Wednesday, December 3, 2008

62 hrs in Mumbai

I saw the beginning on Nov 26th and I was there at the end on Nov 29th. I wish I could have been there, with the guys……. No senseless bravado but it was frustrating to be a helpless spectator. Now that its over, Now that the shock has transformed into seething anger, It is time to raise some questions.

 

Who were the terrorists?

I don’t know. But if the media and the security forces are to be believed, they were individuals from Pakistan who had come via a trawler, then a fishing boat, then rubber dinghies to Mumbai. Even though the mail claiming responsibility for the attack mentions “Deccan Mujahedeen”, it is believed to be a front for the “Lashkar” terror syndicate.

 

How did they reach Mumbai?

The indications so far are that they travelled by a Pakistani trawler then they hijacked a fishing boat of the coast of Porbunder in Gujarat, they killed the guys on the boat and abandoned it off the coast of Mumbai and travelled by rubber dinghies to Mumbai.

 

Did they have help from someone India?

Apart from the inept politicians an failed intelligence network, Yes, they most definitely had someone on the inside too. The security forces and the government have also accepted as much. My logic is pretty simple; You cannot carry that amount of ordnance that would have been used to hold of the Indian security forces for the amount of time that they did in the backpacks they were carrying. I would also surmise that they already had terrorists inside the Taj and Oberoi, either as guests or as workers. You see, they displayed intimate knowledge of the layout of both the facilities.

 

So, Was Pakistan involved?

Yes and No.

Why No?....... Pakistan is a country and quite like ours, they too have a very diverse set of people, beliefs, values and motivations. As not every Indian is responsible for the crime that Indians commit, not every Pakistani is responsible for the actions of certain radical groups in Pakistan. I have had the chance to interact with a few people from across the border and any educated citizen of India should expect, they are no different from us.

So even if the terrorists were from Pakistan, it would be unwise to stereotype and blame a nation for the acts of few of its citizens.

Why Yes?........ It is common knowledge that the most elaborate “terror farms” exist in Pakistan. Originally a west sponsored and supported response to USSR in Afghanistan, today these terror schools are motivating, training and sponsoring terrorists to fight wherever they deem necessary. So it was as the government puts it, “Elements in Pakistan” not necessarily overtly supported by the government but still originating in that country.

So the bottom line is that radical Islamist terror groups “based in Pakistan” were responsible. But that does not mean that Pakistan itself was the sponsor of this attack.

 

Why is Pakistan such a hotbed of terror activities?

Pakistan is a land of people who are quite like us. In fact, I have had the opportunity to meet many Pakistanis and most I found were unbelievably polite, beautiful and cultured. Yes, they do have those vitriolic spewing illogical idiots, but then we have so many of them in India that we should not mind. We cannot take the oral high ground as we have also been brought up on the staple that “Pakistan is the enemy”. They are just like us, only that the percentage of radicals over there is higher and they are louder than the normal, sensible and liberal.

The problem lies in what Pakistan had to go through ever since its independence. The following factors are very important.

1.       Military Rule.

2.       The underdeveloped democratic systems.

3.       The presence of extremist organizations.

4.       The weak economy.

Pakistan has seen four military rulers and has remained under military rule from 1958–71, 1977–88 and from 1999–2008. The military had an agenda of its own and they remained focused on India. Unfortunately the civil and democratic institutions never had the time to develop. The biggest problem however is that Pakistan was “used” by the west and today whatever we are facing is the fallout of that. The so called western democracies once supported, funded and supplied radical forces based out of Pakistan to drive USSR out of Afghanistan. The Pakistani establishment also did not mind that as US support on many issues including the Kashmir issue was a great benefit to them. The Pakistani military was eyeing Afghanistan for “strategic depth” which they were lacking in any confrontation with India. The western countries, especially the USA used these desires Pakistan had and in return they used Pakistan to establish factories to create and train “Mujahedeen” to fight USSR. Not only did they support, they actually armed them to the teeth. Once USSR left Afghanistan, Pakistan inherited a vast number of “Jehadi” forces who had extreme views, armed and trained. All of a sudden they had no enemy to fight. You cannot expect a whole generation of radical fundamentalists to lay down their weapons and return to a normal life only because you want them to. The monster USA had created was hungry and it had no prey left. The looked around and found the issues of Kashmir, Bosnia and the “US imperialism”.

The west used Pakistan, created the terror factories to fight USSR, and then abandoned Pakistan. Now we all suffer the consequences.

 

Was it an intelligence failure?

Yes, it seems so. Reports have now emerged that there were enough indications to ring the alarm bells and it seems that the information got lost in the labyrinthine Indian bureaucratic maze connecting independent agencies like the police, RAW, IB, the Coast Guard and the NSA. Mr. Shivraj Patil, the former Home Minister had himself in a speech warned of the sea route being used for terror attacks as back as 2006. Months and days preceding the attacks saw increasing number of indications that something like this was being planned but unfortunately the government agencies involved failed to coordinate and collate the reports which would have indicated a clear and present danger.

Yes, it was an intelligence failure.

 

Why is the Indian polity drawing so much flak?

Quite simply put, because of their incompetence, their tendency to use such tragic events as political platforms, their callous comments and their partisan behaviour. Some notable points:

·      The Home Minister failing to provide answers to increasingly deteriorating law and order in India. Just try to recollect the number of attacks India has seen in the past few months.

·      The Maharashtra government failing to act on credible threats.

·      R. R. Patil commenting that “Such small incident or two keep happening in big cities”. His logic was that the terrorists had plans to kill 5000 people and since they managed a score of only 180, it is no big deal.

·      Vilasrao Deshmukh taking his actor son and Ram Gopal Verma along on the first official visit to the spot after the terror attacks and him constantly alluding to the centre and Sonia Gandhi to save his skin.

·     Failure of the PM and leader of the opposition Mr. Advani presenting a united front. Mr. Advani was not accompanied by Dr. Singh to Mumbai, which he should have and Mr. Advani chose to miss the crucial all party meet to discuss the situation and future course of action. On his arrival in Mumbai, Mr. Advani actually said that “this government had failed as the attacks during the NDA tenure were not this big!!”

·      The CM of Kerala insulting the family of a fallen hero.

·     Mr. Mukhtar Abbas Naqvi using derogatory language to insult civilian protestors questioning the competence, integrity and intentions of the political establishment.

 

What is the lesson for students?

Please do not be misguided by rhetoric and sensationalism. Please study the whole problem and develop a holistic and balanced view on the issue of terrorism in India. Do not make the mistake of blaming any one religion or community for terrorism. Extremists and terrorists come in all shades and colors.

This is the time for you to initiate a process of constructive dialog. I am sure if the future citizens of India can break free from the hype, the stereotyping, the rhetoric, the sensationalism and the hatred for each other cultivated by our political masters, this will become a peaceful and secure place to live.

2 comments:

Satindra said...

Ashish,
This is one of the most balanced and objective accounts I have read on the latest terorist atrocity in India. It shows great maturity and sagacity to be able to maintain such a cool head and present a sensible point of view while every one, including me, is losing lt. I have not been able to talk or write on the subject because I just have not been able to control my anger which is not directed in one particular direction and my sense of shame which can't seem to find its source. To be able to keep your head so close to the incident is remarkable. I need to thank you for helping me getting a perspective which will help me graple with the situation a lot better than if you had not written this timely article. You really have a very wise head on those young shoulders. Your grasp of the historical perspective also helps one have a better understanding of the genises of terroism in India and pakistan.
More power to your pen and next time you want to "bore" someone with such a piece let me be the fist one.
God bless.
Satindra

mreenal said...

well, this is really an eye-opener for all of us but the question in my mind is Can really Pakistan stop these terrorists even if it really wants to stop them?
I read in some magazine of june edition that the combined army of only jaish-e-mohammaad, hizbul-mujahiddin and l-e-t exceed by 1.7 times than the total army of Pakistan plus their are other groups also plus their training system is even more superior than given to Pakistani army. Any action against them can be more deadly for Pakistan. So the whole point is that is there really anything left to be controlled by Pakistan(except for some internal affairs).
The points Sir highlighted and some of these facts only points out that this monster has become too big to be controllable by anyone...