THE CITIZEN EDITORIAL | 4 JANUARY, 2020
Two Dastardly Events
Pakistan and US
Two dastardly events the same day. One the horrendous attack by crazed men on Gurudwara Nankana Sahab on what the media has often referred to in the Indian context as ‘honour killings; when actually these are just mob led attacks and murders sanctified in the name of patriarchy. And the other the targeted killing of Iran’s top general Qasem Soleimani, a good man and recognised as such by the sane across the world whose contribution to Sunni-Shia amity, and counter against the al Qaeda and Islamic State. US Pentagon has confirmed that the signal for the ‘decisive action’ came from the President facing an impeachment trial, a desperate effort clearly to consolidate the right, ultra nationalist vote bank before the elections.
Both smack of right wing ignorance and intolerance. And a certain claim to supremacy that does not exist. The manner in which the crazed mob led by a fanatic in Pakistan attacked Gurudwara Nankana Sahib with terrified Sikhs trapped inside is a telling statement where the mobs take on the law in the face of a weak or complicit state, and attack the minorities who are unable to protect themselves. That Prime Minister Imran Khan has still not spoken to condemn the dastardly attack on innocent pilgrims is a statement in itself, and exposes him as a weak kneed leader controlled by the hard line groups and the Pakistan military. The denial issued by his government is indicative of the inability of Pakistan to resolve its relationship with its minorities.
Immediate action to rescue the trapped pilgrims, dispersal of the mob, arrests and a strong statement by the Prime Minister of Pakistan would have been the expected and just route. But unfortunately this is no longer the South Asian way, and Pakistan like the other member nations continues to sink under the weight of gruesome intolerance and deep injustice.
The attack on the Iranian general has even more far reaching consequences, as it involves the legitimising of targeted assassinations. This time not by the rogue deep state of Israel but the United States where the Pentagon directly and the President tacitly have admitted to the drone attack targeting General Suleiman. That this is expected to unleash violence and stir the West Asia cauldron to over boiling point is a given. The US troops, according to last reports, have already started moving into Kuwait. Iran is visibly devastated over the death of a general who led it out of the Bush created Iraq quagmire and whose military strategy in the region ---against al Qaeda and ISIS in particular--- has earned kudos from friends and foes alike.
This is the kind of stuff that right wing authoritarianism is made of. An assertion of supremacy through a cowardly act, like a stab in the back. In modern days, a drone delivered assassination. It is clear why US President Donald Trump has done this. To get the Republicans, some of whom had shown signs of dithering in favour of the impeachment trial that is currently on Trump used Iran ---just as Bill Clinton had before him---in a bid to divert attention and garner support. A cold and cynical move that will set a region aflame, but then he is the US President and does not need to care. A war always saves bigots, at least thats what men with powerful armies like to think. As did George Bush when he invaded Iraq on the basis of manufactured lies, and paid a heavy price for it.
Weakness and authoritarianism both work against nations. Imran Khan in Pakistan is a clear example of the first, unable to stand alone, and take decisions that could push polity in that troubled country towards some semblance of justice and democracy. And Trump is a good example of the second where he leads a democracy, but has been able to use the popular mandate for authoritarian rule. Catering to just one section of the voter base, Trump uses the general ignorance to justify assassinations and wars and hard line domestic policies that then slip through the larger cover of jingoism and created nationalism.
Both spell disaster.