Najmuddin A Shaikh, a former Foreign Secretary of Pakistan, asks India, Pakistan and the world to “verify the facts” of the Pulwama case. In an article in the Pakistan daily, Dawn on March 7, Shaikh begins by saying that while “the armed forces on both sides remain in a state of high alert and are distrustful of each other’s intentions it does seem that some back channels contacts have brought acceptable assurances and permitted the resumption of bus and train services, and of contact on the Kartarpur Corridor.”
The former foreign secretary then focuses on the attack itself and suggests that the Jaish-e-Mohammad claiming responsibility was, perhaps, more a matter of convenience than of actual involvement. “It is certainly true, as a perusal of the JeM publications after Feb 19 shows, that they claimed credit but this is exactly what Al Qaeda and the militant Islamic State group and other terrorist organisations repeatedly did when attacks were carried out in their name. They even claimed attacks that had not been explicitly associated with them. Still, that was to be expected and should have been recognised as such rather than leading to an assertion in virtually every report that the JeM’s claim of responsibility was established and provided the justification for a violation of Pakistan’s sovereign territory,” Shaikh asserts.
The former foreign secretary also asks for better diplomatic minds to prevail, and asks India to focus on Kashmir and the alienation among the people of Kashmir — a key cause for the attack. Talks cannot be delayed for long, he contends.
The editorial in Dawn on March 7, ‘FATF Action Plan’ enjoins the Pakistan government to take seriously the implementation of the action plan it has provided to Financial Action Task Force (FATF), the Paris-based global terror financing watching: “Having narrowly averted being blacklisted in February, the government must not allow history to repeat itself. The same steps have been taken by previous governments as well, only to be allegedly stymied by the powerful handlers that these groups have.”
The editorial emphasises that Pakistan should provide not even a modicum of shelter to terrorist/fundamentalist outfits: “Today, we face the prospect of being put on the blacklist if concrete steps are not evident to what will undoubtedly be a sceptical FATF audience in June. These groups and their existence on Pakistani soil have become much more than a nuisance and an embarrassment. It is quite clear that none of them should have any presence here. The finance secretary’s remarks need to be absorbed fully and earnest action against proscribed groups must be taken immediately to eliminate the scourge once and for all.”
The ongoing political drama in Sri Lanka seems to be taking its toll on governance. The March 5 editorial in The Island asks that politics not interfere at least with the process of approving the budget. However, there is some hope, despite the political acrimony that better minds among the political class will carry the day when it comes to the polls. “A UNF minister has proved that not all yahapalana bigwigs are impervious to reason. Minister Eran Wickramaratne is reported to have said that the conduct of polls should not be left entirely to the discretion of politicians, and the dates of all elections have to be constitutionally stipulated. This is a sensible idea which deserves to be heeded by the senior leaders of the government and the Opposition alike. There may be a constitutional provision for changing the dates of elections, under extraordinary circumstances, to prevent the country being thrown into turmoil, but, overall, there has to be predictability where polls are concerned,” the editorial points out.
Justice or vengeance
The life sentence to former Nepal legislator Resham Chaudhary, and 10 others, for the killing in 2015 of eight police personnel is being welcomed as justice being done. In contrast to other parts of South Asia, there has been a little clamour for the death penalty. The Himalayan Times’ editorial on March 8, ‘Poetic Justice,’ notes: “The kin and kith of the fallen victims have welcomed the verdict and said justice has been done. The supporters of the accused have, however, cried foul at the verdict. The RJP-N leadership, which conspicuously withdrew its support to the government shortly after the verdict, has termed it ‘shocking’. Chaudhary had contested the parliamentary election from Kailali Constituency-1 and also won in absentia with a huge margin of votes.” But, despite the apparent politicisation of the case, justice has been done at it must be welcomed. The verdict also acts a deterrent to other would-be-offenders, the editorial says.
(Curated by Aakash Joshi)