Pondering the Mumbai attacks

Pondering the Mumbai attacks
By: Kamal Raj Sigdel
Posted: 12/8/08
Last week, the world witnessed another deadly terrorist attack. This time it was Mumbai, the "financial nerve-centre" and commercial capital of India. This attack differs from any other terrorist attacks in the past, not because it was well coordinated, but because everything sounded weird and at times, hilarious.

Reportedly, 10 terrorists set sail from Karachi and approached the Indian coast, sneaking onto a fishing boat then attacking the Taj Hotel and other targets, killing more than 150 people.

India has the world's third-largest military, well-trained police with special anti-terror commands and internationally-acclaimed intelligence services. A handful of terrorists rocked the whole city for more than 24 hours. A week after the incident, everyone knew that investigations were underway, like usual, and nobody knows more than that. What is wrong with this picture?

Home Minister for the Indian state of Maharashtra. RR Patil's first reaction to the massacre was more than weird, "In a big city like this, these small things happen. We could have lost 5,000 people instead of 200." The public outcry from this amazing comment forced him to resign.

Soon after, the Indian officials started pointing fingers at Pakistan, as is the routine. No breaks or intervals, the old pantomime show starts on both sides of the border. The media fuels the fire and the curtain shadows one after another. The world watched with its eyes wide open, most of the scenes obscure and weird.

Shadows of the Pakistani leaders, panicked by the unprecedented international pressure to hunt down terrorists operating from their land, hold meetings and press conferences. Pakistani President Zardari commits to help India investigate into the attack by sending the head of Pakistani intelligence to India. The world, watching all this, claps in approval.

After a couple of hours, someone whispers something in his left ear and Zardari decides to pull the Intelligence chief back from India, derailing the planned cooperation. Disoriented and dispirited, the Chief changes his dress and goes to take a nap.

In what they call All-Party Conference (APC), the provoked Pakistani political parties gather for the first time to discuss how they could "cooperate" with India.

While others are making mediocre comments on Indian official's blame-game, one of the participants, a retired military general, stands upright and claims the attackers are in fact, brave patriots! As reported by the Dawn, the military officer speaking at a press conference says, "… the Taliban are in fact, patriotic and the problems that existed between these Taliban and the Pakistani state are actually based on miscommunication and misunderstanding."
Subsequently, Tehrik-i-Taliban Pakistan (TTP), a Pakistani terrorist group, made a statement swearing allegiance to the Pakistani state. Bizarre, isn't it?

Then Obama is quoted that any country is free to bombard any other country to protect her sovereignty, and thus reported to have sanctioned the bombing of training camps in Pakistan.

In the mean time, Indian Foreign Minister Pranab Mukherjee warns Pakistan that the "military option is open."

This sends Washington more than enough warning signals. The outgoing Bush administration, by virtue of being the initiator of the global war on terror, dispatches Condoleezza Rice to New Delhi to stop the possible war between the two archenemies.

However, this brings to us one more absolute irony - Rice visiting India and arguing against Indian military raids on Pakistan when the United States regularly launches its own attacks on suspected Al Qaeda camps along Pakistan's border with Afghanistan. At any cost, the US has to stop India from opting for the military option. The idea is to keep Pakistani shoulders engaged in the western Pakistani frontiers to fight Al Qaeda.

Despite all these misgivings, misinterpretations, media war, anger and chaos, things have not gone as planned by the terrorists. Theoretically, India should have jumped into war against Pakistan by now, and that was the game plan of the terrorists. Let us hope our wise leaders rise above petty politics, steer their countries out of the chaotic situation and do not move in the path as planned by the "smarter" terrorists.
(Sigdel, a Nepalese journalist, is Asia Pacific Leadership Program fellow at the East West Center.)
© Copyright 2008 Ka Leo O Hawaii

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