Sunday, May 25, 2008

Earplugs To Shut Out Their Loudspeakers!

Arun Shourie
Twenty three killed one day in Doda. Thirty one killed the next in Himachal. Another 19 killed in Poonch by the afternoon... The usual ritual in Parliament. "Our hearts go out..." "It is a shame that the home minister continues in office..." And the usual, "There has been a failure of coordination" -- no one has done enough homework to say anything particular about what specific type of coordination has failed. And finally that demand, "The home minister must give an assurance that such incidents will not occur again" -- that when the members are saying simultaneously that the assurances of the government are useless...

A ritual we have been going through for 15 years. Only the sides change: The ones who were being heckled in this way are now doing the heckling, the ones who were heckling are now the butt of the taunts. The fact is that every minister has to work with the same Instruments -- the same paramilitary forces, the same local administration -- instruments which have been enfeebled over the last 30 years to the point of palsy.

Worse, even after a decade of killing by Pakistani armed terrorists, voices are still raised In Parliament, in the press that hide Pakistan's deeds under dust: An ex-editor is forever narrating the sweet words he exchanged on his most recent trip to Pakistan, how persons like him - with their candles at the Wagah border - had built 'a small lobby in Pakistan' for peace with India; another editor proclaims that Nawaz Sharif should be given the Nobel Prize for Peace, so hard Is he trying for peace in the face of such enormous difficulties... And they have an audience!

For we just do not want to face the fact that Pakistan is working to a clear, indeed to a singular aim - and that is to break India.

In Pakistan papers and magazines are full of accounts of the glorious war their mujahidin are waging against India, of the victories they are scoring by packing off the kafirs, of the number of army personnel they have butchered in the cause of Allah.... If only this material were reproduced by our papers, the country will wake up to the enemy It faces...

Nearly 100,000 people listened in awed silence as a 60-year old shopkeeper from Bhawalpur addressed the gathering describing how both his sons, Abu Sufian and Abu Yasir, gave up their lives fighting in Kashmir," a typical account begins.

It is an account of the annual congregation of the Dawa wal Irshad at Muridke, this one being in the January, 1998 issue of one of Pakistan's leading periodicals, The Herald. The magazine reports the shopkeeper, now known as Abu Shahidain, as telling the congregation, "When my first son was martyred in Kashmir, I Went to my second son and told him it was his turn to sacrifice his life... I too have received training and want to join my sons as soon as possible."

By this time. many were moved to tears and sobbing could be heard from within the crowd," reports the magazine.

"This remarkable scene was played out at the annual meeting of Markaz Dawa wal Irshad (Center for Preaching), a religious organisation based in the town of Muridke, some 30 miles north of Lahore", the awe-struck account continues. "Its activities are focussed on two areas: Education and jehad," says The Herald -- in fact, the 'education' the magazine talks of is only the brainwashing which intoxicates the recruit for jehad.

"The Dawa al Irshad works to propagate an austere, 'purified version of Islam and has set up schools across the country for this purpose," we learn. "Meanwhile its militant wing, the Lashkar Taiba (Army of the Pure), Is an organisation of highly trained militants who are willing to go to war wherever and whenever the Amir (Commander) orders.

"A unique event by any standards, the Muridke gathering, held amid tight garrison-like security brings together young militants fighting inside Indian Kashmir and those who wish to do so," the correspondent reports.

"Also attending the meeting in their thousands are the relatives of Lashkar soldiers, as well as the families of men who have died in Kashmir. This year nearly 100,000 people attended the three-day event, a manifestation of the Lashkar increasing popularity and power."

Little doubt about the power -- it is this very organisation and its headquarters that the minister for information and one of Nawaz Sharifs close counselors, Mushahid Hussain, visited a few weeks ago in a manifest demonstration of official approbation. The Amir, says the magazine, distinguishes his organisation from others in the field: "Many Muslim organisations are preaching and working on the missionary level inside and outside Pakistan, he says, "but they have given up the path of jehad altogether.

The need for Jehad has always existed, and the present conditions demand it more than ever. "The Lashkar Is there to fill this lacuna. And its focus has shifted, the publication reports: " ...Although the, Lashkar was Initially involved in Afghanistan as well, its activities are now restricted to Indian Kashmir. Today it is Pakistan's largest so-called jehad organisation.

There are many other jehadi groups operating inside Kashmir, but their members are mainly local men, assisted by fighters from other countries, such as Pakistan and Afghanistan.

"Eighty per cent of the mujahidin in other jehadi groups operating in Kashmir come from that area," an office-bearer of the Lashkar confirms. "But the case with the Lashkar is exactly the opposite," he adds, explaining that 80 per cent of the Lashkar soldiers belong to Pakistan. The Lashkar prefers not to reveal the exact number of men it has currently deployed in Kashmir."

The reason this organisation seems to be 'succeeding' in attracting larger numbers, according to the publication, lies in that it is out- doing the other groups in "stir(ring) outrage against the injustices meted out to Kashmiri Muslims."

As the account puts it, "Compared to other similar organisations, the Lashkar has proved to be a resounding success.

Since its Inception, it has managed to attract thousands of committed young men to its fold. The driving force behind its massive success in recruitment is deceptively simple: Using Its impressive organisational network, which includes schools, social service groups and religious publications, to stir up outrage against the injustices meted out to Kashmiri Muslims, the Dawa al Irshad creates a passion for jehad..."

The organisation puts recruits through rigorous military training, The Herald reports. The recruits are thoroughly brainwashed, they are put to various tasks -- collecting funds, recruiting more 'soldiers', and the like. The select, the ones who have fully internalised the poison are sent to Kashmir.

The Herald informs us, "As a matter of policy, the Lashkar allows only those men to fight In Kashmir whose parents give them permission to do so. Recruits are also required to convince their families about the Importance of their mission. It Is perhaps for this reason that the death of a son in Kashmir is not usually met with sorrow. Such news is brought to the family by a group of senior Lashkar leaders who congratulate the family on the 'martyrdom' of their son. In nearly every case, rather than mourning, the family celebrates the occasion by serving guests with food and receiving congratulations."

The account speaks for itself. We need only remember that such poison feeds on Itself, that it requires to be fed with poison of Its kind. A picture of gore and blood, of Muslims being savaged in Kashmir is drawn up. This yields money by the trunk load. And recruits.

To fire the recruits into giving up their lives, the fabrications are made even more gory, and to them are added myths -- that by killing kafirs, by fighting in the cause of Allah, they earn a place for themselves in Paradise, that they get in addition the right to nominate some of their dear ones to a place there, that by being killed they will become martyrs, that martyrs go straight to Paradise. And then the delights that Allah has prepared in Paradise for those who are martyred in His cause. The deaths serve the very worldly purposes of the controllers too. "Most of those who the In Kashmir are buried there, and Kashmiris are known to carry out the necessary formalities with the utmost respect and full honours," The Herald Informs us.

"... In Pakistan, meanwhile, the last rites of Lashkar fighters are held in the absence of the body. For those devoted to the cause, the ghaibana namaze janaza (funeral prayer in absentia) becomes another occasion to hammer home the necessity of jehad. Indeed, every such funeral produces new recruits to the Lashkar. In many cases relatives of the 'martyr' have been known to present the Lashkar with another young man from the family. In fact, it is not uncommon to find all the able bodied men of a single family joining the Lashkar... "

As the cause is Holy, as they are 'striving in the way of Allah', the mujahidin regard cruelty as a virtue, or at the least the controllers of the Lashkar project their 'soldiers' to be cruel, and proclaim this cruelty to be virtue.

The Herald reports, "In combat, however, it is said that Lashkar fighters give as good as they get. Since it is not possible to bring their captives to Pakistan, and the Indian government does not bargain for the return of hostages, all Indian prisoners are killed in the Valley. The Lashkar fighter usually executes an Indian soldier by slitting his throat.

"However, beheading and disembowelling are also common tactics, employed mostly for psychological reasons. In at least one case a Lashkar fighter, Abu Haibat, brought the head of an Indian soldier back with him to Pakistan. 'The Quran orders us to hit them on every joint,' says Abdur Rahman al Dakhil, commander of the Lashkar in Occupied Kashmir. 'We are instructed to treat the enemy the way they treat us."

He (al Dakhil) does not agree with the common argument that fighters from our side of the region are complicating the situation in Kashmir and causing problems for the local population," the magazine reports. "Nothing could be farther from the truth," he says. "The Kashmiris consider the mehman mujahideen (guest fighters) to be angels that bring God's blessing," he explains.

Wholesale concoction, of course. But entirely predictable. For the entire edifice - of money, of the harvest of recruits, and thereby of influence - would collapse but for these fabrications. The publication describes the kinds of speeches which are the staple of the congregation: "The three day annual meeting is divided into 12 sessions... Most of the sessions, however, concentrates on the importance of jehad. In the fifth session, Abu Muslim Jarar, a Lashkar Taiba fighter currently posted in Kashmir, delivers a speech through a wireless hook-up with Muridke. 'The Hindu Army is taking measures of extreme cruelty against the Muslims,' he warns. 'Sisters are being denuded in front of brothers. Has jehad not become mandatory?'

"In a special session dedicated to speeches by soldiers and relatives of 'martyrs' ", The Herald's account continues, "a youngman, Abdullah, tells the crowd that he belonged to a Hindu family in Kashmir but converted to Islam after coming into contact with men from the Lashkar Taiba. 'I slaughtered five members of my family with my own hands because they were informers for the Indian Army,' he relates. 'I was a Hindu, yet I joined the path of jehad. What keeps you away from it?'

"Another fighter who addresses the meeting, Abu Bilal, was hit by five bullets but succeeded in returning to Pakistan. Sheikh Mohammed bin Saleh, Deputy Mufti of Saudi Arabia, and Abu Abdul Aziz, famed for his involvement in Bosnia, also addresses the gathering via the telephone. 'Those who oppose jehad are not true to their claim of being Muslims', Aziz admonishes the crowd..."

Such awestruck, often times glowing accounts are the staple of Pakistan's press. And the organisation described in this particular account is only one of the scores which have been spawned. The Government of Pakistan and its agencies make no bones about their own purpose, they make no bones abouth their view that these organisations are engaged in a cause which they -- the government and its agencies -- regard just as Holy as do the organisations they have fathered.

The killings of our people testify to their design, not just their cruelty. Our response? To shut our ears tight against what they are shouting over loudspeakers...

The Observer
August 14, 1998

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