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Why doesn't the US hold a dialogue with Osama?

Why doesn't the US hold a dialogue with Osama?

Author: Tavleen Singh
Publication: The Indian Express
Dated: June 14, 2009
URL: http://www.indianexpress.com/news/why-doesnt-the-us-hold-a-dialogue-with-osama/476101/0

Am I the only one shocked by an American official daring to suggest 'dialogue' with Pakistan in the wake of the release of Hafiz Mohammad Saeed? Why did nobody ask Under Secretary William Burns if his country would be persuaded to have a 'dialogue' with Pakistan if Osama bin Laden were similarly arrested and released? Not because of the due process of the law, as some spokesmen of the Pakistani government claim, but because no charges were brought against him. So there were no grounds for further preventive detention according to the court that released him.

The vile Saeed is our Osama and if Pakistan wants to talk peace with India the very least it must do is arrest him again and close down the Lashkar-e-Tayyaba. Then, we can begin to talk. Not only are we certain that it was this ghastly conglomerate of jihadi killers that was responsible for what happened in Mumbai but Lashkar's spokesmen admit proudly their involvement in the 'jihad' in Kashmir. Speaking of which, Under Secretary Burns got away with stating at a press conference in Delhi that his government wanted a solution in Kashmir that took into account 'the views of the Kashmiri people'. Did nobody tell him that there were free and fair elections in that state not long ago? If by the 'Kashmiri people' he means a handful of self-appointed leaders in the Valley who never dare to contest elections, then perhaps the American President needs to do some more homework on Kashmir.

As someone who thought Barack Obama really was 'the one', I find myself increasingly disillusioned by his South Asia policy. Is he so naïve that he believes Islamist terrorism can be fought selectively? How is it possible to fight the Taliban in Swat and Waziristan while continuing to support the Lashkar brand of jihad in Lahore and Karachi?

How can anyone believe that the Pakistan government is sincere in its fight against jihadi terrorism when it releases the man who started the Lashkar-e-Tayyaba? If you want to hear Hafiz Mohammed Saeed's thoughts and feelings about India, go to You Tube and listen to the interview he gave last week. He accuses India of being responsible for every act of terrorism on Pakistani soil and of being behind the violence in Baluchistan. The suggestion that India is responsible for sponsoring Islamist violence is beyond bizarre. If our covert agencies were that good, we would have taken the Taliban, the Lashkar and the evil Maulana Azhar Masood out long ago. Where is Azhar Masood, by the way? Does the Pakistani government expect us to seriously believe that he has vanished into thin air?

While I was writing this piece, bombs went off in Lahore and Naushera. It is true that the jihadis have started to bite the hand that nurtured them, but is this not the inevitable consequence of two decades of breeding violent religious fanatics with the idea of making them the sword arm of Pakistani foreign policy? And, now that Pakistan appears to be coming apart at the seams, all that the new American President has come up with by way of policy is to give Pakistan more aid. If financial aid was the solution to Pakistan's problems then it should have been saved long ago by the more than $11 billion that George W. Bush gave Musharraf to fight terrorism.

Our problem is not just American foreign policy in the region but our own foreign policy, which is namby-pamby to the point of being non-existent. For a start, our Ministry of External Affairs seems to be linguistically challenged, so when Saeed was released all we could do was use words like 'regrettable' and 'unfortunate' to state our case. When will we realise that if we want to be heard, we need our Prime Minister to state loudly and clearly that we cannot and will not talk to Pakistan as long as it refuses to bring well-known terrorists to justice.

It is now more than six months since Mumbai was attacked and there is no sign of Pakistan either handing over those who were responsible or trying them. Unless this happens, what is there for us to have a dialogue about? We would do better instead to strengthen our defences. This newspaper has over the past weeks produced detailed analysis of what went wrong on 26/11. Everything failed. The police, the commandos, our intelligence agencies, our coastal defense. Everything. And, so far, there are no signs that anything has been done to rectify this shameful state of affairs. What are we waiting for? Another Indian city to be attacked? If this happens and the response is as hopeless as it was on November 26, 2008, the honeymoon with our new government will come to an abrupt and ugly end.

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