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India should look into her own backyard

India should look into her own backyard for the carnage


By Syed Atiq ul Hassan, Sydney, Australia

India is the largest democracy in the world and is claimed to be the world’s rising economic power after China with Mumbai a leading international financial city. With a population of more than a billion India has vast division among the people on the basis of religion, ethnicity, language, culture and territory. The partition of India, in 1947, and the birth of Pakistan & (new) India was also the result of the biggest and bloody clashes between Hindu and Muslims. Time and again the world has seen the clashes between the people on the name of religion, castes and cults. On the external front, India has always been facing geopolitical and political issues with almost every neighbour – Pakistan, China, Sri Lanka, Bangladesh, Nepal. Kashmir is the biggest dispute between India and Pakistan, which led to three wars between the two countries.

Whatever happened in Mumbai was absolute inhumane. In a 60-hour siege terrorists attacked and hijacked ten sites across India's financial capital, Mumbai, leaving at least 160 dead including many foreigners and more than 300 people injured. Yet, this is not the first time. The Indian government and the media are labelling the incident equal to 9/11 incident in USA forgetting the tale of the past communal riots and blasts in India where there was much larger carnages than this. For example; In May 1984 the siege and clashes with Indian security forces at the Golden Temple at least 83 Indian army personnel 493 Sikh extremist were killed; attack on train in Mumbai in July 2006 killed more than 200 people and wounded at least 700 people; In September 2002, more than 2,000 Muslims brutally killed and thousand severely injured in Gujarat massacre; some 257 killed and more than 1,000 injured in 15 co-ordinated bomb attacks in Mumbai on March 12,1993 and so on and then off and on clashes between Kashmiri militants and Indian security forces accounting many deaths in Kashmir for the last 60 years.

India has always been surrounded by problems from the very beginning internally and externally. Time and again we see bloody communal riots in India. Not long ago Christians were targeted and Churches were set on fire in the east coast of India particularly in the states of Orissa, Karnataka and Jharkand. According to the head of US-based Christian organisation that runs orphanages in Eastern States of India extremist Hindu groups who promote the slogan of Hindutva – ‘to be Indian is to be Hindu’ - offered money, food and alcohol to mobs to kill Christians and to destroy their homes and churches.

Like the Muslim extremist groups Taliban and Al- Quaeda operating in Afghanistan and Pakistan, Hindu extremists groups Vishwa Hindu Parishad (VHP), Bajrang Dal and Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh (RSS) are also actively involved in creating violence and terrorism in India. According to reports they are also building suicide squads to attack Muslims and Christians. These groups have strong roots and are supported by heavy weight Indian parties and politicians.

Coming back to recent attacks in Mumbai, it is not hard to accept that in India the law enforcement agencies can make anyone responsible for any crime aiming to either hide the facts or to get rid of responsibilities. In February 2007, Sumjhauta Express Train – runs between India and Pakistan – was attacked which led to 80 people, mainly Pakistanis killed. Every quickly Indian sources blamed Pakistan of the attack. After the inquiry it was disclosed that a former Indian army officer, who was the member of a Hindu extremist group, was the master planner behind the attack.

I read a story of a captured dacoit long time ago in which he stated that many robberies charged under his name were those which he had read in the newspapers. Pakistan has been going through the worst kinds of terrorists’ attacks, almost every day, for the last seven years. Pakistan has received the most terrorists’ incidents in the world in the last seven years. According to Guinness book of world record Pakistan has the highest suicide incidents - Without going into the history of what are the causes and who are responsible.

There are many terrorists’ groups including Al-Qaida and Taliban operating in Pakistan. Pakistan has lost its top most, world renowned politician Benazir Bhutto in a terrorist attack. The entire Northern part of the country, currently, has been sieged by Taliban and other militant groups. The members of Pakistani forces are losing their lives almost every day in the battle against militants. Therefore, the name of terrorism has been so much associated with Pakistan that if any act of terror is taken place in the region can easily be linked with Pakistan or with the militancy groups operating in Pakistan.

From Joint Police Commissioner, State Ministers, Foreign Ministers to the Prime Minister all pointed fingers towards Pakistan. In summon-style language Indian leadership asked Pakistan head of state to send Chief of Inter-Services Intelligence (ISI) of Pakistan to India. The Indian intelligence and law enforcement agencies claimed that the culprits along with their heavy ammunition entered Mumbai by boat from Karachi a week before the attacks. They belonged to Pakistan’s based militant group ‘Lashkar-e-Taiba’ which was already banned in Pakistan in 2002. India media has also exaggerated the blame game of Indian politicians and government.

One cannot ignore the possibility of the hand of one or more of these militant groups who are active in Pakistan including the banned Lashkar-e-Taiba. Firstly, even if Indian sources were finding some leads across the border, the Indian government and its politicians should have behaved in a responsible manner in order to keep the running peace and stability process continue between the two nations. These are the incidents where the real intentions of governments and politicians can be tested. Secondly, it is to be noted that Pakistan Lashkar-e-Taiba has already been banned in Pakistan. Pakistani forces are already fighting against the members of Lashkar-e-Taiba, Taliban, Al-Quaeda and other extremists groups.

Pakistani foreign minister Shah Mohammed Qureshi was already in India having meetings Indian counterparts and head of state on various multi-level issues of mutual interest when Mumbai incident happened. Talking to the media in India, Mr. Qureshi had very strongly condemned the attacks. Similarly Pakistani Prime Minster, Yousuf Raza Gilani, and the President, Asif Ali Zardari, also contacted the Indian counterparts, condemned the incidents and offered their full support including assurance to punish any culprits linked to Pakistan were involved. In his recent interview to the Financial Times, Pakistani President said that even if the militants were linked to Lashkar-e-Taiba, who do you think Pakistan was fighting against?. He said that whose country was battling Al-Qaeda and Taliban militants on its shared border with Afghanistan. President Zardari warned that provocation by rogue would pose the danger of a return to war between the nuclear-armed India and Pakistan.

Most of the international powers including UK and USA acknowledged the response of Pakistani government. They also offered their support to cooperate with Indian authorities in order to find the elements responsible.

In this situation, India must avoid the blame game and instead develop a long-term relations with its neighbours by resolving all pending issues especially with Pakistan. Recently, people from different walk of lives started building-up bilateral relations especially in trade, sports, media and art. Even at State levels both countries were signing agreements for opening more diplomatic channels aiming to build-up relations in various fields. Therefore, the international community cannot expect India to sabotage the building relations and act antagonistically. Similarly, India has to work strengthening their homeland security, banned extremist organisations and groups, combat local terrorism and violence, and provide security and justice to the minorities.

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(The writer is Sydney-based journalist and a media analyst).

Concluded on 2nd of December, 2008

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