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EDITORIAL: 16-31 October 2000

ISI, ISI ...

There is no denying the fact that every country has agencies which indulge in subversion outside its borders as an extension of hot or cold war or to pursue aims which normal diplomacy fails to deliver. There is no denying the fact also that our Research and Analysis Wing (RAW) and Pakistan’s Inter-Services Intelligence (ISI) are active on each other’s territory as an extension of the war-like condition which prevails in the relations of world’s two most identical twins in terms of history, culture, arts, language and heritage. With a little common sense and large-heartedness these two countries would have co-existed and complemented each other as the US and Canada do in North America or many countries do in Western Europe. But from the very beginning these two countries were rife with myopic leaders who prefer to cut off their own noses to spite the other. This led to bizarre consequences when Pakistan persisted to bring the clock back in Kashmir or when India went ahead to create Bangladesh out of East Pakistan, thereby giving a fresh impetus to enmity and mutual mistrust.

With this background Pakistan found it useful from its point of view to start a low-investment, high-return proxy war of attrition in the Indian part of Kashmir. From then on we started hearing about ISI. Whatever happened anywhere on the Indian soil was a handiwork of the ISI, so much so that friends of India in Pakistan complained that this kind of propaganda serves the Pakistani army and gives its intelligence wing a larger than life image which hurts the cause of democracy in that country. 

Soon the Sangh Parivar outfits, with their multi-faceted designs, woke up to the issue and started a campaign which would have us believe that the whole Muslim community in India is involved in ISI activities and that Muslim places of worship and religious education are centres of ISI activities! In these circumstances we had a change of government and the new rulers were more than committed to the Sangh line of thought despite their limitations as a coalition government. Our new home minister started his daily chore of attributing every disorder in the country to the ISI. So much so that a Sangh Parivar parcharak, now an MP (Mr Malkani), accused the ISI of demolishing the Babri Masjid, a crime for which many of his partymen, including Mr Advani, are still facing court cases.

Mr Advani time and again announced that a white paper will be published on the ISI activities in the country. No doubt this will be a great service to the country and we will be able to prove to the world that our allegations were true indeed. But despite many deadlines behind us the white paper is yet to see the light of day. Now we are told that due to security implications, police and intelligence people have advised against its publication. Counter-insurgency operations are going to suffer if the report is published, home ministry reportedly said. But surely the counter-insurgency portion can always be withheld. Let us know only the facts and the incontrovertible proofs of the ISI involvement on the grand scale our home minister has been talking day in and day out. The whole world will appreciate such a report and Pakistan will stand exposed. 

The BJP-led UP government used the on-going propaganda to justify the Religious Places Bill. Every town or city with 20 percent or more population of Muslims is branded as a base of anti-national activities and a centre of ISI. We have been saved of a catastrophe only because the sane in our society heavily outnumber the myopic ilk who are blinded by hatred.

It is very hard to understand how this atmosphere of hate is going to benefit anyone including those who have patented nationalism and patriotism in this country of ours. At the height of IRA terrorist activity the British government and media were careful not to antagonize the Irish population in the country. Every sensible, responsible and patriotic administration will do exactly the same because the misguided outfits in any society are miniscule bodies who seek to project themselves as representatives of a community or group. 

Let it be clear that these baseless allegations could never be substantiated simply because Muslims were never anti-national. Selective reporting has tried to send a message that Muslims are behind the fake currency rackets. No concrete evidence has been offered in this respect too. In fact, recent rackets of fake currency exposed by the police give a lie to this allegation. As of today, there are more ‘Hindu’ ISI agents and fake currency racketeers than ‘Muslims’ going by the arrests and recoveries made by the police. A senior BJP leader, as we report on page 4 (again blackedout by our ‘national’ media!), has conceded that there are more Hindu ISI agents than Muslim agents! The Saharanpur range IG who was first quoted about the ISI menace in madrasas has denied it; Lucknow IG Police [MG 10-11, p. 4] poohpooed it. 

Our suspicion is that ISI activities are not that large and widespread as the saffron home minister makes them out to be. We further suspect that the aim is to create a certain atmosphere in the county which will provide the right environment conducive for the passage of changes cherished by the Sangh Parivar. Let all be warned that it’s playing with fire to sow the seeds of hatred and suspicion about such a large community. The repercussions will be bitter indeed and nothing like what you have seen until now.. The few terrorist elements here and there do not enjoy the community’s support. But any overplaying will change the scenario and the moment the community at large supports such activities it will be hell and not a thousand Advanis will be able to contain it. The J&K and North East examples are for us all to see..

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