Feb 21, 2009
Breaking a logjam
Within hours of the Mumbai outrage, the Indians made many allegations against Pakistan, particularly targeting the ISI. The Indian penchant for such allegations, and credibility thereof, can be gauged from a fact hitherto unknown, that Indian intelligence gave "credible information" to the Indians one day after 9/11 "that "Pakistani Jihadists" were going to attack the White House." As recounted in Bob Woodward's book Bush at War, the US president and his family along with Condoleezza Rice were rushed pell-mell by the Secret Service to a White House bunker for safety. What an opportunity to defame Pakistan, how could the Indians miss it? More astonishing is that the US never questioned the source of this canard, or the motivation, later! Even before Ajmal Kasab was in Indian custody, the "Pakistani connection" was reiterated endlessly to influence world perception about Pakistani state involvement. We did not help matters by denying Ajmal Kasab was a Pakistani, this despite Geo TV's initiative in uncovering his identity. To quote my article in early December 2008, soon after the incident, viz "It is height of stupidity not to accept that Ajmal Kasab is a Pakistani, NADRA ID or not, our investigators can get far more out of him then whatever the Indians can…The US passed on credible intelligence to India on Nov 18 that a terrorist assault was likely from the sea and two five-star hotels were to be targeted. In not passing on this information to pre-empt the attack, did the Indians want the incident to happen to impress upon the incoming Barack Obama administration that Pakistan was an irresponsible and dangerous entity one could not do business with?"The persistent lack of transparency from the Indians is puzzling with only selective information being handed over to the Pakistani authorities. Notwithstanding independent investigations being conducted by various state agencies on the basis of Indian media reports, a team was specially constituted by Pakistan's Ministry of Interior to process the information supplied by the Indians on or about Jan 5. As declared by the Rahman Malik recently, the enquiry established that a number of Pakistani nationals, ostensibly from Lashkar-e-Taiba, were involved and that a major part of the planning for the Mumbai outrage was done by them. Rahman Malik moved expeditiously to lodge an FIR against the suspected persons, taking several suspects into custody, including the alleged mastermind. Links were found outside of Pakistan, in Italy, Spain, Austria and as far away as Houston, Texas, in the US. Even with India silent on the involvement of locals in the terrorist attack which lasted for more than 72 hours, the ministry of interior went the extra mile to make the facts public. Involvement of Pakistanis does not make Pakistan culpable as a state. They could have been agents of anyone with interest in any number of possibilities, i.e., defaming Pakistan, sparking conflict between India and Pakistan, etc.Terrorists have no nationality, no mercy and no remorse. As such it doesn't really matter who they are, what matters is that once they are identified, what is done with them? The investigation was a success because no cover-up was tried or intended. With the "Indian connection" silent, there are large gaps in the evidence at hand. To quote from my article of early December 2008, viz "The Mumbai operation was not possible logistically without indigenous support. The 10-12 attackers (in 2-man teams) went about their deadly business confidently and professionally, secondary locations creating diversions before attacking primary targets, the Taj Hotel, Hotel Oberoi and Nariman House, suggesting intimate knowledge of Mumbai. They moved about as if they had lived in the place for years. The volume of ammunition, grenades and explosives used in Close Quarter Battle in the first few hours, would put the "first" and "second line" authorisation of an infantry company to shame, the incident went well past 72 hours. Ammunition was definitely pre-stored in the hotels." Was a "Control Room" established by the terrorists on the 16th Floor of the Taj before the incident? Why is India not revealing the nationality of the "hotel guests" who checked into that room? There are causes of simmering Muslim resentment within India. The Babri Mosque incident made fragile the secular bubble that Indian prides itself upon; it was assiduously exploited for crass political purposes by the BJP to garner the Hindu majority vote. The movie Slumdog Millionaire which depicts the cruel treatment of the mass poverty-stricken Muslims of India is going to win many Hollywood Oscar awards next month. It is potentially a media disaster for India's carefully crafted secular image in the world. Why did Amitabh Bachchan go on record to decry the movie (the gaffe motivating a recant later)? Negative reports about the movie's director have suddenly surfaced; any wild guesses as to who is feeding the media to tar and feather Danny Boyle? By the way, Slumdog Millionaire is not an ISI production! One must give credit to a vast majority of Indians across the broad spectrum for decrying the way BJP has built up Gujarat Chief Minister Mody as a potential national leader at the cost of their secular image. Can anyone doubt his hand behind the widespread massacre of Muslim in his state? The frustration and resentment deeply embedded among Indian Muslims is where the local involvement and logistics came from, as well as planning and the selection of targets thereof. The Rahman Malik report has defused the situation. One has to acknowledge that in the circumstances this was a job well done. It would be unfair to Rahman Malik to deny him his place under the Pakistani sun for this success, and why not include the PM Syed Yusuf Raza Gillani and President Asif Zardari? More work is required to get to the bottom of the Mumbai outrage. As much as they may not like it, the Indians have to make their own enquiries transparent, and available! To eliminate terrorism from South Asia, and India has plenty of it which is not of the Muslim kind, a joint South Asia effort is required.