Facts And Figures And All That PDF Print E-mail

Two instances have provoked this discussion topic. The first, an opinion expressed by an intellectual that the Kanchi Acharya was ‘sloppy’ in his efforts because he had failed to do his homework before embarking on his latest round of negotiations with the Muslim Personal Law Board and also that ‘hindu organizations’ ‘blew it’ when they did not seize the opportunity to place before the public proof of the existence of a temple before Mir Baqi erected a mosque on the Ramjanmabhumi site. Not content with this completely erroneous assumption that the ‘hindu organizations’ did not possess this information before this expert educated them about it he also states that they have not cultivated the requisite skills of communication and do not know what to do with facts presented by this expert in ‘more than one language’ as he put it, disparagingly. He also faults all these organizations for failing to jump at the chance to benefit from his scholarship. And then they complain that the media doesn’t present their side, he ends his letter.

This expert has assumed that the Kanchi acharya has no knowledge of facts and he and the Hindu organizations therefore appealed to the Muslims on the basis of hurt Hindu sentiments and emotions! The facts unearthed by this expert and presented as he claims, in numerous articles and books authored by him, existed long before contemporary experts evinced interest in Ramjanmabhumi. In fact, even the colonial courts of the nineteenth century knew of some of these facts and conceded that this mosque had come up on a site of special religious significance to Hindus . What is surprising is the disparaging remarks about the RSS and the VHP, and the image that they are whiners. This writer can state with full authority that no Hindu organization participated in the negotiations with the Muslims initiated by the Kanchi Acharya, leave alone appealing to the Muslims “in the name of hurt Hindu sentiments”. One has only to read the text of the talk delivered by Pravin bhai Togadiya, one of the leading lights of these ‘hindu organizations’ in Chennai last month on the possible solutions to the Ramjanmabhumi issue to realise that ‘appealing’ is not in their blood.

A war is fought on several fronts, and the warrior adopts suitable strategies and tactics in attaining his objective. Emotions cannot be substitute for facts, this expert declares. Wrongly, I may add. Emotions and facts are both tactical weapons. One has to use them wisely and in the right context. The assumption that facts and figures are the only weapons may not be wise. If that were indeed true, our courts would not be sitting on the title suit for over 53 years, in spite of the fact that all facts have been placed before these courts for at least more than half a century. What are the possible facts that can prove that the Ramjanmabhumi site rightfully belongs to the Hindus? 1. That the site is believed to be the Janmabhumi or Janmasthan of Bhagwan Srirama. (All historical records referring to the mosque or other references, name the site as janmasthan or Ramjanmabhumi.) 2. That the mosque came up on a site deliberately to wound Hindu religious sentiments. (There are historical documents to prove that Mir Baqi erected this mosque on that spot upon instructions from Babar) 3. That there existed a temple on the site prior to the mosque. (This fact has been established on the basis of a stone tablet unearthed after the mosque was demolished in 1992 and attested to by no less a personage than Dr.Ajoya Mitra Shastri)

Some of these facts have been known to all of us for centuries, some more recently but at least for close to a decade. The leaders of these ‘hindu organizations’ know all these facts and do not need to be educated about them. Our courts know these facts too. But it is obvious that for our courts, there are other factors to be considered, like secularism, sensitivities of the minorities, the very character and nature of our judiciary for example, in dealing with the dispute over the Ramjanmabhumi. But since our experts are convinced that facts and proof have so far not been highlighted and placed before the courts and the people cogently, I can only hope that these experts will still implead themselves into the case if they think they can serve the cause better by their presentation of these facts and figures. Nothing stops them, these Hindutva-sympathetic historians, archeologists, linguists, and other multi-disciplinarians from moving heaven and earth and camping in Ayodhya to keep an eagle eye on the excavations; nothing stops them from addressing the media regularly to educate the media and through the media, us ‘masses’ and the courts on these ‘facts and figures’.

Second, a similar accusation was laid at the doors of the present government in the center. The writer is a part of a group that meets every week unfailingly under the auspices of a think tank, to discuss national security and strategic affairs issues. Last week the talk was initiated by a counter-terrorism expert who recounted to us his interaction with a cross-section of influential persons both NRIs and Americans during his recent trip abroad to the USA. His narration was followed by a lively and often passionate discussion on terrorism and national security, the inadequacies of the current government at the center, the serious lapses on the part of the army in being unable to prevent fidayeen attacks against itself and the Indian State. Many points were made, several questions raised, some concerns expressed. A couple of points that were made deserve special mention and debate, not a futile discussion.

  • The accusation laid against the present government was that “even though this government made tall promises of containing terrorism against the State and the people, it has done little. It is a government that whines but does little”.

  • An oft-repeated complaint by this expert against this government is that it is far too eager to please the US. (On an earlier occasion he had declared to us all that the government had succumbed to American pressure and lured by the prospects of contracts in reconstruction in Iraq, it had made up its mind to send troops to Iraq. This writer stoutly refused to believe that this government would either succumb to pressure or that it could be lured by contracts and had stated so in response.)

  • This government promised a white paper on terrorism. The white paper is ready but this government is so eager to please the US that it has withheld this report. (No explanation though on why this white paper should displease the US)

  • The accusation sweepingly made against the Indian establishment and the government was that we are a nation of whiners. We whine and complain to the US and the international community ad nauseum about Pakistan, about cross-border terrorism. But we never present our case with facts and figures. (The opinion being we are not precise in our presentation, we are not specific.)

  • The Americans respect those that speak their mind (without being rude, without giving offense) backed by, of course, facts and figures, and can stand up for themselves. (Need we say, without being rude, without giving offense?)

Now this I find difficult to believe. We have drawn attention to terrorism emanating from Pakistan and asked the US to declare Pakistan a state sponsor of terrorism only so that the US may be compelled, as per its domestic laws, to monitor and stop if need be, funds travelling to and from Pakistan and Pakistanis, to monitor any large movement of funds across the global network, which may end up funding terrorism against India or some other nation; we have asked the US to declare Pakistan as a state sponsor of terrorism so that by its own laws, it will become impossible for the US to pump aid into Pakistan which is probably being siphoned off by the government or its stooges like the ISI and a few compliant Mullahs to fund terrorism against India. This is not whining because it is the US which has been lending legitimacy to the current Pakistan government headed by the Butcher of Kargil and it is the US and its other Asian and European satellites who are pumping money into Pakistan as aid or as bail-out packages. We have been demanding of the US and Britain that they accept responsibility for their continuing support of Pakistan in the face of Pakistan’s proven alliance with the Taliban, and also its stated support for the terrorists operating in J&K. This is not whining. We repeatedly point the US towards Pakistan after every outrageous act of terrorism only because it means confronting the US with its duplicity, its forked tongue, its double standards on what constitutes terrorism. This is not whining.

Besides, Jaswant Singh, Brajesh Mishra, Yashwant Sinha, Advani and Vajpayee don’t seem like whiners to me. If anything it is widely acknowledged internationally that these are hard-core right-wing nationalists, uncompromisingly committed to and determined to end terrorism against this country. And what is even more difficult to believe is that when Brajesh Mishra or Jaswant Singh or Yashwant Sinha or Advani meet with Bush, Powell, Armitage, Rumsfeld or Condoleeza Rice, they do not speak authoritatively with facts and figures on the table before them; but that they get together with these worthies on a kite flying expedition. I am sure we have told the Americans more than a dozen times (assuming erroneously that the Americans don’t know anything about this from their own intelligence sources and reports), about the terrorist infrastructure in Pakistan, about where the terrorist camps are located, about the Binori madarasa and other madarasas churning out fundamentalists by the thousands, about the ISI, about ISI operations in Nepal, in pockets of India, the network developed by the ISI with local Muslims, the heavy toll of civilian lives and the lives of our men in uniform claimed by Pakistan-sponsored terrorism on Indian soil and the route traveled by the global terrorist funding network. I am sure we have given the Americans all the facts and figures related to terrorism in India, particularly Pakistan state-sponsored and Saudi Arabia state-funded jihadi terrorism. It remains to be debated though how much respect the American government and administration has had for the facts and figures which have been given to them.

For this is indeed the image that emerges when one listens to these experts. This opinion alone, that we have a government that whines or that we are a nation of whiners and that we have failed to place facts and figures before the Americans at large including the man serving me a burger in Macdonald’s, must trigger debate on the following attendant questions:

  • What really are the options before this government in dealing with Pakistan and the attendant question, is there incontrovertible proof that this government is indeed doing nothing to hurt Pakistan?

  • That India must present an audit of terrorism against the Indian State and civil society to the US and sundry Americans.

  • That India must assume the role of a seller of facts and figures and the US the customer for whom this audit must be packaged and presented to suit American tastes and fancies.

  • That the US bases its foreign policy with regard to Pakistan only on the basis of our audit.

  • That the US has an unswerving commitment to facts and figures and will not settle for anything less than verifiable facts and figures when it comes to taking action against States and groups actively promoting terrorism against other States and nations.

Time to roll on the ground laughing our heads off, clutching our stomachs, folks. The US flirted, courted and had an extra-marital affair with the Taliban; and even after the infatuation wore off and the Taliban refused to favour UNOCAL, the US sulked but did not break off officially or decisively with the Taliban until September 11 poked a hole through its national cockiness and ballooned arrogance. Unfortunately for the rest of the world, it was the rest of the world which had to pay the price for the other monster, jihadi terrorism, teaching the US this salutary lesson. All of us lost a family member, a friend or someone known to us, including this writer whose nephew working for Cantor Fitzgerald, died at the age of 32. So for our own experts, intellectuals and retired bureaucrats to submit that we must all play a role in presenting to the US an audit of facts and figures with regard to Pakistani state sponsored terrorism or that the Indian government has not packaged its grouse in a language befitting its exalted listener, and that this government is impotent when it comes to dealing with Pakistan-sponsored terrorism and runs whining to the US, is offensive bordering on the insulting.

Now let us debate the submission that the US has only contempt for whiners but respects those that stand up fearlessly before it and respects and pays heed to facts and figures. Bullshit! Look at all those whom the US has labeled as evil, look at all those whom the US has assassinated (using the good offices of the ‘dirty tricks’ department of the CIA) as a routine matter of state policy, look at all those leaders against whom the US has funded and supported an individual or a group as political opposition. Allende, Patrice Lumumba, Fidel Castro, the Soviet Union, Gaddafi, Indira Gandhi, Saddam Hussein, Mahatir Mohammad, Suharto, there are many more, and now France and Germany. All these persons and countries had stood up to the Americans at some time or the other. It is not the concern of this article to go into the merits and de-merits of these leaders in their leadership roles within their respective countries. But what is of relevance here is that these leaders were all perceived to be ‘nationalists’, shall we say. And they have all had their regimes de-stabilised, some of them have been assassinated, some threatened with economic sanctions and some countries, like France and Germany, as recently as two months ago, have been coarsely threatened with ‘punishment’. And all this within the boundaries of official American foreign policy!

The instability that triggered the emergency in India and the subsequent ending of Indira Gandhi’s clout and power, the Tiananmen Square rebellion in China, the student unrest in Indonesia which saw the end of Suharto, the student unrest in Iran last month, the increasingly high-profile projection of Aung San Suu Kyi as some kind of female Nelson Mandela in Burma, the political opposition to Mahatir Mohammad in Malaysia, the sudden appearance of Boris Yeltsin and the resulting disintegration of the Soviet Union are classic examples of America’s reaction to nationalism, wherever that has translated itself into anti-Americanism. The US has no problems with persons or nations standing up for themselves, I agree, but only as long as they bow and scrape before the US first and perform the customary genuflection. This doesn’t seem like America having a commendable history of admiring those that stand up for themselves or for their nations. I am sure our experts may say, but all these persons and countries were rude, they gave offense and hurt the fragile American ego. Like Iraq failing to condemn the September 11 attacks, as one of our experts pointed out. This shattered the American ego and Cowboy George had to teach the Iraqis a lesson. Doesn’t matter if he laid waste a nation-civilization, if the invasion wiped out history, if it killed and maimed children. But these proud Iraqis had to be taught a lesson for keeping itching American fingers from out of their oil and for failing to condemn September 11. Failure to condemn September 11 was an after-thought and a convenient weapon for demonising Iraq and Saddam Hussein.

This thing about respect for adherence to facts and figures, it has me in splits. This Indian expert has, on more than one occasion, told us in no uncertain terms that India had been placing facts and figures of Pakistan’s hand in terrorism against India and had also handed over precise information on the source and route of funds for terrorist groups. But at that time, when September 11 was ten years into the future, the Americans and the British pretended not to hear and had not even acknowledged that the Jaish-e-Muhammad and the Lashkar-e-Tayyiba were Pakistani-Punjabi terrorist organizations, with the stated objective of perpetrating terrorist acts in J&K. In fact, we Indians were told that unless we could prove that every penny coming from these sources was spent on a specific act of terrorism, the US and Britain were not going to stop these funds from moving. But September 11 diluted this admirable self-righteous adherence to protecting the religious freedom and human rights of Islamic terrorists. On the mere suspicion that some of these organizations and charitable trusts may have had a hand in funding the Al-Qaeda, the US, Britain and all other western nations have frozen bank accounts, sealed funds, scrutinised the legal and illegal networks transferring money. With no incontrovertible proof, I may add. On the basis of suspicion alone, just suspicion.

The expert’s submission before this group was that India has not managed to garner support for her position on Pakistan because she has never been precise in her accusations, has never placed facts and figures before the international community. The following points merit attention:

  • The international community (meaning the US and its lackey, the UK), have never based their foreign policy towards Pakistan on the Indian audit of Pakistani state-sponsored terrorism against India and the rest of the world.

  • The US, UK and countries in the oil and gas exploring and producing business have a large stake in Afghanistan and as long as Iran continues to be on the axis of evil list, Afghanistan and Pakistan remain inextricably linked in their calculations. So nothing that India may say is going to impact on these countries’ perception of Pakistan which today is based solely on their self-interest. (Unless they invade Iran next, bring about a regime change, install another American puppet/stooge and then turn their attention towards Pakistan. Which doesn’t seem very likely, for several reasons)

Now coming to facts and figures for which the US has so much respect, according to this expert. What facts and which figures were presented to the international community, the UNSC for justifying the invasion of Iraq? The latest best-seller in the fictional category, the Iraq Dossier has driven a British weapons inspector to suicide, the Democrats, who remained silent and in fact, supported their delinquent President in the decision to invade Iraq, are now self-righteously baying for the delinquent’s blood on the grounds that he sold them a pink elephant. Bush lied not just to the United Nations but also to his own nation when in his State of the Union Address in January 2003, he declared that Saddam Hussein had procured uranium from Niger. Had the accusation been less serious, had the accused been less exalted, he may well have been hauled up before his own national courts for libel. But because Bush was only ‘fibbing’ about two Heads of State, because he was lying in the line of work, he was not called upon to substantiate his accusation.

Coming to the last part of the crimes of omission against our government – that it has no plan of action, no clear thinking on how to deal with Pakistan, let us scrutinise this presumption minutely. On the ground, what are the options before India in dealing with Pakistan? Several experts, in fact, everyone of them, whom this writer has had occasion to listen to, has stated unequivocally that since both nations possess nuclear weapons, an all-out conventional war against Pakistan is ruled out because, Pakistan will be out-classed and out-weighed by the sheer size and combat capability of the Indian army, air-force and navy combined. It will therefore use its nuclear weapons as it has been threatening to do. Therefore India will not launch a conventional war against Pakistan except perhaps a largely localised, territorially contained operations as advocated by the former Chief of Army, General Mallik. But there is every danger that these operations may escalate and be transformed into a full-scale conventional war in which case, it is back to scene 1. India has already declared a no first use as part of its nuclear weapons doctrine. Then what is the option before India in dealing with Pakistan?

  • 1.Launch a full-scale conventional war against Pakistan, and call Pakistan’s bluff. If Pakistan uses nuclear weapons against India it will certainly cause intensive damage but if India takes recourse to second strike, then Pakistan will be wiped off.

    On this, our experts opined that if Pakistan uses its first strike to decapitate our leadership, then is our command and control structure so designed that there is a decisive and responsible finger on the nuclear button no matter what the threat, what the scenario? What was surprising was that not one expert could bring himself to say that this government has the capability to work out an infallible command and control system.

  • 2. Given Pakistan’s determination to make India bleed through terrorism, and also given that the country’s military has been islamised so extensively that there is a large section of irrational elements in the Pakistani military today, India must re-think its no first use policy and keep its nuclear options open.

  • 3. Undertake well-planned and effective counter-terrorism measures against Pakistan.

This article concerns itself with the last option. These experts have declared that conventional war with Pakistan would be foolish and equally undesirable to state openly India’s first use possibility. But Pakistan has to be made to pay an unbearable price for its obsessive hatred for India. Now how do you make a nation pay an unbearable price? We can destroy it economically, we can keep its polity and society continuously de-stabilised, we can provoke and support large-scale unrest and violence, we can destroy its infrastructure, we can do any one or all of several things. But every one of these possible options will entail loss of non-combatant lives, death of civilians and other horrors. If this is not so, this writer asked of the expert, please describe counter-terrorism. If this is indeed counter-terrorism, then how can any government draft a rule-book counter-terrorism doctrine?

Our experts patronise, condescend, moralise, philosophise. The hypocrisy on how to deal with terrorism begins in these rooms. We do not have the stomach to spell out counter-terrorism measures. Every society, every nation works out its own methods and strategies to deal with terrorism. We do not speak about these methods openly; none, except perhaps those that operationalise these measures, even know about them. And that is the way it should be. Therefore experts must think twice before they declare that this government is not doing anything to hurt Pakistan. This writer thinks that this government has done to focus more world attention on Pakistan than any other previous government and India’s own growing economic and military strength makes her an attractive ally. If we can go beyond the lollipops that the US is compelled to hand Pakistan and look carefully, we will see the world, including the US is wooing India. And Pakistan is hurting in many places. As I said, every society and nation develops the necessary skills, and weapons to tackle terrorism directed against themselves. The Gujarat riots were one such method adopted by the people of Gujarat. If the Guajart riots were wrong, then all counter-terrorism measures which alone can make the perpetrators pay an unbearable price, are wrong. And as long as our experts have this ambivalent attitude to domestic and foreign counter-terrorism measures, this nations’ thinking class will be mentally paralysed and will not be able to go beyond repeating tired formulae.

The attack on the army cantonement in Kaluchak, in Chattissinghpura, against the Indian parliament, the Akshardham temple, Godhra, and all those terror attacks against Hindus in Jammu, in Kashmir, in Marad, all these are a part of the global jihadi terrorist network. First let us pronounce the politically incorrect – all of them are Muslims and are doing this because they are convinced they are serving their religion, their God. And they are emboldened precisely because of the global network which not only makes the individual members invisible but also gives them the strength accruing from this anonymity. How can our experts call upon our government to deal with Pakistan effectively without calling upon the government to deal with domestic Muslims in a similar manner? The hypocrisy begins here. Our experts must introspect, must judge the value of the opinions and suggestions they place before intellectuals, before the government. Pontificating to us on the government’s ineffectiveness or the ineffectiveness of ‘hindu organizations’ and hindu religious leaders may perhaps show up our experts in better light, but they are still not serving the nation as long as they fail to come up with possible solutions. This is as true of Ayodhya as it is of Pakistan.

i. “Even as military expeditions and war diplomatic efforts were continued by Hindus, not just from Ayodhya but from other parts of the country as well, after the British government and its judicial administration took shape and an element of Rule of Law was introduced in governance, the Hindus tried to invoke the law to re-establish their rights. the first such effort was in 1885. On 25th May, 1885, Mahant Raghubardas appealed to the Faizabad District Judge that an order be given for the construction of Temple on the Ramjanmabhumi. On the 18th march, 1886, the District Judge, an Englishman, passed the following order: “I visited the land in dispute yesterday in the presence of all parties. I found the Masjid built by Emperor Babar stands on the border of Ayodhya, that is to say, to the West and South. It is clear of habitants. It is most unfortunate that a Masjid should have been built on land specially held sacred by the Hindus….”

http://www.hinduonnet.com/thehindu/2003/08/13/stories/2003081304171100.htm

http://www.hinduonnet.com/thehindu/2003/08/13/stories/2003081300771500.htm

(The URLs above are from The Hindu dated 13th August, the first on evidence of temple in Ayodhya and the second about the Iraq Dossier)