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Mumbai Mumbles

By BrigGen(Ret) Dr. Muhammad Aslam Khan Niazi

(Taj Mahal Hotel: Courtesy- Human Rights Watch) The gruesome human carnage in Mumbai occurred like a flash flood, almost choking the Indian print and electronic media about the maintainability of intellectual impartiality. Unprecedented gush of accusations was heaped on Pakistan faster than the terrorists’ lethal weapons though no clue was yet available except their distant images taken by the expert foreign media. The gory trauma lasted for 62-72 hours. The shadowy discrepancy in the length of operation could be attributed to the premature claims by the Indian forces, busy in flushing out the young but well trained terrorists when some pockets of resistance held on longer than expected, thus negating the early success signals. Hotel Oberoi, Taj Mahal and a Jewish Center were the main areas that were struck by ‘Deccan Mujahideen’ (DM). Pakistani Foreign Minister, already touring India and pledging to open a new chapter of mutual reconciliation with erstwhile archrival was perhaps the first diplomatic casualty who had to cut his visit short and dash to Islamabad. President Asif Ali Zardari and his Prime Minister vowed to continue collective war on terror along with India. They made emotional claims, as damage control measure, to stand by the shoulders of Indian brothers against such savage acts. The felony committed by DM hurled the regional as well as world politics into a dangerous spin that could rubbish the hopes of dawn of new era, India required so desperately for its burgeoning economy and Pakistan for its budding democracy after repressive Musharraf led dictatorship, lasting for eight years. At this critical juncture, all Pakistani political parties displayed remarkable restraint and abandoned the point scoring strategy on the incumbent government. In fact whole Pakistani nation appeared inclined to forgive India, not only for recent Hindu extremists’ killings, bombing or torching several hundred Muslims and Christians, including some missionaries but also for the deep wound India inflicted by stage managing the Pakistan’s internal discord and dismembering it in 1971. The wave of sympathy was short lived


when some of their top Government and Military heads commenced their usual antiPakistan tirades. Indian Prime Minister, Mr. Manmohan Singh went to the extent of, according to Indian media, summoning Pakistani ISI Chief who heads an elite agency with cis and transfrontiers military operational intelligence role. Pakistani Premier, out of good will and sincerity buckled under the weight of Indian media hype for a while but soon recovered. It was obvious even to laymen, that demanding a top agency head by designation is in stark contravention to the international norms particularly when the accusations are being heaped on an institution incessantly. It was not the credibility deficit that ISI Chief would have faced but amidst the Indians simmering anguish against Pakistan, that is so spontaneous to spark in India, it would have complicated the situation further. If the Indian side when the DM were still resisting, was ready to show some proofs of Pakistani involvement to ISI Chief, the urgency of concoction becomes manifest by itself. Given the time, ISI Chief would have been in sound position to carry a plane-load of proofs of Indian involvement in Pakistan from the eastern as well as western borders. Abrupt break out of Karachi riots within hours of Mumbai’s battle appear RAW’s success to grind its axe and soothe Indian masses ire that also spoke of ‘revenge’. When emotions ran high, one does not grudge their reaction. Being a neighbor and with vast experience of events manipulation, RAW’s success was not surprising. What boggles mind of Pakistani nation is the presence of fifth columnists taking refuge in Karachi with glossy labels of ‘patriotism’. Mumbai monsters’ rampage that engulfed multi-cultural and multi-national cosmopolitan revealed some naked realities. • The print and electronic media in a secular state, if dominated by the brains with ethnic and racist tilt is a dangerous proposition. It thus failed to demonstrate the requisite maturity to play ‘bandage’ role, when nations and countries are inflicted wounds, suspected to have been engineered by foreign hand. Had there been no Angela Merkel, David Milliband, Condoleezza Rice, BBC and CNN, perhaps the WMD launchers of both the countries would have soon moved to the launch pads. To counter media hype and public frenzy against Pakistan, sounding alert to IAF and moving some additional troops to Indo-Pak border was witty as well as unwitting move, though it was soon contradicted by India and Pakistan. Hostile posturing of two nuclear adversaries ebbed down perhaps after the intervention of US and EU. Pakistani media, shocked, bewildered and threatened by Indian ‘jumping to the conclusions’ sort of behavior showed remarkable restraint. Threat of some kind of hostilities, if not an all out war, still hovers on the horizon. The so called CBMs, engineered by Musharraf government and supposedly passed on to the new government emerged merely a smoke screen behind which India has expanded its lethality and venom dozes, it is injecting into Pakistan. Talk of open borders trade may be fine but would Pakistani leadership floundering in internal quagmire of its own making, realize the intent and designs of its erstwhile adversary. Perpetuation of tyranny over Kashmiris for last 62 years , switching off 90% of Chenab River water supply in violation of the existing


agreements, maintaining its ability to trigger violence through paid cronies and driving wedge into FATA and Balochistan from behind Hamid Karzai’s green cloak are a few to count. As if it was not enough, India now has an operational airbase in Tajikistan on the NW periphery of Pakistan that would afford India pincer-like capability to strike our sensitive installations in northern Pakistan in matter of minutes, both from East and West. • The urgency of phoning for upping the diplomatic ante by Pakistani leadership proved that it is heavily dependent on goodwill of external powers beyond proportion only because it is pathetically weak from within. Sovereign status means integral deterrence to the extent of hedging external threat effectively without SOS calls to US, EU or China. If the people of Pakistan, through the mandate of February 18, 2008 election had rejected the dictator’s rule, there is no margin for the present government to maintain status quo. It must undo the policies and governance style of previous dictator to win the people’s confidence. The charisma of Benazir Bhutto and Zulfiqar Ali Bhutto, both killed by opponents dubiously is fast waning; no matter you name all roads, historical buildings, cities, institutes and air ports in their names. These are the utopian recipes to prevent disaster that would come any way if sound, corruption-free judiciary and the state’s institutions are not allowed to operate independently. Karachi is Pakistan’s time bomb. Though it has stayed violence-prone city, yet during Musharraf interim government immediately preceding February elections, huge stocks of sophisticated weapons were built up in Karachi as the rumor goes. In Pakistan, surprisingly, rumors never fail. It is unbelievable that PPP government does not know of it. However, to save their skin, if they have chosen to be voluntary hostage to anti-state capability of some faction, they are only behaving like brilliant fools. A short clip on third day (2 December 2008) of the riots in Karachi was shown on electronic media when ‘criminals’ of a particular locality were being arrested and thrashed, only to make them as escape-goats and shift public attention from the real culprits. In Karachi the deplorable volcanic situation can erupt any time as a coup-de-grace by anti-state elements wrapped in the guise of ‘patriotism’ to hit at the roots of country’s solidarity. Curt warnings to Pakistan appearing in Indian media to flush terrorists from its soil becomes meaningless because Pakistan is under far more severe attacks by its own people though the battle of guts is certainly among estranged brothers, particularly in FATA and Balochistan. Certainly the degree of estrangement has been manipulated by some regional and extra regional powers. Standing by India at such critical juncture is fine gesture to a neighbor but in the long run, it must meet the test of reciprocity that is totally absent from Indian side. Giving concessions to India through such assurances like NFU (no first use) in the nuclear domain is incoherent with the conduct of art of diplomacy. Our foreign office should heed to the fact that interstate relations are governed by brains and national interests. Hearts are kept folded. For last couple of years, the 3

intelligentsia is witness to the pattern that suggests to the contrary. Practically Pakistan has been pushed to the brink by our inept foreign policy stalwarts. Thus India secures any concession it wants, without letting its position budge by an inch. The imbalance is unacceptable. Pakistan side should well be suggested that India be dealt with always as if some crisis situation is being handled to avert war in the face of several contentious issues that persist among the two opponents. India has so far successfully pursued potentially contradicting goals. One to prevent war (may be nuclear) and the other to prevail on the adversary. India would never go to war but it flaunts threat of war toward Pakistan to achieve its war aims without firing a bullet. Pakistan remains ‘honored’ to build CBMs in the mean time. • The commando operation conducted by Indian elite force, ‘Black Cat’ to flush out the terrorists from huge hotel structures and the Jewish Center left much to desire. Fire power was the only option used by the rescuers, resulting in higher deaths of hostages versus a few terrorists. No ruse and deception was applied. If terrorists were taking shield of the hostages, so did the rescuers. An Indian soldier shooting grenades from a neighboring building into a hotel with a grenade launcher was trying to put the hotel structure on fire aimlessly, forgetting that his technique only fitted to a conventional battle field. The point proves that Russian, US or Israeli equipment if sold to Indian forces must be annexed with the required expertise transfer also.

The conclusions are obvious in the entire episode. Pakistan shall never initiate a war even though it has been severely and persistently mauled and dismembered by India. Yet if the war is imposed on Pakistan, it would be too willing to face it until logical end. It is in Indian interest to contain home grown terrorism by addressing the Kashmiris grievances, which span over several decades and also of the people of Bihar, Assam and Tamil lands in just ways. Pakistan is better advised to find political solutions for FATA and Balochistan, sparing military might and focus for its larger war, threat of which haunts us from the EAST every now and then. Quest for ‘peace’ nevertheless must stay a preferred option by both, India and Pakistan.
(Also a member of WSN International Advisory Board, the author’s book, “The New Great Game: Oil and Gas Politics in Central Eurasia has been recently published from New York, London and Swansea simultaneously under his acronym, Dr. Makni. E-mail