Saturday, December 5, 2009

Looking Back At Mumbai Terror Attacks

Guest Post by Rakesh Mani

Many predicted that last year's terrorist assault on Mumbai would prove a turning point in India's struggle against terrorism. But a year later the lessons learnt, and measures taken, are as ambiguous as ever.

Aside from a freshly formed Rapid Strike Unit that was brought out on parade last week, there is no real evidence that the country is better organized for a similar attack. Progress on the Mumbai probe is equally opaque; seven people were charged recently in Pakistan in relation to the attacks, but it is unclear if they are the masterminds or mere pawns in a complex political web.

When bombs ravaged other Indian cities, middle-class India was never directly harmed. The Mumbai attacks were closer to the bone. Perhaps for the first time, the well-heeled became the victims. Mumbai became about "people like us".

Yet despite all the anger, the protest-marches and the sloganeering, more than half of Mumbai did not bother to turn up at the voting booths for the Lok Sabha elections in May. And in the recently concluded Maharashtra state elections, the usual suspects have been returned to power by the masses. What happened to all the rage?

Politicians and intelligence bureaus have admitted to being ill-equipped and underprepared — which is more than we can say for India's much-trumpeted private media outlets.

Days after the tragedy, India's hyperbolic TV channels were stirring mass anger and goading the government towards war with Pakistan. Meanwhile it was the Pakistani media that exposed Ajmal Kasab's national identity — a fact that was being denied by Islamabad at the time. Few in the Indian media have paused to applaud the courage of their fellow journalists across the border.

Sadly, that is not the Indian media's only deficiency. They have failed to own up to their many faults in their coverage of last year's attack.

A year later, they are silent on allegations that their newsroom debates pushed India to the brink of war — which could have had severe implications for regional security. They make no mention of their live telecasts of police movements and reactions being seen and used by the terrorists themselves. As indeed they were, according to a recent documentary.

Dan Reed's explosive documentary Terror in Mumbai — Dispatches gives us video testimony from Kasab right after he was captured and actual CCTV footage that is peppered with audio intercepts between the terrorists and their handlers. Throughout the attack, the handlers keep their boys abreast of what the media is saying. At one point they even warn them of approaching helicopters which they could see live on TV.

No major Indian news channel has given coverage to Reed's documentary — presumably because its content shows how much the terrorists profited from the live coverage. The media became the eyes and ears of the terrorists, allowing them to follow frame by frame how their operation was unfolding.

Reed's work is both embarrassing and damaging for these Murdochian channels that wage daily battles for TRP ratings. Given the severity of this affair, the media has to chin up, give play to the documentary and apologize for their obtrusive coverage which left people endangered and disturbed.

Apologies aside, there is a way for the media to redeem themselves. That would be to explore the uncomfortable, and important, questions being raised by the widow of Hemant Karkare, the late head of Maharashtra's Anti-Terror Squad (ATS), who was killed under inexplicable circumstances on the first night of the three-day carnage. Kavita Karkare asks where her late husband's bullet-proof jacket disappeared to — videos show him wearing it earlier that evening.

Karkare was investigating terror attacks by several Hindu extremist factions when he was killed. Put in charge of the ATS after it drew lots of criticism for its functioning, he showed he meant business. He led investigations and filed a thick charge-sheet against several Hindutva terrorists before he was killed.

For the last year, several observers have pointed to inconsistencies in accounts of Hemant Karkare's killing. An author on a progressive website laid these bare:

"The earliest reports said that Karkare was killed at the Taj. If this was false, why were we told so? And why was the story later changed? Was it because it conflicted with eyewitness accounts? Indeed, screening his final moments, CNN-IBN ran footage of Karkare putting on a helmet and bullet-proof vest, and then a shootout at Metro, where an unconscious man who looks like Karkare and is wearing the same light shirt and dark trousers (but without any blood on his shirt or the terrible wounds we saw on his face at his funeral) is being pulled into a car."

These inconsistencies, and the resulting questions, are stories that the Indian media should be pursuing and probing obstinately. If not for playing the people's sentinel, then perhaps to make amends for their inadvertent complicity in the apocalyptic events of November last.

And if they don't, what answers can India offer Kavita Karkare?

Rakesh Mani is a 2009 Teach For India fellow, based in Bombay. He is also a writer and frequent commentator.

Here's a brief video clip of the HBO documentary: Terror in Mumbai



Related Links:

Challenges of Indian Democracy

Sane Indian Warns Against Unconcealed Delight

India's Israel Envy

Feudal Punjab Fertile For Jihadists

Chilling Phone Transcripts of Mumbai

Arundhati Roy on Mumbai

Pervez Hoodbhoy on Mumbai

Can India Do a Lebanon in Pakistan

HBO Documentary: Terror in Mumbai

Who Killed Karkare?

Radical Hindu Government in Israeli Exile

29 comments:

Vishal said...

Here is one more video covering the interview of a Taliban trained youth:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=qD-Nny3EP98&feature=player_embedded#

Just wash the degree of his brainwash. The fact is that these people remain in Pakistan and so do their supporters.

You raised good points about shortcomings of the Indian response to 26/11 attacks but you fail to even raise a single statement that these attacks were infact plotted in Pakistan by its so called non-state actors.

Do you intend to write a honest article about what keeps this non-state actors going?

I could find at least one honest attempt here:

http://blog.dawn.com/2009/12/03/little-monsters/

Anonymous said...

Hi Vishal,

It is unlikely for pakistan to look inward for correction as it is not in their practice.

At the same note india must learn to understand the short coming highlighted as it would help it to correct over a period of time otherwise it would also be deprecated to the state of pakistan.

Word of gandhi that one requires tremendous moral guts to accept once own short coming.

Anonymous said...

India must use the attack as a method to increase its immunity to these type of attacks.

People must be vigilant to see any suspicious activity and immediately alert the near by police station of new faces.

more security awareness needs to created among the citizen for their benefit to find out the blacksheeps within the country.

Riaz Haq said...

In a recent piece published in the Indian Express, editor Shekhar Gupta cautions against the prevailing "smugness" and "unconcealed delight" in India and adds, "This is not just the mood of the mobs here. Even the “intelligentsia”, the TV talking heads, opinion page columnists, government spokespersons, all have the same smug air of “I-told-you-so” and “so-what-else-did-they-expect” satisfaction. And they ask the same patronizing question: hell, can Pakistan be saved?"

Gupta concludes his piece by saying, "Time has therefore come to nuance our policy as well as national mood and psychology, to not merely reopen communication with Pakistan but to also make moves, offers, anything that will enhance the power and credibility of its government which, with all its faults, is still the most moderate of all forces in that region. Finally, time has also come to set in place some kind of diplomatic standard operating procedures in case more terror attacks take place because a third round of coercive diplomacy may spin out of control. We have to now demonstrate a stake in Pakistan’s survival and moderation as a democratic state. Just bombing somebody there in anger won’t work, because people who are targeting us are also targeting the rest of the modern world, from Chicago to Copenhagen."

Rakesh Mani said...

Extremism of both hues, green and saffron, are ultimately detrimental to the countries of the region and more importantly, their people.

Indians at the moment seem acutely averse to hearing criticisms of India's policy arrangements vis-a-vis foreign policy and economic growth.

Irfan Husain, writing in Dawn, has an interesting anecdote: A foreign journalist working for a newsmagazine's South Asian bureau says he loves Pakistan because "In India, when you write a critical article, the people are furious with you. In Pakistan, when you write a critical article, everyone agrees with you."

Time for the Indian media to play fair, and play both sides of each issue.

Anonymous said...

http://www.dnaindia.com/world/report_us-charges-headley-for-role-in-26-11_1321250

Anonymous said...

http://www.nytimes.com/2009/12/08/world/asia/08terror.html?hp

is it any surprise that most indians in west raise a toast of wine when a bomb blasts in Pakistan. You get respect or sympathy only when you deserve it.

Riaz Haq said...

SM Mushrif, the author of "Who Killed Karkare?" and former police chief of Maharashtra state with deep inside knowledge, has raised some very serious questions about the role of the Indian intelligence in the increasing violence committed by Hindutva outfits against India's minorities, and how India's Intelligence Bureau diverts attention from it by falsely accusing Indian Muslims and Pakistan's ISI, as was done in Malegaon and Samjutha Express blasts, and fomenting trouble between India and Pakistan. The Indian media appear to be partners with the Indian IB and RAW in deflecting any serious criticism of Indian agencies, and promoting war hysteria against Pakistan after Mumbai.

While the human rights abuses at Guantanamo and Abu Ghraib by the Bush administration have been exposed, documented and condemned by the world, similar abuses of Muslims in India's "war on terror" have gone largely unnoticed. There appears to be a conspiracy of silence by the Indian and the world media when it comes to the brutality against Indian Muslims practiced by officials and the right-wing Hindu extremists in world's largest secular democracy. The western media, in particular, have completely bought what Fareed Zakaria, the Indian-born Muslim editor of Newsweek International, describes as a "peaceful, stable, and prosperous" India. Even the officially-endorsed anti-Muslim violence and resulting deaths of thousands of Muslims in Gujarat have not been able to shake the faith of the Indophile western journalists. Let's see if former Maharashtra police chief Mushrif's book "Who Killed Karkare?" changes any minds.

Anonymous said...

Riaz

Life is relative. Nothing is absolute in science and in practice. So pakistan is the safe haven for india as everything is compared on the scales of standard set in by pakistan on its all apsect of the economy of the politics.

In case if at all pakistan wants to screw india, it must actually raise its bar in those areas and obviously world would expect more from india.

In the present realty it is not going to happen is the conclusion of the west and the indian for the period of adhoc honeymoon

Anonymous said...

Another thing Riaz is that muslims have earned lot of infamy in the west due to their nonstop antics (Fort Hood is the latest act). So there is already a prejudice against muslims. So it is rather difficult to get a pro muslim view for anti muslim activities of India. I remember until 90s even Kashmir cause got a sympathetic word from the media. Now a days western media is 100% pro india on the kashmir freedom cause.

Anonymous said...

also, India has earned very good reputation in economy, service sector outsourcing. Pakistan has earned a bad reputation of a country which can't govern itself. We can't blame others, can we.
We are treated like kids by American govt.
http://www.nytimes.com/2009/12/08/world/asia/08policy.html?_r=1&hp

Anonymous said...

two serving pak army officers linked to mumbai attacks.
http://news.rediff.com/special/2009/dec/09/fbi-says-two-serving-pak-officers-had-ties-with-headley.htm

Riaz Haq said...

The Indian bureaucracy and security apparatus are heavily infiltrated by Hindutva outfits. Even the Indian Army has serving officers actively working in support of the violent Hindutva agenda of the Sangh Parivar.

In Hemant Karkare’s net (of investigations, of course) many big and small fishes of VHP, RSS, Bajrang Dal and Sanatan Sanstha (which has been found to be involved in Diwali-eve blasts in Goa recently) had been trapped. Serving and retired army officers, academics, serving and retired officials of India’s premier intelligence service were ensnared in Karkare’s fishing net. The menacing power of the latter groups, inspired by sustained anti-Muslim hate campaigns of the last six decades, gave the plot a sinister and highly destructive character.

Among the plans unearthed by Karkare was a blueprint for the assassination of 70 prominent Indians who could by a hindrance to the project of Hindutva. Interestingly, most of the persons marked for elimination would, naturally, be Hindus because it is they who primarily run the dispensation. The conspirators were also unhappy with organizations whose Hindutva they suspected to be less virulent than desired.

Mushrif, who very well knows the power of the Intelligence Bureau (IB) to make or mar lives and careers, says he is prepared to face the consequences of hostility of this power hub. He musters “evidence” to show that the IB has regularly been interfering with regular police investigations to let Hindutva terrorists slip out of the net and replace them with random Muslim youth. To fudge the issues further obliging police officers in the states would not mind exterminating a few Muslim youth to be branded posthumously as “terrorists”.

There are quite a few number of such cases where such extra-judicial killing of Muslim youth has turned out to be false police encounters. All this is done to cover tracks of Hindutva terror. Mushrif says a “Brahminist” network that has its origins in Maharashtra, and is closely knit across political parties, government services, including IB, and other vital sectors of life is behind the terror that seeks to destroy the secular, democratic state. He hastens to clarify that very few Brahminists are Brahmins. Many are from other high Hindu castes, some from middle and lower castes.

http://www.riazhaq.com/2009/10/terror-in-india-who-killed-karkare.html

Riaz Haq said...

Rakesh,

Kudos to you for standing up to the slings and poisoned arrows of the bigots and bullies on the net, as you did when you published this article on Chowk.

Here's how Pankaj Mishra described a similar experience in a piece he wrote for the Guardian:

"In an article I wrote for the New York Times in 2003 I underlined the likely perils if the depressed and alienated minority of Muslims were to abandon their much-tested faith in the Indian political and legal system. Predictably Hindu nationalists, most of them resident in the UK and US, inundated my email inbox, accusing me of showing India in a bad light."

If it's any consolation, the attacks by the Indian necon crowd are not unexpected, particularly against someone like you who I see as part of the the distinguished group of great Indians like Arundhati Roy, Pankaj Mishra, Yoginder Sikand, and others who insist on rational thinking and policy-making in India.

I agree with you that "extremism of both hues, green and saffron, are ultimately detrimental to the countries of the region and more importantly, their people."

Mayraj said...

http://knowledge.wharton.upenn.edu/india/article.cfm?articleid=4156
The Dark Side of the Moon: The Downside to India's Economic Rise

http://urbanhealthupdates.wordpress.com/2009/08/26/india-number-of-urban-poor-to-rise-by-11-in-maharashtra/
India – Number of urban poor to rise by 11% in Maharashtra
http://www.indianexpress.com/news/steep-rise-in-below-poverty-line-numbers-in/262202/
Steep rise in below poverty line numbers in J-K
http://arthedains.com/indiaunplugged/2008/12/22/the-bjp-wakes-up-to-indias-poverty/

http://www.tgfworld.org/critical-Rural%20Poverty%20on%20the%20Rise.htm
Rural Poverty on the Rise
http://money.cnn.com/2007/02/08/news/international/pluggedin_murphy_india.fortune/index.htm
India the Superpower? Think again
India should put aside pride about its growing economy and concentrate on improving the lives of average citizens, argues Fortune's Cait Murphy.

Riaz Haq said...

Just as the Indian Air Force disappointed their British trainers in 1965, the Indians have again angered their Israeli trainers in Mumbai last year. Here's the story from Newsweek:

The smoke has finally cleared after last week's botched hostage rescue at the Nariman House Jewish center in Mumbai, but in some Israeli security circles, the sniping has started anew. Defense Minister Ehud Barak complained last week that India's commandos hadn't performed up to Israeli standards. Other Israeli counterterror experts griped that the operation had taken far too long to unfold. "They should have come from many angles—through windows, through walls," says Lior Lotan, an Israeli security consultant who once commanded the military's hostage-negotiation squad. "I didn't see any deception, any diversion, any surprise element at all." Israeli paramedics reported that some of the hostages appeared to have been killed accidentally by their would-be rescuers; their stories were splashed across the front page of the local newspaper in Jerusalem.

The Israeli-Indian contretemps looked, at least at first, like the beginnings of a diplomatic headache. But then, even as Israel was burying its victims earlier this week, the controversy simply disappeared. Security types started backpedaling, and Israeli leaders like Prime Minister Ehud Olmert went out of their way to tamp down the criticism. Privately, Israeli Foreign Ministry officials were livid about the accusations. "These guys are mouthing off," complained one senior Foreign Ministry source, who requested anonymity in order to speak frankly. "We're really upset about these people." Part of the reason for the frustration, aside from the desire to show solidarity during a difficult time: Israel is one of India's top weapons suppliers—a lucrative relationship that has been growing rapidly since the early 1990s. "We're talking about billions of dollars," says the Foreign Ministry source.

http://www.newsweek.com/id/171927

Riaz Haq said...

Here's how the Firearm blog ridiculed the Indian commandos fear of MP5s in Mumbai:

The Indian National Security Guard (NSG) have stooped pretty low. They are claiming part of the reason the Mumbai terror attacks were so deadly was because the terrorists were carrying MP5s and the NSG Commandos only had AK-47s. DNA India reports:

"The MP5 is far superior to the AK47 and is only used by the security forces of various countries. This led the NSG to believe that the terrorists were more heavily armed than they had thought. But the mystery was solved when they realised that the terrorists had seized Major Sandeep Unnikrishnan’s weapon after killing him. The NSG feel that the acquisition of this weapon had extended their resistance by a few hours. This is also an indication, said a senior officer, that the terrorists were trained in the use of this sophisticated weapon as well.

The fact that the terrorists were carrying MP5s is likely to have embarrassed Pakistan and fueled India’s rage. I would put money on the fact that those MP5s were manufactured by POF, the Pakistan government owned small arms and ammunition manufacturer. I coincidentally mentioned that POF produces licensed MP5 yesterday.


Overall, the HK MP5 is the weapon of choice for most European forces and the US. More notable users include the United States’s Navy SEAL, the German GSG9 group and the British SAS. It is also used by civil protection forces such as police and special SWAT team units."

The thought that these “special forces” were scared off by 9mm submachine guns when they were armed with 7.62×39mm rifles is a joke. Chances are they also had 7.62mm NATO G3s FALs on hand as well.

http://www.thefirearmblog.com/blog/2008/12/02/mp5-is-more-deadly-than-a k-says-indian-commando/

Riaz Haq said...

Here's blogger Sean-Paul Kelly commenting on this NY Times story recently:

“Your hypotheses, sir, have been exposed as deeply flawed. And tragic. And super-human in their stupidity,” the Indian gentleman told me when I explained that the economic miracle in India was mostly ephemeral.

Indians, it seems, aren’t lacking in the hyper-patriotic, and India certainly doesn’t lack its boosters in the West.

Riaz Haq said...

Here are "Reflections on India" published by an American traveler-blogger:

First, pollution. In my opinion the filth, squalor and all around pollution indicates a marked lack of respect for India by Indians. I don't know how cultural the filth is, but it's really beyond anything I have ever encountered. At times the smells, trash, refuse and excrement are like a garbage dump. Right next door to the Taj Mahal was a pile of trash that smelled so bad, was so foul as to almost ruin the entire Taj experience. Delhi, Bangalore and Chennai to a lesser degree were so very polluted as to make me physically ill. Sinus infections, ear infection, bowels churning was an all to common experience in India. Dung, be it goat, cow or human fecal matter was common on the streets. In major tourist areas filth was everywhere, littering the sidewalks, the roadways, you name it. Toilets in the middle of the road, men urinating and defecating anywhere, in broad daylight. Whole villages are plastic bag wastelands. Roadsides are choked by it. Air quality that can hardly be called quality. Far too much coal and far to few unleaded vehicles on the road. The measure should be how dangerous the air is for one's health, not how good it is. People casually throw trash in the streets, on the roads. The only two cities that could be considered sanitary in my journey were Trivandrum--the capital of Kerala--and Calicut. I don't know why this is. But I can assure you that at some point this pollution will cut into India's productivity, if it already hasn't. The pollution will hobble India's growth path, if that indeed is what the country wants. (Which I personally doubt, as India is far too conservative a country, in the small 'c' sense.)

The second issue, infrastructure, can be divided into four subcategories: roads, rails and ports and the electrical grid. The electrical grid is a joke. Load shedding is all too common, everywhere in India. Wide swaths of the country spend much of the day without the electricity they actually pay for. With out regular electricity, productivity, again, falls. The ports are a joke. Antiquated, out of date, hardly even appropriate for the mechanized world of container ports, more in line with the days of longshoremen and the like. Roads are an equal disaster. I only saw one elevated highway that would be considered decent in Thailand, much less Western Europe or America. And I covered fully two thirds of the country during my visit. There are so few dual carriage way roads as to be laughable. There are no traffic laws to speak of, and if there are, they are rarely obeyed, much less enforced. A drive that should take an hour takes three. A drive that should take three takes nine. The buses are at least thirty years old, if not older. Everyone in India, or who travels in India raves about the railway system. Rubbish. It's awful. Now, when I was there in 2003 and then late 2004 it was decent. But in the last five years the traffic on the rails has grown so quickly that once again, it is threatening productivity. Waiting in line just to ask a question now takes thirty minutes. Routes are routinely sold out three and four days in advance now, leaving travelers stranded with little option except to take the decrepit and dangerous buses. At least fifty million people use the trains a day in India. 50 million people! Not surprising that waitlists of 500 or more people are common now. The rails are affordable and comprehensive but they are overcrowded and what with budget airlines popping up in India like Sadhus in an ashram the middle and lowers classes are left to deal with the overutilized rails and quality suffers. No one seems to give a shit. Seriously, I just never have the impression that the Indian government really cares. Too interested in buying weapons from Russia, Israel and the US I guess.

Riaz Haq said...

Here's a story from Indian media about Mumbai terror trial:

Agencies Posted online: Tuesday , Dec 22, 2009 at 1918 hrs
Mumbai : Lone surviving Pakistani gunman Ajmal Kasab said on Tuesday that he was not a "Jihadi" and had not undergone any training at the Lashkar-e-Taiba (LeT) camp in Pakistan.

Kasab told the court, which was recording the gunman's final statement on the prosecution evidence, he was a cook with a catering company in "Saarayee-Alamghir" near Jhelum in Pakistan.

Denying any involvement with terror outfits LeT and Jamat-ul-Dawa (JuD), Kasab declined meeting Hafiz Sayed, Zaki-ur-Lakhvi, Abu Kahfa and Abu Hamza--all wanted accused and alleged LeT operatives.

"I heard the names of Lash-e-Taliban and JUD from the police here. Crime Branch officials had shown the photograph of Lakhvi," Kasab said.

Asked by the court if he was introduced to one Major General Saab at the training camp, Kasab said, "This is absolutely wrong."

The judge, M L Tahaliyani, was putting questions to Kasab on the basis of his confession before magistrate in February; however Kasab disowned the confession, saying it was given under duress.

When special Judge M L Tahaliyani referred to his statement in the confession that Hafeez Sayed had told 30 boys at the LeT training camp that they would have to lay down their lives for liberating Kashmir, Kasab said: "This is absolutely wrong".

Alleging that the police had threatened to administer electric shocks to him if he did not give a statement to the magistrate, Kasab said the police had prepared the confession and forced him to recite it.

Asked by the court, if he was told in the training that they would go to heaven if they attacked India, Kasab replied in the negative saying he did not attend the training.

Kasab also denied having told the police anything about Kuber boat and a dead body found on the boat. According to the prosecution, the group of ten terrorists had highjacked Kuber on their way to Mumbai from Karachi in Pakistan.

"I have never seen the boat; crime branch and FBI had showed me pictures of Kuber and my clothes and articles seized from the boat. These articles must belong to either fishermen or smugglers. The AK 47 rifle may belong to the police and it is not mine."

An I-card recovered from his trouser pocket was shown to Kasab in the court on Tuesday, but he refused to identify himself. "It's not me. Trousers are not mine, I was wearing leather pants," he stated.

Similarly, about the money seized from him, he said that it was not his. "The police had taken Rs 2,400 from me on November 25, which I had kept for my return ticket. Those currency notes did not have any marks on them. These notes have something written on them," Kasab said when he was shown the Rs 100-note.

The gunman further alleged that all the witnesses were briefed by the police. "One witness had in the identification parade identified me as the one in Hotel Taj. That witness was not brought to court during the trial," Kasab said.

He further said all the witnesses were shown his photograph prior to the parade and thus they could identify him and witnesses were prompted by the police.

Kasab also alleged that even when he was in jail custody, three crime branch officials were guarding him and used to threaten him to give the statement before the magistrate.

"I had given this complaint in writing to the magistrate on February 18, when I was produced for recording my confession. But when nothing was done on it, I kept mum and did not complain again," Kasab said.

Kasab and two Indians- Faheem Ansari and Sabaudding Ahmed are facing trial for their involvement in the 26/11 terror attacks.x

Riaz Haq said...

Here is a interesting report in the News on polls conducted in India and Pakistan on relations between the two nations:

By Mohammad Malick

ISLAMABAD: The two nations have repeatedly gone to war in the past. Their governments continue sabre rattling and spewing bellicose rhetoric. But identical nationwide opinion surveys conducted by the Jang Group and the Times of India Group in India and Pakistan show that a majority of the billion and a half people of the sub-continent want to live as peaceful and friendly neighbours and share the same humane goals like any other civilised polity; economic prosperity for all, education for the youth, health for the needy, absence of violence and elimination of existential threats.

In Pakistan, 72 per cent of the respondents desired “peaceful and friendly relations with India” whereas 60 per cent Indians were hopeful of such an eventuality. This relative lesser percentage may be owing to the fact that presently 88 per cent of Indians consider Pakistan as a high/moderate threat to India’s well being. In contrast, 72 per cent Pakistanis perceive India as a high/moderate threat. The 88 per cent threat perception notwithstanding, it is heartening to note, however, that over 59 per cent of Indians think that a peaceful relationship would be established with Pakistan within their lifetime, an optimism shared by 64 percent Pakistanis.

While vested interests on both sides may have led the people to believe that every Pakistani wakes up paranoid with India and that every Indian goes to bed fretting over the next deadly Pakistani move, statistics show otherwise. Half the people polled in India thought about Pakistan “sometimes”, while only 16 per cent thought about us in a more focused manner. As for Pakistanis, 32 per cent appeared to be seriously concerned over the state of our bilateral relations. Hardly the figures for two peoples supposedly obsessed with each other’s ultimate annihilation, would not you agree?

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...

There's been a rash of teenage suicides in Mumbai this year, according to a BBC report:

Inexplicably, teenage suicides have become an almost daily occurrence in Maharashtra - one of India's most developed states - and its capital Mumbai (Bombay).

The toll of teenage suicides from the beginning of the year until 26 January 2010 stood at 32, which is more than one a day.

While there are no comparative figures for the same period in 2009, there is a consensus among the concerned authorities in Mumbai that teenage suicides are spiralling out of control.

There is also a general agreement between psychologists and teachers that the main reason for the high number of teenagers taking their own lives is the increasing pressure on children to perform well in exams.

The scale of this largely preventable problem is dizzying - both in India with its billion-plus people and particularly in the state of in Maharashtra.

More than 100,000 people commit suicide in India every year and three people a day take their own lives in Mumbai.

Suicide is one of the top three causes of death among those aged between 15 and 35 years and has a devastating psychological, social and financial impact on families and friends.

'Needless toll'

World Health Organisation Assistant Director-General Catherine Le Gals-Camus points out more people die from suicide around the world than from all homicides and wars combined.

"There is an urgent need for co-ordinated and intensified global action to prevent this needless toll. For every suicide death there are scores of family and friends whose lives are devastated emotionally, socially and economically," she says.

Riaz Haq said...

In a presentation to Pakistani media, Gen Kayani reiterated his widely reported comments on the Pakistan Army’s view of the situation in Afghanistan and the way forward there.

History, unresolved issues, India’s military capability and its ‘Cold Start’ doctrine meant that Pakistan could not afford to let its guard down. Repeating a well-known formulation, Gen Kayani said: “We plan on adversaries’ capabilities, not intentions.”

The tough, matter-of-fact line on India was in stark contrast to that of Gen Kayani’s predecessor, Gen (retd) Musharraf, who tried hard to push for peace with India in his latter years in power.
------------------------
The general was particularly keen to highlight the threat posed by India’s ‘Cold Start’ doctrine. Turing the traditional theory of war on its head, ‘Cold Start’ would permit the Indian Army to attack before mobilising, increasing the possibility of a “sudden spiral escalation”, according to Gen Kayani.

The Pakistan Army’s concerns about ‘Cold Start’ are well known, but Gen Kayani went as far as to put a timeline on its implementation: two years for India to achieve partial implementation and five years for full.

If true, the strategic impact could be of the highest order: defence analysts have speculated that ‘Cold Start’ may lead the Pakistan Army to lower its nuclear threshold as a way of deterring any punitive strikes or rapid capture of territory by the Indian armed forces.

Yet, Gen Kayani was also keen to point out that he did not have a one-dimensional view of security. Despite the fact that India’s defence budget is “seven times” that of Pakistan’s “there has to be a balance between development and military spending,” the general said.

He also pleaded that “peace and stability in South Asia should not be made hostage to a single terrorist act of a non-state actor”, a reference to the November 2008 Mumbai attacks.

Refusing to talk to Pakistan would send a bad signal on two counts: one, the non-state actors would know that they have the power to nudge India and Pakistan towards war; and two, within India it would become clear that relations with Pakistan could be suspended indefinitely.

The comments on India, though, came only later in an extended Power Point Presentation that covered everything from the operations in Swat and South Waziristan to the “way forward” in Afghanistan. Gen Kayani seemed relatively pleased with the reaction his presentation received when first unveiled at a meeting of chiefs of defence staff of Nato and its allied countries in Brussels late last month.

Emphasising what he termed the “fundamentals”, he claimed that until the Afghan government improved its credibility and governance record and until the Afghan population began to change its perception that Isaf is not winning, the Afghan government would not be able to establish its writ and the local Taliban would not be “weaned off”.

But on Afghanistan, too, India featured in Gen Kayani’s comments. Rejecting India’s reported interest in training the Afghan National Army and the country’s police force, Gen Kayani argued that Pakistan had a more legitimate expectation to do so.

Taken together, Gen Kayani’s comments suggest that the possibility of a thaw in relations between India and Pakistan any time soon is low.

Both India and Pakistan appear to have firmly lapsed into the old pattern of highlighting the differences between them and the threats they face from each other, while nominally leaving the door open to an improvement in relations if one side addresses the other’s concerns.

Unlike the past, though, the stakes appear to be higher because of the uncertain future of Afghanistan and a ‘nuclear overhang’ that may be affected by ‘Cold Start’.

Riaz Haq said...

Here's an interesting call-in discussion on NOR Talk of the Nation about Mumbai with NY Times reporter Somini Sengupta.

http://www.npr.org/templates/story/story.php?storyId=99087002

Riaz Haq said...

Here's an interesting call-in discussion on NOR Talk of the Nation about Mumbai with NY Times reporter Somini Sengupta.

http://www.npr.org/templates/story/story.php?storyId=99087002

Riaz Haq said...

The ISI is hated by Pakistan's enemies mainly because it is the best at what it does in terms of protecting Pakistan interests. Some in the CIA, RAW and Mossad show a natural professional jealousy and envy of the ISI....and they try and slander it as often as they can through their friendly media and its blind followers.

Here's a website "smashinglits.com" that ranks as ISI #1 intelligence agency in the world...followed by MOSSAD, MI6, CIA, MSS, BND, FSB, DGSE, RAW and ASIS.

Here's what the website says about ISI:

Formed 1948
Jurisdiction Government of Pakistan
Headquarters Islamabad, Pakistan
Agency executive Lieutenant General Ahmad Shuja Pasha, PA Director General

With the lengthiest track record of success, the best know Intelligence so far on the scale of records is ISI. The Inter-Services Intelligence was created as an independent unit in 1948 in order to strengthen the performance of Pakistan’s Military Intelligence during the Indo-Pakistani War of 1947. Its success in achieving its goal without leading to a full scale invasion of Pakistan by the Soviets is a feat unmatched by any other through out the intelligence world. KGB, The best of its time, failed to counter ISI and protect Soviet interests in Central Asia. This GOLD MEDAL makes it rank higher than Mossad. It has had 0 double agents or Defectors through out its history, considering that in light of the whole war campaign it carried out from money earned by selling drugs bought from the very people it was bleeding, The Soviets. It has protected its Nuclear Weapons since formed and it has foiled Indian attempts to attain ultimate supremacy in the South-Asian theatres through internal destabilization of India. It is above All laws in its host country Pakistan ‘A State, with in a State’. Its policies are made ‘outside’ of all other institutions with the exception of The Army. Its personnel have never been caught on camera. Its is believed to have the highest number of agents worldwide, close to 10,000. The most striking thing is that its one of the least funded Intelligence agency out of the top 10 and still the strongest.


http://www.smashinglists.com/10-best-intelligence-agencies-in-the-world/

Riaz Haq said...

Here is an excerpt from a 2004 article titled "Hinduism and Terror" by Paul Marshall on Hindu extremism and violence:

M. S. Golwalkar, the RSS’s sarsangchalak (supreme director) from 1940 to 1973, sharpened these themes. In 1938, commenting on the Nuremberg racial laws, he declared: “Germany has also shown how well-nigh impossible it is for races and cultures, having differences going to the root, to be assimilated into one united whole, a good lesson for us . . . to learn and profit by.” In an address to RSS members the same year, he also asserted: “If we Hindus grow stronger, in time Muslim friends . . . will have to play the part of German Jews.” He insisted that “the non-Hindu . . . must either adopt the Hindu culture and language, must learn to respect and revere Hindu religion. . . . Or [they] may stay in the country wholly subordinated to the Hindu nation, claiming nothing, deserving no privileges.” On March 25, 1939, the Hindu nationalist Mahasabha Party, an RSS ally, likewise proclaimed: “Germany’s solemn idea of the revival of the Aryan culture, the glorification of the swastika, her patronage of Vedic learning, and the ardent championship of Indo-Germanic civilization are welcomed by the religious and sensible Hindus of India with a jubilant hope.”

This racism and religious and cultural chauvinism brought the Sangh Parivar into conflict with other strands of Hinduism, especially those taught by Mahatma Gandhi. Golwalkar castigated Gandhi as being soft on Muslims, while Gandhi in turn called the RSS “a communal body with a totalitarian outlook.” Hindu nationalists blamed Gandhi for the partition of the subcontinent into India and Pakistan in 1947 and accused him of dismembering Mother India. The conflict did not stop at words: Gandhi’s assassin was Nathuram Godse, a former RSS member and Savarkar associate.

The RSS is now a major paramilitary organization with millions of members. Its educational wing, the Vidya Bharati, has some twenty thousand educational institutes, with one hundred thousand teachers and two million students. The Vidya Bharati schools distribute booklets containing a map of India that encompasses not only Pakistan and Bangladesh but also the entire region of Bhutan, Nepal, Tibet, and parts of Myanmar, all under the heading “Punya Bhoomi Bharat,” the “Indian Holy Land.” The RSS also has separate organizations for tribal peoples, intellectuals, teachers, slum dwellers, leprosy patients, cooperatives, consumers, newspapers, industrialists, Sikhs, ex-servicemen, overseas Indians, and an organization for religion and proselytization, as well as trade unions, student and economic organizations, and a women’s chapter.

Other Sangh Parivar organizations include the Bajrang Dal and the Vishnu Hindu Parishad (VHP-World Hindu Council), which engage in propaganda, virulent hate campaigns, and sometimes violence against religious minorities. The VHP was formed in 1964 to unite Hindu groups and serve as the RSS’s bridge to sympathetic religious leaders. It has sought to radicalize Hindus by claiming that Hindus are under threat from an “exploding” Muslim population and a spate of Christian conversions, and it organized the 1992 nationwide demonstrations that culminated in the destruction of the Ayodhya mosque by Hindu mobs.

Riaz Haq said...

Here's an India Times report on Wikileaks about the incompetence of Indian security forces:

NEW DELHI: India is "very keen" to get information and technology from the US for counter-terrorism efforts but provides "little in return", says a US embassy cable made public by WikiLeaks .

The cable, dated Feb 23, 2007 and reproduced by The Guardian, also came down heavily on Indian security forces, calling them corrupt and poorly trained and said they did not "conduct solid forensic investigations".

The cable explained the American assessment of why New Delhi remained a distant partner vis-a-vis the US on counter-terrorism efforts.

"India's lingering zero-sum suspicion of US policies towards Pakistan, its fiercely independent foreign policy stance, its traditional go-it-alone strategy toward its security, and its domestic political sensitivities over the sentiments of its large Muslim population, have all contributed to India's caution in working with us on a joint counter-terrorism strategy," the cable said.

It pointed out that while "India has been very keen to receive information and technology from us to further its counter-terrorism efforts, India provides little in return, despite our belief that the country should be an equal partner in this relationship.

"India frequently rebuffs our offers of support for their police investigations of terrorist attacks and our offers of training and support are often met with a stalled logistical pace."

Making another point, the cable said it had to be kept in mind that "our perception of India's lack of cooperation on US CT (Counter Terrorism) concerns often stems in part from India's lack of capacity to manage these issues bureaucratically".

It said that Indian police and security forces were "overworked and hampered by bad police practices, including the widespread use of torture in interrogations, rampant corruption, poor training, and a general inability to conduct solid forensic investigations.

"India's most elite security forces also regularly cut corners to avoid working through India's lagging justice system, which has approximately 13 judges per million people.

"Thus Indian police officials often do not respond to our requests for information about attacks or our offers of support because they are covering up poor practices, rather than rejecting our help outright."
"She (Sonia Gandhi) presents an intriguing enigma of a warm private personality that remains concealed and is available only to her closest confidants and family members."