Avaaz – voicing India-Pak solidarity

I am still hoping — just once — for that mass demonstration (in Pakistan) of ordinary people against the Mumbai bombers, not for my sake, not for India’s sake, but for Pakistan’s sake. – Thomas L. Friedman in The New York Times.


A global civic advocacy group – avaaz.org – plans to send a message to terrorists that fellow citizens in India and Pakistan stand united in denying extremists their ultimate victory. “If hundreds of thousands sign it, our message will be unmistakable”, says the group’s website.

The solidarity message will soon be published in newspapers across India and Pakistan, and delivered to political leaders in both countries. Till date over 65,800 have signed the message, which says, simply, Mumbai: We will not be divided.

The India-Pak solidarity call finds its echo in the New York Times opinion pieces, by two high-profile writers – Tom Friedman and Amitav Ghosh. Both make out a case for a cross-border people’s movement against terrorism. This is seen necessary to strengthen the hands of the Pak government in tackling  elements within the Pak establishment that sympathise with and support terrorist groups.

Blanket denials by Pakistan, of terrorists presence in their midst wouldn’t help; nor would India’s tough posturing.  Does anyone honestly believe that Islamabad, even it musters the  will,  has the political capability to take on Lashkar-e-Toiba, let alone capture their operatives ? Lashkar, they say, have political clout and their source of funds include opium trade.

Amitav Ghosh, in an op-ed piece – India’s 9/11? Not Exactly – writes that  similarities between the terror strikes in New York and Mumbai shouldn’t lead New Delhi to respond the same way as the Bush Administration did  in 2001. India would do well to learn from Spain,  whose response to 2004 Madrid train blasts emphasised vigilance, patience, and careful police work in co-ordination with neighbouring countries.

Columnist Tom Friedman referred to Pakistani media that voiced their citizens’ anguish and horror over Mumbai terror strikes. The question is whether these citizens would be ready to take to the streets. Referring to violent protests in Lahore and Peshawar in 2006, against disagreeable cortoons published in Denmark the NYT columnist asks if they are ready ” to take to the streets to protest the mass murders of real people, not cartoon characters, right next door in Mumbai”

Says Mr Friedman, “while the Pakistani government’s sober response is important, and the sincere expressions of outrage by individual Pakistanis are critical, I am still hoping for more. I am still hoping — just once — for that mass demonstration of “ordinary people” against the Mumbai bombers, not for my sake, not for India’s sake, but for Pakistan’s sake”.

It is all very well for Amitav Ghosh and Tom Friedman to call for India-Pak solidarity. In fact, I wouldn’t expect anything else from them. If it has to have an  impact on  people in the sub-continent and their leadership,  the solidarity call should come from editors in the mainstream media and  prime news channels in Pakistan and India.

NYT: A test for Pakistan on curbing militants


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