Monday, Nov 28, 2022

The Trustworthy Warrior

Hail to the greatest "ally" of the US and the UK in the war against terrorism. No wonder Al Qaeda and the Taliban are making hay while Musharraf shines.

Remember Daniel Pearl, the Mumbai-based correspondent of the Wall Street Journal, who went to Karachi in January, 2002, to do a story on the Pakistani links of the so-called shoe bomber?
Remember how he was trapped and kidnapped by a group of jihadi terrorists of Pakistan?
Remember how he was brutally killed by his throat being slit before video cameras like one slits the throat of a sacrificial goat?
Remember how his dead body  and severed head were found buried in a plot of land in Karachi belonging to a so-called charitable organisation close to the Jaish-e-Mohammad?
Remember Omar Sheikh, a Pakistani resident of London, who had orchestrated the brutal incident?
Remember his role in the jihad against the Serbs in Bosnia?
Remember his subsequent role in acts of terrorism in India?
Remember his arrest and detention in India?
Remember how Pakistan's Harkat-ul-Mujahideen (HUM) hijacked an Indian Airlines aircraft in December,1999, to Kandahar and secured his release?
Remember his surrender to the then Home Secretary of Punjab in February,2002, after the kidnapping of Pearl?
Remember how Gen.Pervez Musharraf concealed this information from the American public during his visit to the US in February,2002?
Remember how Musharraf lied to the American public that Pearl was still alive when  he knew he was dead?
Remember the trial and conviction of Omar Sheikh and some of his associates before a special anti-terrorism court?
Remember the judgement pronounced by the court on July 15, 2002, sentencing Omar Sheikh to death and three others to life imprisonment?
Remember the appeal filed by Omar Sheikh against the death sentence?

In a few days, it will be five years since the brutal murder of Pearl. In July, it will be five years since the court sentenced Omar Sheikh  to death.

Why has his appeal not been disposed of for five years in violation of Pakistan's Anti-Terrorism Act, which lays down  that hearings in terrorism-related cases should be disposed of on a day-to-day basis without adjournments being granted?
Musharraf only knows.

Why has a special dispensation been shown to Omar Sheikh and the appeal kept pending for nearly five years— without even a single substantive hearing, in total violation of the law relating to trials in terrorism-related cases?
Musharraf only knows.

How many times adjournments have been granted by the court to Omar Sheikh?
I used to keep count till January last year, but now I have given up since it is meaningless.

On what grounds were the adjournments granted?
Indisposition of Omar Sheikh.
Indisposition of his lawyer.
Indisposition of the judge.
Resignation of his lawyer.
Difficulty in finding a new lawyer.
Non-availability of police constables to provide security in the court.

And so on and so on.

Do you know when was the last adjournment granted?
January 19,2007.

Till when?
February 19,2007.

No reasons were given by the court.

Why do the Pakistani authorities want to keep Omar Sheikh alive? Why are they hesitant to execute him?
Musharraf only knows.

Why is President George Bush is not taking up this case with Musharraf?
Bush only knows.

Sources in Sindh say that two of the suicide bombers involved in the London blasts of July 7,2005, had met Omar Sheikh in jail during their visit to Pakistan before the blasts. Is it true?
Musharraf only knows.

Did the British ask the Pakistani authorities for permission to question him on the London blasts?
Of course, they did.

What happened?
The Pakistani authorities asked them to approach the court. They said the matter was no longer in their hands.

Did the British take up the matter with the court?
Yes, they did.

What happened then?
The court has not had the time to look into it.

Remember the sensational press conference held by the London police on August 10, 2006, in which they announced the discovery of a terrorist plot to blow up many US-bound flights through liquid explosives?
Remember the arrest of a number of Pakistani and Bangladeshi residents of the UK in connection with this plot?
Remember the tremendous inconvenience to which thousands of air passengers were put all over the world following this?
Remember the  praise showered on Pakistan by the UK and the US for getting intelligence about this plot from one Rashid Rauf, a Pakistani from Birmingham, who was arrested in Bhawalpur?
Remember how the Pakistani authorities went to town over his arrest  and projected him as close to a senior, unnamed Al Qaeda leader?

What happened to those arrested by the British police?
Seven of them are currently facing trial.

Why during the hearing so far there has not been much of a reference to the so-called plot to blow up US-bound planes?
Ask the British Police.

What happened to Rashid Rauf?
He was discharged by a court last month on the ground that there was no evidence against him relating to any plot to commit any act of terrorism.

Has he been released?
No. The Pakistani authorities continue to detain him and have gone in appeal to the Lahore High Court.

Has the Lahore High Court been hearing the appeal?

Then, what is it doing?
Adjourning the case under one pretext or the other.

When was the last adjournment ordered?
January 25, 2007.

On what grounds?
The court has no time.

Has it fixed the date of the next hearing?

Have the British questioned him on the London plot?

Have the British Police asked for his extradition?

What has been the response of the Pakistani authorities?
Not possible since Pakistan does not have an extradition treaty with the UK.

How is it the Pakistani authorities have informally handed over so many suspects to the US, including many terrorists of Al Qaeda, without formal extradition proceedings, but are not prepared to do the same thing with Rauf?
Ask Musharraf.

Why are they so afraid of handing him over to the British?
Ask Musharraf.

What do the US and the UK say to all this?
Musharraf is a trustworthy warrior against terrorism.

He may give shelter to Osama bin Laden in Waziristan.
And yet, he is a trustworthy warrior against terrorism.

He may give shelter to Ayman al-Zawahiri in Waziristan.
And yet, he is a trustworthy warrior against terrorism

He may give shelter to Mulla Mohammad Omar in Quetta.
And yet, he is a trustworthy warrior against terrorism.

He may call off his operations against Al Qaeda and the Taliban in Waziristan.
And yet, he is a trustworthy warrior against terrorism.

He may be responsible for the deaths of thousands of Afghans and hundreds of NATO forces in Afghanistan.
And yet, he is a trustworthy warrior against  terrorism.

Hail to this "trustworthy" warrior—the greatest "ally" of the US and the UK in the war against terrorism.

No wonder Al Qaeda and the Taliban  are  making hay while Musharraf shines.

B. Raman is Additional Secretary (retd), Cabinet Secretariat, Govt. of India, New Delhi, and, presently, Director, Institute For Topical Studies, Chennai.