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Syed Atiq ul Hassan: Response to Mumbai Bombing

Response to Mumbai Bombing

By Syed Atiq ul Hassan, Sydney, Australia

This is not the first time that the largest business city of India has been rocked by a terrorist attack. A series of coordinated blasts on commuter trains, last Tuesday (July 11, 2006) killed around 190 people and more than 600 hundred injured. In the past, usually, whenever any engineered carnage took place, Indian and Pakistani governments and their leaders blamed each other. This time, Indian government as well as leaders avoided pointing out fingers on Pakistan. Instead, the Indian Prime Minister Manmohan Singh vowed to continue the peace process with Pakistan. Similarly, Pakistani leadership without wasting time slammed the Mumbai bombing and referred the incident as a 'despicable act of terrorism'.

However, Indian Interior Ministry claimed that Mumbai bomb blasts were planned by Lashkar-e-Tayyaba (LeT) and carried out by the Students Islamic Movement of India (SIMI). It said that the LeT planned for the attacks while the members of SIMI planted all seven bombs. Indian Interior Ministry also called on Pakistan to take action against militants operating across the border for which Pakistani Foreign Minister Mr. Khurshid Kasuri reacted angrily and rejected any Pakistani link to the blasts.

It is noted that in the past, India claimed that the LeT along with other like-minded groups, had the support and assistance of Pakistan secret agency Inter-Services Intelligence (ISI). From the worst terrorist attacks of 1993 in Mumbai where 257 people were killed to the attacks in Dec 2002, Jan 2003 and March 2003 in Mumbai, India has been claiming the secretive involvement of ISI behind the terrorist activities in India. In relation to the recent Mumbai bombing, in a statement provided to Indian media organizations, the LeT spokesman, Abdullah Ghaznavi, denied any involvement of Lashkar-e-Tayyaba. Similarly, Shahid Badr Falahi, the leader of SIMI has also condemned the attacks and referred them as deplorable. In a news conference Shahid Badr said the SIMI has no involvement in these terrible bombing.

In the recent times, Pakistan and India have come closer. The governments of both the countries and their leaderships extended the hands of friendship and promoted diplomatic mechanism. Indo-Pak increasing congenial relation is being acknowledged not only by the majority in the subcontinent but also by the international community. In this situation one cannot think of any reason that these kinds of terrorist activities would provide any benefit to either side. In relation to the Kashmir dispute, both governments are moving forward with very constructive approach and they have also engaged Kashmiri activists and groups into the process of normalization. All these triangular (Pakistani, Indian and Kashmiri) engagements have been regarded at a greater extent and acknowledged by the international community. Indian Prime Minister, as a policy has initiated direct talks with the Kashmiri leaders as well. Hence, in this atmosphere, one cannot visualize any benefit to Kashmiri activists and groups from the recent bomb blasts. Furthermore, almost all the major Kashmiri groups have already condemned the incident.

Analyzing the trail of recent internal developments & conflicts in Pakistan; the military conflict between Pakistan army and Baloch tribesmen & separatist group in the province of Balochistan has been a serious concern for Musharraf's government.

According to some reports, significant number of army personnel have been killed by Baloch separatist and tribal groups. At some stage the government of Pakistan without naming anyone did mention that there were foreign elements behind the Balochistan atrocities, supposedly pointing to Research and Analysis Wing (RAW) of India.

In January 2005, a local Pakistan newspaper claimed in a report that the Intelligence Services of Pakistan (ISI) submitted a report to Pakistani high officials where ISI claimed that the Indian secret agency RAW was behind the current anarchy in Balochistan. RAW has set up a "Special Operations Division (SOD)" in Balochistan that was assigned the task of creating troubles for the Chinese engineers who were kidnapped and murdered. Report also said that the SOD was providing weapons to Balochistan Liberation Army (BLA), these weapons are smuggled from Afghanistan into Balochistan.

Next day after the Mumbai bomb blasts, (July 12, 2006), the General Secretary of so-called formed Government of Balochistan (GOB) in Exile, Mir Azaad Khan Baloch, sent his condolences to Indian Prime Minister Manmohan Singh on the incident. In the statement GOB (Exile) condemned the Pakistani ISI for the terrorist attacks in Mumbai and offered cooperation with the Indian authorities in hunting the culprits.

The trail of ethnic violence in India in different times suggest that there has been a long fomented suspicion between Hindus and Muslim that often triggered bloody clashes and violent rioting. Indian history has documented the worst clashes between Hindus and Muslims since the partition and creation of Pakistan and India in 1947. This may be the first time, when the people of India demonstrated a collective condemnation the incident without making any group or community responsible. Instead, Hindus and Muslims worked together by helping the victims indiscriminately. According to media reports, Indian Muslims queued for hours on Wednesday (July 13, 2006) to donate blood to the Hindu victims. Without any fear or panic they demonstrated a high-level of harmony and sympathy with the majority Hindu population. Similarly, there has not been any repulsion witnessed from any extremist Hindu elements. The leaders of the opposition BJP also asked people to remain calm and unite and help the administration to bring back life to a norm.

Notably, Indian media has also played a vital role in bonding people together after the incident. Particularly, the TV media, which is largely viewed in both India and Pakistan, showed live interviews of the people from various backgrounds where they boosted the public's positive image and publicized condemnation without blaming party, group, community or state.

If there could be any force that may maintain the pressure on the leaderships and governments of India and Pakistan in bringing them on the negotiating table to resolve their issues by diplomatic and peaceful means are the people of India and Pakistan. Whoever is behind these attacks and whatever their motivations, the people of India are required to remain positive, peaceful and nonviolent. The international community expect the same kind of moral and determination from the people of subcontinent when dealing with their mutual issues and conflicts, not only for the stability of their respective countries but also for peace in the region. The media's positive role will definitely not only help the people of India to remain peaceful but also promote positive thoughts regarding their geopolitical issues with neighbouring Pakistan.


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

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