Whose cat is it?
You will be forgiven for admiring the rule of law in Pakistan going by the manner in which the Musharraf regime is handling Rashid Rauf, an alleged plotter in the foiled transatlantic airline bombing case. After his ‘arrest’, Rauf has been produced before a court and remanded into custody. Given that there is a reasonable doubt about his nationality, the Pakistani authorities are determined to give him the benefit of it. Extradition to Britain remains a far cry, as British authorities will not even be allowed to interrogate him until ‘legal experts’ sort out the fine aspects of Pakistani and international law. There’s no extradition treaty between Britain and Pakistan, you see.
You will be forgiven, of course, until you realise that such legal niceties have been applied only in cases whose cat it is in the bag. The last time Musharraf took this this strictly legalistic approach was in the case of that other Briton-of-Pakistani origin—Omar Saeed Sheikh. Omar Saeed, of course, is facing punishment under Pakistani law, which entails being allowed to turn his prison guards and mentor jihadis. If Pakistan is the best refuge for international jihadis who want to hide, then Pakistani prisons are the best refuge for those jihadis who have been found.
Musharraf and his officials proclaimed that it was Pakistan, which discovered the plot and alerted the British about it on August 9. They projected Rashid Rauf, a British citizen of Pakistani origin, as the chief co-ordinator of the plot on behalf of the Al Qaeda in Afghanistan. What strip-tease they have been playing about Rashid Rauf!
- They said he was arrested while crossing into Pakistan from Afghanistan a week before the British announcement.
- Sections of the Pakistani media reported that he was actually arrested in Bahawalpur in southern Punjab on August 8. He had acquired an expensive house there and married the sister-in-law (wife’s sister) of Maulana Masood Azhar, the Amir of the Jaish-e-Mohammad (JEM), which was designated by the US as a Foreign Terrorist Organisation in December,2001.
- After the publication of the report of his arrest in Bahawalpur, the Pakistani officials changed their version. They said they had actually arrested an associate of Rashid Rauf while crossing over into Pakistan from Afghanistan and he led them to Rashid in Bahawalpur. They have not given the name of this associate.
- They said that the entire plot was conceived by the No.3 of Al Qaeda who, according to them, is based in Afghanistan, but they could not give his name except to say he was close to No.2 Zawahiri.
- Then, they said it was actually a son-in-law of Zawahiri, who conceived the plot and tried to use Rashid to have it executed. They gave the name of the so-called son-in-law. When it was pointed out to them that this son-in-law was reported by them earlier this year to have been killed in an American air raid in the Bajaur tribal agency, they have gone silent. Musharraf has advised his agencies not to give any more briefings to the media. [B Raman/SAAG]
As reader Swami Iyer put it, the Pakistanis are still working on the screenplay.