India, Pakistan and the Mumbai massacre

Written by  //  February 23, 2009  //  Cleo Paskal, Geopolitics, India, Politics, Security, Terrorism  //  2 Comments

India’s Terror Stance Vexes Obama Amid Voter Ire at Pakistan
Feb. 23 (Bloomberg) — India’s 670 million voters may be about to set back President Barack Obama’s campaign against Islamic militancy in Afghanistan and Pakistan. India’s ruling Congress Party, which heeded U.S. calls to avoid threatening its neighbor after November’s Mumbai terrorist attack, is heading for elections that might push it from office. The opposition Bharatiya Janata Party, which accuses Congress of a “soft approach” toward terrorism, says India should consider blockading Pakistan’s main port and severing ties unless the government extradites 20 suspected militants. A less cooperative India would hamper Obama’s effort to keep Pakistan’s army focused on fighting the Taliban and other guerrillas along the Pakistan-Afghanistan border.
Then, there’s another view.
Signs of a Thaw
NEW DELHI (IPS) – A week after Islamabad admitted that the plot to carry out the Nov. 26-29 attacks on Mumbai was partially planned in Pakistan, and that Pakistani nationals were among the assailants, there are tentative signs that the strained relations between the two neighbours may be thawing.
14 February
(RCI) Pakistan and India are bickering over which of them has fully disclosed the facts surrounding the terrorist attacks in Mumbai in November.  Yesterday, Pakistan admitted for the first time that the terrorists partly planned the attack while on Pakistan’s territory.  Pakistan also said that it arrested several terrorists connected with the plot, including the alleged mastermind.  Following Pakistan’s admission, India’s foreign minister urged Pakistan to dismantle what he called Pakistan’s infrastructure of terrorism.  In an angry response, Pakistan’s foreign ministry accused India of failing to disclose all of the facts of its investigation into the Mumbai attacks.  The attacks killed 165 people and wounded many others.
7 February
Mumbai’s recovery
Wounded city bears its sorrows with resolve to overcome terror
Cleo Paskal
(Special to the star) Mumbai, india–The Taj is back. The iconic hotel that was the site of tragic atrocities during the terrorist attacks in Mumbai reopened less than a month after black smoke was seen billowing from its shattered windows.
Symbolizing the resilience of this great city, major sections of the hotel, including many of its restaurants, are once again hosting ladies who lunch, weddings and discerning tourists (with expense accounts).
But things aren’t exactly the way they were before. Now, to get in to the Taj Mahal Hotel you have to pass through three metal detectors, and have your bag scanned. However this is, after all, the Taj, so your bag makes its journey along the scanner belt in a crisp, white linen-lined wicker basket.
31 December 2008
Pakistani Militants Admit Role in Siege, Official Says
ISLAMABAD, Pakistan — Pakistani authorities have obtained confessions from members of the Pakistani militant group Lashkar-e-Taiba that they were involved in the terrorist attacks in Mumbai in November that killed more than 160 people, a Pakistani official said.
26 December
Pakistan cancels army leave as India tensions rise
It followed media reports in Pakistan and India that “several” Indian nationals had been held in the last two days after bombings in the Pakistani cities of Lahore and Multan.
18 December
Who staged Mumbai?
By Madhav Das Nalapat
… for the jihadis in Pakistan that are being nurtured by the Pakistan army, Kashmir is but the appetizer. The main course is the rest of India.Once Kashmir is converted into a Talibanized state under the effective control of the Pakistan army,it would be simpler to facilitate terror attacks across what remains of India, so that the country may finally dissolve into the violent chaos so desired – and openly so, in spoken and written words – by the generals in Pakistan.

Pakistan cagey about apparent capture of Kashkar-e-Taiba leader Zaki-ur Rehman Lakhvi
Pakistani military and government officials offered terse, contradictory statements as to whether Zaki-ur Rehman Lakhvi  had been captured. Pakistan was not ambiguous, however, about its plans for the militants: Officials are refusing to turn them over to India for prosecution. Los Angeles Times (free registration) (12/9) , BBC (12/9)
8 December
(Foreign Policy) Pakistan arrested Zakiur ur-Rehman Lakhvi, operational leader of the militant group Lashkar-e-Taiba, in connection with last week’s Mumbai attack. Pakistani security forces raided a camp used by the group yesterday.
The New York Times reports on the connections between LeT and Pakistani intelligence.
3 December
India terrorism by the numbers
A long history of terrorism in India precedes the recent coordinated attacks in Mumbai. The Global Terrorism Database (GTD), maintained at the University of Maryland by the National Consortium for the Study of Terrorism and Responses to Terrorism counts more than 4,100 terrorist attacks in India since 1970. Fatalities number in the thousands. This information is freely available online. The GTD is the most comprehensive and detailed open-source terrorism database available.
2 December
(BBC) The US warned India about a possible threat at least a month before last week’s Mumbai attacks, US media have quoted unnamed officials as saying.
ABC News quoted Indian officials as saying that after receiving the US warning, they also intercepted a satellite phone message on 18 November warning of a seaborne attack on Mumbai.
The city had been on high alert but security measures at the attacked hotels had recently been relaxed, the network reported.
ABC also reported that the Indian authorities had seized a mobile phone SIM card belonging to the attackers, which they said had led to a “treasure trove” of contacts and information. More
1 December
US urges Pakistan to assist Mumbai probe
(FT) The US put strong pressure on the Pakistani government to give “absolute and total” co-operation to India in the hunt for the perpetrators of the Mumbai attacks
Mumbai 11/27: the Pakistan army’s alibi
Those who planned the Mumbai attacks to create an alibi for their refusal to take out al-Qaida in the tribal regions will be disappointed. This time India will not fall into the trap laid by the Pakistan military by sending additional troops to the border and creating war hysteria that would divert attention away from the ongoing campaign against al-Qaida.
Mumbai attacks ‘were a ploy to wreck Obama plan to isolate al-Qaeda’
(Times online) Relations between India and Pakistan were on a knife edge last night amid fears that Delhi’s response to the Mumbai attacks could undermine the Pakistani army’s campaign against Islamic militants on the frontier with Afghanistan.
Officials and analysts in the region believe that last week’s atrocities were designed to provoke a crisis, or even a war, between the nuclear-armed neighbours, diverting Islamabad’s attention from extremism in tribal areas bordering Afghanistan and thus relieving pressure on al-Qaeda, Taleban and other militants based there.The carnage may have been an attempt to put Pakistan and India at each other’s throats and kill US hopes for the region.
Strange storm brews in South Asia
(Asia Times Online) Washington is trying to cool tempers and avoid an eyeball to-eyeball confrontation between India and Pakistan in the wake of last week’s terror attack in Mumbai – even as both the nuclear-armed adversaries race to get the United States on their respective good side. China, Israel and others are watching the emergence of a new South Asian power equation from the wings, but the US is a full-fledged participant, thanks to the war in Afghanistan, which is critically poised.
India makes protest to Pakistan

Following the attacks, the focus is on the lone gunman who survived and who is now in police custody. According to Indian media reports, Azam Amir Qasab is from Pakistan and linked to the Pakistan-based Kashmiri militant group, Lashkar-e-Toiba, or Army of the Pure. The group denies involvement.
India’s Deputy Home Minister, Shakeel Ahmad, told the BBC it was “very clearly established” that all the attackers had been from Pakistan – echoing similar comments from other officials in recent days.
Mumbai Attack Undermines India’s Political, Economic Confidence
(Bloomberg) The Mumbai attacks that took the lives of at least 195 people pose an enormous political challenge to the Congress Party-led coalition government, which is obliged to call a national election by May. Prime Minister Manmohan Singh yesterday replaced Home Minister Shivraj Patil after the rival Bharatiya Janata Party took aim with quarter-page newspaper ads showing blood splattered on a wall and proclaiming “Weak Government.”
Cabinet Minister Resigns in Wake of India Attacks
… The Bush administration, hoping to defuse the possibility of hostilities, announced it was sending Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice to India this week “to stand in solidarity with the people of India as we all work together to hold these extremists accountable.”
Top Indian officials have suggested that groups based in Pakistan had some involvement in the attacks, but the officials have not explicitly blamed the Pakistan government. The options on the table for responding, officials and analysts said, range from the suspension of diplomatic relations to the most extreme and least likely, a cross-border raid into Pakistan against suspected training camps for militants.
Strategic Motivations for the Mumbai Attack
(Stratfor) By staging an attack the Indian government can’t ignore, the Mumbai attackers have set in motion an existential crisis for Pakistan. The reality of Pakistan cannot be transformed, trapped as the country is between the United States and India. Almost every evolution from this point forward benefits Islamists. Strategically, the attack on Mumbai was a precise blow struck to achieve uncertain but favorable political outcomes for the Islamists.

Even if the identification of the dead jehadis involved in the Mumbai terror in the last week of November 2008 had not revealed their Pakistan background and even if one of them had not been captured alive to reveal the provenance of the attack there would have been little doubt that Pakistan ISI had a hand in the affair. Whether the highest circles had knowledge of it or whether it were the rogue elements of the Inter Services Intelligence who were behind it is not the point at issue. The deep involvement of any number of rogue elements of the Pakistan military and the ISI, who are not amenable to control of the government, has always been suspected in most incidents of this nature – be they in India or elsewhere. Were the authorities in Islamabad serious it would not be an impossible task for the military top brass to weed out these elements. It suited General Musharraf to exercise duplicity in this regard for the best part of his tenure. The present Army top brass, if not equally duplicitous, is happy to look the other way. However, this time around they might have painted themselves into a corner. Let us examine the implications for the international community.

The world at large is surprised that every time India is hit very hard through what it refers to as cross border terrorism, it is unable to undertake even limited action against the Islamist organisations involved from Pakistan soil because the Western think tanks and defence anlaysts routinely start warning India that Pakistan is a nuclear weapon state – thus forcing further caution on an already pusillanimous polity. Almost immediately many retired and serving generals in Pakistan take up the cry that a riposte from India could lead to nuclear escalation. India is cautious because until very recently the superpower invariably saw things through the Pakistani lenses. Ditto on the part of their British allies. The European Union at times saw things differently, but chose to remain silent and take the cue from the Anglo-American predominants in the region. Furthermore, China kept upgrading Pakistan‘s nuclear and missile capability. Much to the dismay of the people of India, the government was invariably on the horns of a dilemma. The situation stands radically changed after the recent attacks in Mumbai, because whereas 9/11 was an attack on USA and attacks in Spain, UK and the earlier attacks on India were specific to the countries attacked, this time around the Mumbai attacks, earlier in the week, were clearly and unambiguously targetted on the international community, for evidently the most famous hotel in the world, The Taj of Bombay as also the Oberoi Hotel were invariably filled with foreign guests. Americans, British and Jewish nationals were being singled out with clear design. Many were killed, some of them in a barbarous manner. India is once again wavering in its response to the Pakistan-abetted outrage, inspite of the clamour from the length and breadth of the country to hit back at Pakistan – for how long can India take these outrages supinely without being dismissed as a non-player on the global stage. A country that cannot protect itself from its much smaller and weaker neighbours has, ipso facto, no role to play on the global stage.The point at issue is much too serious and the ramifications reverberate well beyond Indian shores.

To date the world was afraid of Pakistani nukes falling into the hands of the radical elements fast gaining ground in Pakistan and physically holding large tracts under their control, having moved out far beyond their traditional strongholds. Now informed opinion is veering around to the greater danger at the hands of Pakistan generals, the present custodians of the nuclear capability of that nation. Their nuclear sabre-rattling, often at the drop of a hat, may one day get out of hand, because of the very strong radically-minded sympathisers within the armed forces and the intelligence services. Therefore, the point at issue is whether the world is ready to countenance a nuclear exchange that could bring disaster to the world at large, simply because India in the face of grave and unending provocations chose to undertake a limited retaliation against jehadist pockets. Apparently, the Pakistan military is indulging in nuclear brinkmanship and hence represents potentially a greater threat than the Islamists as the custodians of nuclear weapons. Let there be no doubt. The events of November 2008 in Mumbai of the last few days were a dress rehearsal for attacks on other shores. The same logic would apply to those having a more robust ability and resolve than India to retaliate agasinst further outrages coming from elements based in Pakistan. Pakistan has the nukes and the delivery potential to hit US assets in many parts of Asia, and several European nations for good measure. Therefore, the foremost task before the NATO nations is to de-nuclearise Pakistan at the earliest, whatever the methodology adapted to do so.

Regrettably, the US establishment has been following a mistaken strategy in Pakistan in the support provided to the Pakistan military establishment. The biggest threat to Pakistan now is internal. The jehadis have the potential – demonstrated on several occasions – to fight the Pakistan Army to a standstill, at least in the western redoubts. The answer for the Pakistanis is to send in the army in much larger numbers – boots on the ground. They can afford to do so, because they are not short of manpower – having  a very large army – that not being the case with US and NATO forces operating in Afghanistan. Yet, short-sightedly the Americans till very recently kept supplying the Pakistan with sophisticated fighter aircraft and the like, which are no substitute for hand-to-hand fighting in the FATA and adjacent areas of Pakistan, now virtually under radical control. The Pakistan Army constantly shies away from ground fighting with requisite force and ends up bombing the radicals, mostly civilians in Swat and the adjacent regions. The kills reported are wildly exaggerated as there is no indpendent verification and the Islamists gain ground. Therefore, the US has to stop supply of sopphisticated weaponry to Pakistan at the earliest, well before the new administration is obliged to change course. Sooner, rather than later these very same weapons could well be turned against erstwhile allies, who were allies only for public consumption – giving support with one hand and supporting the enemies with the other.
Major General Vinod Saighal
30 November
Captured terrorist’s account of Mumbai massacre reveals plan was to kill 5,000
The only terrorist captured alive after the Mumbai massacre has given police the first full account of the extraordinary events that led to it – revealing he was ordered to ‘kill until the last breath’.
29 November
A Day of Reckoning as India Toll Tops 170
(NYT) Tensions were high, as well, between India and Pakistan, where officials insisted that their government had nothing to do with assisting the attackers and promised that they would act swiftly if any connection was found within their country.
Perhaps the most troubling question to emerge Saturday for the Indian authorities was how, if official estimates are accurate, just 10 gunmen could have caused so much carnage and repelled Indian police officers, paramilitary forces and soldiers for more than three days in three different buildings. BBC ; Al Jazeera; What They Hate About Mumbai

28 November
U.S. Intelligence Focuses on Pakistani Group
American intelligence and counterterrorism officials said Friday that there was mounting evidence that a Pakistani militant group based in Kashmir, most likely Lashkar-e-Taiba, was responsible for this week’s deadly attacks in Mumbai.
Even as terrorists put up stiff resistance in Mumbai, India weighs its response

(Economist) India’s government was quick to suspect that the attackers hailed from Pakistan, assisted perhaps by aggrieved locals. The interrogation of one captured assailant should give authorities some answers. If the link is proven, India may blame jihadist groups outside the control of Pakistan’s authorities. Less charitable conclusions are also possible. India suspects that elements of Pakistan’s intelligence services are intent on stirring up trouble in the country. The head of Pakistan’s largest spy group, the Inter-Services Intelligence, has been invited to Delhi to explain himself.
27 November
India under attack
A terrorist onslaught of stunning scope and horror
Attacks by bands of gunmen on numerous targets, instead of the mere laying of bombs, and the seizure of so many hostages, led to speculation, unsupported by evidence, that local militants in India could not have mounted the attacks without considerable foreign help. And the targets chosen—world-famous hotels and Western tourists—were a new phenomenon for India, despite being a pattern familiar from attacks directed or inspired by al-Qaeda elsewhere in the world. More from BBC

2 Comments on "India, Pakistan and the Mumbai massacre"

  1. sam totah December 3, 2008 at 7:43 am ·

    The attack on the Chabad House and the killing of the young Rabbi (29 yrs) and his wife (28 yrs.) — was part and parcel of this heinous massacre. The only wonderful act was the saving of their two year old son “Moshe” by the nanny. These details should form part and parcel of the Mumbai affair.

  2. SHAHAB HUSSAIN January 1, 2009 at 11:32 pm ·

    brilliant work.

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