A Mighty Heart

A Polish geologist's murder by the Pakistani Taliban ressurects the memories of Daniel

Pearl's gruesome killing

Amit Sengupta, New Delhi, Hardnews

The last few moments of the tense film, A Mighty Heart, on the gruesome beheading of American journalist Daniel Pearl by Islamic fundamentalists somewhere in Pakistan, is a revelation. Marianne Pearl, his wife, in a television studio, after the murder, is holding onto her last reserves of patience, sanity and resilience, having tried the meticulous detailing and organised efforts to reach out to the faceless kidnappers when Daniel was still alive. (Clearly Omar Sheikh was involved in this - something Jaswant Singh would know.) She says that she hopes that this is the last time, and that peace will return, that she is not the only one who is suffering, that this suffering is becoming an universal, infinite spiral and must stop. In a sense she hopes that good sense and rationality will return.

Wherever she is, she might be yet again resurrecting those terrible days of waiting and fear, even while her message doesn't seem to have reached the killers and their inheritors. The latest possible beheading of Polish geologist Piotr Stanczack, who was kidnapped in the twilight border zones of Afghanistan and Pakistan by the 'Pakistani Taliban', is a stark reminder of the 'Mighty Heart's' crushed aspirations in compassion, humanity and justice. It is also a reminder that we are dealing with not human beings who have an argument, a discourse and a possible vision  - but barbarians without a soul or sensibility, bereft of either character or critical thinking, neither man nor animal nor beast.

In this vicious and savage cycle of the clash of civilizations, where is the civilization? Is it a civilisational logic, based on cardinal principles of basic humanism and social conduct, or international protocol of the united nations of the world, that occupation wars, mass murders and murders of innocents can be so easily sanctioned, indeed videographed for the whole world to be seen, so proud are they of this act of beheading a human being. Indeed, Israeli hardliners refused to allow the massacre of Gaza to be reported - all we got later were ruins and rubbles, and the theatre of death, children being buried in little holes on the devastated earth. In many ways the Fallujah massacre in Iraq too reminded of this invisibility of mass murder - even the death count was not visible.

Tactics of visibility apart, between state and non-state actors, how do you count 800,000 dead in a ravaged civil war started by the Bush-fire of neo-con occupation - blood for oil in Iraq? Or the fact that the Al Qaeda and the Taliban were actually the dubious products of the dubious foreign policy of the United States, as was Saddam Hussein, as is the hardline bloodthirsty Israeli regime today?

Will Barack Obama create a new language, as he has promised?

Hardnews enquires, so where does one go in this repetitive cycle of remorseless revenge and genocide, whereby a journalist or a geologist, is beheaded, or an entire family wiped out by American drones, in this super post-modernity of big technology and the highest standards in devastating militarism? Which thread moves in which serial killer episode and unites in which tentative moment of tension and retribution? Who will pay the price for this organised barbarism from both (and all) sides of the various camps if not ordinary citizens all over the world, especially the third world, unprotected and unarmed, waiting to be bombed out or beaheaded or shot dead in cold blood in a railway station, waiting for a train?

The outrage of the Polish justice minister is on the dot. All these non-state actors in Pakistan perhaps have intrinsic links with structures within the secret service, intelligence, military and political establishment. This is not a jelly-like organism: this is a flexible, sinister, cockroach like structure within structure syndrome, in which all the fluids get mixed up in an unique synthesis of metamorphosis. And they were the original, unoriginal, satanic babies manufactured through illegitimate consent of strategy and policy, by the genius itself: the CIA. And perhaps the Mossad of Israel lurking in the shadow, as always.

From Omar Sheikh and Masood Azhar who were handed over by Jaswant Singh in Kandahar, freed by the Taliban's deal with the BJP government, to the various Al Qaeda and neo-Taliban links, known, unknown, who have 'liberated' not only the picturesque Swat valley, but most parts of South Waziristan and the Afghan border, to the goddamned loyalist foot-soldier who kills and maims people and bombs girls' schools, it is the Pakistani establishment which has managed and nourished this monster fed with political and military steroids, like a mercenary army to be used in India and elsewhere. To say that even the assassins of Benazir Bhutto might get away so brazenly, points finger at the Rouge State and its fragmented and prejudiced military and intelligence wings, patronised till yesterday, by the George Bush establishment, for strategic reasons. (And, of course, China, but that's another story).

Will there be a shift?  A decisive shift?

No possibilities as of now. There is lack of vision and commitment. And everyone's in the nuclear trap. Perhaps they might try to use Indian soldiers as sacrificial baits in Afghanistan. So the war gets more intimate: the body bags and the victims are all ours.

Will the world community neutralize the sinister structures within Pakistani, on the top, and in the ground? That is more easily said then done. Especially when conventional wars and armed power have been rendered meaningless by the super-muscle flexing of the so-called Hindu and Islamic bombs. So what can India do with his huge army, the gigantic armed arsenal, the so-called military edge over Pakistan?

What was achieved after 'Operation Parakaram' led by the BJP regime? Nothing. Except hundreds of Indian soldiers dead in landmine blasts and crores down the drain. In this catch-22 scenario, the idea of hope too becomes dubious.All we can do is wait for the return of the barbarians. From journalism to geology to poetry and nuclear science? Not even a mighty heart can find an answer to that riddle