The War Against Calling Terrorism By Its Name
Somini Sengupta, a New York Times reporter files a story from Islamabad on how the India-Pakistan peace process is running into rough weather. Her article is an example on how to write an entire article about India-Pakistan peace process without once using the word ‘terrorist’.
Across the border, Indian leaders wonder aloud whether continued guerrilla attacks, which they say are backed by Pakistan, will derail the peace negotiations.
Ah guerrillas. And they are backed by Pakistan only because Indian leaders say so.
In Kashmir, the abiding source of India-Pakistan troubles, violence has been on a steady, savage rise in recent weeks, with Indian troops and suspected militants clashing nearly daily for the last several days.
Now that they are actually clashing with Indian troops, those guerrillas are now merely suspected to be militants.
On July 19, for instance, a family of six was brutally killed by suspected insurgents, and Indian soldiers killed four men whom they identified as members of a Pakistan-based militant group.
And when they brutally kill a family of six, they become suspected insurgents. Besides when Indian soldiers identify members of Pakistan-based group, there is a need to use words that hint some disbelief. But when Indian soldiers admit wrongly killing innocent civilians, there is no need to credit them for admitting as much.
Early Sunday morning, Indian soldiers shot and killed three young Kashmiri men whom they said they had mistaken for guerrillas
Ah, those guerrillas again.
The next day, a car bomb exploded in front of an Indian Army convoy in Srinagar, the capital of the Indian-held part of Kashmir.
Those suspected insurgents are now not even suspected of setting off the car bomb, which seems to have gone off entirely on its own, without killing anyone. Those soldiers that died didn’t exist at all.
Domestic constituencies are vital for the leaders of both countries. For nearly two weeks, the Indian prime minister, for the first time in many months, has been speaking out about the dangers of Pakistan sheltering guerrillas. “If terrorist elements are not under control, that can upset the progress of the peace process,” Mr. Singh said in an interview with The New York Times in New Delhi, “because we are a democracy.”
And they become guerrillas again, even if in the very next sentence, the Indian prime minister describes them as ‘terrorist elements’. And Musharraf does not have a domestic constituency (in every sense of the word).
At this rate, she may even be able to write an article about 9/11 without using the word terrorist anywhere. Perhaps it was those suspected disgruntled flying school students who, according to American leaders, allegedly rammed what looked like an aircraft into some tall buildings.
Tailpiece: Here’s Somini Sengupta’s warning to the United States government
Washington’s widening friendship with India shows the potential to overshadow its longstanding alliance with Pakistan, heightening the mistrust between the two neighbors