It’s remarkable that, despite being a smallish island nation, Great Britain has a unique place on the world map. The rule of law, compassion, tolerance and civic sense has made the UK a shining example of democracy in action. Despite all our current political struggles, Shamima Begum is at the moment in the eye of the storm. A school girl, not yet 15, was brain washed, became a jihadi bride and secretly left the UK with two other friends. That such an independent minded girl accepted an arranged husband is in a way mind boggling, but such is the power of fanaticism and hatred coupled with the acceptance of violence. Many others who followed her example were brought up Muslim, but there are examples of Hindu extremists as well. If you look at their backgrounds, they were all vulnerable and susceptible to brain washing.
Shamima Begum is a British citizen. Her son also has acquired UK citizenship, as far as publicly known she does not have another nationality. One has to accept – and in a way appreciate - her deep desire to come back home, and sadly - but not surprisingly - she hasn’t shown any remorse or regrets in the slightest for her actions or beliefs. There are conflicting opinions whether to admit her or not. To my mind, we need to follow the rule of law. There is also the important fact that her child, just a few days old, has not perpetrated or condoned any crime. How can we deny him the prospects of a better life in a civilised society to which he is entitled as a legal British citizen?
There is no doubt that she must face due legal process and accept any penalties within the system. Common sense also makes one feel, better keep such characters in the tent than keep them outside.
Labour Party is in the labour ward
119 years ago when the Labour Party was founded, one Indian barrister - Shyamji Krishna Verma - was one of its midwives. He donated £1000 during that time. Shyamji also established India house, in Highgate, campaigning for Indian independence. When the India League was established by Annie Besant in 1912, he and several other Labour Party stalwarts became active supporters of the independence campaign. The Indian Independence act of 1947 was passed under Clement Attlee the labour prime minister. British Indians and other Asian voters have always had a soft spot for the Labour Party, and up until recently the Labour Party was the default choice in elections. Sadly the party today isn’t the same. It’s populist and extreme left wing economic agenda and perceived anti-semitism has created a danger of one more split of the Labour Party. How tragic. Some 30 years ago the Social Democratic Party evolved out of a splinter group. Most of them returned to the labour fold, but today you can’t be so sure. Divisions over economic policy, on handling anti-semitism and especially extremist aspects of socialism may not enable a healing process within the party. It continues to remain unelectable as an alternative ruling party for the foreseeable future. Sadly the leadership does not seem much concerned - heartbreaking.
Who is this Masood Azar?
All of India is hurt, angry and aching for action following the cowardly act in Pulwama last Thursday. Indians of all backgrounds, religion are language have become united for revenge against the perpetrators inspired, aided and furnished by Pakistan. People from opposition parties are also demanding, somewhat loudly, a military and befitting reply against Pakistan. It is a big relief that Prime Minister Narendra Modi has shown steadfastness under the circumstances. The Indian strategy is to expose the Pakistani connection, isolate Pakistan wherever possible and, further down the line, resort to economic sanctions with the help of like minded nations against the government of Pakistan, which is almost on the verge of financial bankruptcy, with the Prime Minister of Pakistan - contrary to his pledges - now going around with a begging bowl. Saudi Arabia, the Emirates and China are helping to a certain extent but the IMF, World Bank and other international resources are turning their face away.
Military action is the last resort. In a normal scenario, a likely victory for India would be more than vindicated. But the Indian government should stick to its current policy of reserve, as opposed to waging a war between nuclear armed neighbours. The utmost priority for India is to safeguard its border and pursue its policy of rapid economic and social development.
Modi has denounced such attacks and backers. 59 countries have supported India and are keen to declare Masood Azar an international terrorist, regardless of some of them being members of organisations of Islamic countries. Regrettably China, one of the five permanent members of the UN Security Council, is not agreeable. May be in years to come, Chinese operation on Muslims in Siachen and other parts will incite terrorism from the likes of Masood Azar through Jaish E Mohammed and Lashkar-e-Taiba. It may then be too late for China to retrace its misguided and mischievous path.
Masood Azar is not alone. On Christmas Eve in 1999 an Indian airline plane flying from Kathmandu to Delhi was hijacked with 176 passengers. After the first stop at Amritsar, it went to Lahore, them Dubai where 26 hostages were freed and then landed at Kandahar airport in Afghanistan which was then under Taliban control. The hijackers wanted New Delhi to free three Islamist militant leaders from Indian prisons. Mohammed Omar Said Sheikh a British Pakistani eventually went on to murder us journalist Daniel pearl. Such blood thirsty individuals live and die by sword. Chances are eventually Pakistan, which is sheltering such evil characters, will be forced to eliminate them for one reason or another.