Many faces of terrorism

Updated - December 04, 2021 11:29 pm IST

Published - December 20, 2014 12:49 am IST

A day after the Taliban massacre of schoolchildren in Peshawar, Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif said his government would not rest until the last terrorist was eliminated from Pakistan. He further promised there would be no distinction made between “good” Taliban, the code for militants used by the Pakistani establishment for strategic purposes in the region, and “bad” Taliban, for those who attack the Pakistani state. The bail granted by an anti-terrorism court in Pakistan to Zaki-ur-Rehman Lakhvi is an immediate setback to that promise. Pakistan’s Federal Investigation Agency in its charge sheet described Lakhvi as the mastermind of the 2008 Mumbai attacks and “a commander of the Lashkar-e-Taiba”. Indian investigators have said he was among those directing the Mumbai terrorists on the phone from Pakistan. Coming as it did when Pakistan was still reeling from the Peshawar outrage, and less than 24 hours after its political leadership expressed a new resolve and determination against terrorism, the bail to Lakhvi has understandably shocked India. The let-down has been greater because India, led by its government, had come together in an unprecedented demonstration of solidarity as Pakistan grieved for the children killed in Peshawar. The Indian Parliament, which just recently passed a resolution against the school attack, has now passed a resolution against the bail order. The thin silver lining is that the Sharif government plans to appeal the bail, and that instead of walking free, Lakhvi has been detained for three months under the Maintenance of Public Order law.

More than five years have passed since the court proceedings in the Mumbai case began in Pakistan. The trial has suffered, from lacklustre prosecution with the lawyers citing security fears, frequent disruptions due to transfer of judges, and political rhetoric about “insufficient” evidence supplied by Delhi, as well as the demand for “proof”. All this while, Hafiz Saeed has become increasingly visible, and is allowed to hold public rallies and mobilise people and funds for his organisation, which makes no secret of its desire to see “rivers of blood” in India. Altogether, it is difficult to escape the conclusion that Mr. Sharif’s words may count for nothing when it comes up against entrenched and powerful actors, including the security establishment, the administrative and legal bureaucracy, and the judiciary. But prevail he must, as must other Pakistani voices demanding an all-out change in the policies Pakistan has followed. India must put aside its shock and anger at the grant of bail to Lakhvi and stand by these voices solidly, for it is they that give hope of peace between the two countries and stability in the region.

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