Thursday July 18, 2024

Attack on humanity

By Dr Ramesh Kumar Vankwani
April 12, 2019

The horrific tragedy of the Samjhota Express attack is a painful chapter in the bilateral ties of Pakistan and India. Twelve years ago, on February 2007, the Samjhota Express was set on fire by some extremist elements. The unfortunate train was on way to Lahore from New Delhi. As many as 68 passengers, majority of them Pakistani nationals, were burnt alive.

Although the tragic incident occurred inside Indian territory, India started to blame Pakistani militants. An aggressive propaganda was launched by the Indian media. A wave of violent demonstrations was observed throughout India, against Pakistan.

This is well-said that the truth can never remain hidden. During the investigation of the Samjhota Express attack, a number of facts were disclosed, such as: the attackers were not Pakistani nationals but Indian citizens, the explosive devices were provided by an Indian army officer. India’s National Investigation Agency , on the basis of the evidence, claimed that a local extremist named Swami Aseemanand was the actual mastermind behind the attack.

However, on March 20, 2019, a special court in India concluded that the evidence against Aseemanand and other fellows was not sufficient and, thus, the accused deserved to be free. This decision shocked all peace-loving citizens on both sides. Pakistan’s Foreign Office has also termed the court ruling a historic injustice.

It seems that the Indian leadership wanted to malign Pakistan in the eyes of the international community through the Samjhota Express attack, and therefore, important evidence was discarded to misguide the court.

The release of the murderers of innocent people is condemnable. My stance in this regard is very clear: terrorism has no religion and such brutal culprits should be punished at any cost irrespective of their religion, race, cast or region.

I believe that the international community, including Pakistan and India, should be on one page to defeat terrorism. During my visit to India, I urged the Indian leadership to ensure peace across the border. I emphasized that both countries should move on from hostile mentality and learn from past. Since Independence, both countries encountered horrific wars and also competed in the arms race but could not succeed in eliminating poverty of their people. In such circumstances, the presence of extremist elements is a major threat to the improvement of bilateral relations.

Both countries should understand that without getting rid of extremism no one can become an Asian Tiger. Pakistan is determined to end terrorism, and also wants to improve bilateral ties with India. But it is unfortunate that the Indian leadership is still promoting its Pakistan-bashing narrative.

On one side, India justifies the release of extremist militants behind the attacks on the Samjhota Express due to insufficient proof, and on the other hand, a blame game on Pakistan’s involvement in terrorism without solid evidence is going on. How this can be justified? This is indeed a big question mark on India’s commitment to fight against terror.

It is also alarming that whenever both countries start to proceed on some kind of peace talk, some unfortunate incident happens and the journey once again gets halted. Today, every peace-loving person, either s/he lives in Pakistan or India or any other part of the world, must support my point of view that the Samjhota Express bombing was an attack on humanity in which the blood of innocent passengers was shed. The culprits behind such horrific incidents should be given strict punishment to prevent similar kind of terrorism in the future.

I want to give a message to all those who are doing hate politics in the name of religion that God loves those who help and serve His creation, and every religion of the world teaches humanity. So, stop shedding the blood of innocent people, especially travellers whose protection is taught by every religion.

I want to assure the victim families of the Samjhota Express attack that if today the culprits succeed in getting temporary release then tomorrow they will have to face God and then justice will prevail. India must follow the example of New Zealand. This is also a test case for India to prove its commitment to curbing terrorism, normalizing bilateral ties with Pakistan and protecting the rights of minorities.

The writer is a member of the National Assembly and patron-in-chief of the Pakistan Hindu Council.

Twitter: @RVankwani