|A mourner in Afghanistan|
Is Rehman Malik, Pakistan’s Interior Minister, insensitive or stupid? Neither. He is trapped in a controversy for saying:
"I had appealed to the Taliban that they should respect the Muharram. I am grateful to them that they respected the Muharram this time. This is a good thing."
What is so shocking? He is in charge of the home department in the country. It is no secret that the Taliban do target people in religious places, however absurd this may sound. So, when there is mass mourning during Ashura by the Shias with 177 processions and 900 gatherings, and 7000 security personnel are deployed, it is obviously a matter of some concern.
You talk to people, and that includes non-Shias, and they will tell you how the community has been targeted for years, even when the Taliban was not active.
Why, then, you might ask, does the minister have to thank the Taliban? Does it not amount to being grateful to an extremist group and therefore accepting its role in politics? If the Taliban is everywhere today in Pakistan, it is akin to appealing for peace in a difficult situation. He is not known to use language very well, but there is no way Pakistan can go along by alientating the Taliban completely.
Why is no one talking about the fact that he also lauded the role of the cops?
The fact that there were blasts in Afghanistan killing 59 people is a sad reminder that the two countries have been divided. In fact, there are murmurs that the attacks were orchestrated from Pakistan’s border areas. At one time, the whole Pashtun community was one.
This is not only about shrines or even minorities anymore than it has been for a long time. Countries that have the misfortune of outsourcing their security will have to deal with insurgencies that damage their own society and people.
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Ghulam Nabi Fai has admitted that the ISI was funding him “to influence US policy on Kashmir”:
“For the last 20 years, Mr. Fai secretly took millions of dollars from Pakistani intelligence and lied about it to the US government,” said US Attorney Neil MacBride.
“As a paid operative of ISI, he did the bidding of his handlers in Pakistan while he met with US elected officials, funded high-profile conferences, and promoted the Kashmiri cause to decision-makers in Washington.”
Right. Now, what will the US do about those policy makers after they pronounce the verdict on Mr. Fai on March 9?
Will they do the boogey-woogey with Pakistan? Will we know how the innocent policy makers were taken for a ride? And will they show us the money and tell us just how they were influenced and how did they act upon it?
We seem to excel at looking at the curst and not reaching the core. Here are two bits from my earlier piece:
Did the ISI do it? Possible. Did Mr. Fai use this money? Possible. Was the FBI unaware about it all these years? Not possible.
It would be a pity if due to the ISI angle, the real issues will be pushed aside. America has the arsenal to deal with the ISI, but does it have the will? If Mr. Fai is a front, then why only name the ISI people and not the Congressmen who knew what they were expected to lobby for? Culpability in this case lies across the board. It is utterly ridiculous to make this sound like a terrorist plot when the monies have been traced and people of some stature have been consistently raising the Kashmir issue, not just abroad but at home.