New Delhi: At a recent meet in New Delhi, Gary Kasparov the famous Russian chess grandmaster, posed a question to the former President of Pakistan Gen. Pervez Musharraf, that for terrorism to grow in a big way in Pakistan, it needs wherewithal-resources to buy weapons, sustain itself and then attack.
Kasparov likened it to a tree. You can not control a nasty tree by only cutting its branches or trimming it-you need to cut the source of water that sustains it, and asked why Pakistan or Musharraf had failed to stop that supply of water to the tree of terrorism.
Articulate that he is, Musharraf tried to wriggle out of the question by saying that Pakistan did not provide water to the tree. He was visibly at pains to explain himself away even as he tried to blame it all on the drugs trade in Afghanistan. He conveniently side stepped the fact that Pakistan itself has a huge flourishing trade in drugs and that poppy is grown all over the North West Frontier Province of Pakistan.
The tragedy for the world is that water for this tree of terrorism originally came from the United States, Saudi Arabia and other rich Middle Eastern countries when they created the Mujahadeen to fight the Soviets in Afghanistan.
The rag tag force of Mujahadeen was fully sustained, including their salaries by this group of nations and Pakistan profited from the great effort. Howsoever much Pakistan may deny that it has no hand in creating the Taliban, or that it is not an asset of its army, this author was a witness to the first Taliban hordes that entered Kabul. They were none other than akin to the regulars of Pakistan army, highly trained and disciplined.
That perhaps was the most successful hour for the army of Pakistan. They acquired the expertise of conducting proxy wars.They had taken over a country-Afghanistan-albeit via proxy. Pakistan now had its much cherished depth to wage a full scale proxy war against India in Kashmir. United Sates had withdrawn from Afghanistan and left the Taliban and the Mujahideen in Pakistan's care. It was Pakistan that sustained them with Saudi support.
This is where Osama bin Laden entered the scene with his own ambition to spread radical Islam all over the world and teach America a lesson for having abandoned them after the Soviets withdrew from Afghanistan. Terrorism now had a country. It must be noted here that the only two countries that recognised the Taliban regime in Kabul -- Pakistan and Saudi Arabia. In Pakistan, the Taliban had a very useful patron as Pakistan was also a close ally of the United States. Thus access to all strategic information about the US became easy for the Taliban and Al Qaeda.
The US woke up after 9/11, which was waiting to happen. It then realised the challenge that the Taliban and Al Qaeda posed to the civilised world and that these forces had the active support of Pakistan. Thus the famous call from President Bush to Gen. Parvez Musharraf-either you are with us or against us. The articulate and commando general knew well how to respond. His immediate response without blinking an eye "Of course, we are with you". Thus begins the huge game of double dealing.
It was Musharraf's task to keep the US mollified while his army and ISI continued their cooperation with the Taliban behind the scenes. The tree continued to receive the water even as the US tried it's best to cut it. If anything, with the presence of US and NATO troops in Afghanistan, Pakistan itself became the hunting ground for the Taliban. They needed their own space to carry on. And carry on what? The Taliban and their real supporters want them to bring about radical Islam - nay Wahabi Islam - to the whole world.
In this scenario the semi- autonomous tribal belt bordering Afghanistan came in handy for the Taliban to settle down. Since then, they have spread themselves into Balauchistan and now they virtually control Swat, once the holiday resort of Pakistan. Iran too is on their radar.
At a time when US began to realise the double game of Pakistan and its President, Musharraf ran into rough weather with his people and was finally ousted. Pakistan has always presented alibis for the spread of Islamic extremism and terrorism. It can be the attitude of West towards Islam; it can be India's excesses in Kashmir; it can be Palestine and so on. An articulate person that he is, Musharraf had the audacity while in New Delhi recently to threaten more Kargils if Kashmir was not resolved!
How do India and the world handle this situation and ensure that this tree of Islamic terrorism stops getting water to grow further. First and foremost is to be real with Pakistan and let its people know directly that it is in their own interest to bring their army and government on to the right path. It is also time that the Government of Pakistan and its army was told by the West that there are no more bail outs for its economy if it does not firmly stop Islamic extremism.
Islamic extremists have not just taken over Swat and parts of North West Frontier Province; they have now systematically started to destroy the tolerant Islam of the sub continent. The recent destruction of Rahman Baba's mosque in Peshawar should be an eye opener to the people of the subcontinent, particularly for Muslims. This mosque was built about the same time as the Babri Masjid in Ayodhya. It has been destroyed because it was named after the Pushto Sufi poet. How can you be excused for destroying a mosque where Muslims pray even today?
If the extremist Islamists of Pakistan or Taliban have now started destroying mosques where Muslims prayed, would they stop any where till they achieve their nefarious designs?
It is also time that the West and the rest of the world took notice of the manner in which elements in Saudi Arabia have been funding the spread of Wahabism. It is the availability of this running water tap of funds to the extremists that has brought about the kind of changes that one witnesses today in such humane Islamic societies as Indonesian, Malaysian, Egyptian and even parts of India.
It is heartening to note that in its recent pronouncements, the Islamic seminary at Deoband is beginning to take note of the aims of these extremists. Perhaps they need to tell the financiers in Saudi Arabia to stop their Wahabism and leave the Muslims of the subcontinent alone.
At the end of the day, the key lies in the hands of the United States. They have very close relations with Saudi Arabia. The United States somehow has not taken much note of the support that Saudi money has helped the spread of extremism.
Saudis should know that the ultimate objective of Al Qaeda is to capture Saudi Arabia. Internally, the authorities in Saudi Arabia are trying to use a carrot and stick policy to control this threat. They try to rehabilitate captured extremists with the help of huge funds. They show stick nay guns to those who do not come around. This may be good as far as it goes for the Saudis. It does not solve the problem for the rest of the world.
It is time that the flow of funds to the Muslims communities in the world under the cover of rebuilding or repairing mosques is stopped. It remains a fact that the United States has been bankrolling regimes in Pakistan. The Americans and the Saudis remain at the top of a grouping known as "Friends of Pakistan". By all means be friends of Pakistan, but not in a scheme of things that is today leading that country towards the Stone Age. It is time to stop watering that tree. By Prem Prakash(ANI)