Saturday, December 13, 2008

Pervez Hoodbhoy on Mumbai



"LeT (Lashkar-e-Tayyaba, accused of Mumbai attacks) is based around Lahore, which is on the Pakistan-India border, in a town called Muridke. This has a huge militant training and charity complex. LeT’s membership is mostly Punjabi, which makes it linguistically and culturally quite unsuited for fighting in Afghanistan. You could say that LeT is an India-specific, Kashmir-specific group. Indeed, over the years it has had many military successes in Kashmir against Indian forces. But LeT, like other militant groups in Pakistan, sees a nexus between Indians, Americans, and Israelis. Hence they are all seen as enemies and fair game", says Pakistan's Peace Activist Professor Pervez Hoodbhoy.

Cristina Otten of German E-zine Focus Online interviewed Dr. Pervez Hoodbhoy, Chairman of Physics Dept at Islamabad's Quaid-e-Azam University, following the Mumbai attacks. Here is the English translation of the text of the interview published in German.

Cristina Otten: Tensions between Pakistan and India have been growing after the Mumbai attacks. Are we close to a military escalation?

Pervez Hoodbhoy: In spite of vociferous demands by the Indian public, Manmohan Singh’s government has withstood the pressure to conduct crossborder strikes into Pakistan. Correspondingly, in spite of the bitter criticism by Islamic parties, Pakistan’s government has taken some action against the Lashkar-e-Tayyaba (LeT), the jihadist organization that is quite probably behind the attacks. For now, the tension has eased somewhat but another attack could push India over the fence.

CO: What makes the LeT so different from other militant groups? Is Pakistan really moving against it?

PH: LeT, one of the largest militant groups in Pakistan, was established over 15 years ago. It had the full support of the Pakistani military and Inter Services Intelligence (ISI) for over a decade because it focussed upon fighting Indian rule in Muslim Kashmir. Today it is one of the very few extremist groups left that does not attack the Pakistani arm and state; in contrast almost all others have turned into mortal enemies. We now hear that a few members of LeT, who were named by India, have been arrested. Time will tell whether this was a serious move, or if this was a ruse to ease the enormous pressure against Pakistan. If serious, then the Army and ISI will have earned the bitter enmity of yet another former ally. They are afraid of a repeat of their experience with Jaish-e-Muhammad, a formerly supported Islamic militant group that now is responsible for extreme brutalities, including torture and decapitations, of Pakistani soldiers captured in FATA. It’s a nightmarish situation for the Pakistan Army.

CO: How have Pakistanis reacted to the Mumbai massacre?

PH: The initial reaction was of sympathy. I did not see any celebrations, contrary to those I saw after 911. But then, as the Indian TV channels started accusing Pakistan and demanding that it be bombed in retaliation, the reaction turned to that of anger and then flat denial. Pakistanis did not want to accept that this attack was done by Pakistanis or had been launched from Pakistani soil. Subsequently one saw amazing mental calisthenics. Popular TV anchors, and their guests, invoked far-out conspiracy theories. Years ago, some of the same anchors had confidently (but wrongly) claimed that Kathmandu-Delhi Indian Airlines Flight 814 (IC814) had been hijacked by RAW to malign Pakistan. They had also ridiculed the notion that Pakistan was involved in the Kargil invasion. Now, pointing to the RSS hand in the Samjhota Express bombing, they are alternately ascribing the Mumbai attacks to radical Hindus, and to Jews and Americans. It is sad to see intelligent persons losing their marbles.

CO: Pakistan has always stressed that it will deliver the first nuclear strike if it feels threatened by India? Do you see any signs on the Pakistani sign to carry out its threat?

PH: About a week before the Mumbai massacre, President Asif Ali Zardari had given the assurance that Pakistan would not use nuclear weapons first. India had announced a no first use policy almost ten years ago. But Zardari is not taken seriously by the Pakistani generals who actually control the Bomb, and the Indian NFU declaration is frankly of no consequence. Cross-border raids by India could well ignite a conventional war. If that happens, all bets are off and it could escalate without warning into a nuclear conflict. For many years US defense strategists, belonging to various think tanks and war colleges, have been simulating conflicts between Pakistan and India. They say that a conventional war will almost certainly lead to a nuclear conclusion. Fear of nuclear weapons has made deterrence work. More accurately, deterrence has worked only thus far. No guarantees can be given for
the future.

CO: Why did the assassins choose India instead of committing attacks against Western allies in Afghanistan?

PH: LeT is based around Lahore, which is on the Pakistan-India border, in a town called Muridke. This has a huge militant training and charity complex. LeT’s membership is mostly Punjabi, which makes it linguistically and culturally quite unsuited for fighting in Afghanistan. You could say that LeT is an India-specific, Kashmir-specific group. Indeed, over the years it has had many military successes in Kashmir against Indian forces. But LeT, like other militant groups in Pakistan, sees a nexus between Indians, Americans, and Israelis. Hence they are all seen as enemies and fair game.

CO: What did the Mumbai terrorists want?

PH: No demands were made and all hostages were killed. So the purpose of the attack was never formally declared. On the other hand, the stated goals of LeT and similar organizations based in Pakistan leave little doubt. The attack clearly sought to hurt India’s economy and its newly acquired reputation as an economic powerhouse, and to create a climate of war between India and Pakistan. If Pakistan moves its
troops towards the eastern border the pressure on the Taliban in FATA, which is close to the western border, would be lessened. Still another reason would be to encourage pogroms against Muslims in India. This would swell the ranks of the extremists, and also have the added benefit of destabilizing both the Pakistani and Indian states. Finally, the attack was a means of releasing hatred against non-
Muslims.

CO: What differences and parallels do you see between the Mumbai attacks and the attack in the in Marriott Hotel in Islamabad?

PH: They were quite dissimilar in how they were executed. The Mumbai attacks were extremely intricate, used GPS and voice-over-internet protocols for communication purposes, involved extensive militar training, and probably required planning over a period of a year. The goal was to kill foreigners, particularly Jews and Americans, although Muslims were also collateral casualties. On the other hand, the Marriot bombing in Islamabad was a relatively simple affair involving a single dump-truck with a suicide bomber, and its victims were principally Muslims. The basic purpose, however, was similar – to destabilize the Pakistani state, take revenge on the US (2 of the 58 killed were US marines), and raise the cost of war in Afghanistan and FATA.

CO: In the West experts talk about a new dimension of terror in India. Do you also see tight connections between Lashkar-e- Taiba and al-Qaida?

PH: One is naturally tempted to guess a nexus between LeT and Al-Qaida. Of course, they do share similar goals. But in the world that extremist inhabit, mere similarity is insufficient – it has to be much closer than that and small ideological differences are amplified out of proportion. As yet there is no proof of joint operations or cooperation. So presently this is no more than a plausible hypothesis.

CO: What role does Kashmir play in the current conflict?

PH: Since 1987, Kashmir has been in a state of upheaval. Fraudulent elections conducted by India led to widespread resentment, followed by a horrifically bloody crackdown by Indian security forces. Pakistan’s army saw opportunity in this, and waged a covert war in Kashmir using jihadists to “bleed India with a thousand cuts”. The United Jihad Council, which oversees the activities of an estimated 22 Pakistan-based organizations, acts outside of the domain of the Pakistani state but it has had active support from the country’s army and intelligence agencies. The Kargil conflict in 1999 brought matters to a head when General Musharraf initiated a war with the assistance of jihadist forces. This inflicted severe damage on Indian forces but Pakistan was ultimately forced to withdraw. Jihadists subsequently celebrated General Musharraf as a hero, and vilified Nawaz Sharif for a cowardly
surrender.

CO: In January 2002, General Musharraf had declared that no groups on Pakistani territory would be permitted to launch cross-border attacks. Was this promise fulfilled?

PH: Subsequently there indeed was a decline in cross-border infiltrations, and some lessening of the covert support given by Pakistani agencies. But this was far from zero and they maintained a strong presence. On a personal note: soon after the terrible October 8, 2005 earthquake, I had gone to various areas of Azad Kashmir for relief work. There I found the Lashkar-i-Tayyaba, Jaish-e-Muhammad, Sipah-i-Sahaba,
and other banned jihadist organizations operating openly and freely using military-style six-wheeled vehicles, as well as displaying their weapons. Their relief efforts were far better organized than that of the Pakistan army and, in fact, they were pulling injured soldiers out of the rubble. When I mentioned this fact to General Musharraf a few months later at a Kashmir peace conference, he was very angry at me for discussing a tabooed subject. On the one hand, we have radical extremists in Pakistan who want to bring strict Islamic law into force and demonize the West. On the other hand, however, the government presents itself as a friend and ally of the United States.

CO: Could you please describe this antagonism and explain where it originates from?
What does this tell us about the growth of extremism in Pakistan?

PH: Radical extremism is the illegitimate offspring of a union between the United States under Ronald Reagan, and Pakistan under General Zia ul-Haq. Twenty five years ago, the two countries had joined up to harness Islamic fighters for expelling the Soviets from Afghanistan. The US was quite happy to see radical Islam spreading because it served its goal at the time. Simultaneously, Pakistan saw a major
social transformation under General Zia. Prayers in government departments were deemed compulsory, floggings were carried out publicly, punishments were meted out to those who did not fast in Ramadan, selection for university academic posts required that the candidate demonstrate knowledge of Islamic teachings, and jihad was
declared essential for every Muslim. But today the government is in open conflict with the radicals. It has to deal with a spontaneous groundswell of Islamic zeal. The notion of an Islamic state – as yet in some amorphous and diffuse form – is more popular today than ever before as people look desperately for miracles to rescue a failing state. Even though the government and military in Pakistan are allied formally to the US, the people are strongly against the US.

CO: What parts of the Pakistani society support al-Qaida and Osama bin Laden?

PH: Baluchistan and Sind are far less supportive than Punjab or the NWFP. The amazing fact is that parts of Pakistan’s upper class – which is very Westernized but also very anti-Western – also support the Islamists. I find it tragic that there is no uproar in the country when Taliban suicide bombers target mosques, funerals, hospitals, girls schools, and slaughter policemen and soldiers. People have become so anti-American that it has blinded them to these atrocities. Even the
Pakistani left is thoroughly confused and mistakes the Taliban as anti-imperialist
fighters.

CO: And where do you stand on this matter? Do you see anything that the Islamists have to offer?

PH: The people of Pakistan need and deserve everything that people everywhere else want. This means food, jobs, houses to live in, a system of justice and governance, and protection of life and property. Equally, people need freedom of worship and thought, education for both males and females, and protection of their freedom as
summarized in the Universal Declaration of Human Rights. These are everybody’s primary needs. After this – a distinct second – come matters that deal with national sovereignty, foreign policy, various global issues, etc. Frankly, I cannot see Pakistan’s Islamists offering anything positive. They are against population planning, educating females, tolerating other sects or religions, etc. They neither know the outside world, nor want to know it. All they know – and know well – is
how to make war. Fortunately, as their rout in the recent elections showed, most Pakistanis do not want to live under their narrow doctrines and belief system.

CO: President Asif Ali Zardari promised to hunt terrorists and to destroy terror camps in Pakistan? But his affirmations seem to be halfhearted. Can’t he do more or doesn’t he want do more?

PH: It is not up to him to do more. The real power lies with the Pakistan Army, which is still undecided as to who the real enemy is. The Army has lost nearly two thousand soldiers in battles with extremists. But it still cannot convince itself that they constitute an existentialist threat to Pakistan. One can understand this reluctance. Over the years, officers and soldiers were recruited into the Army on the basis that they were defenders of Islam and would always fight India. Instead they now have to fight forces that claim to be even better defenders of Islam. Worse, they are no longer being called upon to fight India, which is what they were trained for. So there is confusion and demoralization, and practically zero public understanding or support. Therefore, Pakistani soldiers are not fighting well at all in FATA. Many have surrendered without a fight. This is the first time in my life that I feel the Army should be supported, but only to the extent that it fights the extremists without killing innocents. Unfortunately, the Army’s current tactic is to flatten villages suspected of harbouring terrorists. The collateral damage is huge and completely unacceptable. Pakistan has armed and financed the Taliban after the US invasion of Afghanistan. The CIA pays Pakistan to arrest al-Qaeda operatives, but Pakistan uses the money to fund the Taliban resurgence in northwest Pakistan.

CO: Any changes under the new president?

PH: It will take time – and perhaps still more suffering – to kick an old habit. Even though the Army is being literally slaughtered by the Taliban, it continues to make a distinction between the “good” and “bad” Taliban. The good ones are, by definition, those who attack only US/Nato or Indian interests in Afghanistan, but do not attack the Pakistan Army. The good ones are seen as essential for having a
friendly Afghanistan when, as will surely happen some day, the Americans withdraw. Among the good Taliban are jihadist leaders such as Jalaludin Haqqani. On the other hand, Baitullah Mehsud or Maulana Fazlullah, are considered bad Taliban because they attack the Army and the state. Interestingly, Army inspired propaganda paints the bad
Taliban as Indian agents – which is quite ridiculous. This false differentiation is the real reason for the Army’s ambivalence and inability to deal effectively with the Taliban menace.

CO: Pakistan is a nuclear state. Should we fear that one day the Taliban or al-Qaida could get access to the nuclear arsenal?

PH: I am more worried about extremists having access to nuclear materials, particularly highly enriched uranium, rather than completed weapon. Because of secrecy requirements, it is very difficult for outsiders to monitor the output of uranium enrichment or plutonium reprocessing plants. Interestingly, we are seeing a shift away from nuclear weapons in the West. The unusability of nuclear weapons by national states is being recognized even by mainstream politicians in the US and Europe because they no longer guarantee the monopoly of power. This makes possible the ultimate de-legitimization of nuclear weapons, and hence winding down of fissile material production globally. This may be our best long-term hope of countering the nuclear terrorist threat, whether by Al-Qaida or other terrorist groups. Meanwhile, in the short term, great care must be given to watching over suspicious nuclear activities.

CO: What should India do and what is your forecast for the region?

PH: India should not attack Pakistan. This would be counter-productive in every possible way. Even if it wins a war, it will be a pyrrhic victory. On the other hand, a small attack can be no more than a pin-prick. This would do more harm than good because it will unite the army and the jihadists who, at this juncture in history, are in serious confrontation with each other. Worse, even a small attack could lead to large response, and then escalate out of control. Nuclear armed
countries simply cannot afford skirmishes. I think India’s demand for action against jihadist groups is entirely legitimate, but this must be done by Pakistan, which is susceptible to international pressure. To get rid of militants and extremists – whether Muslim or Hindu – is in the best interests of both Pakistan and India.

CO: Will Pakistani extremists win or can the West still bring about a rebound?

PH: It’s a grim situation but not irreversible. The invasion of Iraq, and US imperial policies over the last decades, created a hatred for Americans that ultimately translated into support for all who fight them. Most Pakistanis do not approve of the Taliban’s fundamental and primitivist social agenda. But, by virtue of fighting the Americans, popular sentiment is still with them. So, reducing anti-Americanism is the key. One hopes that Barack Obama will be able to undo some of the harm his country did to Pakistan. Let’s see. But basically it is for Pakistanis – not Indians or anybody else – to fight it out. We Pakistanis have to realize that this is a war for our very existence as a civilized nation. Western support for Pakistan must be very judicious and not too overt. Similarly, isolating Pakistan, or inflicting harsh punitive measures, could easily backfire. The Taliban and allied extremists have a real chance of winning in Pakistan. The state is already crumbling in places and it could disintegrate quite rapidly, leaving the fanatics in charge.

Dr. Pervez Hoodbhoy is chairman of the physics department at Quaid-e-Azam University in Islamabad, a frequent commentator on nuclear and security matters, and a member of the Permanent Monitoring Panel on Terrorism of the World Federation of Scientists.

Here is a comprehensive video on the origins of Kashmir dispute and the positions of various parties as presented by Dr. Pervez Hoodbhoy:



Related Links:

Mastermind of Mumbai Massacre

Pakistan, US Act in Mumbai's Aftermath

Can India "Do A Lebanon" in Pakistan?

ISI Rogues

Hoodbhoy on India

17 comments:

Anonymous said...

Dear Sir,
I had the opportunity to meet Dr Pervez Hoodbhoy when he was giving lectures all over India. As a scientist, he came across as a brilliant man and as a peace activist, a very thought full man. We need more people like him on both sides.

Thanks,
Your blog reader

prateek said...

I would like to know that what should India do at present?Wait for another blast?For u it might be queston of rason and sanity but for me it is question of challenge.Those terrorists are challenging us,mocking us that we will bomb u and u can not do any thing about it.It is not time for sanity.Even Sri krishna lost is his patience after 100 mistakes.We are only humans.I do not mean that we should attack Pakistan?But if Pakistan wants to go to war with india for 20 terrorists it is their problem. Their is a time to be humanitarian and a time to be patriotic.Now is time to be patriotic.And for all Pakistanis,they do not feel any remorse all ur misconceptions will be blown if u see an indo-pak debate on Youtube comments.We hate each other.If pakistan wants to curb terrorism it should give Daud and masood azhar to us it will be huge gesture and if they are not giveing them to us than this means that average pakistani also wants to save them(as pakistan is a democracy or is it).And what proof does pakistan wants we will give them statement of live terrorists they will say heis lying,we will give them locaton of terrorist camps they will be moved,come on how can pakistan who is accused can become judge.Now comes my anwser to what india should do.Complete isolation of pakistan.India should propose that pakistan be expelled from UNO if not India should quit from it.Sme should be case for NAM,SAARC,Commonwealth,ICC etc.India should not trade wit any country who dealing with pakistan.Every pakistani artist should br thrown out of india.We should nationalise companies who are working in pakitan.This caan become biggest attack on them without firing abullet.

s said...

I only hope Pak establishment has more people like Pervez and India too listen to sane voices like his, rather then engage in dialogues with fanatics

Ray Lightning said...

Here is one smart analysis. Dr Pervez Hoodbhoy should be brought in to serve for Pakistan's diplomacy with India.

Riaz Haq said...

I know and admire Dr. Hoodbhoy as a Pakistani intellectual and an idealist striving for peace and end of terrorism in Pakistan, South Asia and the world. He has contributed well to the debate about higher education in Science and Technology in Pakistan. He is very independent, articulate, fearless and highly respected by many in Pakistan and the rest of the world. Though I do not always agree with him, I do think his voice adds to an intelligent and useful discussion and debate that is good for Pakistani and Muslim societies. He makes us all think about what we are doing and why and forces us to understand the consequences of our actions.

Anonymous said...

Good guy, I like him but on some issues in this interview he has gone tangential...

Anonymous said...

At least Dr. Parvez is able to provide world a neutral and true view of pakistan to the world. He's flogged by pakistan's general population but he's far better than intellectual morons like Zaid Hamid. i would say he's definitely a courageous man in such a polarised pakistan's radical society.
please watch his extremely real documentary over kashmir issue:
http://video.google.com/videoplay?docid=5799288985759968523

Waqqas Akhtar said...

I find that in this interview, "Pervez Hoodbhoy on Mumbai" Mr. Hoodbhoy has again made a 'collection of claims' (as he often does) without ever giving any of these a rational thought:

>> "Pakistan's government has moved against the Lashkar-e-Tayyaba (LeT), the jihadist organization that is almost certainly behind the attacks..."
-- "Almost certainly"? What does that mean? Is it almost? Is it certain? How do you know if it is, Mr Hoodbhoy? Please Sir, give us those solid proof that you happen to have up your sleeve, will you?

>> "Popular TV anchors, and their guests, [are] invoking far-out conspiracy theories..."
-- Oh, right. You know the real truth. How about we listen to it from you, for a change?

>> "It is sad to see intelligent persons losing their marbles..."
-- Yes, indeed. But it's a lot more sad a sight to see a marble-less guy desperately trying to prove himself intelligent. That's down-right pathetic.

>> "US defence strategists, belonging to various think tanks and war colleges, have been simulating conflicts between Pakistan and India ..."
-- Okay thus far. And why are you always repeating the exact words that they put in your mouth? If they told you that Pakistan and India can go into a nuclear war, do you really have to be that dumb to tell others that it will happen because they said so ?! Any 2nd-grader knows that two nuclear-armed countries can get into a nuclear war. Thank you for sounding scared as a kitten. Time to grow some organs!

>> "More accurately, deterrence has worked only thus far. No guarantees can be given for the future."
-- Thank you Sir. But we never asked your kind services for being a guaranter. Stop putting your posterior where it doesn't belong, will you? And again, a 3rd-grader out there, would take less time to comprehend that a nuclear bomb is a weapon and not just for use in fireworks. It shouldn't take a grown-up idiot to tell Cristina that!

>> "... but LeT, like other militant groups in Pakistan, sees a nexus between Indians, Americans, and Israelis. Hence they are all seen as enemies and fair game..."
-- And you happen to know those details, because... ?

>> "Mumbai attack ... the goal was to kill foreigners, particularly Jews and Americans, although Muslims were also collateral casualties."
-- Are you implying, Muslims are expendable? Or, that, it is in nobody's strategic interest to kill Muslims? Strange claim professor! For, from the looks of global news more muslims are killed all around the globe every year by non-muslims than the otherway around! Since more Muslims died, how about showing some humility to the dead? If somebody kicks it, would you use the word "collateral" for your own sorry ass? How about accepting that ALL of them were EQUALLY targeted? How about coming out of your shell of inferiority-complex and your hatred towards Islam?

>> "On a personal note: soon after the terrible October 8, 2005 earthquake, I had gone to various areas of Azad Kashmir for relief work ... there were Lashkar-i-Tayyaba, Jaish-e-Muhammad, Sipah-i-Sahaba, and other banned jihadist organizations"
-- Nice work. I did that too and so did thousands (if not millions) of Pakistanis from all parts of Pakistan. Please tell me, were we there to judge others? Were we there to see who's pulling whom out and who's wearing what and driving which vehicle? I thought that working in a relief effort is a noble cause, far higher than passing petty judgements, far higher than to be used for making political claims. I thought, the whole idea of volunteer work is to NOT take credit. But then, that's me. And thousands of other 'ordinary' people. I should have known better that, 'special' people don't even go to relief efforts unless they have something to make out of it, right? I saw some of these very men, that you are so hatefully spitting at, work 24-hour non-stop. I saw them share their own food and shelter with the victims. I saw them cry with tears at the sight of evacuation of dead bodies as if the ones who died were their own. I saw them as helping hands of mercy and NO, I did not see them as militants or the military, and NO, I did not see them as terrorists or islamists, and NO, I didn't immediately classify them into brand-name groups and jihdists ...
But then, I guess, I was too busy being a volunteer in a relief effort, while you probably had more time at your hands and other priorities in your mind!

>> "This is the first time in my life that I feel the Army should be supported ..."
-- Oh, I see. And when did your life begin, yesterday? What were you "feeling" like before you had this "kind" change of heart? And just by the way, I am yet to see a memo from the Army stating how much they were dying to get the support of a self-serving elitist.

>> "Pakistani soldiers are not fighting well at all in FATA."
-- So, that's the support you're talking about? Right. I can see now, why has Army never needed your enthusiastic support. How about you stop being so girlish and go fight "well at all" instead of being a mouth-piece for Indian press infront of confused westerners?

>> "This false differentiation is the real reason for the Army's ambivalence and inability to deal effectively with the Taliban menace."
>> "I am more worried about extremists having access to nuclear materials, particularly highly enriched uranium..."
>> "The unusability of nuclear weapons by national states is being recognized even by mainstream politicians in the US and Europe..."
>> "I think India's demand for action against jihadist groups is entirely legitimate..."

-- Stop licking, professor. Enough, Sir. I can tell you this much that the foreign masters you so are bending over to please, aren't making you the next Zardari.

IMHO, this interview smells of I, I and I. And that's the most pungent smell there is.
Regards,
Waqqas.

Riaz Haq said...

In Greek mythology, Cassandra is cursed. She always speaks the truth, but she is not believed.

Andy Grove, the successful former CEO of Intel where I worked for many years, talks about the value of Cassandras in his book titled "Only the Paranoid Survive." I concur with Andy and I believe both India and Pakistan need more Cassandras like Arundhati Roy and Pervez Hoodbhoy to loudly speak what they see as the truth to us in South Asia.

We can disregard Cassandras at our own peril.

Anonymous said...

In a perfect world, India would follow policies that would support democratic forces in Pakistan, since a truly democratic Pakistan (where the Army, ISI, etc. are under civilian control) is in the long term interest of India, South Asia and the rest of the world.

However, the response from Pakistan so far is simply too much to stomach. Instead of acting against the perpetrators of the Mumbai attach they ask for "evidence" and "proof".

Some commentators have suggested that the way for India and Pakistan to climb down from their current positions is for India to provide the "evidence". Pakistan could then act without seemingly being bullied into doing so. But what has happened so far? The surviving terrorist, Kasab, has already spilled the beans. British and Pakistani newspapers (including Dawn) have spoken to Kasab's parents and confirmed his identity. The authorities in Pakistan have simply ignored this inconvenient fact and have cordoned off Kasab's village to prevent further questioning. To this day, they claim that he is not Pakistani. Whoever is calling the shots in Pakistan clearly has no intention of acting against the perpetrators. Any "evidence" that India provides will be labeled as suspect and rejected. (Imagine if no terrorist survived!)

Pakistani men were trained – over many years -- on Pakistani soil. The training was provided by elements in Pakistan's military and intelligence agencies. The training and recruiting centers operate openly across Pakistan. The terrorists were given guns, bombs, ammunition, maps, electronics and intelligence. They were transported across the ocean and dropped off a few miles away from Mumbai onto inflatable boats. While they killed innocent civilians, they (verifiably) spoke to their handlers in Pakistan on cell phones.

Rational citizens (like Mr. Hoodbhoy) would be disgusted that this could happen in their country and would take all necessary action to prevent it from happening again. But instead of being disgusted by the terrorist acts, Pakistanis are coming up with wild conspiracy theories and deflecting attention towards irrelevant issues. No doubt, India has many problems that it must address (including mistreatment and inequities among minorities) – but these are for India to address and Pakistan has no business in these affairs.

There are a few (very few) rational voices in Pakistan's media, but mostly they are espousing the same rhetoric as the politicians. Taken together, the voices from Pakistan’s media, politicians, retired generals, analysts, etc., must be taken as the attitude of Pakistan as a nation. At best, Pakistan is in complete denial. At worst, Pakistan will not act against forces they see as assets against their perpetual enmity towards India. Even if these forces come into Indian cities to wreak havoc and kill indiscriminately.

India should call a permanent end to dialogue with Pakistan and assume the same hostile stance that Pakistan takes towards India. All trade, travel and other connections should end permanently. Open warfare is not an option as long as Pakistan still has nuclear weapons. So India should seek to weaken Pakistan by all available methods (including political pressure, trade, covert operations) until Pakistan changes in some demonstratable fashion, or until Pakistan is un-fanged of its nuclear weapons. There are really no other alternatives that will protect India and its citizens.

manoj said...

I had always admired how Mr.Pervez Hoodhbhoy for speaks truth even in extreme conditions.

Riaz Haq said...

According to a Times of India report, Kasab has answered the judge's questions in Marathi language.

Another newspaper, Indian Express, has reported that Bal Thackeray is asking why others in Mumbai can not learn Marathi if Kassab can?

Riaz Haq said...

Here's an excerpt from a post by Soutik Biswas of BBC on rising Kashmir protests against Indian rule:

This is clearly beginning to look like the biggest challenge to Indian rule in Kashmir in more than a decade. The protests have also begun to spread outside the valley - some recent ones have taken place in Muslim-dominated pockets of Jammu, the bit of Kashmir where Hindus are in the majority and which has been peaceful so far.

Most believe that the government has itself to blame for the current mess in Kashmir. The common perception is that it didn't fix the leaking roofs when the sun was shining in the valley - the months of relative peace, booming tourist traffic. Now the authorities are groping around for administrative solutions to fix the festering wounds - they are under pressure to water down or even scrap the draconian Armed Forces Special Powers Act or to move security forces out of the bigger towns.

But most believe that this kind of tinkering, however important, would not be enough. The time has come for the government to think big - and be imaginative - and launch the beginnings of a political solution to bring peace to the valley. Bringing the hardline separatists on board will be key to any solution - the octogenarian separatist leader Syed Ali Shah Geelani, by default, is the only leader with credibility among people in the valley because of his consistently obdurate pro-Pakistan, pro-secessionist stand. Some believe that India's cussedness in refusing to talk to Mr Geelani is costing Kashmir dear - the leader appeared to have mellowed, leaving Pakistan out of the equation in his recent roadmap to restore peace in the valley. Pakistan could perhaps be worked into the matrix of a political solution at some later stage. But for the moment, India needs to show initiative and come up with some guarantees and time-bound plans to foster political reconciliation and sow the seeds of a political solution. Without this, the stone-throwing protesters may give way to Kalashnikov-wielding rebels from within the valley and across the border, in a return to full-blown bloody militancy.


http://www.bbc.co.uk/blogs/thereporters/soutikbiswas/2010/09/kashmir_on_the_brink.html

Riaz Haq said...

Some 700 people have been killed in more than half a dozen militant attacks in Mumbai since 1993, including the horrific assault in November 2008. And the violence shows no signs of abating, according to Soutik Biswas of the BBC:

The most commonly peddled narrative is that by attacking its much touted financial and entertainment capital, you deal a body blow to India and get global media attention. But that is only a small part of the story. Many residents will tell you that Mumbai began going downhill in early 1993 when it convulsed in religious rioting and murder for two weeks following the demolition of the Babri mosque by Hindu fanatics in December 1992. At least 900 people died, mostly Muslims. Two months after the riots, the underworld set off series of bombs to avenge the riots, killing more than 250 people. Many of them were Muslims too.

That is when the rule of law broke down, many say irretrievably. A 1998 two-volume report on the religious riots was ignored by successive governments, who failed to prosecute politicians and policemen involved in the rioting. At the same time, the authorities were seen to proceed swiftly with prosecuting those involved in the bombings, leading to allegations that the government was anti-Muslim. The seeds of mistrust between the two largest communities in India's most cosmopolitan city had been firmly planted.

The image of Mumbai as a liberal city ruled by law and reason has long turned out to be a chimera, according to Gyan Prakash, author of Mumbai Fables, a much acclaimed book on the restless city. Over the years, say many analysts, the state's authority has been eroded as a nexus of greedy politicians, a thriving underworld, unscrupulous property developers and a discredited police force seem to have been ruling the roost, undermining institutions.

Last month, gunmen shot dead the city's leading crime journalist on a rainy morning and zipped away openly on their motorbikes. A block of flats meant for war widows was allegedly grabbed by politicians, retired army officers and other such privileged folks, until the courts stepped in. "Conspiracies hatched by politicians, builders, criminals, Hindu militants and Muslim dons appeared to be the underlying dynamic of the city. Anger and violence ruled the street," wrote Mr Prakash of the city in the mid-1990s. Not much has changed - the poisonous cocktail endures, and makes the city easy to attack. The rich in Mumbai, as a friend says, live with one foot in New York and one foot in the city. The poor and the middle-class bleed.

Behind the deceptive facade of its glitzy nightlife, fancy ocean-front flats owned by film stars and businessmen, and India's most expensive building, owned by its richest man, Mumbai is a tired and bitter city, being eaten up from within. The majority of its people live in slums, and millions live on the streets. This cannot make for a very happy place, and the city's "resilient spirit" has now become the cruellest Indian cliche. And what attracts religious extremists to launch attacks here? They are appalled, says the city's most famous chronicler, Suketu Mehta, that Mumbai stands for "lucre, profane dreams and indiscriminate openness".

Many believe the city's explosive growth - Mumbai is expected to be home to 23 million people by 2015 - is driving it towards urban and social extremes. "If Mumbai is the future of civilisation on the planet," Mr Mehta famously wrote, "then God help us." In many ways, India's richest - and most vulnerable - city is also its most dystopic. For me, it conjures up images, all at once, of wealthy Manhattan, lawless Chicago during the 1920s, and the most infamous fictional city, Gotham.


http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/world-south-asia-14140991

Riaz Haq said...

Mumbai not equipped to handle terror: Times of India

Maharashtra chief minister Prithviraj Chavan's contentious statement that the Congress should have retained the home department has sparked off a row in political circles, particularly in the NCP, which holds the portfolio. State NCP president Madhukar Pichad and home minister R R Patil reacted sharply to the statement, calling it "unfortunate".

Chavan also said Mumbai was ill-equipped to tackle terror. He told TOI on Friday that for over 15 minutes after the bomb blasts, he was unable to get in touch with Mumbai police commissioner Arup Patnaik or any senior police officer or bureaucrat. "There was a complete jam in the mobile network," he said. "Even the wireless network was not functioning, since it works only within a limited radius. I have taken it up with the Centre. I am sure we will soon have a VHF dedicated network exclusively for the state government. We have decided to provide satellite phones to key IPS officials and bureaucrats."

What did he have to say about the blasts showing up the government's lack of preparedness? Chavan admitted that owing to rampant red-tapism and procedural wrangles, his government was not able to install around 5,000 CCTV cameras and was unable to procure sensitive weapons, bullet-proof jackets and security equipment. "We will install the CCTVs across the metropolis in a time-bound period," he said. "As far as the procurement of weapons and equipment goes, I have personally spoken to Prime Minister Manmohan Singh and home minister P Chidambaram on Thursday."
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Chavan reiterated that there were no intelligence inputs from the Centre and that the Mumbai police and crime branch had received no information on the possibility of a terror strike. "We had no information," he said. "But in view of the serial bomb blasts, we will redraft our strategy for gathering intelligence." Another thing he felt needed to be redrafted was protocol norms for visitors to hospitals during crises. "My senior cabinet colleagues had suggested some regulations so that visits to hospitals could be restricted. In the last two days, we found that hundreds of persons visited the hospitals where the blast victims were; as a result, the doctors were unable to concentrate on their work. We will soon come out with new norms," he said.

And finally, what about the politicisation of the police force, which, after the blasts, has been at the receiving end of criticism for having corroded the police? "I am not aware of the policy in the past, but after I took over the reins on November 11 last year, the entire process has been transparent," Chavan said. "There is absolutely no politics in postings and transfers."


http://timesofindia.indiatimes.com/city/mumbai/Mumbai-not-equipped-to-tackle-terror-says-Prithviraj-Chavan/articleshow/9241670.cms

Riaz Haq said...

Here's a Hindustan Times report on India's special intelligence unit for covert ops in Pakistan:

The military intelligence unit set up by former army chief General VK Singh was involved in sensitive covert operations in Pakistan and was even on the trail of 26/11 mastermind and Lashkar-e-Taiba chief Hafiz Saeed, officials associated with it have told HT.

“Our main task was to combat the rising trend of state-sponsored terrorism by the ISI and we had developed contacts across the Line of Control in a bid to infiltrate Hafiz Saeed’s inner circle,” an official who served with the controversial Technical Services Division (TSD) said.

Asked for an official response, an army spokesperson said, “The unit has been disbanded. Details of the unit, which was the subject matter of an inquiry, are only known to the Chief and a few senior officers. It is for the defence ministry now to initiate any further inquiries.”

related story

Govt vetting report on ex-Gen VK Singh's snoop unit
CBI probe likely into functioning of secret unit set up by VK Singh
The spook unit was set up after the 26/11 Mumbai attacks on a defence ministry directive asking for the creation of covert capability.

Army documents, perused by HT, reveal the senior-most officers signed off on the formation of this unit. File No A/106/TSD and 71018/ MI give details of approvals by the Director General Military Intelligence, vice-chief and chief of army staff.

The TSD — disbanded after allegations that it spied on defence ministry officials through off-the-air interceptors — was raised as a strategic force multiplier for preparing, planning and executing special operations “inside depth areas of countries of interest and countering enemy efforts within the country by effective covert means”.

But it then got caught in an internecine battle between army chiefs. The TSD – which reported directly to Gen VK Singh — used secret service funds to initiate a PIL against current chief General Bikram Singh. As reported by HT in October 2012, secret funds were paid to an NGO to file the PIL, in a bid to stall Bikram Singh’s appointment as chief.

However, covert ops were the unit’s essential mandate and deniability was built into it and it reads, “The proposed organization (TSD) will enable the military intelligence directorate to provide a quick response to any act of state-sponsored terrorism with a high degree of deniability.”

Its task was to carry out special missions and “cover any tracks leading to the organisation”.

Though covert operations were formally shut down by IK Gujral when he was PM in 1997, sources reveal the TSD carried out several such operations within and outside the country — such as Op Rehbar 1, 2 and 3 (in Kashmir), Op Seven Sisters (Northeast) and Op Deep Strike (Pakistan).

Controversy is dogging the unit once again after disclosures in The Indian Express that secret service funds were also used to destabilize the Omar Abdullah government in Jammu and Kashmir. The BJP has raised questions over the timing of the disclosures. While the defence ministry has had the inquiry report since March, the revelations have come soon after Singh shared the stage with the saffron party’s PM candidate Narendra Modi last Sunday.


http://www.hindustantimes.com/India-news/NewDelhi/Army-spook-unit-carried-out-covert-ops-in-Pakistan/Article1-1125008.aspx

Riaz Haq said...

Here's a piece by Ananya Vajpeyi on exceptions to Indian "constitutional democracy":

By enforcing extraordinary laws, by sending in armed forces, by granting impunity to soldiers and paramilitaries for their actions against armed or unarmed civilians, by denying citizens redress, justice or compensation, by creating a war-like situation for a population that has political, social, cultural and economic grievances possible to address without force, it is the state that sets aside the Constitution. The Indian state has done this too many times, in too many places, and for too long.

It is time for citizens in the so-called ‘normal’ parts of the country to consider how they want to defend their Constitution against such misuse and ill-treatment by the state, a procedure that leaves millions of people exposed to both everyday as well as excessive violence, and ultimately turns them against India. If the Indian Union sees any attrition to its territory in the coming years on account of separatism and civil strife (not such an unlikely scenario as hawkish policy-makers like to believe), this will have come to pass at least partly because the state allowed the cancer of exception to eat away at the body politic, and did not administer the medicine of constitutional reinstatement and restitution in time. It bears repeating that periodic exercises in the electoral process do not always prove to be a sufficient counterweight to the toxic effects of the AFSPA, even if elections are relatively free and fair (a tough challenge), and even if significant percentages of the relevant populations do turn out to vote.

The state’s reasoning for why military, paramilitary and police must replace civil agencies in the work of everyday governance, a step which can and does go horribly wrong, is that disruptive violence (from secessionist and insurgent groups) has to be met with restorative counter-violence (from the state) in order to ensure overall security for the population, and preserve the integrity of the Union of India. Defenders of the AFSPA insist that this is a sound rationale. But inevitably, questions arise: What are the limits of the immunity that such an extraordinary law grants to the armed forces, when does the justifiable control of terror become overkill, and when should a quantitative assessment about the necessary degree of force give way to a qualitative judgment about whether force is necessary at all, over and above alternative – peaceful – means of addressing the situation?

There appears to be a dire need for a system of checks-and-balances, perhaps also originating from the Constitution, to be instituted, so that the explicitly democratic mandate of the Indian republic may be strengthened against an always lurking authoritarian tendency (a legacy of the post-colonial state’s colonialist and imperialist predecessor).

http://udayprakash05.blogspot.com/2010/11/why-people-of-india-are-skeptical.html