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Only questions but no answers

This week, everyone is demanding evidence and no one is about to get any. Asif Zardari wants to see concrete evidence that Ajmal Kasab is a bona fide Pakistani.

india Updated: Dec 26, 2008 22:51 IST

This week, everyone is demanding evidence and no one is about to get any. Asif Zardari wants to see concrete evidence that Ajmal Kasab is a bona fide Pakistani. The body of evidence already in hand includes a live and squealing Kasab unambiguously identified by his parents back in the village. But the Pakistanis had even denied the existence of the village until a Guardian journalist wormed his way into it. And there’s Indian intelligence endorsed by the US. Pretty damning, given that the US has employed Pakistan in its dirty tricks department for decades, often in a janitorial capacity. And now, a terrorist has surfaced in Jammu bearing a Pakistan Army identity card.

Compelling evidence, but Zardari wants more. Maybe Kasab’s ration card. Maybe the bones of his ancestors, to be excavated from Mohenjodaro under the watchful eye of UN observers. Zardari has proved to be as slippery as the khakis who preceded him. It’s enough to make you lose faith in democracy.

Meanwhile, Pranab Mukherjee is insisting that Zardari must show clear evidence of honourable intentions by cleaning out the terror camps, and some evidence that he called up Islamabad to threaten him. Zardari has retaliated by pulling four ‘Indian terrorists’ out of a hat. Meanwhile, Interpol, the nerve centre of the world’s police network, is complaining that they have no evidence at all. No one from our government has bothered to tell them anything.

Currently, the Pakistani establishment is desperately seeking evidence of warlike posturing on our part. Irked at not finding it, it is striking some attitudes of its own — interceptors scrambled without provocation, patriotic songs on the radio, leaders and generals promising blood sacrifices — their own blood, of course, but there will be collateral damage besides.

This sabre-rattling in an echoing void is so irrational that we are taking it as evidence that the whole Mumbai thing was pre-planned by the Pakistani state. The alarums and excursions were supposed to be in response to India raising the temperature. We didn’t oblige but they went ahead anyway with military efficiency, it is surmised.

The truth now lies in a no-man’s land between evidence and surmise. Maybe Pakistan’s posturing only reflects the fear of a government which is really not in control of the jihadis. Remember how long it took us to nail Veerappan? And he was just a smuggler armed with a rifle and moustaches. The situation reminds me of the dictum of the Indian gymnosophist Dandamis in Arrian’s account, whom Alexander met somewhere in Punjab: “Do not condemn the judgement of another because it differs from your own. You may both be wrong.”

(Pratik Kanjilal is publisher of The Little Magazine)