Washington, May 3: As Pakistan faced tough questions over Osama bin Laden, celebrated Indian-born novelist Salman Rushdie said it was time to declare it a "terrorist state", observing "the old flim-flam" of saying the country knew nothing about his whereabouts would not work anymore.
"This time the facts speak too loudly to be hushed up," he said in an essay published on the website 'The Daily Beast' after the world's most wanted terrorist and 9/11 mastermind was found down the road from Pakistan's top military academy in Abbottabad, about 120 km from Islamabad yesterday.
Rushdie said in the aftermath of the US raid on bin Laden's mansion all the "big" questions needed to be answered by Pakistan.
"The old flim-flam ("Who, us? We knew nothing!") just isn't going to wash, must not be allowed to wash by countries such as the United States that have persisted in treating Pakistan as an ally even though they have long known about the Pakistani double game-its support, for example, for the Haqqani network that has killed hundreds of Americans in Afghanistan," he said.
Rushdie went on to say, "As the world braces for the terrorists' response to the death of their leader, it should also demand that Pakistan give satisfactory answers to the very tough questions it must now be asked. If it does not provide those answers, perhaps the time has come to declare it a terrorist state and expel it from the comity of nations."
"Osama bin Laden, the world's most wanted man, was found living at the end of a dirt road 800 yards from the Abbottabad military academy, Pakistan's equivalent of West Point or Sandhurst, in a military cantonment where soldiers are on every street corner, just about 80 miles from the Pakistani capital Islamabad.
This extremely large house had neither a telephone nor an Internet connection. And in spite of this we are supposed to believe that Pakistan didn't know he was there, and that the Pakistani intelligence, and/or military, and/or civilian authorities did nothing to facilitate his presence in Abbottabad, while he ran al Qaeda, with couriers coming and going, for five years? he said.
Rushdie, whose book "The Satanic Verses" resulted in a fatwa issued against him by Ayatollah Khomeini, the Supreme Leader of Iran in 1989, also noted that Pakistan's neighbour India "badly wounded" by the Mumbai terror attack, is already demanding answers.
"As far as the anti-Indian jihadist groups are concerned-Lashkar-e-Taiba, Jaish-e-Muhammad-Pakistan's support for such groups, its willingness to provide them with safe havens, its encouragement of such groups as a means of waging a proxy war in Kashmir and, of course, in Mumbai-is established beyond all argument," he said.
India, as always Pakistan's unhealthy obsession, is the reason for the double game. Pakistan is alarmed by the rising Indian influence in Afghanistan, and fears that an Afghanistan cleansed of the Taliban would be an Indian client state, thus sandwiching Pakistan between two hostile countries. The paranoia of Pakistan about India's supposed dark machinations should never be underestimated." PTI