Describing Pakistan as the centre of world terrorism, renowned author Salman Rushdie has slammed Islamabad for its “cynical denial” that the terrorists involved in Mumbai attacks were not its nationals.
Salman Rushdie has slammed Islamabad for its “cynical denial” that the terrorists involved in Mumbai attacks were not its nationals.
Participating in a panel discussion at the Asia Society, Rushdie said that the terror attacks in Mumbai were marked by brutality by the attackers and incompetence of government and security agencies in responding to them.
During the discussion, panelists agreed that all terrorism roads lead to Pakistan and expressed skepticism that Islamabad would dismantle the terror groups.
They said the world should send clear message to Islamabad that terrorists are becoming a liability to Pakistan and it is in its own interest to dismantle them.
The (George W) Bush administration too came in for strong criticism for considering former President Pervez Musharraf as an “ally in fighting terrorism” and giving billions of dollars to it without any condition that the money should be used to fight terrorists.
The panelists recalled that Musharraf was responsible for aiding Lashkar-e-Toiba to fight in Kashmir during his years in army and Rushdie said he put up a western face to the Westerns but was mullah to extremists.
Rushdie as also other participants strongly attacked noted author Arundhiti Roy for linking the Mumbai terrorist attacks to Kashmir, Gujarat riots and demolition of Babri Masjid.
The terrorists, the participants said, are driven by a different philosophy and ideology and want to take the world back into the medieval ages.
But they agreed that terrorists failed in their apparent bid to split Hindus and Muslims and ignite communal riots as both the communities condemned the attacks and vowed to unitedly fight them.
They also warned against government responding to the attacks and criticism of its tardy response by adopting draconian measures. Instead, it should take measures to strengthen the areas in which weakness were found.
Besides Rushdie, the panelists included former Bernard Schwartz Fellow Mira Kamdar, who had lost her cousin and her cousin’s husband in the Mumbai attacks, and author of Maximum City: Bombay Lost and Found Suketu Mehta.
There was a lively discussion on the role of media which some had criticised but panelists generally defended the “aggressive coverage” though Rushdie at one stage criticised an Indian television channel for giving room number and floor of a guest from whom it had received a call.
They were also skeptical that the weak civilian government of President Asif Ali Zardari would be able to control terrorist or their organisation especially when his own credibility is on the line for alleged corruption during the time his wife Benazir Bhutto was the prime minister.
“He was known as 10 per cent and then 20 per cent which showed his skills,” Rushdie said amidst laughter.
In his brief remarks, Indian Consul-General in New York Prabhu Dayal called on all civilised nations to bring maximum pressure on Pakistan to stamp out the terrorist camps which give rise such attacks.
There is no place for terrorism in the civilised world,” Dayal said, adding that the Mumbai attack was not just strike against the Indian people but against humanity.
“Therefore, all humanity must act together in this hour crisis to ensure that incidents like these do not occur in future,” he added.
It is “amazing,” he said, that Islamabad even refuses to accept the bodies of the attackers killed in the incident even though the only surviving assassin has identified them and he himself, in turn, has been identified by his father in Pakistan.
He agreed with panelists that the response did leave “something to be desired” but pointed out that the Indian home minister and Maharashtra Chief Minister had resigned taking the moral responsibility.
That brought a question from the audience as to why politicians in the US do not take moral responsibility and resign.
Dayal said the attacks were also against growing ties between India and West as was clear from the fact that Westerners were targeted.
Kamdar, who was seen fighting back her tears as she remembered her cousin, expressed the view that the terrorists attacked Taj as they wanted to do something spectacular and they did succeed in that.
The panelists said the terrorists chose soft targets where they could achieve maximum effect but Rushdie questioned as to why security in Taj hotel was relaxed even though it was known to be a target.
Another point made was that it would be impossible to stamp out terrorists unless Pakistan takes action to their roots. Otherwise, the banned organisation Jamaat-ud-Daawa would start functioning under some other name.