The following is the translation of an Arabic Q&A on the subject.
بسم الله الرحمن الرحيم
Question: The Foreign Ministry of Pakistan summoned the Deputy High Commissioner of India in Islamabad on Thursday and lodged a protest against Indian Air force war planes violating Pakistani airspace…Also, the US defence officials announced that they have information regarding the Indian Air force preparing an attack…
It may be noted that about a month has passed since the Mumbai incidents, yet the Congress-led coalition government has not taken a decisive decision on the issue. It sometimes threatens Pakistan and demands handing over of the accused, or suspends the peace process. Initially it accused the Lashkar-e-Tayyibah group or accuses the Pakistani intelligence of training the attackers. But then the threats and warnings subsided and the Indian parliament discussed (on 17th December, 2008) tightening laws to prevent terrorism. Then threats and war hysteria is whipped up and Pakistani airspace is violated…All this demonstrates the prevailing confusion in the Indian government preventing a firm decision.
What is the reality? Why is the Indian government wavering to take a resolute decision, and were these events local, regional or global?
Answer: Yes, indeed the Indian government is confused and wavering, failing to take a firm decision on the Mumbai incidents. The reason is that the events took place in the run-up to the general elections in India during May 2009. Therefore this means certain defeat for the ruling Congress Party, if it fails to take bold steps that demonstrate its decisiveness and strength. And in fact the government cannot demonstrate its strength by taking some small steps. The action will have to be proportionate to the Mumbai events or else, the regime loses its credibility. This means it will have to launch an effective assault against Pakistan. And it was actually on the brink of doing so. But as it happens, the India and Pakistan region is a hotbed of global powers- namely, the US and Britain, who exercise considerable influence in the region. The Indian preparations were under the watch of these powers. The two neighbours began intensive preparations with Britain determined to project Pakistan as the aggressor, who supported the Mumbai attackers, whilst the US tried to project Pakistan as not being involved and willing to cooperate with India in the investigation into the incidents. At the same time, the US prevailed upon India to desist from resorting to any military action in the region, so that the Pakistani armed forces are not compelled to shift to their eastern border with India and thereby desert the western flank bordering Afghanistan.
In fact, the immediate and intensive actions undertaken by the US, during and after the Mumbai attacks, and its pressure on India, coupled with their stand that the Indian accusations linking Pakistan to the attacks lacked credible evidence, as well as advising Pakistan to show more restraint and flexibility towards India, to the extent of humiliating Pakistan as it was ready to arrest and prosecute any Pakistani who appeared to be linked to the attacks, Pakistan’s total readiness to participate in the investigations, arrests of a number of Jama’at al-Da’wah leaders on the grounds that they were linked to the Lashkar-e-Tayyibah….all of this prevented the Congress-led government from launching an attack. But at the same time, the Indian government needs to act decisively to restore peoples’ trust in it.
As things stand, any action other than raising military movement and preparedness does not appear to be in proportionate to the events. However, since any significant military action is presently ruled out due to the global situation resulting from the US efforts, the Congress-led government is confused because on the one hand it is looking for ways to launch a military strike, but at the same time, it can not…
To fully understand the issue, let us put the sequence of events in perspective:
1- At the end of last month, on 26th of November, 2008, attacks took place within the Indian city of Mumbai, which led to exchanges of gun fire between the attackers and the India security forces lasting over three days. In the ensuing battles, it was reported that about 200 persons lost their lives and over 300 were injured. The attackers were ten in number and one of them was arrested by the government. The Indian government accused Pakistan, claiming that the attackers were Pakistanis belonging to the Lashkar-e-Tayyibah, trained by it. The accusations grew sharper and India even claimed that they were trained by Pakistani intelligence.
2- Subsequent to the attacks and the accusations leveled by India against Pakistan and worsening of relations between these two countries, intense diplomatic activity was undertaken by the two colonialist powers, who have considerable influence in the region and who are battling each other to retain and consolidate their stronghold, i.e. the US and Britain. Their media and newspapers covered the incident, as though it was their own internal matter involving their own citizens.
As for the US, its Secretary of State, Condoleezza Rice visited India on 3rd December, 2008 and in a joint press conference with the Indian Foreign Minister, Pranab Mukherjee, Mukherjee was agitated when Rice observed that this is the time when every one must cooperate, he said: “I have informed Dr. Rice that there is no doubt that the terrorist attacks in Mumbai were carried out by persons who came from Pakistan and were controlled by Pakistanis.” Rice responded saying: “If the persons were non-government elements, then Pakistan has the responsibility to take necessary steps against them and cooperate in order to bring them to justice.” She further added: “Any action from the Indian side should not escalate tensions between the two neighbours who have already fought three wars since their independence from Britain in 1947.” (Reuters; 3rd December, 2008). This implies that the US does not accuse Pakistan of involvement in the incidents; rather it defended Pakistan to an extent and that it does not want India to further escalate tensions and carry out attacks on Pakistan, to avenge the painful attacks suffered by the Congress government in India.
This is how the US carried out intensive actions to pacify and console India after the attacks, which is evident from Rice’s meeting with the Indian politicians and security officials to whom she advised restraint. An Indian security official gave a presentation to Rice and said, “Does Washington wants us to keep quiet? Look, the Pakistani terrorists are still freely infiltrating into India through the border region,” (Ar-Ra’I website 5th December 2008). The website added that defence officials emphasised that in the wake of the Mumbai attacks the American fleet has added more forces in the Arabian Sea and the Gulf region around India, Pakistan and Iran and this was prompted by US fears regarding armed conflagration between India and Pakistan. The American aircraft carrier USS John Stennis, carrying 80 aircrafts and 3,200 soldiers, mobilized and with this the number of aircraft carriers in the region has grown to three, including the USS Theodore Roosevelt and USS Iowa Jima, which has a strong contingent of marines and patrol boats. Moreover, Mike Mullen, Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff visited India on 2nd December, 2008 CE.
After visiting India, Rice went to Pakistan and praised the Pakistani government and said that the civilian government of Pakistan is fully committed to War on Terror and does not want it to be linked with the terrorist elements, (BBC 4th December, 2008). This proves US support to Pakistan against India. Similarly, Mike Mullen, Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, visited Pakistan and the official statement issued by the US Embassy in Islamabad stated that Mullen was convinced that the Pakistani officials feel that the Mumbai tragedy represents a dangerous escalation increasing terrorist attacks in the entire region, (Al-Jazeerah 3rd December, 2008), which implies that Pakistan is not in any way involved in the Mumbai incidents because it is a dangerous escalation of tensions! There were repeated visits by Americans to Pakistan, including a US Congress delegation led by John McCain, the former republican presidential candidate. All this was to express support for its agents in the region and to reduce its apprehensions of an attack by India, which will result in the Pakistani troops moving to their eastern border with India and abandon the western flank, where they are currently fighting Muslims on America’s behalf in Waziristan and other tribal regions!
US Deputy Secretary of State John Negroponte also visited Pakistan on 11th December, 2008 after the UN Security Council passed a resolution on 10th December, 2008 placing the Jama’at al Da’wah and four of its leaders on the terrorists’ list. The Pakistani government arrested the Da’wah leaders and promptly sealed their offices. It appears that the US intended to pacify the Indians through this move and therefore it demanded that Pakistan comply with this resolution immediately and without delay, so as to prevent India from carrying out attacks against Pakistan which will unsettle its loyal agents there, including the President Asif Ali Zardari and Prime Minister Geelani, which will only create more problems for them and further anger the Pakistani people because of their support for the US agenda of fighting Islam and Muslims. The Americans want to protect the jobs of its agents in Pakistan, who are engaged in the war against Islam and Muslims in Pakistan and Afghanistan. America does not want to engage them in another war with India, thereby abandoning an all important front for America, which will endanger its global influence.
As for Britain, they also got into action at the highest levels but not in line with the Americans. Gordon Brown, the British Prime Minister, visited New Delhi and met Dr. Manmohan Singh, his Indian counterpart on 14th December, 2008 and announced his support for New Delhi’s stance and said, “We know that Lashkar- e-Tayyibah is responsible for the attacks and it is necessary to respond on this great tragedy,” (Al-Jazeerah 14th December, 2008). Having said this whilst in India, Brown then visited Pakistan and asked them to fight Muslims and offered an assistance of 9,000,000 dollars to Pakistan for the ‘War on Terror’! The British newspapers published reports accusing Pakistan of complicity in the Mumbai attacks and having trained the attackers through the Pakistani army. The Sunday Times said on 8th December, 2008 that it has been informed of an Indian intelligence report claiming that the ten attackers were part of 500 who received training by the Pakistani army and navy. The paper reported on the authority of sources close to the Indian intelligence that any new attack on India before the upcoming general elections will definitely result in a war between the two countries. This proves that the British and their Indian agents are looking at attacking Pakistan, which will restore the Indian people’s confidence in the Congress-led government before the general elections.
The Congress party is known to harbour British loyalty and is due to face general elections in May, 200,9 and is better placed as evident from the media broadcast and published reports that India has achieved a higher economic growth during Congress’s rule and is enjoying economic prosperity apart from great scientific advancements in space exploration and weapons development. The Congress party riding on these, is optimistic of winning the next elections. When the recent Mumbai attacks took place and India trembled severely, the opposition parties led by the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) which is pro- US and which suffered defeat in the previous elections in May, 2004, found an opportunity to embarrass the Congress government’s stance and the opposition parties accused Singh and his government of a weak-kneed approach on security and of feebleness in bringing the attackers to justice. This embarrassed the government which is due to face elections in the course of some months. It may be noted that the BJP government had fallen in the aftermath of several attacks and bomb blasts that took place during its tenure, for which it did not directly accuse Pakistan, rather it accused the Students Islamic Movement of India, the SIMI and was similarly accused by the then opposition parties. The BJP had earlier achieved success against Pakistan when America forced the Pakistani officials to concede certain shameful and humiliating demands on the Kashmir issue, whereby it won the earlier elections and remained in power from 1999 to 2004. Now it is racking up the security issue to shake people’s trust in the Congress-led government and it appears to be a potent weapon in this matter. The Ar-Ra’I website mentioned on 5th December, 2008 the Indian intelligence agency’s report that there was a possibility of attacks on Indian airports and hijacking of planes, using them to target major cities.
From the above, it may be concluded that the Congress led government, having been shaken by the recent events can only salvage and restore its trust, if Pakistan conceded to its demands like handing over of 20 persons wanted in India who live in Pakistan, or if India carries out a military strike against Pakistan to avenge the Mumbai attacks, or by any means that demonstrate a victory over Pakistan.
But because it appears very difficult for Pakistan in the current circumstances to hand over India’s wanted persons, since the Pakistani Defence Minister, Ahmed Mukhtar, has refused to handover any of the wanted persons to India, (Al-Hayat: 8th December, 2008), because this will completely erode people trust in their rulers, including the president and prime minister, which is already trembling, and strengthen the position of the Congress government, which America does not wish to see in power, unless it agrees to tow the US line.
The Americans are working with all their strength to prevent India from attacking Pakistan and this is why they have not cashed in on the opportunity to topple the present government from power there and they point to the Pakistani people’s rallying around its leadership in fighting India. The Washington Post reported on 8th December, 2008 that the Pakistani people are fully behind their rulers and even the Taliban fighters have declared their intention to fight India shoulder to shoulder with the Pakistan army if it was attacked by the Indians. The newspaper reported the statements of certain Taliban leaders like Maulvi Nazeer and Baitullah Masood, wherein they expressed their readiness to fight India alongside the Pakistani army which implies that everyone including the adversaries of the Pakistani government is willing to fight India … Apart from this, as we mentioned earlier, that the Americans’ attempts to weaken the Indian accusations against Pakistan, and its push to the Pakistani government to display more flexibility towards India in arresting any Pakistani who is found to be involved in the incidents, and show its willingness to participate in investigations. The Pakistani government on its part arrested a number of Jama’at al Da’wah leaders, all of these forced India from taking any major retaliatory military action against Pakistan.
Thus, the Congress-led government of India is searching for an intensive action proportionate to the Mumbai incidents, in order to salvage itself in the next general elections, but it is very difficult for it to undertake any large enough military action, commensurate with the Mumbai attacks due to the US-maneuvered current world situation. Also, it is not easy for Pakistan to handover the wanted men…and the resulting situation is rather confusing for the Congress government, preventing any decisive action in this regard.
This is with regards to the Indian dilemma.
As for the incident itself, it is a global one that took place on the Indian soil, this is evident from the following:
a. The initiatives undertaken by the US and Britain in the immediate aftermath of the incident, which we mentioned earlier, indicate the concern of the two powers in the events and happenings in India and her neighbor, Pakistan.
b. A closer look at the initiatives and actions of US and Britain clearly points to the fact that they are working in opposite directions. Britain is supporting the Indian position and its accusation against Pakistan that it is clearly involved in the attacks, whilst the Americans on the other hand are weakening and underplaying India’s accusations and raising concerns about the rising military tensions.
c. Indeed, the Mumbai attacks are not an advantage for the Congress-led government. Rather they impede its path and shake the trust of its supporters and people in it. They have also reduced its chances of winning the next general elections and eroded its position both regionally, as well as globally…
d. The supporters of the US in India have found a golden opportunity in these attacks to boost their sagging fortunes and strengthen their position to be better placed to win the next general elections, by exploiting these incidents fully and opposing the government fiercely. This is in line with the US requirement that the current pro-British Congress-led government falls from power in the next elections and their own pro-American men regain power.
The conclusion from all these facts is that it is likely that it is the US and its agents that are behind these attacks, either directly or proxy, which means that either the US and its men have planned and executed the incidents or they have exploited one of the several organisations who have been severely wronged and hence harbour revenge. So whilst the organization itself may have carried out the attacks with logistical support from the pro-US elements in India, the incidents were used politically to the advantage of Americans and pro-American elements. This is quite probable given that India is a non- homogenous country composed of a large number of ethnic and religious groups; apart from the various well-known Kashmiri groups, there are a number of separatist movements like the Bodo movement in Assam, Tripura Nationalist Movement, the National Liberation Force, the Khalistan Liberation Force in Punjab and a myriad more in various parts of India. Furthermore, there are scores of other right wing Hindu ultra-nationalist groups, who target Muslims and Christians like the BJP which continues to exploit the anti-Muslim card for electoral gains. Moreover, there is the Indian state itself which has been implicated in brutal acts of violence against the Muslims like in Gujarat and continues to kill Muslims in Kashmir for the last six decades!
Thus, the reality of the various factions in India and the fact of the treachery which the ruling elite of India practices especially against the Muslims, all of this render India vulnerable to various acts of violence and blasts.
If one were to add to this, the fact that after America brought the pro-US Vajpayee to power, the staunchly pro-British Congress managed to return to power and felt that the Americans will not easily accept losing their influence in the region and this was why the Congress brought in a somewhat ‘pliable’ Manmohan Singh as the prime minister, in order to reduce American pressure on Congress party. American on its part engaged India intensively, either through signing the nuclear agreement or through economic assistance, and at the same time exploited the brutal treachery of the Indian system in its minorities to create problems for the Congress in the next elections. The Mumbai attacks was the major incident in this series of American attempts to bring its agents to power in India by defeating Congress, the old British loyalists.
24th Dhul Hijjah, 1429 A.H.
22nd December, 2008 C.E.