Thursday, December 04, 2008
Hey, don't look at us
There is buzz from Pakistani media and the blogosphere that the Mumbai terror attacks were (a) either Indian Muslims or (b) Hindu terrorists masquerading as Pakistani terrorists. WTF?
You know I can understand this, really understand this. I know how it must feel for sane, peace-loving people in Pakistan to acknowledge that someone from their side of the border might have had something to do with this horror. Just as I can understand the anti-Pakistan and even anti-Muslim statements calls in the middle of the unfolding horror in Mumbai. I can understand it, I can empathize with all these sentiments. That does not mean I support any of it.
Pakistanis need to realize that these are the same people who blew up their Marriott, who might have had a hand in numerous suicide attacks and Benazir Bhutto's assasination. I don't believe the Pakistani government has any control over the ISI (Inter-Services Intelligence, the Pakistani secret service) or the LET (Lashkar-e-Taiba, Islamic terrorist group). And that is a problem. A huge problem. A well-funded, secret organization that helped the creation of Al Qaeda, and helps train Islamic militants, operating in an extra-governmental manner, outside the control of an elected government is a terrifying thought.
I remember listening to a BBC interview of Benazir Bhutto before she headed back to Pakistan, in which she was asked about the ISI and LET. She casually said that when she had been PM she had been happy that the ISI were focused on India and that the LET did not yet exist but implied that the ISI operated as a sort of rogue agency. She talked about her distrust of the ISI now. I remember thinking while I listened to her speak, well, if you nurture an extra-governmental organization which spreads terror eventually those chickens will come home to roost. Whether it was the ISI itself or one of the radical orgzanizations it helps, someone certainly was responsible for her assassination. Here's an article (for some reason I can't link to it, so you'll have to cut and paste in your browser: http://www.timesonline.co.uk/tol/news/world/asia/article3100052.ece
While there might have been some Indian Muslim involvement (the terrorist who had checked into the Taj had many visitors) the captured gunman has told police about the boat that sailed from Karachi, and about the names of the others who died and some whom I believe are still at large. Now the Mumbai Police is no friend of Indian Muslims. If they had any information that Indian citizens were heavily involved it would have been public knowledge and there would be a backlash already taking place. If the Hindu right-wing parties had *any* information about Indian Muslim involvement they would be all over it.
The fact is that ISI and ISI-backed groups have operated in India earlier, whether in Kashmir or elsewhere. And they operate in Pakistan as well. In that sense we have a common enemy. Some consider the ISI a shadow government and it has close links with Al Qaeda and other terror groups.Watch this video that talks about Bhutto's assasination which also points out that there seems to be no difference between an ISI training camp and an Al Qaeda training camp. Chilling!
The Deccan Mujahideen claimed responsibility for these attacks. No one knows much about this group. However, the email that claimed responsibility came from Russia. Upon closer analysis of the IP address and of the email itself it was found that the actual email was written in Pakistan and opened on a computer in that country. The Deccan, of course, is the plateau towards the south of India, also where Hyderabad is located. Is the name a deliberate attempt to squarely try and place the outfit as originating from the Deccan plateau. By whom? Someone who wrote the email in Pakistan and sent it out from Russia? Who could it be?
As far as Hindu fundamentalist involvement is concerned, this attack has all the hallmarks of Islamic militancy. A captured Hindu fundamentalist would also gladly point fingers at Indian Muslims, instead of Pakistan, or better yet Indian Muslims working with Pakistanis, their favorite boogeyman, the Pak-loving Indian Muslim.
The fact that we have Hindu militancy, and the Gujarat (and other) riots happened, doesn't also mean that Islamic terrorists do not operate in India. Just because we now also have home-grown Islamic militants does not mean thatwe do not also have terrorists from a country with which we've had a divisive and very bloody history.
Peace-loving Pakistanis and Indians do have a common enemy and if we really want peace and reduced terror, there needs to be cooperation between us. Getting mired in unlikely conspiracy theories can get us nowhere. The only other alternative is another war, and I don't think any of us want that.