THE LEOPARD CHANGES ITS SPOTS, QUIETLY
HE AJMAL KASAB story seems to be the flavour of the week in the Indian media. What attracts attention in Pakistan, however, is its sheer absence from both the print and electronic media. Kasab almost seems like a ghost that no one wants to remember and most want to put behind them. Barring initial reports of his hanging, there was not much in the Pakistani media. Some reporters claimed this was due to specific instructions from certain quarters to downplay the event. Consequently, there was no real exhibition of how people felt, including from Kasab’s parent organisations — the Lashkar-e-Toiba ( LeT) and its subsidiary Jamaat-ud-Dawa ( JuD). Actually, there was a statement from the Tehreek-e-Taliban Pakistan ( TTP) and the LeT leadership. While the TTP threatened to avenge Kasab’s death, some unidentified LeT leaders talked about his death inspiring others. The statement did not attract much attention as the organisation’s top leaders such as Zakiur-Rehman Lakhvi are in jail.
Kasab’s hanging did draw some national and international media to his village, Faridkot. But they were shooed away by the villagers; some even saying that Kasab did not belong to Faridkot and the entire media effort was indeed to malign their village. Kasab as a conspiracy continues to be a popular myth among ordinary Pakistanis. In the wake of Kasab’s hanging, I had a chance to discuss the matter with a 27-year-old man from a Sufi family in Okara, who was of the view that the dead Kasab was someone’s conspiracy since the real Kasab was alive and lived happily in Faridkot. The youth switched off completely when told that the first one to discover Kasab was the local media, hence, there was no international conspiracy to it.
Given the complete blackout of the incident, it is certainly hard to assess the real thinking among many, including the