|Friday, January 7, 2000,
The hijacking drama
AS I entered my home in the evening after coming back from my office on December 31, the first thing my wife told me was the release of the hostages of the hijacked aircraft. I was overwhelmed with joy. But her next sentence was dampening through which she conveyed that India had to release three militants in lieu thereof. I immediately felt as if I had lost something or my country was defeated. Whatever was done by the government, was the best under the circumstances, but I felt the hijackers had won as the purpose of hijacking the plane was achieved. The day drama ended with one Indian citizen dead and three hardcore militants released.
Till further news came, I was of the opinion that the Taliban would arrest the hijackers and militants and hand them over to India as all of these people were criminals.
|But when I came to know that these
criminals were asked to leave Afghanistan within 10
hours, I felt as if India had been cheated by the
Taliban. To this, my father replied that since our
country did not have any extradition treaty with
Afghanistan, our criminals were not their concern and
they (Taliban) were least bothered about what these
criminals had done to India. This was beyond my common
sense as I was of the opinion that a criminal is a
criminal and the place of his crime does not matter.
Moreover, did the Taliban not see what happened during
the eight days in their country? Could they not
understand the plight of the hostage passengers? Was this
not a crime in their country? Is hijacking of a plane and
keeping passengers as hostages not a crime against
humanity? Did all this mean that if an Afghan criminal
came to India, our country would do nothing against him
and allow him to leave our country even without bothering
about his whereabouts? This sounds ridiculous.
Under these circumstances, all our talk about world peace and wiping off terrorism from the globe carries no meaning. No other country in the world came to Indias rescue and ask the Taliban to handover the hijackers and terrorists to New Delhi. This also seemed a shame on the whole world.
Message from Afghanistan
The government had no choice but to cave in after the Taliban made it clear that they will not allow a rescue operation and deployed stingers and tanks to reinforce that message. There was no other option left to save the hostages. However, Pakistans hand in this crime is obvious. If we do not retaliate against it now in a meaningful and telling manner then the country is in for a very tough time and that would amount to criminal cowardice on the part of our leaders.
No international concerted action as promised by the Prime Minister, is going to help. It has never helped anyone in the past. It is our people who are dying and not anybody else. It is we who will have to bite the bullet and not anybody else. Did we do anything when other countries were victims of the same kind of terrorism? Why would anyone else do anything now when we are the target?
In the past, three countries Israel, the USA and Russia had been subjected to Islamic terrorism, and all three defended themselves by military retaliation against the sponsors of that terrorism. All of them have become safer now because of those retaliations. Israel retaliated every time it was a target of terrorism and the whole world kept condemning it but the Israelis continued. They are much safer now as a consequence. Having failed against Israel, the terrorists thought the USA was a softer target but they proved wrong. The USA retaliated against Libya and again the world condemned it, and France did not even allow its strike aircraft to fly over that territory. Libya threatened after that retaliation that no American will in future be able to walk on a street without having to look over his shoulder. It turned out to be a hollow threat. The USA retaliated again against Afghanistan when its embassies were bombed. Thanks to this tough approach, the terrorists thought again and turned their attention to Russia. They attacked Dagestan just because it happens to be a Muslim majority region. When the Russians intervened, the terrorists blew up hundreds of Russians in Moscow and other cities till Russians hit them in their home base, Chechenya. The busy bodies of the world are again full of condemnation and advise for restraint, but what matters is that not a single Russian life has been lost to terrorism since then.
This refers to Mr Hari Jaisinghs article, India and Taliban: Significant fallout of Kandahar crisis (December 31). He has rightly observed that New Delhi has so far not recognised the Taliban regime on the suspicion that it will move the way Pakistan likes it. However, in the case of the hijacking crisis the Taliban regime has acted as per the wishes of world opinion.
As a matter of fact, the USA poured unlimited resources into Pakistan and trained and equipped tens of thousands of the so-called Mujahideen to pursue its strategic interest in the region, but the same step had gone against Washington. Osama bin Laden has good relations with Pakistan and is deadset against the USA. Now the USA is paying the price for its wrong policies.
It is a great pity that Pakistan has not learnt any lessons even after its defeat in all the previous wars. No one can deny the fact that Pakistan has had a big role in the hijacking. Pakistan has a grand design which goes beyond Kashmir and wishes to establish a position of overwhelming influence. It has only one wish: to grab Kashmir by hook or by crook. India is moving with great caution.
In the present circumstances, New Delhi has to adjust and readjust itself to a new situation and demands imposed on it by regional and global realities. The Talibans new thinking has given the lead in this direction. No one can deny the fact that our relations with the USA are cordial now though these were strained for the last so many years.
Weighty factors: The writer has discussed five points in his article, India and the Taliban, and all carry weight for framing policy, specially in respect of Afghanistan and Pakistan.
However, one most important fact which we cannot afford to forget is that Islam is a very important factor for the policy makers of all the Muslim countries. It specifically comes into play when an Islamic country has to deal with two countries, one of which is a Muslim and the other a non-Muslim. It is with this background that the Taliban, although quite willing to have good relations with India, cannot forget Islamic brotherhood with Pakistan. In fact, they have been actively participating in jehad in the Kashmir valley along with Pakistanis.
Appeal to Gen Musharraf
I would like to ask our Pakistani brethren that they should apprehend the hijackers of Indian Airlines IC-814 when they enter Pakistan. These hijackers in the holy month of Ramzan murdered an unarmed innocent person, 25-year-old newly married Rupin Katiyal, and made his 20-year-old wife, Rachna, a widow.Rupin and Rachna were married on December 3, 1999, and Rupin was murdered just 21 days after their marriage! God will never forgive the hijackers. I appeal to the Pakistan Chief Executive, General Musharraf, to consider Rachna as his own daughter and arrest these murderers if they are found in Pakistan.
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