Tag Archives | Mumbai

Urdunama: Saboot

On December 1, Pakistan’s Foreign Minister Hina Rabbani-Khar told news channels that while there was “no evidence” to implicate Hafiz Saeed in the 26/11 attacks in Mumbai, Pakistan would take action if India were to provide proof of his involvement.  A day later, Pakistan’s far-right Urdu newspaper Ummat interviewed Hafiz Saeed on 26/11, who lashed out against Ms. Khar, India and the United States, while proclaiming his innocence.  Excerpts of the interview follow:

On Ms. Khar’s statements promising action against Hafiz Saeed should India provide proof.

[If any allegations are brought forward,] we will leave the matter to the courts.  We have always opted to resolve issues via the court of law and will continue to do so. We would like to resolve all issues within the provisions of Pakistani law. We do not intend to pursue those actions that will create problems; we’re interested in solving problems, not compounding them.

[However,] it has been 4 years since the attacks in Mumbai. In these 4 years, India has been unable to provide any evidence against me in connection with the case. The documents provided by India as evidence could not stand in court and were dismissed by Lahore High Court as propaganda. A similar case was also made by the Supreme Court. A judicial commission was sent from Pakistan to India on the issue of the Mumbai attacks, and no proof of my involvement was presented to them. Despite this, Ms Khar wants to ask India to provide more evidence against me. She appears to be very eager to help India resolve the Mumbai case, but what has she done with regard to the Samjhauta Express attacks, where many Pakistanis were killed?

If Ms Khar says her government would like to resolve the Kashmir dispute through non-military means, can she tell us how successful her government has been thus far? We have about 2-3 issues with India on Kashmir, and her government has been completely unsuccessful in resolving these through non-military means. There is only one way to resolve the Kashmir dispute — jihad.

On why the U.S. pursues action against him.

U.S. allegations against me are both a conspiracy and evidence of the deepening India-U.S. relationship.  Al-hamdulillah, we have been very successful, through Difa-e-Pakistan Council, in bringing various organizations together and exposing the conspiracies of the U.S. and its ally India to the rest of the people of Pakistan. It is because of this that the U.S. and India want to silence me in any way possible.

On peace with India and the U.S.

The U.S. and India are not pursuing the interests of their people, but the interests of their own politicians. India, to this day, has not accepted Pakistan’s right to exist as an independent state. And yet our leaders go to India and grovel for trade. They want to improve trade ties with India and grant them “Most Favored Nation” status. The U.S. completely supports India in its hatred for Pakistan. The U.S. uses India in the subcontinent the same way it uses Israel in the Middle East. Both India and the U.S. are blinded by their hatred for Islam.

We are now in December. It was in December years ago that the very same India dismembered Pakistan.  Do we now seek to improve economic ties with the same country that divided Pakistan and continues to suppress Kashmiris? Every product that is exported from India to Pakistan will be tainted with the blood of Kashmiri Muslims. Our politicians do not understand that the Afghan Taliban in Afghanistan and the mujahideen in Kashmir are fighting wars for the survival of Pakistan.

India unleashes state-sponsored terrorism in Kashmir, and dams rivers flowing into Pakistan; and yet our government wants to grant them “Most Favored Nation” status. If our leaders are incapable of empathizing with the mujahideen in Kashmir, fine.  But they must, at the very least, not get in their way. [روزنامہ امّت]

 

Read full story · Comments { 4 }

Urdunama: Dehshat gardi

Much has been written about on the recent episode where India Today and the Times of India published alerts from the Research and Analysis Wing (R&AW) on five Lashkar-e-Taiba (LeT) operatives having infiltrated their way into Mumbai.  That same day, Pakistan’s TV channels and news media revealed, with barely-concealed delight, that these individuals were in fact in Lahore, not India, and that they were ordinary tradesmen, and not Lashkar terrorists.  On the face of it, our intelligence agencies goofed up.  Over at Acorn, my colleague Nitin Pai examines possible explanations in this excellent blogpost.

During a daily customary review of Pakistan’s Urdu media, I came across this article in Roznama Ummat that I found intriguing.  An excerpt from the Ummat’s interview of Mehtab Butt, Atif Butt and Babar Shabbir — three of the five who had allegedly entered Mumbai — follows:

The most concerning aspect of India labeling the three Pakistanis as terrorists is, how India came to be in the possession of their photographs in the first place.  In conversation with Ummat, Mehtab Butt indicated that he was perplexed as to how his photographs came to be in the hands of the Indians.  In response to a question about whether he had uploaded his photo onto Facebook, Twitter or similar social networking websites, Mr. Butt said that he had never operated a computer.  Mr. Butt said that the shirt that he was wearing as displayed in the photo on the Indian channel (sic) India Today was purchased last year.

Atif Butt said that while he had opened a Facebook account for himself, he had stopped using the account after his engagement;  however, he recollects having never uploaded the photo shown on the Indian channels to Facebook.  He remembers though, that the half-sleeved shirt displayed in the photo had been purchased last summer.

All three victims are of the opinion that a powerful camera was used to zoom in and take photos of them at Hafiz Center.  Both Atif and Mehtab were working at their shops at Hafiz Center when a mutual friend of theirs arrived at about 8:00pm on Wednesday with his laptop.  He showed Atif and Mehtab photos of themselves appearing on the India Today website.  At first, they dismissed the photos as a prank, but the grim reality of the situation ultimately dawned on them.

The three then promptly approached local police and advised them of the situation.  According to Mehtab and Atif, they took this step to ensure that they didn’t get apprehended on false charges.  Mehtab Butt informed Ummat that both he and Atif were under considerable stress.  Atif was of the opinion that had he and Mehtab not approached the police, there would be no doubt that the three victims would have been declared terrorists, similar to the “so-called” Mumbai terror attacks.

The three victims told Ummat that not only is India insulting our country, they have now turned their attention towards harming the Pakistani trading community.  Their question to Pakistan’s leaders is, why are we expanding our trade relations with India?  They appeal to the government to get to the bottom of this and respond to India’s imprudent actions. [روزنامہ امّت]

That this was an IO exercise against India is pretty apparent by the narrative.  Two innocent traders and an honest security guard in Lahore being ensnared by the Serpent Next Door triggers the imagination.  But why traders, why not anyone else?  The last paragraph appears to offer some clues.

There is disquiet in parts of Pakistan’s trading community over liberalizing trade with India.  Though many remain skeptical, most are not opposed to it, given the obvious benefits from trade with India.  But the one group that has remained steadfastly opposed to engagement with India on trade and the MFN status has been Difa-e-Pakistan, a rag-tag collection of ex-army officers and jihadi nutjobs supported by Rawalpindi, that boasts within its ranks a who’s who of the military-jihadi complex, including God’s Servant Hafiz Saeed, and the always-humble Hamid Gul.

Hard-line elements in Pakistan certainly have motive, by both impressing upon the Pakistani trading community that thy neighbor is deceitful, and embarrassing India and its intelligence agencies. But the elaborate plot does not appear to be commensurate with the benefits of getting Pakistan to abrogate from bilateral trade commitments with India. The juice wouldn’t be worth the squeeze.  This may very well be part of the plot, but is there a larger game afoot?

Read full story · Comments { 11 }

The day after Mumbai

India needs to arrest the narrative, break the cycle.

Familiar tragedy befell the city of Mumbai last night — three coordinated bomb blasts killed 21 innocent civilians and injured over 100.  My colleague over at Pragmatic Euphony puts across some important questions that deserve answers.  At the time of writing this blogpost, no one is yet to claim responsibility.  And while there were indications that some lessons had been learned by the government since the 26/11 attacks, the two terror incidents can hardly be equated.  The attacks of 7/13 have an unfortunately familiar signature to previous attacks in India — Bombay, 1992; Delhi, 2005; Mumbai 2006; Jaipur, 2008 and Guwahati, 2008.

Had this been a fidayeen attack or a commando-style assault resulting in a hostage situation (like 26/11), we’re not sure what the government’s response might have been. What we do know from previous incidents is that the nature of the attacks in Mumbai align with the modus operendi of two groups — the underworld, and local, but Pakistan-affiliated groups such as the Indian Mujahideen (IM).

India’s track record in bringing to book those responsible for terror attacks on its soil is troubling.  In The Hindu, Praveen Swami points out that despite multi-million dollar investments, India’s investigation into terror attacks since 26/11 have proven inconclusive.  Indeed, despite home minister P. Chidambaram’s claims that our counter-terrorism capabilities have been significantly enhanced since 26/11, we appear unable to even identify where persons on our so-called list of “most wanted” currently live.

It should be troubling to the state and to its citizens that on every occasion where innocent civilians are murdered in India, the narrative of preserving India-Pakistan peace is resurrected from slumber in the Western media. This is a narrative that India needs to arrest.  Like the need for India to talk to Pakistan ranks considerably higher than the value of the lives of innocent men, women and children who have died.  Let there be no “knee-jerk” reaction, they say.  But there’s already been a knee-jerk reaction. And several.

But beyond merely identifying those responsible for the heinous attacks on India, what is the government’s capability to deliver justice to victims?  What is to dissuade those hostile to India from carrying out further attacks in other large metropolitan cities?  If these attacks end up being traced to Pakistan, like 26/11 was, will justice ever be served?

This blog has repeatedly articulated the need for capacity to challenge terror infrastructure where it stood.  If the attack is traced to Pakistan, India has two options — pursuing the matter through political channels, which invariably leads to a cul-de-sac, or military, which appears infeasible given sufficient plausible deniability and international pressure. Now, India certainly has options available that don’t involve either the political or military to put it across to the perpetrators that their actions will not go unpunished.  The question is if India has the political will to deliver justice to victims of terror, by whatever means necessary.

Both within India and outside, those that have conspired against the state continue to act with impunity.  Until  the government can demonstrate that it can act decisively against those that wage war against it, this unfortunate cycle will continue.

India needs no new ideas.  The thinking that needs to be done has already been done.  No new whitepapers are needed.  This country needs doers.

 

Read full story · Comments { 45 }

After Salmaan Taseer

Five questions for us to answer on liberalism in Pakistan.

The assassination of Salmaan Taseer has rightly triggered introspection and discourse in Pakistan on identity — social, religious and national.  Of these, articles written by the likes of Raza Rumi, Huma Yusuf, Ayesha Siddiqa, Yaseer Latif Hamdani and Shehryar Taseer deserve special mention and commendation.  There is, however, no dearth for the alternative narrative in Pakistan.  PML-N’s spokesperson claimed (اردو) that Mr. Taseer would have been assassinated by someone else had Mumtaz Qadri not done so. Irfan Siddiqui suggests (اردو) that while Mr. Taseer’s assassination cannot be condoned, it was expected, given the governor’s “liberal extremist” views.

A parallel discourse is also occurring in the West and in India.  Declan Walsh laments on the fate of the liberal Pakistani; Shekhar Gupta qualifies and clarifies; Seema Mustafa foretells of further doom and gloom. An overarching theme in many commentaries is that a liberal Pakistan is in India’s interests; that a “liberal” Pakistani civilian government would (not to say “could”) radically alter its worldview, foreign policy objectives and how it seeks to achieve them.  The trouble with this argument of course, is that a liberal Pakistani civilian government has never existed.   Even so, some commentaries point to Benazir Bhutto and her administrations of the late ’80s and ’90s as  approximate models.

However, liberal though Ms. Bhutto may have been, Pakistan’s worldview did not undergo material change during her leadership. Bilateral relations with India did not improve. If anything, Ms. Bhutto’s reign coincided with the height of the Jammu & Kashmir insurgency fomented by Pakistan, and proliferation of nuclear technology.  Indeed, Pakistan’s nuclear weapons program and the motivation to match India to the detriment of all else took shape  under the leadership of her charismatic father, the wine-drinking, UC Berkeley-educated Zulfikar Ali Bhutto (“We will eat grass…”).

It would therefore be a worthy exercise to ponder over these five questions on what a model for a liberal Pakistan would look like, and whether a liberal dispensation in Pakistan is a sufficient condition to alter the trajectory of its relationship with India.  For us in India, would the ascendancy of a liberal narrative in Pakistan’s internal discourse  lessen our own threat perception of our neighbor?

  • Could a liberal government in Islamabad effectively end the hold that the military-jihadi complex has on Pakistan’s formulation and implementation of foreign policy objectives?
  • Would it still maintain that India poses an existential threat to Pakistan?
  • What will its position be towards Kashmir? Specifically, towards the insurgency and state-sponsored sub-conventional warfare?
  • What will its position be on terrorism?  If another Mumbai were to occur, would this liberal regime disavow these groups? Actively confront them? Prosecute them? Extradite them, where permissible, to India? Cooperate with India’s own investigation?
  • Would it continue to maintain, by extension of #2, that Pakistan’s conduct in Afghanistan is just and only expected, given India’s commercial and political ties to Kabul?

Tough questions no doubt, but ones that need to be answered in India, as an internal battle for identity rages on in Pakistan.

UPDATE: My op-ed in The Pioneer has a more complete analysis of liberalism in Pakistan.


Read full story · Comments { 5 }