The high drama that accompanied Ajmal Kasab when he appeared on the Indian scene four years back was missing in his death. If at all, it came in the form of headline-grabbing news and daylong debate and discussions on Indian TV channels only after he had disappeared from the scene. As the lone survivor of the Pakistan-based terror group that launched its audacious attack on Mumbai, killing 166 people and wounding several others, on 26/11 in 2008, Kasab had been a “dead man walking” since the time of his capture. But the government’s announcement early on Wednesday morning that Kasab has been hanged to death came as a surprise to most Indians.
More surprising perhaps was the muted reaction in Pakistan. Barring tweets, a few discussions and predictable statements from jehadi groups, Kasab’s death went almost unsung. There were no demonstrations or rallies carrying his portrait; no anti-Indian sloganeering. By mid-day his death was not even in the main headlines on Pakistan’s busy news channels.
The Pakistani government, which had earlier politely refused to accept the letter from the Indian government informing them about the decision to execute Kasab, asked its foreign ministry to make a statement emphasising its resolve to fight terrorism and the readiness to work with all countries in the region to fight it. But, as many in the establishment describe Wednesday’s incident as a “closure” on the Kasab case—with the trial and execution completed in as few as four years—questions are being raised. Can keeping him alive have served India’s purpose better? Or was it too late?
“He should have been hanged two years back,” former Indian foreign minister K. Natwar Singh told Outlook. He pointed out that former president Pratibha Patil had been sitting on Kasab’s mercy petition. “The entire judicial process had been completed and there is no reason why he should not have been hanged earlier.”
But many are now questioning whether Pakistan will have the political will to do so. Despite the muted response in the country to Kasab’s hanging, there are fears among many Indians that jehadi groups as well as the hardliners in Pakistan may take a much tougher line to prevent the Pakistani government from showing meaningful progress on the 26/11 trial. There are indications from Pakistan that while its army and the ISI have not said much on Kasab’s death, they may not encourage the government to act against the seven suspects.
“Kasab dead may prove to be stronger and more potent than Kasab alive,” says K.C. Singh, former MEA secretary. He thinks the jehadis will turn Kasab into a poster boy to boost recruitment. South Block, however, insists that the “closure” on Kasab does not mean India can stop insisting that Pakistan acts against the 26/11 perpetrators. “That is the bare minimum for Pakistan to establish its credibility on this important issue of bilateral ties,” says a senior Indian diplomat.
The signals from Pakistan are complicated. Khawaja Haris Ahmed, one of the lawyers for Lashkar-e-Toiba chief Zaki-ur-Rehman Lakhvi, one of the seven being held, says, “Kasab had to be cross-examined before his Indian confessional statement could be admitted in a Pakistani court. Now, his statements have no legal value.”
However, lack of progress on the 26/11 case is not the only worry. There are indications that, in the coming days, the focus may shift to Sarabjit Singh, an Indian being held in a Pakistani jail after conviction on a terror charge. So are we looking at a scenario when India and Pakistan are likely to go back to their old rivalry, ending the bonhomie and ambitious talk of liberalising trade and visa regimes? “Bold initiatives are required by the Indian and Pakistani leadership to keep the bilateral ties moving forward and avoid getting into a game of brinkmanship,” says C. Raja Mohan, an Indian strategist. But as both countries get into election mode, can Manmohan Singh and Asif Ali Zardari end their tenures on a high note by embarking on a breakthrough in Indo-Pak ties? Or will they play it safe and leave that task to their successors?
By Pranay Sharma in New Delhi and Mohammad Zulqernain in Lahore
There can be no doubt about one positive outcome of Kasab’s hanging (So Much More to Unentangle). There won’t be any Kandahar-like hijackings to bargain for his release. He might have become useless as a gamer but would have retained his potential as a bargaining chip.
Thank you to all those who have taken the trouble to read the article and share their thoughts. Out of the arguments made here, there are two that perhaps need answering. So here they go.
1. The first part of the article compares outcomes (relative percentages of population of the religions concerned) irrespective of the process that led to those outcomes - whether immigration, relatively faster population growth or conversions. This was for two reasons. One, to put the figure of 2.3 per cent in "numerical perspective", as the article itself explained. The second reason was that outcomes are ultimately what the crux of debate is about. The rest of the article in any case dealt with process - or conversions in this case, from both a contemporary and historical perspective.
2. Some commenters have tried to cast doubts on the reliability of Census 2001. Those who do this should bear in mind that Census 2001 was conducted by a BJP government. Considering the extreme importance that BJP gives to this issue, it would be reasonable to expect that IF it had perceived a problem with the methodology that was distorting the numbers, it would have fixed it. As the article mentioned, BJP or BJP-supported governments have been in power for 10 of the last 40 years, or about a quarter of the time, and the only reasonable conclusion one can arrive at is that any misreporting of numbers, real or perceived, would be marginal and hence, not of importance.
To all other arguments made, my answer is the following: Please read the article again, with particular focus on the quotations of Vivekananda and Monier Williams, and the history of the missionary efforts in Bengal and their outcome.
"Bold initiatives are required by the Indian and Pakistani leadership to keep the bilateral ties moving forward and avoid getting into a game of brinkmanship,” says C. Raja Mohan, an Indian strategist.
After decades of genocide and ethnic cleansing, Pakistan is now 99% Muslim. The last remaining Hindus are being subjected to rape, forced conversions and kidnappings, and those who can make it to the border are fleeing to India.
Pakistan has not punished even a single person for the Mumbai attacks.
Every week, there is a report of armed infiltration from Pakistan into J&K. There are hundreds of camps in Paki Kashmir filled with thousands of terrorists who are waiting for the green light to cross over to India.
The solution from our "strategist": bold initiatives to keep bilateral ties moving forward!
If this is strategy, it is no wonder our country is in the state it is in.
Yet another pointless article on Indo - Pak relations with not a whisper about 1) Pakisan's Theocractic system coming in way of better Indo-Pak Relations 2) The poor condition of the religious minorities of Pakistan.
We will never see any real improvement in Indo-Pak relations, unless above 2 points are addressed.
"He pointed out that former president Pratibha Patil had been sitting on Kasab’s mercy petition"
Pratibha Patil's term was till July 25 2012, the SC upheld his death penalty in August 2012. Please explain how exactly Pratibha Patil had been sitting on Kasab's 'mercy petition' - otherwise please elaborate whether the reporter was on dope
This article worries about Indo-Pak relations post-Kasab execution.. We must realise that the Pakistan with whom India might have made peace to solve outstanding problems no longer exists.In its place we have a terrorist controlled state which includes all murderous elements from Afghanistan as well bent upon Jihad .Any amount of write-ups and discussions on TV or the pontifications of 'Terrorism Editors' in our newspapers will not alter this fact.All that these editor log are good at is explaining to us mangoes what each abbreviation means!By all means let them make a living out of it. Not knowing what LeT means or the Quaranic significance of Takiban, Al Queda etc etc is no deawback when fighting these goons.All that India needs are good intelligence about these assassins, and an excellent police force/army unswayed by mercy or political calculations.
The time may not be conducive to bold initiatives being attempted. Better to keep chipping away, with small incremental improvements, trade, travel, sports, culture.
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