LOSS OF FACE   (13 Jan 2009)

Pakistan-trained terrorists may have succeeded in killing 183 people and destroying property worth crores in Mumbai last month, but the huge loss to Pakistan in the aftermath of this single attack cannot even be counted. A powerful torrent of anti-Pakistani sentiment is sweeping throughout the world and Pakistan will soon realize what has hit them as a consequence of Mumbai misadventure.

It is a well-known fact that terrorists sponsored by Pakistan have been instrumental in killing thousands in India in the last decade, but the world at large was not bothered. For the first time now, the entire world has accepted that there is something wrong with Pakistan state. Several major countries now regard Pakistan as a problem state and a terrorist state, whether they officially endorse this stand or not.

I feel bad for the ordinary Pakistanis, an overwhelming majority of who are peace-loving and feel disgusted by these activities. Unfortunately for them, fundamentalists have overpowered the state and call the shots in Pakistan. As a sad consequence, Pakistan has lost credibility in the eyes of the world. Most countries are now beginning to refuse visas to Pakistani nationals. Even when they are issued a visa, it is only after deep security and background checks. The US issues 40,000 visas to Bangladeshis, but is mulling whether to deny visa-free entry to all British passport holders of Pakistani origin. UK, Australia, France and Canada are other major countries reluctant to entertain a Pakistani passport. Even Muslim states have adopted this stand; UAE now gives preference to Nepalese and Philipino workers over Pakistanis. All this is causing huge damage to Pakistani businessmen, students, artists and other members of civilian society.

Pakistan’s government must realize that instead of keeping a stubborn attitude, they would be better off confessing that their country is now largely controlled by fundamentalists. Non-state actors are running the show in Pakistan and the state is just a mute spectator. The government there can solicit help from friendly countries, or even the UN to dismantle the terrorist camps and curb terrorism. Pakistan should choose to look at Mumbai attacks as a window of opportunity to set its own house in order. It must realize that its future is in grave jeopardy, unless swift and decisive action is taken to fight back the terrorists and the fundamentalists.

Rajeev Shukla