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Dr Singh's Stockholm Syndrome

By B Raman
September 17, 2006 23:08 IST
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The expression Stockholm Syndrome, which came into vogue in 1973, refers to a psychological condition in which a victim of terrorism, finding himself powerless in the hands of a terrorist, starts empathising with the terrorist.

Prime Minister Manmohan Singh seems to have been smitten with the Stockholm Syndrome ever since the Mumbai blasts of July 11, in which 184 suburban train commuters were killed by suspected members of the Lashkar-e-Tayiba, a Pakistan-based terrorist organisation and a member of Osama bin Laden's International Islamic Front.

At a time when a growing number of Western analysts and policy-makers have begun doubting the sincerity of Pakistan's President Pervez Musharraf and suspecting that he has been playing a double role -- openly as a front-line ally in the war against terrorism and covertly as a supporter of Pakistan-based jihadi terrorists -- our prime minister has sought to play down the extent of Musharraf's perfidy with regard to jihadi terrorism directed against India from Pakistani territory with the help of organisations such as Lashkar which operate under the control of Pakistan's Inter-Services Intelligence.

The growing suspicion of Musharraf's role in the West has been evident in Western and even independent Pakistani analysts' comments on his so-called peace accord with the Taliban in North Waziristan and the subsequent release of nearly 2,500 people arrested in Pakistan after 9/11 because of their suspected involvement in jihadi terrorism.

What are these released terrorists going to do now? Make more blood flow in India and Afghanistan.

The Americans are concerned. The British are concerned. The Canadians are concerned. The other NATO powers are concerned. President Hamid Karzai of Afghanistan is concerned.

But not the prime minister of India, where more innocent civilians -- Hindus, Muslims and members of other communities -- have been killed by Pakistan-trained armed jihadi terrorists than in any other country of the world.

What does our prime minister do? Find mitigating circumstances in favour of Musharraf -- his new-found ally in his war against jihadi terrorism in India. He is reported to have pointed out to the Indian journalists accompanying him to Havana that Pakistan has also been a victim of terrorism.

What is he trying to indicate to the Indian people by this remark? That they should not be too harsh in judging the general. That the general is not that malign as he is perceived by the Indian people to be. That they should give him the benefit of doubt. That they should accept his offer of cooperation with India by setting up a joint anti-terrorism cooperation mechanism.

Imagine US President George W Bush and British Prime Minister Tony Blair accepting a proposal from Osama bin Laden for a joint anti-terorism cooperation mechanism!

Imagine Russian President Putin accepting a proposal from the Chechens for a joint anti-terrorism cooperation mechanism!

Imagine Israel accepting a proposal from Iranian President Ahmadinejad for a joint anti-terrorism cooperation mechanism!

Since Pakistan came into being in 1947, there has not been a single instance in which it has extended mutual legal assistance to India. It has not arrested and handed over to India a single terrorist enjoying the ISI's hospitality in Pakistani territory.

When Musharraf denies the very presence of any of these terrorists and any jihadi infrastructure in Pakistani territory, against whom will this mechanism be directed?

Ever since the present government came into office more than two years ago, it has not been able to control the activities of jihadi terrorists in Indian territory outside Jammu and Kashmir. There has not been a single successful investigation of any major jihadi terrorist strike.

Has the police suddenly become so incompetent all over India or is it because of a decline in its morale and motivation due to the poor leadership provided by the present government? The Prevention of Terrorism Act was abolished because the leaders of the Muslim community projected it as anti-Muslim. Now some Muslim leaders are projecting the police itself as anti-Muslim because of its arrests of some Muslims for questioning after the terrorist strikes in Mumbai. Will the prime minister abolish the police to please them?

It is apparent that the prime minister has no meaningful policy to propose to the people to deal with jihadi terrorism. He does not know how to deal with Musharraf.

Helpless in the face of Musharraf-sponsored terrorism, he has started empathising with him. The general is not such a bad man, we are told. Poor guy, he has his own problems, we are told.

Let us cooperate with him instead of fighting against him, we are told.

This is what is called the Stockholm Syndrome.

This is what American heiress Patricia Hearst did. She cooperated with her kidnappers instead of resisting them.

This is what many others afflicted with the Stockholm Syndrome have done in the past.

This is what Dr Singh proposes to do now.

God save this country and its men, women and children from the the jihadi terrorists. Since our prime minister has let us down, what else can we do?

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B Raman