Saturday, December 13, 2008

Viewpoint - Should Pakistan Hand Mumbai Suspects to India?

Should Pakistan Handover Mumbai Suspects to India?

A look at the costs and benefits.

[Text by Gaurav Sood; picture of the Pakistanis protesting against Indian allegations by S.Murtaza Ali]

Columnist Irfan Husain, writing in Dawn on 26/11 Mumbai attcks, finds Pakistan government’s denial of access to 20 terror suspects to India on basis of legalese, patently disingenuous.

“While defending Pakistan recently, our foreign minister was quoted as saying that we were a “responsible state”. And when India presented our government with a list of the names of 20 people accused of terrorism against our neighbour, spokesmen immediately demanded to see the proof against them. This legalistic approach would have carried more weight had the Pakistani state shown this kind of respect for the rule of law in the past. But given the frequency with which ordinary Pakistanis are picked up and ‘disappeared’ by organs of the state without any vestige of due process, the claim to responsibility rings a little hollow.

Indeed, a responsible state would hardly allow the likes of Maulana Masood Azhar of the Jaish-i-Mohammad; Hafiz Saeed of the Lashkar-i-Taiba; and the Indian criminal Dawood Ibrahim to run around loose.”

While Mr Husain focuses on the hypocrisy of a ‘responsible state’, a stronger argument can be made on basis of rather minimal costs for such an enterprise.


Handing over suspects will likely strengthen the hands of moderates in India, and perhaps dampen the chances of BJP coming to power in elections next year. This argument is reasonably important given negotiating with sane people is a necessity, though arguably BJP at least for some of its time in power was predisposed to following a sane strategy.

It will be a potent gesture towards extremist organizations (domestic), India, and US. I believe any such handover ought to be accompanied by negotiations with India and US and perhaps getting some guarantees on issues of interest, and it ought to be done in blaze of media glory to burnish Pakistan’s image.

Handing over 20 people to India – even if they aren’t involved in the attacks – is probably the most painless of the gestures that Pakistani government can make to address the media inflamed demands of India and US.


As Mr Husain says, the arguments made about inability of handover aren’t real – not because of legal issues, and not because of stated weakness of Pakistani political establishment. Pakistani political establishment lacks power due to two reasons - lack of public support for measures which may be seen as blatantly catering to Indian whims, and existence of a powerful military with interests that are different than the political establishment.

Politics is often circumscribed by incorrect perception of political costs; Public opinion constituencies can be ‘shaped’ to line up behind cogently argued, and aggressively marketed policy initiatives. It is lack of political entrepreneurship behind good policy – which probably stems from rampant cynicism and preference for ‘safe’ choices - that dooms most policy exercises.

There is perhaps a genuine opportunity for some Pakistani leaders to craft constituencies by taking an appropriately framed response around handover of the 20 people to appeal to vast majority of their countrymen.

The second point would about weakness of political forces vis-à-vis military establishment is powerfully highlighted by Army Chief General Kayani’s refusal to allow ISI chief to travel to India. However, it is but one instance and ought to be considered in lieu of the following facts – ISI chief is probably directly under the protection of the military, India’s demand for ISI chief was mostly a political maneuver and India would have used the visit for primarily political point scoring.

On the issue of handing over suspects, it is quite likely that the PM and president can use the leverage provided by Indian and US pressure, and the media brouhaha, to negotiate some kind of deal.

Even if we assume that handing over all 20 people may be a particularly costly strategy for Pakistani establishment given its weakness, it is always possible to ferret out more than a few of these people by negotiating deals with others. I say this because we know that the interests of even ‘jihadi’ organizations are often contraposed.

I believe handing over terror suspects is perhaps an optimal strategy to quickly firefight the situation at limited cost, and to likely benefit Pakistan's long-term interests.

[This piece appeared here in a longer form]


Tahir said...

India and Pakistan can realize now the threat posed by Terrorists and can sign now an agreement of handing over wanted elements to each other's country.

Without such agreement it would only be a political suicide for a political government in Pakistan which it will never commit. Even if it leads to war.

Anonymous said...

Why the fuck am I even writing on a blog which belongs to a person who sold his soul to the devil himself for a plate of biryani! You suck traitor!

Anonymous said...

We have already sacrificed our land worth two countries for these Pakistani & Bangladeshi dickheads who think they cannot live with Non-Muslims. You did not leave when you had a chance, now you have lost to right to crib about how we live.

The Islamic invasions that India has vitnessed for over 900 years did more than destroy temples, gurudwaras, buddhist monestaries and architecture - they undid a complete civilization.

What would happen if Osama Bin Laden, Mullah Omer, Mulana Masood Azhar & Dawood Ibrahim broke through all of America’s defenses, destroyed every building in NYC and rounded up and shot every scholar and student in each of the Ivy League universities? Would it not set American power and influence back a couple of generations - would it not shatter their creativity and pursuit of excellence?

But that is exactly what happened in India. The destruction of Taxila and Nalanda - not to mention Vijaynagar - robbed India of all her human capital. It left us limping in the race amongst nations. Hence the term “wounded civilization”

Islam is a totalitarian ideology. It literally means submission and that submission is to a man who lived in 7th century Arabia and who determined that all have to submit to the will of his god, Allah, and that he was the one who was entrusted with the task of conveying the wishes of his god for the rest of humanity for all times and all places. As an ideology, it is inimical to humanity’s primal drive: freedom from dictation from above. As far as it goes, Islam was a perfect instrument for winning in tribal conflicts of 8th and 9th century Arabia. But the world is temporally and spatially much bigger than 9th century Arabia.

Islam’s ideology cannot win in a globalized world, a world where the fittest ideas survive in a battle of competiting ideas and ideologies. Any ideology that has to resort to violence to maintain itself merely demonstrates its weakness and its days are ultimately limited.

Empirical and analytical evidence abounds with regard to the developmentally harmful effects of Islam. As an explanatory factor for underdevelopment and retarded growth, Islam is significant. Most of the Islamic majority economies (except for Turkey, Iran & Malaysia) are far behind in most indicators of human development. Even those Islamic states that have immense natural endowments such as oil and natural gas — and they earn hundreds of billions of dollars annually in exporting them — even they lag behind other states that are not so fortunately endowed. This is not conjecture or mere prejudice. Even a cursory reading of the present state of Islamic states reveals that fact.

The Arab world, the Afghan world and most of North Africa & Central Asia, all overwhelmingly Islamic, have not contributed in any significant way to the modern world in terms of discovery, invention, production of art, advances in the sciences, cinema, music and humanities.

It surely must be remarkable that Jews — vanishingly small in number relative to Muslims — have contributed astonishingly to technology, sciences, arts and humanities. Evidence is everywhere but just look at the number of Nobel prizes won by the Jews.

Even most members of my tiny in numbers community, the Sikhs mostly lead prosperous lives without any major criminal convictions.

And look at the world's smallest community, the Parsees (Zorastrians), almost every 2nd Parsi I meet is a Post Graduate and leads a respectable life.

Look at most of the criminals and drug addicts in the UK, they used to be Jamaicans till the early 90s but now almost all of them are Pakistanis or Arabs, thanks to the overwhelming immigration.

The prime minister of India, echoing the reports of many committees, has noted quite rightly that Muslims of India are on average poorer, less educated, less skilled and generally do poorly in many generally accepted indicators of social development compared to non-muslims in India. That is not a badge of honor even though it is apparently proudly worn by some to claim that they are discriminated against by non-muslims.

The claim is that they are victims and therefore they are entitled to not only income transfers but also get a free pass for any transgression against basic human values. Not given to critical self-examination, the fault is always of the other. Proudly wearing the cloak of the victim, they cannot do any wrong. Predictably, after every act of Islamic terrorism, the so-called “intellectuals” and opinion-makers emerge with a ready-made explanation: Islamic terrorism is a response to poverty.

That is an untenable explanation. India has a large number of poor Muslims. But then it also has a much larger non-muslim population which is in the same economically dire straits. Why aren’t these non-muslims using terrorism as an instrument of influencing public policy? Since Kashmir is a favorite example trotted out dutifully in the explanation of random Islamic violence in India, how does one explain the total lack of terrorism by non-muslims who were driven out of Kashmir and are huddled in pathetic refugee camps for decades? Why aren’t poor Biharis terrorising India in their attempt to secure economic justice from the rest? What about the dalits and the other downtrodden? Why?

But as I said before, to me it appears that Muslims are as much the victims of Islam as the rest of the non-muslim world. (Some wit noted that Pakistan is a victim of Islamic terrorism; the first to die in a suicide bombing is a Pakistani.) I am not against Muslims for the simple reason that I have nothing againt random people I have never met. I can only like or dislike people for what they have done to me, not just because they subscribe to some ideas or ideology, however kooky and senseless it may be.

Islam divides creation between two opposing and warring factions: the Muslims and non-muslims. I don’t. It is just unfortunate that I — a Kaafir coz I worship my Gurus and not Allah — am categorized as an enemy of Muslims, but I am not. As an average human being, I could not be bothered to go out seeking Muslims to kill.

And that is the point: most non-muslims don’t wish any harm to Muslims merely because Muslims believe in Allah. But Islam does declare in no uncertain terms what Muslims are required to do to infidels. Hindus & Sikhs (such as yours truly) are not even classified as dhimmis — those who can buy protection from their Muslim overlords because they are the “people of the book.” I am to be killed outright if I refuse to submit to Islam.

Islam is by all means a FAILED ideology, just like Communism, Fascism, Nazism and Khmer Rouge. The surest sign that it is failing is that it resorts to mindless violence against humanity, just as Nazism, Fascism, Khmer Rouge and Communism did and also the Khalistani movement by some brainwashed people in my community.

Communism is on its death bed now and Nazism, Fascism, Khmer Rouge & the Khalistani movement have been consigned to the dustbin of history and so will Islam along with its bleeding hearts like Osama, Masood Azhar, Dawood Ibrahim, Teesta Setalvad, Arundhati Roy, Mahesh Bhatt, Barkha Dutt, Vinod Mehta and not to forget Mr. Mayank Austen Soofi shall most definitely consign to the dustbins of history — very soon.

PS: And now I would like to very politely suggest that all those who believe that they have read in what I have ever written that I am calling for violence against Muslims, that they should get their effing heads out of their collective behinds and read what I actually wrote. I am against Islam — an ideology — not Muslims — a collection of humans. If you cannot distinguish betwen the two, you should get yourself some remedial reading courses at your local high school. Furthermore, if you are misconstruing what I wrote as a diatribe against Muslims, perhaps it reveals your subconcious hatred of Muslims.

Take a deep breath and ask yourself if you harbor ill-will against people merely because they are different. If you do, perhaps you subscribe to the Islamic doctrine of labeling people without justification.

Being against islam is NOT tantamount to being against all muslims, just like being against narcotics is not tantamount to being against the drug-addict. It is infact helping the narcotic, and in this case the Muslim.

Anonymous said...

@Simranjeet Singh

you are attacking a religion and generalizing examples by your half or 1/3 knowledge of any account.

I would recommend you to please read a bit more about anything and then comeback with a more knowledgeable post.

you are simply bahaving like any religius fanatic who wants to spread and fuel conflicts.

Thought, I have a lot to say to attack your long haired knife armed Gurus or 'Sikhism' but I would not do so and this is someone one's beleif and I dont believe in insulting some'ones beleif.

If you want to learn about a book, dont just watch a movie about it. Read the book.
Grow up and get a life.

Shoaib Daniyal said...


I would not do so and this is someone one's beleif and I dont believe in insulting some'ones beleif.

While I might not agree with everything Simranjeet had to say, I find this above statement to be baffling.

Why wouldn’t you believe in insulting someone’s beliefs? If I think that the belief was absurd and it was doing more harm than good then I’d certainly run that belief down.

Example: The Caste System as a belief should not only be insulted but driven out. Wouldn’t you insult someone’s belief in the Caste System? I certainly would.

Where I disagree with Simranjeet is his blanket generalisation of the cause of terror. To say Islam is the only driving force behind these mindless acts of terror that the world is facing would be too simplistic. If it were so, we’d be seeing a lot more Turkish terrorists and no terrorists from any other religion other than Islam.

Simplifying the debate against terror is an easy trap to fall into. Unfortunately, falling into the trap can have some very serious consequences.


Anonymous said...

you are also generalizing it.

As you yourself said, religion should mailigned when it is doing more harm then good and you gave your example of caste system, would you like any non-hindu bashing this system? this would be indirectly or direclty bashing hindism. Like saying,, Brahman or shodder system is crap.. It implies,, there religion from it comes is that crap? So what this religion would be doing good as paralysing whole society and depriving the basic rights of a majority of followers of this religion belonging to lower castes?

And please dont see the terror from the eyes of one religion. you name the religion, i can point out terrorist belong that religion. Woudl that mean,, all religions are preaching terror?

Rajnish said...

It is reduclous to say any thing about any religion.We have to live together and that is our destiny.Accept is gracefully.Many have aspired for separate country including some singhs few years back.But finally we are all together.Terrorism or killers are not always from Islam.Naxalites who the biggest problem in India are Hindus.Bhinderwale and his insane brigade were sikhs.In North East killers are Christians.In Kandmaal they are Hindus and bodos are tribals but more like Hindus.

They are killers are to be tackled thru our mechanisms.Those who have different opinions can go England or Canada as every Punjabi aspires to be .But remember live a second class life and fight for caps,turbans but eat with same bangladeshis and Pakistanis in their restaurants.Good luck and if going good bye.

Anonymous said...


naxals are communists and they dont believe in any god let alone Hinduism, then how can you say that they are hindus??

Anonymous said...

i agree with simranjeet

Anonymous said...

There is a fundamental difference between the nature of terrorism that threatens India and Pakistan. India is a victim to Pakistan sponsored terrorism. Even educated pakistanis don't deny this. Pakistan however is a victim of its own terrorism. Pakistani leaders need to understand that the state use of terrorism as a legitimate expression of pakistani outrage is simply not acceptable to India. You cannot possibly black mail us into freeing kashmir.

And this is simply because it will lead to all kinds of other complications that challenge the idea of the union of India. In a world where boundaries are becoming increasingly irrelevant ( EU style single markeT), pakistan needs to understand that what stands between kashmir and her independence is ironically enough, her own person.

Harish said...

There is absolutely no doubt in my mind that pakistan needs to hand over individuals that are a declared threat to the Indian State. Lets start with Dawood Ibrahim.

Pakistan's continued persistence with kashmir not only weakens the cause of kashmiris but also plays itself into the hands of China which will not hesitate to pawn it as she deems necessary.

India's heart can be won by a soft approach alone. With a bleeding economy, pakistan can ill afford to persist as much as India can. Its as simple as that.