Friday, November 28, 2008

World Reacts in Horror as Terror Strikes Mumbai


Sounds of gunshots and explosions accompanied chaotic scenes in Mumbai as the world media focused their attention on the tragic results of the terrorist attacks. While the scope and scale of the Mumbai attacks has taken India's internal security and intelligence establishment by surprise, there are conflicting reports about the numbers and identity of the attackers and how they were able to paralyze normal life in a major world metropolis. Hundreds are reportedly being held hostage. The terrible carnage has claimed more than one hundred lives, including Americans and Israelis, and several hundred have been injured. There are many who believe that such an attack wouldn't be possible without a strong homegrown element participating in the attacks.

While such acts of murder are completely unjustified, it is important to understand that the seeds for such support for terror can be found in the anger at America's "global war on terror". This "war" has provided a convenient cover to the Hindutva groups and to fiercely anti-Muslim elements within the Indian government apparatus to launch a concerted campaign of terror against Muslims. As expected, however, the finger of blame in India is being pointed at neighboring Pakistan. Pakistan, which has itself been at the receiving end of terror, has strongly condemned the attacks and offered to cooperate with the Indian government to track down the perpetrators of Mumbai.

The apparently slow and seemingly disorganized response to Mumbai attacks by the Indian authorities has come under criticism by British and Israeli officials, according to the British newspaper Telegraph. The paper quotes a senior British official as saying he was "surprised" by the Indian failure to regain control of the commercial capital almost two days after the attacks began. Israeli officials told the Jerusalem Post that India's refusal of its offer to send commandos had put the lives of a rabbi and his family in danger.

Here are some of the early world media reactions to the events in Mumbai:

Aryn Baker writes in Time Magazine: The disembodied voice was chilling in its rage. A gunman, holed up in Mumbai's Oberoi Trident hotel where some 40 people had been taken hostage, told an Indian news channel that the attacks were revenge for the persecution of Muslims in India. "We love this as our country but when our mothers and sisters were being killed, where was everybody?" he asked via telephone. No answer came. But then he probably wasn't expecting one.

The Wall Street Journal reports on the "insidious" nature of the attacks as follows: The scale and sophistication of the Mumbai attacks, as well as the choice of targets, however, appeared to point to a more insidious threat that the Indian government has been reluctant to acknowledge so far -- the potential involvement of extremists within the country's own Muslim community, which, at 150 million, is the world's third-largest after Indonesia and Pakistan. It is also one of India's most economically and politically disadvantaged minorities.

In addition to being disproportionately targeted in outbreaks of religious violence, they (Muslims) are severely underrepresented in the country's government bureaucracy, universities and security services. On literacy scores, young Indian Muslims now lag behind even the country's historically most disadvantaged group, the Dalits, or Hinduism's "untouchables."

Pakistani columnist and blogger Ahmed Quraishi says: As a Pakistani, I too find it intriguing that only days ago, for the first time, the reach and influence of indigenous Indian terror groups was being registered for the first time, with the arrest of two serving senior Indian army officers with links to Hindu terror groups involved in major terrorism acts; acts that were blamed on Muslims. And now suddenly we have a spectacular incident, too sophisticated for any foreigner to execute without massive facilitation and support base, where allegedly Muslim terrorists have left behind an ID card and a cell phone with a SIM card originating in a 'neighboring' country. How convenient. They should have checked better since they could have also found an ISI staff card on one of the dead terrorists. There are close to 100 groups in India, of all shades, fighting the Indian state and people, including Hindu terrorist groups. India should get its own house in order before blaming 'neighbors'. This coming from a country where close to 600 Christians were killed just a couple of months back by Hindu groups, and 2500 Indian Muslims were burned alive in the 21st century's first incident of genocide, in 2002 and where Kashmiri, Dalit, and other minority women are raped everyday as part of Hindu religious oppression.

Here's what Dr. Deepak Chopra told CNN: What we have seen in Mumbai has been brewing for a long time, and the war on terrorism and the attack on Iraq compounded the situation. What we call "collateral damage" and going after the wrong people actually turns moderates into extremists, and that inflammation then gets organized and appears as this disaster in Bombay. Now the worst thing that could happen is there's a backlash on the Muslims from the fundamental Hindus in India, which then will perpetuate the problem. Inflammation will create more inflammation.

Here's an excerpt from Tariq Ali's Counterpunch piece on Mumbai attacks: The Indian Prime Minister, Manmohan Singh, has insisted that the terrorists were based outside the country. The Indian media has echoed this line of argument with Pakistan (via the Lashkar-e-Taiba) and al-Qaeda listed as the usual suspects. But this is a meditated edifice of official India’s political imagination. Its function is to deny that the terrorists could be a homegrown variety, a product of the radicalization of young Indian Muslims who have finally given up on the indigenous political system. To accept this view would imply that the country’s political physicians need to heal themselves.

There is widespread and appropriately strong condemnation of the terrorists responsible for murder and mayhem in Mumbai. In Pakistan, US, Britain, Israel and the rest of the world, there is powerful outpouring of sympathy for the innocent victims. There is also a lot of speculation as to the causes and culprits of the expanding scope and scale of terror the world is witnessing. Such speculation will likely continue as the governments of the world grapple with the rising threat to civilians everywhere in the world. It's clear, though, that the use of military power alone as seen in America's "war on terror" will not succeed. There is an urgent need for all to acknowledge the failure of the current "global war on terror" to come up with a better strategy that relies on a broader set of tools and options to overcome the growing menace.

26 comments:

Jadev said...

Rebuttal
of "Ahmed Quraishi"'s quotes:
The ID card left behind were of "Mauritius" and many bank credit cards. This is obviously to send investigators in a wild-goose chase.
This is a signature style attack of Lashkar/Jaish-e-Mohammed.This is not the first time this type of attack take place in India, but these were mostly in Kashmir,Ayodhya attack,attack on Swaminarayan temple in Gujarat,attack on Army families appartments in Jammu,Redfort attack in Delhi and Parliment attack etc. Nobody is alleging that pak civilian govt is complicit, but same cannot be told about Pak Military which is never busy to spare a thought for India.I can see a pattern in your blog of a sort of self-denial about the barbarity of Islamic terror and try to hang the blame on "infidel" us..ranging from indiscretion in war on terror to "poor" Indian Muslims. But this time around your intelligence-wallas have tried to wake-up the sleeping rabid dogs-The Israelis,Americans and Europeans. And there will be hell to pay. This is the end game.The cost of killing jews for fun is quiet different as your military lashkars will soon find out. Your facade of civility in your blog is quite revealing and disgusting as you equate this terror attack as response by angry muslims.

libertarian said...

Riaz: very very disappointing take. Does not merit a response.

Saadia said...

I do not find anything disappointing about this post.

Mr. Haq has condemned the attacks, which was the right thing to do.

And he has criticized the premature mud-slinging on Pakistan, which was a very natural way to react. Intelligence and news agencies across the world have criticized India for starting the blame game a bit too soon. And nobody has to take a non-Indian's word for it. In my post, 'Mumbai Under Attack', I have posted links to various articles on the issue in the Indian press.

Anonymous said...

Riaz - this is what happens when you have a failed state for a neighbour.

Tell me, who runs Pakistan ? Is it Gilani, or Kiyani, or Musharraf or Zardari? I really want to know because from an Indian's point of view, this absolute vaccum of leadership in Pakistan is what has led to your country being an international terrorism hub.

Dont try to qualify these murderous attacks in the context of America's war on terror or India's alleged mistreatment of its minorities. Please understand that religious persecution of minorities is not a state policy in India, while the same can not be said for Pakistan. There have been countless instances of religious violence in India, but we have the institutions to deal with them (however slow they maybe).

If only the state had more time and attention dealing with this problem earlier, Pakistan wouldn't have to go begging to the IMF today.

Dont use this Malegaon thing to absolve Pakistan of any involvement in the decades of terror attacks against India. Despite poltical interference, we have insitutions and a free media that allow such revelations to come out , however damaging and 'embarassing' they may be. The hindu right wing is justifying the malegaon attacks saying that it was retaliation against pandering to minorities in India. This is just as ridiculous as you suggesting that we had it coming.


-Indian

Anonymous said...

You have taken an unacceptable point of view to the whole subject. You are biased and it is evident that you only want to divert the reader's attention from the facts that these terrorists were muslims like 99% of the terrorists are - probably brain washed in a mosque somewhere in Pakistan and trained by LeT and Al Queda combine. This Mumbai terror shooting draws a great deal of attention and the capture of one of the terrorists alive is indeed a breakthrough. Also the fact that these terrorists were mislead into believing there was an escape route to 'come back' after the mission will prove one motivation for the captured terrorist to spill the beans.

Immature Tariq Ali's and yourselves cannot comment others to distraction.

shoiab khan said...

YOU MUST REALIZE THAT PAKISTAN IS A FAILED STATE, A COUNTRY IN WHICH PARLIAMENT MEMBER OPENLY ADVOCATES THE ALIVE BURYING OF WOMEN ,HAS NO RIGHT TO TAKE HIGH MORAL STANDS IN ETHNIC STRIFE OF NEIGHBOURING COUNTRY.YES WE INDIANS ARE SUFFERING FROM MANY COMMUNAL PROBLEMS, WHICH IS A UNIVERSAL PROBLEM IN SOUTH EAST ASIA,BUT JUSTIFYING THE MURDERS IN THE NAME OF COMMUNAL KILLINGS IS CRIME, INDIAN INSTITUTIONS DOES NOT SUPPORT TERRORS WHICH IS SOLE WORK OF PAKISTANI SECURITY APPARATUS, FIRST SPREAD TERRORISM , JUSTIFY IT AS A POLICY TO CONTAIN INDIA AND THEN BEG TO AMERICANS FOR ALMS TO CONTAIN THEM. ANY WAY U CANT EXPECT MUCH FROM A COUNTRY WHERE ARMY IS SOLE WORKING INSTITUTION. AT LAST THE FIRE WHICH SOME PAKISTANI& PETRO DOLLERS ELEMENTS ARE FANNING, IN LONG TERM WILL DO NOT AN IOTA OF HARM TO WESTENERS,IT WILL SURELY DAMAGE INDIA GREATLY AND PAKISTAN WILL BE WIPED OUT. THIS IS HARSH TRUTH.

Anonymous said...

Its sad and tragic indeed. My heart goes out to the innicent victims. I am sure that Jadev and Libertarin must be having ample proof (proof beyond media hype and proof beyond yellow propaganda). Well, reveal the truth and the truth will set us all free.

Anonymous said...

It has been quiet some time I have been feeling like this, and more helpless, impotent and victimized. Somewhere all along I and a lot of others like me knew that Mumbai was only waiting to happen and it finally did, well I for one won’t remain silent anymore, if you and my other countrymen choose not to listen at least I will not have it on my Karma the guilt of silence. Well to start with let me assure you that Mumbai is not the last it is only the beginning, this may not surprise a lot of you now but would perhaps have had I told this say a week back, but what will surprise you now is after the next few strikes we will become immune to it, just as immune we have become to bomb blasts, Kashmir, the north East problem etc etc. Now I am no Nostradarmis, and it does not take one to see a future when those living in the cities will routinely be going about their job in one part of the city, while terror strikes continue in another, with NSG styled special forces going about their job, business houses routinely selling insurance against terror strikes, and Terrorists standing up and winning elections, and further down the country has been Balkanised on communal lines( It happened last just sixty years back) with the city states at war with each other. Too far fetched? NO There is no limit to our acceptance we are a STOOPID civilization which disguises its cowardice by calling it resilience, yes we have routinely withstood and survived invasions occupations and plunders, but at what cost. The mountains in Afganistan are called the Hindukush (The Hindu Crusher) cause a lot of our ancestors who were dragged over it as slaves, died unable to bear the chilling cold, our national treasures on display in museums of the world, and a national history where we were routinely on the losing side of wars and the plunders became our rulers. At that point of our history this had become, well acceptable as long as one was not the victim and could make some profit from it, so why get surprised by this tomorrow when our yesterday was just as similar. On the net and in lot of places I have long been hearing a lot about how India will win, how it can nuke our possible adversaries and overcome the challenge of terrorism, well at the moment it cant, and face it wishing for nuclear strikes is as much a dream as hoping for the Sudershan charka of Vishnu striking down the invading armies. Is change possible? Or are we stuck in the course of a fate that has already been written and will run its course? The answer is defined by Karma, now Karma is not inaction it is not passive acceptance it is a Dynamic force that is shaped by our will and in this case the collective will of the nation. No leaders here, we as people will and can be the masters of our own destiny. The choice is ours, for the moment I will leave you here, if you choose to hear more write back to me, if your ears are willing I have a tale to tell, the Fable of a new India.

Riaz Haq said...

Here's an excerpt from Nick Kristof on Mumbai in NY Times:

Its (India's) harsh violations of human rights in Kashmir — and the brutal anti-Muslim pogroms in Gujarat — have empowered groups like Lashkar-e-Taiba (in much the same way that America’s policies in Guantanamo have empowered Al Qaeda). And India was slow to react to olive branches from General Musharraf, missing the chance to ease tensions in Kashmir. There’ll be a tendency for enraged Indians to want to follow the Dick Cheney model now and fight back, but that Cheney model didn’t work so well for America and I would counsel Indians not to follow it.

Riaz Haq said...

Though tragic and condemnable, the Mumbai attacks are triggering the much needed discussion about the suffering of Indian Muslims around the world. Major newspaper reporters and columnists in the West and sane Indians like Deepak Chopra are highlighting the plight of India's minorities and the continuing assault on them by the Hinditva groups and their allies in the government apparatus. Let's hope that the eventual outcome of such a discussion helps Indians realize that the biggest 21st century challenge India faces is the rise of Hindu fundamentalism and militancy. By effectively dealing with this challenge, India can claim its place as a great world power of this century.

Anonymous said...

Well - everything that ever went wrong in India is a direct result of having minorities or call them 5th and 6th scheduled cast in India. Muslims are directly responsible for the killing of Gandhi. All the great wars in Hindu mythology were because of muslims as well.

Riaz - You are also playing in the hands of same people in a sense. This could be yet another internal job resulting from the discovery of terrorists within Indian Army ranks. People like jadev are God sent saints.

Regarding plight of Muslims, well what about the plight of million of Hindus who are also suffering at the hand of Hindus.

Riaz - Unconditional truth is the only solution.

Anonymous said...

Right...awesome piece of equivocating.

Whatever the cause of this, all that a strong,democratic and resurgent India needs to follow is a policy of beggaring us and we are done.

A country founded by the great Qaid has been reduced to begging the IMF and fighting multiple wars on its both fronts and internally.

India treats its Muslims much better than we treat our women and Hindus.

Since when is a fat turd like Deepak Chopra an global expert on foreign relations?

Anonymous said...

Riaz, i find it somewhat amusing that you consider Deepak Chopra a 'sane' Indian. He maybe eloquent, but his wild interpretations of quantum physics and the human spirit and all that nonsense seriously make me doubt his sanity. However, he has said things you want to hear - that terrorism is the 'result' of America's war on terror and the ill treatment of muslims around the world.

India's treatment of its minorities is far from acceptable. We have had our share of riots, but we have also dealt with it in the past. Despite these problems, we continue to have a film industry that is dominated by muslims, a business world that has more than its fair share of successful muslim entrepreneurs, and two muslim presidents in the past.

You either either deluded or in denial. If these attacks are because of of ill treatment of muslims, then how about the recent terror attacks in pakistan? The blasts in Karachi , for example? Is that because of 'external' Afghani terrorists (who your country heartily supported until it became convenient not to)? Or is it because Pakistani muslims feel disenfranchised?

I have read through your other posts in your blog and it seems to me like you honestly believe that India is run by Hindu fundamentalists. Whether this is your own choice, or a result of the brainwashing of your country's establishment, i do not know.

And i will say this again - if your country can not deal with this, do not be surprised if you find american or indian troops in Karachi or Lahore.

And olive branches from general musharraf ?? Please - he was the architect of Kargil. And that is the tragedy of your country - the power that the army wields.

mahreen said...

It's not about hindus,muslims or any other community of the world.It's about killing of innocent people belonging to any community which should be condemned and is being condemned but the need of hour is that every country suffering at the hands of terrorists should make sure whether elements in their own country are involved in nurturing this crop of terrorists or not instead of pointing fingers at others instantly.People are talking about deprived muslim citizens of india which is a fact and we cannot rule out the possibility of involvement of this factor in Mumbai bombings.Be it the Muslim Students Organization of India or Hindu Extremists organizations or any other such organizations,these kind of elements within India are capable enough to bring such kind of damage to the country and Indian Government should not rule that out.One has to see the elements causing fire in his house within it's own premises instead of pointing fingers at neighbours immidiately.

Riaz Haq said...

I see there is lot in common between Indians and Pakistanis. For example: Both are victims of terror and both blame foreigners for their problems rather than look inwards. This denial will cost both of them dearly. Shifting responsibility never works. Their problems will not go away. The only thing that will work is for each to do what is within its control to identify and deal with its problems.

Anonymous said...

Hmmm ... What is going on within the two so called largest democracies of the universe....

Riaz Haq said...

Here's an excerpt from commentary by Amaresh Misra on Mumbai attacks:

The Mumbai ATS chief Hemant Karkare and other officers of the ATS have been killed. These were the same people who were investigating the Malegaon Blasts–in which Praggya Singh, an army officer and several other noted personalities of the BJP-RSS-Bajrang Dal-VHP were arrested. Karkare was the man to arrest them. Karkare was receiving threats from several quarters. LK Advani, the BJP chief and several other prominent leaders of the so-called Hindu terrorism squad were gunning for his head. And the first casualty in the terrorist attack was Karkare!
For more, visit the following:
http://www.topix.com/forum/religion/sikh/TPDIJVHL8EOGUFEIM

Saadia said...

One obviously cannot rule out such conspiracy theories. A lot happens that is beyond the obvious. God only knows!

Anonymous said...

You silly man. Karkare was the chief of the anti-terror squad, which means that he was expected to be there when terrorists struck. Why do you people always think in terms of hindu or jewish conspiracies? I have been reading on some pakistani blogs that this was engineering by the CIA and Mossad? While this is expected from the average illiterate jackass, it is somewhat worrying when it comes from you.

Hemant Karkare was not the first person to be killed. Far from that. The terrorists had already massacared dozens at other parts of Mumbai. By suggesting that this entire massacre was a Hindu conspiracy to get back at Hemant Karkare is insulting the memory of the 200 other people who died, and giving assholes like the VHP and RSS too much 'credit' (for lack of a better word) for their terror skills.

Riaz, you represent everything which is wrong with Pakistan. While people everyone else in the world are ready to condemn terrorism vehemently, you seek to qualify or justify it within a broader context. You suggest non=existent conspiracy theories (which are always possible, but highly improbable). You selectively take quotes from such eminent personalities as Deepak Chopra in an attempt to support your irresponsible arguments.

This is why Indians dont trust Pakistanis. Because Pakistanis always seem sympathetic to these bastards who are ready to kill at the drop of a hat. Dont whine about being victims of terrorism yourself - this is just coming back to bite you, that's all.

Anonymous said...

OK - So lets put a lid on all the conspiracy theories and even ignore the mysterious murder of ATS chief for a second. What intelligence Indian government officials were able to collect on the basis of which they started spitting the venom on muslims and Pakistanis? WE the people must stand together and demand for truth from every one. The dirty game needs to be stopped.

Great job Riaz. Quite contrary to the view point shared by some narrow minded fanatics on this forum, I find you to be quite pro-Indian. Pray for your safety when you visit Pakistan next time.

Anonymous said...

Just to make something clear - find me ONE news channel that has accused muslims for this. The finger of blame quite naturally points towards our neighbour who has made terrorism a cottage industry.

Most indians are smart enough to tell the difference between Muslims and Pakistanis, but for most pakistanis these are interchangeable terms. So when you see the finger of blame pointed at pakistan, you assume this is an attack on muslims.

I agree it must be extremely frustrating to see the unprofessional attitude of the Indian media (I am one of its biggest critics). They are emotional, and rarely dispassionate. But you need to understand why the media and intelligentia are making these accusations.

As I'm typing this, President elect Obama is giving me hope. " Soverign nations have the right to protect themselves". Thank you.

Riaz Haq said...

My dear Indian friends and readers,

Please note the following line in my piece:

"There is also a lot of speculation as to the causes and culprits of the expanding scope and scale of terror the world is witnessing. Such speculation will likely continue as the governments of the world grapple with the rising threat to civilians everywhere in the world."

It seems that you are buying into the Indian government's and Indian media's conclusion, line, hook and sinker.

While Pakistan does have a serious problem, does it justify India's knee jerk response to all of their problems that could possibly have roots within Indian society? And your agreement with it without much thought?

Please do yourself a favor and spend some time reading and learning about the issues of terror and homegrown insurgencies in India and do not rule out any possibilities until there is a real investigation of Mumbai attacks by competent people.

Saadia said...

Please excuse me for I am about to present a very non-academic response but one that is simple and so obvious. The young terrorist at the station, whose pictures have been printed by every newspaper, is, by no means, a Pakistani. It might not appear significant to Westerners, but here in the sub-continent, it is quite easy to distinguish an Indian from a Pakistani. Also, the wrist bands being worn by this boy are not worn by Pakistani youth. They are distinctly Indian.

http://www.facebook.com/home.php?#/group.php?gid=100487685483&ref=nf

Riaz Haq said...

Here's another piece by Martha Nussbaum, also in LA Times:

Terrorism in India is by no means peculiar to Muslims. A string of recent incidents has been linked to Islamic groups, most of these with foreign ties and pertaining to Kashmir. However, the most bloody recent example of terrorism in India was the slaughter of as many as 2,000 Muslim civilians by Hindu right-wing mobs in the state of Gujarat over several months in 2002.

This horrendous pogrom was portrayed at the time as retaliation for an alleged Muslim torching of a train car carrying mostly Hindu passengers. Two independent inquiries have since concluded that the fire was, instead, a tragic accident caused by passengers' kerosene stoves.

http://www.latimes.com/news/opinion/la-oe-nussbaum30-2008nov30,0,5178593.story

Anonymous said...

The admission of Pakistani investigation agencies about the "involvement of Pakistani elements" in the Mumbai carnage puts most of the conspiracy theories put forth by our Pakistani friends above to rest. Does this admission change your opinions..I doubt... it won't because none of us seem to want to accept our faults.

Terrorism is in no way justifiable..be it preperated by a Hindu, a Muslim or a Christian. Only the barbaric would justify snuffing out innocent lives on any pretext.

Riaz Haq said...

Anon:

Like the Indian media, you are playing fast and loose with the facts when you say, "The admission of Pakistani investigation agencies about the "involvement of Pakistani elements" in the Mumbai carnage puts most of the conspiracy theories put forth by our Pakistani friends above to rest."

Here's how Robert McKay of NY Times describes Indian media coverage:

"Mr. Malik was careful to mention that his government believes that the attacks were mainly planned in India, but the Indian media was far more interested in the acknowledged links to Pakistan."

To read more, please go to:

http://www.riazhaq.com/2009/02/pakistan-accepts-indias-charges.html