Friday, December 12, 2008

Terror in Mumbai: Understanding Pakistan

Terror strikes in Mumbai

The recent Mumbai terror strikes that struck India were ghastly. Nearly 200 people, ordinary Indians, few foreigners, and many police and soldiers of India, died in different locations in Mumbai. Many Indians do not know why it happened. Indians stood flabbergasted, while the terrorists were satisfying their appetite for creating havoc and terror in the minds of Indians, which they did successfully.

It’s not that Mumbai hasn’t seen terror strikes before. But this one was different from all the previous ones. This time around, it was seen live, as it was unfolding. It was dramatic- the terrorists were acting and operating while the TV crews were filming them. It was right from the movie script – few terrorists land on Indian shores using boats, carrying loads of ammunition, spraying bullets, hurling grenades, targeting various designated spots.

Many Indians, even those who normally do not watch news, were glued to TV watching the live action for three days, terrorized and traumatized.

Role of Pakistan

Even before the dust had settled, everyone in India, and even the West, had already started to see the role of Pakistan. There was enough evidence to suggest that the terrorists originated their journey in Pakistan. They may not have the official sanction of the Pakistan state, but still, the plan may have been hatched in Pakistan. Now, India and the US are pressurizing Pakistan to act. The Prime Minister of Pakistan looks like he wants to act, but he looks so unsure. Will he act this time around? Will it be another eye wash exercise where the masterminds behind this carnage will be nabbed, put under house arrest and then released at a later date? It’s not like it didn’t happen before. Is Pakistan serious this time?

For those who ask these questions in India, the answers are actually very clear. What are those answers? For that we need to understand Pakistan.

Idolizing Terrorists

Pakistan has for many years glorified the terrorists who fight on behalf of Pakistan. In fact, this behavior originated during creation of Pakistan itself – when a group of tribes were armed and sent into India by Pakistan to force accession of Kashmir. For all these years, Pakistan has resorted to using its civilians, sometimes its soldiers dressed as civilians, to attack or infiltrate India. The same tactics were also used in Afghanistan.

The rest of the world may call them terrorists but that’s not what Pakistanis call them. They are called mujahideen, the freedom fighters. They are not the villains. They are heroes. In a country that did not produce good heroes legitimately, except in Cricket, these terrorists who killed and died to further the interest of the nation became the heroes, the idols, the stars. They are the sacrificing self-less youth who are ready to give up their lives for the service of this nation that suffered from identity crisis since its inception. What cause can be greater than sacrificing oneself for the nation? It’s called patriotism, and it is a great virtue in many nations, including India.

The way Indians revere and idolize Bhagat Singh, Azad, et al, Pakistanis hail and revere leaders like Masood Azhar, the heads of Jaish-e-Mohammed, LeT, etc. These are the men who don’t just sit around and talk or give speeches like the politicians, but they are the ones who actually act, ready to give up their lives in the process.

Will Indians ever renounce their respect for Bhagat Singh and Azad just because some foreign country asks us to criminalize them? Not really. When a nation has carefully constructed heroes to get the mileage out of them they cannot go back on that campaign to renounce them at a later date.

For many generations, Pakistanis idolized these terrorists who were waging a war against India for a very noble cause – to free Kashmiris from the clutches of evil India. While their government showed tepid enthusiasm, vacillating between supporting them and then renouncing them, these fighters, these valiant men, carried on the fight for the sake of nation, and Pakistanis will not forget those heroes.

Will Pakistan act?

Will Pakistan suddenly start acting against these terrorists just because US and India are forcing them to do so?

Pakistan has never trusted India. Pakistanis have been taught to mistrust everything that India does. Why should they trust India now? According to Pakistanis, India has backtracked itself from so many promises. Not only did it usurp Kashmir which rightfully belonged to Pakistan, it even broke off their nation to create Bangladesh. Pakistan has never trusted the West either. Why should they? First they support their military, and then they put restrictions on Pakistan, they even try to stop their much acclaimed nuclear program.

AQ Khan, father of Pakistan’s nuclear program, was revered and respected by Pakistanis the way Abdul Kalam is revered and respected by Indians. A good deal of media attention focused on him to make him a hero. So, when a ‘cooked up story’ from the West, that AQ Khan actually stole nuclear secrets from someone else, makes rounds in the international media, it falls on blind eyes and deaf ears in Pakistan. It’s like Indians reacting to an allegation that Abdul Kalam learnt his rocket secrets from the West. Would Indians ever accept it?

So, when the West coerced Pakistan to defame AQ Khan and house arrest him, Pakistanis were indignant, they rose up in anger against their own leaders who have bowed down to the pressures of the wily West that cooks up fantastic stories to defame Pakistani heroes.

Not only Pakistan but many other countries outside Western world find the West to be deceiving and lying. The West and the allies of West may forget their cooked up stories as foibles. But the non-West does not forget them. Remember the time when Colin Powell walked up to the UN and submitted photographs of evidence that Iraq had nuclear weapons to make a case to invade Iraq? That war led to killing of nearly half a million innocent people. Later, we find out that those photographs were a fake, and therefore that invasion was based on a premise that was a blatant lie, a fabrication. There were no nuclear weapons. That may appear to be a minor inconvenience to the West. The non-West looks at it as flagrant violation of everything that is decent.

So, when the West alleges that AQ Khan stole secrets, Pakistanis don’t believe it. They think it is a cooked up story to malign and denigrate their hero, and along with him the whole of Pakistan. They refuse to accept it. And yet, when their government bends down to the carry out the orders from the West, they completely lose trust in their leaders. Pakistani hates their political leaders for this and all other acts of such cowardice.

Politicians are hated by all in the subcontinent

Pakistan’s leaders have done volte face so many times that nobody has a count on it. First they supported and aided the terrorists into India, then they renounced them, then they embraced them, later they arrested them, and they let them go free, and so on. Pakistan’s leadership has done a volteface, then volteface on the volteface, and then volteface on the last volteface, so on, that they don’t even know where they stand. But people of Pakistan know where they stand. Just like Tamils of India do not forget where their allegiances lie, even after the volte face that India did on the Tamil’s struggle for freedom in Sri Lanka, Pakistani people do not change their opinion about these terrorists. They hero worship these terrorists and they are not going to let some wily politicians sway their opinion.

When Mumbai terror strikes were happening, many Indians outpoured their angst against Indian politicians. Many Indians carried placards which denounced the Indian politicians. Ordinary Indians came on TV to berate Indian politicians. Many readers wrote to newspapers to stand up against Indian politicians. So much was the anger against Indian politicians that if an observer saw the proceedings he may even believe that Indian politicians were the masterminds behind what happened in Mumbai.

Indian politicians are seen as incompetent, wily, crafty, and corrupt. Pakistanis politicians are seen, in addition to the above, as traitors, bowing down to the West, betraying their own people to please the West, and backstabbing their own people to sell out to the West. Indian leaders are at least spared the ignominy of bowing down to the West and selling out their nation. Pakistanis hate their politicians ten times stronger than Indians hate their politicians.

What to expect from Pakistan

India cannot expect anything in the short term from Pakistan. In fact, all this pressure on Pakistan to rein in the terrorists is counter-productive. The stronger the administration of Pakistan acts against these outfits coming under coercion from India and US, the stronger will people of Pakistan support their fallen heroes. Pakistan has to learn its lessons, on its own. The way Indians would not like to be taught lessons by others, Pakistanis wouldn’t like it either.

It is important for Pakistan to look at itself in the mirror, find its identity which is not based in anti-India hatred. It has to look within and correct itself. Nobody can correct it for them. Any external measure would be counter-productive.

All this talk of India making surgical strikes against terror camps in Pakistan is empty rhetoric. Everyone knows that these terrorist camps cannot be destroyed just like that. We ask Pakistan to ban an outfit. They comply. Everyone in Pakistan knows that they will regroup as some other outfit under a new name. It is as simple as that. There is no dearth of names. Destroying their dwelling does not make any difference. They will just take the sign board and move to a new office.

Unless Pakistan is serious about what they really want to do, no coercion will help. And it is time for Pakistan to save themselves from homegrown terrorists who have become Frankenstein monsters. Bomb blasts, killings, massacres, assassination of national leaders is now a common phenomenon in Pakistan. Ultimately it is Pakistan which has to pay the price for allowing the hero worship of these terrorists. They have to learn to let go the practice of hero worship of such criminals – whether the crime is against friends or foes.

Lessons from Pakistan

Instead of learning lessons from Pakistan, India is exactly following the footsteps of Pakistan. Instead of criminalizing Sadhvi and Purohit, the alleged masterminds behind bomb blasts in Malegoan and other places, Indian Hindu outfits have eulogized them. Very soon, we may see the pictures of Sadhvi and Purohit next to Bhagat Singh and Azad. They will join the pantheon of constructed national heroes who have refused to bow down to the onslaught of alien religions, and who sacrificed to uphold the great Bharat Sanskruti.

Instead of distancing itself, Indian Hindu parties have come out in the open to defend these masterminds. So do many Indian Hindus. These alleged conspirators are already seen as defenders of Hindu (Indian) faith. They are seen as the real actors when everyone around them is a mere talker. These are the real sacrificing heroes while Indian politicians, who are willing to put them in jails succumbing to Indian secularists, are the villains.


  1. Sujai,

    >> It is important for Pakistan to look at itself in the mirror, find its identity which is not based in anti-India hatred. It has to look within and correct itself. Nobody can correct it for them. Any external measure would be counter-productive.

    Well said. There are moderate voices in Pakistan. They realize the mess they are in but the masses are too indoctrinated, from childhood I might add, to look at reality on realities terms. Read this:

  2. Facing the truth

    By Irfan Husain

    Even in my remote bit of paradise, news of distant disasters filters through: above the steady sound of waves breaking on the sandy beach in

    Sri Lanka, I was informed by several news channels about the sickening attacks on Mumbai. My Internet connection is erratic and slow, but

    nevertheless, I have been bombarded with emails, asking me for my take on this latest atrocity.

    Over the last few years, I have travelled to several countries across four continents. Everywhere I go, I am asked why Pakistan is now the

    focal point of Islamic extremism and terrorism, and why successive governments have allowed this cancer to fester and grow. As a Pakistani, it

    is obviously embarrassing to be put on the spot, but I can see why people everywhere are concerned. In virtually every Islamic terrorist plot,

    whether it is successful or not, there is a Pakistani angle. Often, foreign terrorists have trained at camps in the tribal areas; others have

    been brainwashed in madressahs; and many more have been radicalised by the poisonous teachings of so-called religious leaders.

    Madeline Albright, the ex-US secretary of state, has called Pakistan ‘an international migraine’, saying it was a cause for global concern as

    it had nuclear weapons, terrorism, religious extremists, corruption, extreme poverty, and was located in a very important part of the world.

    While none of this makes pleasant reading for a Pakistani, Ms Albright’s summation is hard to refute. Often, the truth is painful, but most

    Pakistanis refuse to see it. Instead of confronting reality, we are in a permanent state of denial. This ostrich-like posture has made things

    even worse.

    Most Pakistanis, when presented with the fact that our country is now the breeding ground for the most violent ideologies, and the most vicious

    gangs of thugs who kill in the name of religion, go back in history to explain and justify their presence in our country. They refer to the

    Afghan war, and the creation of an army of holy warriors to fight the Soviets in Afghanistan. Then they go on to complain that the Americans

    quit the region soon after the Soviets did, leaving us saddled with the problem of jihadi fighters from all over the Muslim world camped on our


    What we conveniently forget is that for most of the last two decades, the army and the ISI used these very jihadis to further their agenda in

    Kashmir and Afghanistan. This long official link has given various terror groups legitimacy and a domestic base that has now come to haunt us.

    Another aspect to this problem is the support these extremists enjoy among conservative Pakistani and Arab donors. Claiming they are fighting

    for Islamic causes, they attract significant amounts from Muslim businessmen here and abroad. And almost certainly, they also benefited from

    official Saudi largesse until 9/11.

    Now that government policy is to distance itself from these jihadis, we find that many retired army officers have continued to train them in

    camps being run in many parts of Pakistan. A few weeks ago, Sheikh Rashid Ahmed, a prominent (and very loud) minister under both Nawaz Sharif

    and Musharraf, openly boasted on TV of running a camp for Kashmiri fighters on his own land just outside Rawalpindi a few years ago. If such

    camps can be set up a few miles from army headquarters, what’s to stop them from operating in remote areas?

    Many foreign and local journalists have exposed aspects of the terror network that has long flourished in Pakistan. Names, dates and addresses

    have been published and broadcast. But each allegation has been met with a brazen denial from every level of officialdom. Just as we denied the

    existence of our nuclear weapons programme for years, so too do we refuse to accept the presence of extremist terrorists.

    For years, it suited the army and the ISI to secretly harbour and support these groups in Pakistan, Kashmir and Afghanistan. While officially

    denying that they had anything to do with these jihadis, money and arms from secret sources would reach them regularly. Despite our spooks

    maintaining plausible deniability, enough information about this covert support for jihadis has emerged for the fig-leaf to slip. And even if

    the intelligence community has now cut its links with these terrorists, the genie is out of the bottle.

    Each time an atrocity like Mumbai occurs, and Pakistan is accused of being involved, the defensive mantra chanted by the chorus of official

    spokesmen is: “Show us the proof.” The reality is that in terrorist operations planned in secret, there is not much of a paper trail left

    behind. Nine times out of ten, the perpetrators do not survive to give evidence before a court. But in this case, one terrorist did survive,

    and Ajmal Amir Kamal’s story points to Lashkar-e-Tayyaba. The sophistication of the attack is testimony to careful planning and rigorous


    This was no hit-and-run operation, but was intended to cause the maximum loss of life.

    Pakistan’s foreign minister said that Pakistan, too, is a victim of terrorism. While this is certainly true, the rest of the world wants to

    know whey we aren’t doing more to root out the training camps, and lock up those involved. Given the vast un-audited amounts from the exchequer

    sundry intelligence agencies lay claim to, their failure to be more effective against internal terrorism is either a sign of incompetence, or

    of criminal collusion. Benazir Bhutto’s murder, after an earlier attempt and many warnings, is a reminder of how poorly we are served by our

    intelligence agencies.

    And while the diplomatic fallout from the Mumbai attack spreads and threatens to escalate into an armed confrontation, the biggest winners are

    those who carried out the butchery of so many innocent people. It is to their advantage to prevent India and Pakistan from coordinating their

    fight against terrorism. Tension between the two neighbours suits them, while peace and cooperation threatens their very existence.

    The world is naturally concerned about the danger posed by these terror groups to other countries. However, the biggest threat they pose is to

    Pakistan itself. Until Pakistanis grasp this brutal reality and muster up the resolve necessary to crush them, these killers will tear the

    country apart.

  3. Hey Sujai: You forgot the main reason for Pakistani mujahideens attacking Mumbai - dirt on the roads and no traffic/civic sense.

    Equating Indians to LeT. Awesome! Even the US and Pakistani investigative agencies failed to recognize that similarity.

    You are worse than the politicians who wait at least a few weeks before using an incident like Mumbai to further their own agenda. You are absolutely shameless and have just one color filter on your eyes.

  4. Looks like you co-wrote this article with this author. ---> Article Link.

  5. Lessons from Pakistan for Sujai

    Go back to the US.

  6. A good analysis Sujai. When the whole world believes in Violence (Remember, the Bush administration was voted in the second time), its hard to pass instant judgements on the happenings. But who funds such organizations? If those sources are cut off, it could be tougher for them to operate.

    Destination Infinity

  7. Thank God you found Hindu fundamentalist connection to Mumbai blasts, albeit in the last paragraph and that too only tangential. Anyway, something is better than nothing.

    When I started reading your article, I had almost started feeling worried about your intellectual credentials. Fortunately you have reestablished your credentials in the last para.

    - chirkut

  8. When the whole world believes in Violence (Remember, the Bush administration was voted in the second time), its hard to pass instant judgements on the happenings.
    DI, what was the percentage share of Bush vs. Kerry? Are you conflating those who voted for Bush as the "whole world"? Wouldn't that ignore nearly 50% voters who did not vote for Bush?

    Do you see a similar percentage of people in Pakistan who are against terrorism and express their views without fear?
    -original chirkut

  9. Hi

    I read the ISI was directing these killers even the middle of the killings.Pakisthan has no officail suuport for these kahfirs,but pakisthani millitary,ISI,Smugglers and maffias support them.

    Sajai;how come you can not differntiate betwwen freedom fighters and terrorists?
    Does Bhagat sigh was trained by any military?funded by Smugglers and mafias?Was he a street goone turned killer?was his motives governed by hatred?

    Story of two Khans:Is there any proof or even a doubt that Abdul kalam is engaged in any kind of activities done by AQ Khan?

    How come being a muslim you are not condeming these satanic acts?
    Why you are nto ahting them even when 40 muslims have died in the it because more hindus died than muslims or they orginated from a so islamic country?

  10. hello sujai,

    I have been reading your blog posts for a while now.I find your views really good at times and at times plainly impractical and baseless.

    This is not a particular comment on this post alone but generally.

    I would really like to know if you take up any active work to change the problems you mention on your blogs.

    If you state that by blogging i'm doing my part of the change, i would henceforth stop reading your blog.

    As of now I picture you as someone who is whinny and points out at all thats wrong BUT also has good analysis of it's source and a more than practical solution to it.

    I do not know if you have taken any steps to bring some change, but if you haven't and do not propose to, I would only have to categorise you along with all those NRI-in-films-who-return-to-India-and-talk-shit types.

    I hope I'm proved wrong because you have some really worthwhile points on issues.

    And as for identifying myself, I'm Prashanth from Bangalore.

  11. Sujai, I would love you to read this blog and post some more interesting articles on your take on Kashmir. I feel a lot is said about kashmir muslims and how kashmir rightfully belongs to pakistan just like Hyderabad belonged to INDIA. Its the same scenario in kashmir and hyderabad in 1947. In Hyderabad we had muslim king but predominant population are hindus, in kashmir we had hindu king and predominant population are muslims. But nobody in the media or for that matter the so called national leaders talk about hindu pandits..

    thank you

  12. I have not understood exactly how you have managed to equate the Pakistani terrorist outfits with Azad and Bhagat Singh?

    As for your other rants about Hindu terrorism, let it be proved in a court of law first. In case there have been people who have indulged in anti-Indian activities including violence, the Indian government should fully prosecute them.

    The unfortunate tendency with the liberal leftist media and intellectual seems to be to try to let off Muslim terrorists using the bogey of Hindu terror.This is just an extension of the tendency to call minority communalism as secularism.

  13. Some warning you have up there. I landed here from the blog Srinivasa Ramanujam who nominated you for the awards that I dumped on him, oops, nominated him for.

    Will have to read more before I can comment


Dear Commenters:
Please identify yourself. At least use a pseudonym. Otherwise there will be too many *Anonymous*; making it confusing.

Do NOT write personal information or whereabouts about the author or other commenters. You are free to write about yourself. Please do not use abusive language. Do not indulge in personal attacks and insults.

Write comments which are relevant and make sense so that the debate remains healthy.