The Pakistani Spectator
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Mumbai Attacks : The Worst Case Scenario and Pakistan’s OptionBy amicus • Dec 29th, 2008 • Category: Lead Story • 21 Comments •
Since the Mumbai attacks India has, by design, launched premeditated, malicious and vigorous propaganda campaign to project Pakistan as the epicenter of terrorism and its government as being ineffective in eliminating the alleged training camps of terrorist outfits from the country’s soil. It’s altogether a different matter that the so-called evidence is no where to be seen.
India has also demanded that Pakistan hand over suspected ‘terrorists’ and eradicate the menace of terrorism, once for all, otherwise it may adopt any of the various options under consideration to safeguard its security interests; and those options include ‘surgical strikes’ inside Pakistan.
The United States has supported the Indian right to use military capability against perpetrators of terror as a legitimate means of self-defense. The US President-elect, Barak Hussain Obama, has categorically stated that every state has a right to self-defense under such conditions.
The nature of Indian quagmire is aptly articulated by a daughter of India, Arundhati Roy, in an Article in Guardian.co.uk;
“In much the same way as it did after the 2001 parliament attack, the 2002 burning of the Sabarmati Express and the 2007 bombing of the Samjhauta Express, the government of India announced that it has “incontrovertible” evidence that the Lashkar-e-Taiba backed by Pakistan’s ISI was behind the Mumbai strikes.
The Lashkar has denied involvement, but remains the prime accused. According to the police and intelligence agencies the Lashkar operates in India through an organisation called the Indian Mujahideen. Two Indian nationals, Sheikh Mukhtar Ahmed, a Special Police Officer working for the Jammu and Kashmir police, and Tausif Rehman, a resident of Kolkata in West Bengal, have been arrested in connection with the Mumbai attacks.
So already the neat accusation against Pakistan is getting a little messy. Almost always, when these stories unspool, they reveal a complicated global network of foot soldiers, trainers, recruiters, middlemen and undercover intelligence and counter-intelligence operatives working not just on both sides of the India-Pakistan border, but in several countries simultaneously. In today’s world, trying to pin down the provenance of a terrorist strike and isolate it within the borders of a single nation state is very much like trying to pin down the provenance of corporate money. It’s almost impossible.In circumstances like these, air strikes to “take out” terrorist camps may take out the camps, but certainly will not “take out” the terrorists. Neither will war. (Also, in our bid for the moral high ground, let’s try not to forget that the Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam, the LTTE of neighbouring Sri Lanka, one of the world’s most deadly terrorist groups, were trained by the Indian army.)
So once again, Afghanistan had to be violently remade. Now the debris of a re-ravaged Afghanistan has washed up on Pakistan’s borders. Nobody, least of all the Pakistan government, denies that it is presiding over a country that is threatening to implode. The terrorist training camps, the fire-breathing mullahs and the maniacs who believe that Islam will, or should, rule the world is mostly the detritus of two Afghan wars. Their ire rains down on the Pakistan government and Pakistani civilians as much, if not more than it does on India.”
The US Secretary of State, Condoleezza Rice, has warned that Pakistan needs to deal with the problem of terrorism, for “it’s not enough to say these are non-state actors. If they’re operating from Pakistani territory, then they have to be dealt with.” Referring to the steps taken by the civilian government as positive, she has added: “They’re not nearly enough to this point.” (Dawn, 21 December 2008)
Without properly evaluating the so-called evidence or sharing it with the Pakistan Government, the Americans have reportedly conveyed to Pakistani leadership that the evidence linking Mumbai attacks to Pakistan is of very serious nature. The American message is clear: “Global terrorism is not just an India-Pakistan dispute. We see LeT and Jamaat-ud-Dawa at par with Al Qaeda. Pakistan should stop thinking of this as just another round of India-Pakistan altercations.” (Dawn, 21 December 2008)
In other words what the Americans are saying is this: If it was legitimate for the United States to act against Al Qaeda and attack its safe haven, Afghanistan, after 9/11, it is perfectly justified for India to act against Lashkar-e-Toiba and Jamaat-ud Dawa and their safe haven, Pakistan, after the Mumbai attacks.
After reports that India plans to dispatch 140,000 troops to Afghanistan, the Chairmen of the US Joint Chiefs of Staff, Mike Mullen, has disclosed that the United States plans to send between 20,000 and 30,000 additional troops to Afghanistan next year.
Is this troop build-up aimed at confronting the Taliban who control nearly 70% of Afghanistan’s territory or the objective is to sandwich Pakistan?
The signs are ominous. The situation is grim and fraught with danger, and Pakistan needs to be prepared for the worst case scenario.
Internal Compulsions, election year expediencies, pressures from Hindu fundamentalists/radical religious India, intelligence and operational failure of the Indian government are obviously fashioning the Indian behavior with Pakistan. But there is more to Indian posturing then meets the eye.
9/11 became the excuse for invasion of Afghanistan; there can be no denying the reality that there was more to meet the eye then just 9/11, which is borne out from the declaration that NATO is in Afghanistan for a long haul. Indian posturing needs to be seen in the back ground of over all western strategy of consolidation of its presence in South, West and Central Asia. Indian aspirations are in harmony with Western objectives. The only obstruction is Pakistan.
The WORST CASE SCENARIO
India, as of today claims to have “concrete evidence” of the involvement of Lashkar-i-Taiba, Jamaat–ud-Dawa or some other Pakistan- based militant group in the Mumbai attacks.
In reality they are basing the vicious and nefarious propaganda on surmises and self-serving conjectures, which is borne out from the statements of top Indian leadership that “investigations are [still] going on”.
The United States and other western powers accept so far unknown / non-existent Indian evidence as conclusive and are leaning on Pakistan to take effective measures against the perpetrators of the Mumbai carnage.
They also demand that Pakistan hand over wanted ‘terrorists’ to India, without having the benefit of alleged “concrete evidence”, or carrying out its own investigation and prosecution. They ignore the fact that there is a democratically elected government in Pakistan that is answerable to its people and justice system, as any other nation, for its decisions.
Hence, Pakistan has rejected the Indian demands, and declined to hand over the wanted people. It insists on their prosecution within Pakistan under Pakistani law, if some concrete evidence was provided.
It appears South Asian neighbors are heading towards stand off.
India could take the matter to the UN Security Council.
With international community sympathetic to Mumbai incidents, India is emboldened to indulge in “do this or else…..” Cow Boy approach. The conspicuous silence of the Government of Pakistan on the diplomatic front is contributing to Indian arrogance. The Indian diplomatic offensive in the making is going to make the matters worse for Pakistan Foreign Office, if the government is not jolted out of its-every thing is fine mode.
There is likelihood of a move calling for imposition of sanctions against Pakistan, if the latter fails to wipe out alleged ‘terrorist’ camps from its soil and hand over the wanted ‘terrorists’. India is also likely to mobilize its troops.
The United States is moving more troops to Afghanistan-Pakistan border, ostensibly to combat Al Qaeda and Taliban militants. There has been increase in the number of missile attacks by US drones inside Pakistani territory. India is also toying with the option of resort to military strikes on alleged camps of the militants in Azad Kashmir and Pakistan.
What would be Pakistan’s response?
Pakistan’s civilian government buckles and hands over the wanted ‘terrorists’ to India or the United Nations. Pakistan Government’s action is welcomed by India and the United States. But it undermines Pakistan’s defense capability and greatly weakens its mechanism to support Indian-held Kashmir’s liberation movement and its ability to foment trouble inside India.
The civilian government’s decision widens the gulf between the people and the leadership, alienates the armed forces, estranges the Kashmiri people and promotes polarization within the country.
Pakistan’s posture emboldens the enemy and sends the signal that under pressure Pakistan may agree to be a part of strategic arc comprising India, Pakistan and Afghanistan to block Chinese access to the Arabian Sea and safeguard American interests in the region.
It also sends the message that Pakistan does not have spine and if confronted with credible threats it will surrender its nuclear assets and will be prepared to survive as an innocuous and compliant state under Indian hegemony.
A weak and irresolute Pakistan is an invitation to the United States and India to collude militarily to redesign the region’s geography and reduce Pakistan to a shadow of its former self.
The end result of this option is a sad demise of today’s Pakistan and, therefore, it is no option.
Pakistan Government takes cue from the India-Pakistan eyeball to eyeball confrontation of 2002 - when India had failed to intimidate Pakistan into submission - and does not budge from its stand. It shows determination to confront India, creates anti-Indian hysteria and orders to shoot down Indian planes if they dare to cross the border.
Pakistan gets prepared for conventional war, moves its troops from western to eastern front, concludes truce with the Taliban and reactivates the Jehad outfits in Indian occupied Kashmir.
Pakistan test-fires its nuclear capable missiles, makes it clear that it has not renounced its right to nuclear first strike and is prepared for MAD (Mutually Assured Destruction).
Confronted with the risk of nuclear holocaust, the international community intervenes to resolve the crisis. It understands that even a full-fledged conventional war will be devastating and its fall-out will not remain confined to South Asia.
The United States also does not want any diversion from its ‘war on terror’. It realizes that without cooperation of Pakistan, the ISAF and NATO cannot sustain their operational capability at present level in Afghanistan. It understands that if Pakistan moves the bulk of its troops from FATA and NWFP to war theater in the east, the supply route to American-led coalition forces in Afghanistan would not remain safe, there will be a resurgence of the Taliban and a manifold increase in cross-border incursions into Afghanistan. It knows that the shifting of Pakistani troops from the tribal belt will enable Al Qaeda to regroup its militants and reorganize its command and control system. Much like 2002, the United States is forced to prevail upon India to relent.
The Trans-National Corporations (TNCs) get concerned about the heavy investments they have made in the thriving and vibrant Indian economy. The pressurize Indian Government to demonstrate restraint and refrain from show of power. War or war-like situation can lead to evacuation of foreigners, including business executives and entrepreneurs.
Within India, various economic interest groups call upon their Government to be discreet in dealing with Pakistan. India’s high growth rate of nearly 7-8% cannot be sustained if it goes to war. The ‘Indian dream’ will be in jeopardy and China will move far ahead.
Last but not the least; the world realizes that India-Pakistan brinkmanship or war will only strengthen the fundamentalists and the militants in the region. There will be more recruits to the Taliban in Pakistan and Sangh Parivar in India, defeating the very purpose India claims to achieve.
A cool calculation compels Indian Government to retract from the path of confrontation.
Pakistan comes out scot-free.
Given these scenarios, it’s about time Pakistan stands up and tells the Indians that before we go down, we will take you down.
About the author: Amicus is the pseudonym of Advocate Mohammed Yousuf. With sixteen years in legal practice. He has written extensively on Islam and Militancy.
Last 5 posts by amicus
The Mumbai Attacks : Implications for Pakistan - December 3rd, 2008
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