Mumbai Attack - Time For The World To Act
The 26 November attack on Mumbai has shaken up India like no other event in recent history. This was not a hit-and-run affair. It was a well-planned and well-executed frontal attack on not just India but also on USA, Israel, Canada, Australia and many European countries. There can be no doubt that planning, training, manpower and material support for the attack was provided by one or the other wing of Pakistan army.
Pakistan seems to have a direct or remote connection in most of the terrorist attacks across the world. It will not be an exaggeration to say that Pakistan has grown as an epicenter of terrorism across the globe. USA has been trying to work with Pakistan government for more than seven years in the War on Terror without much success. Of course, there have been no attacks on USA on American soil in the past seven years but American citizens and interests have been at the receiving end across the globe. A time has surely come for USA and all her allies to think of ways and means to curb the growing menace that comes from Pakistan.
Pakistan was the first country in the world founded on the basis of religion without any history and without any common cultural bonds. It was an experimental state created by British for reasons that they knew better. British ignored the history of more than a thousand years of Europe's struggle with Islam to midwife the birth of an Islamic nation. Probably, Jinnah, a half-British-half-Muslim gentleman, convinced them that the new Islamic nation will rise up against the bloody history and will be a true friend of Britain. Yes, the rulers of Pakistan have been good friends of Britain and her ally, USA. But, rulers do not make a country.
Fundamentalist fanatic forces, that have always been latent in every Islamic society through history, have taken roots in Pakistan, where feudal traditions hold strong even today. This is not to say that these fanatic forces have afflicted the majority of people of Pakistan. The fact is that more than 90 per cent of people of Pakistan have no sympathies for the fundamentalists. Unfortunately, history is shaped by the dynamic minority and not by the silent majority. The dynamic minority in Pakistan consists of fundamentalist extremist fanatics. They are the ones who are setting political agenda of the country and are terrorizing the vast majority of Pakistan as well as of the world.
The civilized world's war on terror is in fact a war against this dynamic minority of Pakistan and is a war to liberate the people of Pakistan from the tyranny and crimes of this minority. The problem is that the extremist fanatical elements have penetrated deep into all arms of the state machinery of Pakistan and it is impossible to separate the extremists from the moderates. The extremists have their own agenda and their own will. No president or prime minister or general of Pakistan can either weed out these elements or control them.
The world must realize that the cancer of extremism, fanaticism and fundamentalism has spread through the body and heart of Pakistan including the country's society, polity, bureaucracy, government machinery, army, intelligence agencies, and even educational institutions. It is not possible to cure this cancer without a major surgery. USA and her allies should stop fooling themselves that a Musharraf or Jardari or Gilani or some other smart guy can protect their strategic interests in Pakistan.
USA, Britain and Europe should admit to themselves that the failed experiment of creating an Islamic country has backfired and hurt them. It is not possible to undo history but in case of Pakistan, strong historical, regional identities and fault-lines provide a unique opportunity. Pakistan has three distinct regions - Punjab, Sindh and Baluchistan (excluding Pak-occupied Kashmir). The hegemony of Punjab over the other two provinces causes much bitterness in the two provinces. The slogan "NA KHAPE PAKISTAN" (Pakistan not acceptable or Pakistan will not do) has been resonating through Sindh for decades. Nationalistic aspirations of Baluchistan have been kept down only by brute force of Pakistan army.
Proposed flag of Sindhudesh (The new country of Sindh)
In view of the above ground realities, USA, UK and NATO allies should work on long-term basis with India and if possible China and Russia to achieve the following strategic objectives for South Asia:
Achieving the above objectives may take time. But it is surely better to be working with some long-term goals than to try to achieve nothing or remain focused on petty goals like getting one's hands on some individuals who committed terrorist crimes in the past.
The problem of Pakistan-connected terrorism is a global one. Though India is one of the countries at the frontline, it is not the only one at the receiving end. The problem has not been created by India or by anything Indians have done. There is no way that India can solve the problem without global cooperation and support. India and Indians must realize this simple fact and work with the world towards solving this problem.
While working with the world is important, it is also important that Indians stop denigrating themselves. Indians have enormous capacity to criticize their country, their institutions, their politicians, and almost everything that is their own. Intellectuals of India can go to extreme lengths in applying highest standards on everything Indian while turning a blind eye on everything foreign. When twin towers of New York were attacked, within hours President George W Bush was shouting that it was the work of Osama Bin Laden. No one dared to ask Mr. Bush about evidence, but the standards are different in case of Mumbai. Some super-wise Indians want foolproof evidence that it was Pakistanis and not CIA acting through some of its operatives in Pakistan.
It is understandable that upper middle class Indians are angry. They were happy making loads of money even though bombs used to explode in "God-forsaken places" like Assam or Kashmir or some other vague corner of the country. Now terrorism is in their face. They cannot ignore it. They are shocked and are agitated beyond limits. So they are shouting bad words about Indian politicians - the favorite whipping boys for everyone in India.
I have written often about the way bosses of all political parties in India have promoted puppets and buffoons. But, this is not the time for such criticism. While improving the political class of our country must surely be our long-term goal, this cannot be achieved by blackening the faces of the ones who are in power today. Similarly, raving about mistakes / weaknesses of intelligence agencies or naval coast guard or army or police or anti-terrorist squad or some other wing / functionary of state or central government must be restrained. Everyone has weaknesses and everyone makes mistakes. No country can create institutions that are perfect and act foolproof at all times. Indians must learn to be realists and accept their institutions while striving for continuously improving them.
The need of the hour is for Indians to stand united behind their leadership (howsoever good or bad it might be) and press on them to work with global powers for working out a long-term solution to the problem created by a British historical blunder called Pakistan.
3 December 2008
Please write to me your comments about the above article.
If you liked the above article, you may also be interested in reading WAR AGAINST PAK SPONSORED TERRORISM by the same author, written on 30 May 2002.
ANIL CHAWLA is an engineer (and now a lawyer too) by qualification but a philosopher by vocation and a management consultant by profession.
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