EDITS | Friday, July 9, 2010 |
UK discovers jihad gene
The unauthorised version of the British Labour Party’s Book of Numbers may well read: Old Labour begat New Labour and New Labour begat Rotten Labour, from whose seed sprang rottweiler Dennis MacShane, once a junior Minister at the Foreign and Commonwealth Office during the Tony Blair dispensation. He snarled menacingly at India in the columns of The Independent, a paper whose diatribe on the anniversary of Indian independence in August 1989 was headlined, “From prig to bully in 42 years.”
Mr MacShane is the MP for Rotherham, scarcely in England’s green and pleasant land today; it is but a crumbling desolation of congested back streets, halal shops, kebab and curry takeaways, madarsas and mosques, populated mainly by Pakistanis from Mirpur and Punjab and kindred locations betwixt and between the Mediterranean and Arabian Seas. Sartorially this is Pakistani North-West Frontier, with a sprinkling of burqas intensifying the encircling gloom.
Lead kindly light, you might whisper, except there’s no gleam in this heart of darkness. The spirit of the place is jihadi, and MPs keen to protect their parliamentary bailiwicks take on board the primordial concerns and grievances of their Islamic constituents. Unless they are hopelessly principled and prefer enlightened company and the open spaces offensive to confined sensibilities.
Mr MacShane took a cross-batted swipe at what he described as London’s supercilious pro-Indian elite; he castigated them for ignoring Pakistan, where democracy and gender equality, may be too minute to register on the Richter scale, but, according to him, were moving and shaking the country amid its myriad misfortunes. India, he growled, may have its millionaires and billionaires, but its vast swathes of poverty, deprivation and illiteracy found no favour with him (nor do they with Indians with eyes to see and ears to hear).
Worse, Mr MacShane was appalled by an alleged Indian plan to invade Pakistan and initiate a nuclear conflagration; and he accused New Delhi of killing more Muslims than any power on Earth. That required some telling, seeing that his erstwhile master, Mr Tony Blair, was a rogue accomplice in Mr George W Bush’s war in Iraq, which has claimed to date well over a million Iraqi lives. Today, Mr Blair stands not in the dock answering for that war, but as facilitator in a counterfeit West Asia peace process. As an entertaining public speaker and memoirist, he is a one-man dollar mint, with enough reserves to rescue embattled Greece from financial collapse.
But Britain’s big battalions, having read the runes, are beating the Indian drum. Mr Ratan Tata was recently made an honorary doctor of law (honoris causa) by Cambridge University; he spent an entire day mingling with students and teachers and called on the heads of the engineering and specialised technology faculties for informal exchanges. The university should be the richer courtesy the famed Tata philanthropy.
This could be viewed as a prologue to British Prime Minister David Cameron and Foreign Secretary William Hague’s forthcoming passage to India, with a high powered delegation of businessmen and educationists in tow. The aim is to reset the Indo-British button and elevate the relationship to an exalted level of trust and co-operation. A commentator in The Daily Telegraph, writing about Mr Cameron’s intention to charm Prime Minister Manmohan Singh to turn our “shared heritage” into a “favoured nation” pact for mutual benefit, reminded the paper’s readers that “India’s Tata is Britain’s largest manufacturer — it owns Jaguar, Land Rover and Corus Steel.”
And while “Britain’s economy flatlines with the rest of Europe, with growth rates between one per cent and two per cent, India is expected to grow at up to nine per cent for the next three years”. But for all its current travails Britain, he said, still possessed inherent technological strengths and organisational experience from which India could profitably draw.
It has taken awhile for such wisdom to dawn in Whitehall’s corridors of power. There is nothing quite like a crisis, whether it be a faltering economy or a draining Taliban insurgency in Afghanistan, to concentrate minds, and the prevailing minds in London are determined to shake off the rust in Indo-British ties with a lubricant of realism and common sense.
There is thus ample scope for a rewarding Indo-British strategic dialogue, which must of necessity include intensified cooperation against violent Islamism. Last Wednesday, after all, was the fifth anniversary of the London bombings and the loss of 51 innocent lives. Mr Robin Simcox, the co-author of the study, Islamist Terrosim — The British Connections, for the Centre for Social Cohesion think-tank, has remarked: “There are clear trends emerging with those involving themselves in terrorist activity in the UK. It is crucial that this is recognised and then acted upon by the relevant authorities."
To whom and to what was he referring? Simply this: That of the 124 profiles of individuals convicted of terrorism offences linked to Islamic jihad since 1999, as many as 69 held British nationality. From which one may naively conclude that terrorist activity in the UK is mostly native. But that is to miss the point: To juxtapose the complexities of human identity with the simple legalism of a passport. Truth is that Britain’s ‘homegrown’ jihadis are overwhelmingly of Pakistani ethnicity, the remaining few belong directly to any one of a number of Muslim societies scattered around the world. As significant numbers of them insist on maintaining their religious and cultural purity from what they perceive to be the defiling contamination of non-believers, legions of the faithful regard their British passports as flags of convenience; in essence the holders are not British, and to their credit, have never pretended to be.
The 7/7 London bombers proclaimed their determination to destroy Britain and replace it with a divinely ordained Universal Caliphate operating the sharia’h. For them democratic freedoms, as the Devil’s licence, were an anathema. Complementing the Simcox findings was the warning emanating from Mr John Yates, Metropolitan Assistant Commissioner and Britain’s foremost counter-terrorism officer, that the Government’s “eye-watering cuts” in funding could give an advantage to Al Qaeda and its allies.
When Mumbai-based Islamic tele-evangelist, Zakir Naik, applied for a visa to visit Britain, the Home Office slammed the door on his face. He condemns terrorism, he says, but if Osama bin Laden “is fighting the enemies of Islam, I am for him”. Home Secretary Teresa May was having none of this double talk. She deserves emulation in India, where television networks have levitated Zakir Naik to celebrity status.