Pakistan President Pervez Musharraf‘s decision to allow troops to storm the Lal Masjid in Islamabad to flush out the radical clerics and extremists holed up in it has met with diametrically opposite reactions. OTOH, the US President George W. Bush has backed his “ally” in the war on terror: “I like him, I appreciate him.” OTOH, Al Qaeda’s second in command, Ayman al-Zawahiri has urged Pakistanis to revolt against Musharraf or face annihilation.
Musharraf may have had no more options. Musharraf’s hands may have been tied by his own travails. And maybe it’s too early to see what the ramifications of “Operation Silence” will be. But an interesting point to ponder is whether an Indian government, of any party or alliance, in a similar position have had the courage or resolve to storm a mosque (or a temple or a church or a gurudwara).
Islamic Pakistan could muster the courage to storm a mosque, can secular India? Akshardham notwithstanding, would the BJP allow a temple to be stormed if Hindu goons were hiding there? “Operation Bluestar” notwithstanding, would the Congress (and the Left) allow a mosque to be stormed if Muslim goons were hoarding weapons there? Or have we come too far down the road of votebank politics, of majority and minority appeasement, to see governance and internal security in a clean, clear-eyed fashion?