but their impact is negative. The murder of innocent civilians cannot be forgiven by any moral standard.

For Indian Muslims, such dastardly acts vitiate the communal atmosphere of the country. Actually such terrorist activities serve the aims of Sangh Parivar. They provide them the occasion for raising their outcry against Islam and Muslims. The NDA Government has inbuilt prejudice against Muslims. It exploits them for harassing and victimizing them.

Indian Muslims have before them a challenge, akin to the one faced by them after partition of the country. Proofs of loyalty were demanded from them at that time. However, they have gone through more than half a century with patience and forbearance. The task before them is how to condemn, combat and resist terrorism without losing their moral courage. They must be ready to resist unjust state repression, if the occasion demands that.

The war may be over for the time being, but the battle for peace has to be won. It has yet to begin.
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