The Mumbai Attacks : Implications for Pakistan
By amicus • Dec 3rd, 2008 • Category: Features • No Responses
The Back Ground:
On 11th September, 2001 the world was jolted out of its stupor, more so, the West and even more, the Americans, Pakistan too. With the exception of 1971, Pakistan found itself in the most critical phase of its existence. The Leadership remained cool, composed and responsible in the face of a highly volatile situation.
For once Grey matter found precedence over Red. The most appropriate decisions were taken in National Interest, a much abused and misused term, without compromising our self-respect and dignity at the altar of expediency.
For the first time Pakistan, it seemed, came first. It was not a question of succumbing to pressure. It was based on most realistic appraisal of our local, regional and international environment and our strategic interest and survival.
Be that as it may, the internal fall out was there for all to see. It was not to please the political and religious parties, which had been supping and suckling the Holy Cow for good 30 years and had acquired a mind of its own, besides, a Pan Islamic Agenda.
Many of them had aligned, affiliated and committed themselves to ideals; those were totally divorced from reality, and in many cases against the very strategic interest of Pakistan.
There alignment, of late, for name sake was with Pakistan, but in reality they had drifted and totally alienated themselves from Pakistan, as they had become the instruments and vehicles for the attainment of global agenda of Islamic Jihad International.
For their purpose Pakistan and Afghanistan, were a staging ground, rather a base camp for nurturing, nourishing cultivating crop after crop of gun fodder for their espoused objectives and spreading their tentacles abroad, to cater to one or the other US, regional and AlQaeda agenda.
They were for Talibanization of our beloved country. This was, of late, a visible sign emanating from Afghanistan. 11th September changed all that. Pakistan abandoned them.
This sea change naturally had thrown a spanner in the works. They were frustrated, angry, lost, abandoned and being pursued. They were to become reactive, that they did. To say the least they became hostile.
It could be said with some degree of confidence that the parties of the various Religious hues and color did not enjoy the support of significant number of the electorate, but did have disciplined cadre having nuisance value and tangible military capabilities. They did enjoy requisite support, in the relevant Muslim communities in the West.
If one looks at the collective mindset of the fundamentalist militant elements, it is clear that in the post Taliban era they, naturally they have become revengeful towards Americans and the West. They are also extremely annoyed, with Indian presence in Afghanistan, harboring of Northern Alliance Stake Holders in Kabul, on Indian soil since decades.
They are also extremely annoyed with the Pakistani Authorities for its role in the War against Terror. Since this role has hurt them severely, as they are being pursued and hunted; obviously they want to carry out acts of reprisals, revenge and also such acts that could result in derailment of the entire exercise that is punishing them.
Moreover, the so-called Pan-Islamic Agenda of these out fits has been upset, they are definitely looking for any means those could be applied to distract, damage, derail or destroy the so called International Coalition for War against Terrorism.
Keeping this in mind, it should be noted that the motive behind the happenings in India, Indian held Kashmir, attacks on Indian Held J & K Legislature, the Indian Lok Sabha and incident in Jammu, obviously wanted to fuel the escalation of tensions between India and Pakistan. The abduction and killing of Daniel Pearl, the suicide bombing in International Church and the killings of Pakistani and French Personnel in Karachi, the Dutch Embassy, Marriot Hotel and numerous more in Pakistan. So also, ambush, suicide bombings of Coalition Troops and installations in side Afghanistan and Tribal Belt of Western Pakistan are the same.
It is Pakistan that is paying the heaviest price for US War on terror, in terms of human losses. It is embroiled in a fierce and long drawn war within its own territory, while bearing the brunt of Indian sponsored militancy in Balochistan, FATA and Karachi.
The recent happenings on domestic front in India are quite worrisome, as the society there, of late, seems to be getting fragmented on communal lines; the rise of the Hindu and Islamic Fundamentalism is there for all to see, may be with the exception of Indians. Although even within the Indian Army, there is no dearth of Hindu Fundos.
In the aftermath of attack on Indian parliament in December 2001, the Indian government had ordered massive mobilization of troops, and the Indian and Pakistan armed forces remained in eye-ball to eye-ball situation for more than a year.
India desisted from attacking Pakistan only because of Pakistan’s, First Strike, nuclear capability and intense, self serving, American pressure to let Pakistan concentrate on its Afghanistan border.
However, as a price for withdrawal of Indian troops Pakistan had to give assurance that it would not support the Kashmiri militants or allow its territory or territory under its control for carrying out attacks by militants on Indian soil or inside Indian-held Kashmir. From hind side, seems to be a folly.
Mumbai Attacks and Indian Response:
The militant attacks in Mumbai are of far serious nature. If attack on Indian parliament was an assault on the symbol of Indian democracy, they are an assault on the symbol of India’s economic power and renaissance. The Indian government can not ignore them.
Will India react with same vehemence or will its reaction be more calculated and restrained? How will India’s reaction affect Pakistan and condition its response? These are some of the questions that need to be explored.
First and foremost, India’s reaction ought to be determined by its knowledge or perception of who are the master-mind and perpetrators of the Mumbai mayhem, but quite predictably the dynamics of India’s internal politics.
India could, possibly, act to appease and douse the massive anger, frustration and discontent brewing in the Indian people, over this colossal failure of the It’s Intelligence Community, operational failure of it’s Armed Forces and Policing Systems. The Indian opposition could also force the Government in to knee jerk reaction.
The regional scenario is so complex and so many factors figure in it that it is extremely difficult to guess about the master-mind or perpetrators of the Mumbai attacks. Based on Indian Media, they could have been:
1. Al-Qaeda or any group associated with it
2. Lashkar-e-Tayyaba or any other Pakistan-based militant group
3. Disgruntled ( I would not use the term ‘rogue’) elements within Pakistan’s Inter-Services Intelligence
4. Pakistan government or military establishment
5. Indigenous Indian groups
6. Militant groups based in Bangladesh, Britain or any other country.
7. Israeli Mosad and American CIA.
In the light of the sophistication of planning and execution of attacks, a consensus seems to be developing in India and internationally that Al-Qaeda, in tandem with elements within Pakistan, Bangladesh and of course Indian Extremist Islamic outfits were behind the attacks.
However, it is pretty much obvious that Indian Military Establishment is aggressively trying to hawk the misplaced notion of Pakistan being the perpetrator, which is self serving and convenient out come of, a sick mind set, that is addicted to such approach.
If Indians were to understand that the Pakistan government or military establishment is not involved, its hands are already full, they would not resort to any considerable or massive mobilization. At the most there would be some minor movement or reshuffling of troops to satisfy the public opinion at a time when general elections are not too distant.
· However, it does not mean that India is likely to miss the opportunity to malign Pakistan’s ISI. In fact, the contribution of ISI in safeguarding Pakistan’s national security interests and its capacity to act or foment trouble inside India is such a sore in India’s eye that it wants to undermine ISI’s role in every possible manner.
· India is also likely to renew its propaganda campaign that Pakistan is the epicenter of international terrorism and that Pakistan’s nuclear assets might some day fall into the hands of the terrorists.
· India may also intensify its efforts to convince the world community that Pakistan is a failed state and its army is a rogue army that needs to be reined in.
· India may influence the US President-elect Obama to drop the idea of mediating between India and Pakistan on the Kashmir issue and argue that there is no indigenous liberation movement in Kashmir.
· India may persuade the United States to pressurize Pakistan to intensify its military action against the militants in FATA and NWFP, to reinvigorate its search for high-value Al-Qaeda targets and to completely dismantle the infrastructure responsible for assisting liberation movement in Kashmir.
· India may demand that Pakistan handover ‘wanted terrorists’ under ISI protection to it and provide intelligence about the Kashmiri militant groups and Mumbai underworld having links with Pakistan.
· India may also seek a heightened Army and Intelligence presence in Afghanistan. It needs to register that it is India’s obsessively compulsive desire to bring in Indian Troops in to Afghan Theater. Not the least for War On terror, but only for War on Pakistan.
For Pakistan, Mumbai attacks are another testing time.
The civilian government was caught unprepared and without homework.
Prime Minister Syed Yousuf Raza Gilani’s hasty promise to send ISI’s Director General to India without pondering on its implications and then retracting under popular and military pressure exposed the cleavage between thinking processes of the civilian government and the military establishment.
The attitude of Foreign Minister Shah Mahmood Qureshi was too apologetic in his press conference.
Abject surrender to unreasonable demands is bad diplomacy. Appeasement only emboldens the bully. India is no exception.
After initial lapse there has been a relatively coordinated reaction.
In response to Indian propaganda, Pakistan would have to reassert its role in combating the so called terrorism, strengthening nuclear non-proliferation regime and making out-of-the box proposals for resolution of the Kashmir dispute.
However, if India goes beyond propaganda campaign and hurls threats, the situation may unfold differently.
The posture of the present civilian set-up in face of reported Indian threat was self- defeatist. Some self-respect was restored by the announcement made by the military spokesman that the Pakistan armed forces were prepared to effectively respond to any challenge on the eastern front.
If due to any reason India mobilizes its forces to Pakistan’s border, Pakistan would have no option other than to shift its troops from western to eastern frontiers. This would enable the Taliban / Islamists to regain the ground in FATA and NWFP.
However, the Pakistan government can not take the risk of moving its troops without first mending fences with the Taliban. The support of the tribal people is imperative to thwart possible Indian design of pincer movement.
Simultaneously Pakistan would have to reactivate the Kashmiri militants to engage Indian forces in Occupied Kashmir.
Pakistan may have to resume testing of nuclear capable missiles and disown President Zardari’s unwise statement that Pakistan would under no circumstances resort to nuclear first strike.
In case of actual war, which is an extremely remote possibility, the Pakistan’s military establishment would have to install a national government to lead the nation under military’s policy guide lines.
The Indian frustration, anger and reaction are quite predictable. The frustration and compulsions emanating from Indian Public opinion and the Government is there for all to see.
In this backdrop the Indian Government’s compulsions to act against Pakistan seems to be more an out come of internal pressures and frustration then anything else.
Be that as it may, the relevant questions would be; could even a limited military action by India be termed as a step in the right direction?
Could it remain with in those parameters? Would it serve the Indian Purpose in strategic dimension? Would any such adventure by Indians promote the Indian Objective of getting rid of so-called cross border terrorism? The answer to all these questions could only be a big NO.
The ramifications of any adventure, howsoever, justifiably hawked, would be horrendous for the International Campaign against terrorism, even if such exercise could be contained within the parameters of conventional war fare.
The reality, however, dictates otherwise. Such an adventure has the potential of its immediately getting converted into mutually destructive nuclear war.
Conventional or Nuclear War under the circumstances would certainly result in massive destruction, with very long term repercussions for the region and the world. The War against terrorism would not only come to an end but in fact would result in altering the geo-political scenario in a way that could make no one but the very same International Terror Groups happy.
It seems any such misadventure would amount to Indians walking into a trap set up by the very forces those are responsible for India’s Woes. Not only that it would also result in destroying the efforts so far made by the US led Coalition against those very out fits. It would destroy India, Pakistan and the Coalition against International Terror.
How could Leadership of any Country be so stupid that they could not see this grand design of the Militants? But then Indians, have been rightly said to act with wisdom generally, except when relating or dealing with Pakistan.
It has to be appreciated that the incumbent set up in Pakistan has opted to continue with the policies of its predecessor, with the overzealousness, for a visibly qualitative departure of the policies of past 20 years. The regional and global environment is conducive for such a change.
It is the one extremely good thing that has happened to Pakistan, the sub-continent and the region. It has to be encouraged, facilitated and given space to the incumbents to take the things to its most logical conclusion i.e. normalization of relations and dispute resolution through dialogue.
Of all the countries, the most important is India and it is India that has to see the light that is being beaconed by the present set up in Pakistan and do its best to keep it from being put out.
That said, if India acts as it has historically, they will find Pakistan ready to oblige. No more kowtowing. Enough is enough.
To conclude one could safely say that by allowing India to indulge in any such, foolish, narrow and self serving act, the USA, would be squarely walking into the trap set up by the International Islamic Militants’ to upset the Apple Cart on so-called War on Terror.
About the author: Amicus is the pseudonym of Advocate Mohammed Yousuf. With sixteen years in legal practice. He has written extensively on Islam and Islamist Militancy.
Last 5 posts by amicus
PAKISTAN: NON TRADITIONAL SECURITY THREATS - October 29th, 2008
Martyrs of Marriot - September 26th, 2008
Dr. Aafia Siddiqui : Her Ordeal and People of Pakistan - September 7th, 2008
The Challenge of Talibanization and the New Great Game - August 20th, 2008
Independence Day of Pakistan - August 14th, 2008