A debate is somehow generating controversy about Pakistan’s nuclear program. The cause of this debate is a recently published small but interesting piece in ‘India Today’ that includes the comments of Rajiv Gandhi’s special adviser ‘Behramnam’ on President Ziaul Haq’s ‘Cricket Visit’ to India.

Allow me to explain what happened .Behramnam in the article says that Gen Ziaul Haq arrived in Delhi for cricket match as a spectator without any invitation. At the time Rajiv Gandhi was not ready to meet him at the airport. Indian troops were waiting for the PM’s orders on the Rajasthan sector to invade into Pakistani territory. In such situation it was improper to meet General Ziaul-Haq. But opposition leaders and cabinet members were of the view that if the Pakistani leader had arrived in Delhi without any invitation, (from here he had to depart for Chennai for cricket match), it would be against diplomatic values not to meet him and would cause misunderstanding about Indian leadership on international level.

So Rajiv Gandhi dressed up to go to Delhi airport; he coldly shook hands with Gen Zia without making any eye contact. Rajeev said that the General had to go to Chennai for cricket match and asked the adviser to accompany him and take care of him. He then said that Zia was a strong man as he had been insulted by Rajiv Gandhi but kept smiling. Before departure for Chennai General Ziaul-Haq while saying good bye to Gandhi very politely told him to attack Pakistan if he wanted to but told him in no uncertain language that it would be a nuclear war not the conventional war and the world would remember them!

Though there were cold drops of perspiration on Gandhi’s forehead he tried to remain calm. The advisor goes on to say that he felt the hair on his back rise, at that moment Gen Ziaul-Haq looked like a dangerous man, his face was stern and his eyes showed that he would do whatever he was saying no matter if the whole subcontinent burnt to ashes in a nuclear war. He then turned around, pasted a smile on his face and met the other delegates, only Rajeev Gandhi and the advisor knew what had just passed the threat that Gen Zia had made seemed very real!

The close aides and confidants in Pakistan and India who were privy to such developments, amidst rising tensions on the borders, have commented over Behramnam’s piece, in which he has called the general a great statesman on several occasions. Many admirers of the late General say that he made India eat dust on many fronts without firing a shot in anger. Enumerating Zia’s diplomatic skills, he said, President Zia discreetly shut India out of Afghanistan settlement talks, regardless of the US pleadings.

But despite his being a great statesman he left behind a legacy called “Fundamentalism” which has place a wedge among Muslims and makes them kill each other. A well-coordinated war against Islam is being fought at five different levels i.e. intellectual level, common man’s level demagogues like, political level, religious level, and at general level. Their main objective is to keep Muslim majority countries in chaos and disarrayed; to protect ‘Greedy Capitalism’; and to thwart Islamic Movements.

MARYA MUFTY,

January 16.