Siege of Mumbai: Role of Pakistan-state/non state actors
by P C Dogra on 02 May 2009 0 Comment

The Jihadi attack on Mumbai, the financial capital of India which epitomized the integration of markets, entrepreneurs and ideas, is an attack on the very heart of India. A handful of terrorists could paralyse the financial capital, kill nearly 200, injure more than 300, inflict several billions of dollars worth damage, speaks copiously about the capability of our Jihadi neighbour’s determination to paralyse the Indian economy.

These attacks were carried out at ten different places by ten heavily armed jihadis. It was really a ruthless and audacious attack, which involved the killing for the first time, of foreigners-Americans, Japanese, Israelis and Germans.

Complicity of Pak state/non state actors

The Indian Prime Minister confirmed that the attack was clearly carried out by a Pakistan based outfit Lashkar-e-Toiba and on the basis of investigation carried out, including by the agencies of foreign countries whose nationals were killed in the attack, there is enough evidence to show that given the sophistication and precision of the attack, it must have had the support of some official agencies in Pakistan.

The Home Minister similarly said the operation could not have been carried out without the complicity of ‘state actors or state assisted actors.’ Intercepted conversations between the terrorists and their handlers in Pakistan reinforce state complicity. In one call there was reference to a Major General of Pakistan, soliciting his further instructions. Then there was a reference to the Israeli Govt. request to the Govt. of India through the diplomatic channels to save Israeli hostages and a handler’s direction to kill them so that relations were spoiled.

Pak aim - dismemberment of India

The horror of Mumbai reminds us about the public declaration of late Zulfikar Ali Bhutto, then Prime Minister of Pakistan, to inflict thousand bleeding cuts on India. We are suffering innumerable terrorist attacks and thousands of casualties at the hands of our recalcitrant neighbour.

India should not forget its disintegration is Pakistani state policy. Prof. Hafiz Mohammed Saeed, founder of Lashkar-e-Toiba, said on 3 November 1999 in Lahore: “Jehad is not about Kashmir only. About 15 years ago, people might have found it ridiculous if someone told them about the disintegration of USSR. Today, I announce the break up of India, Insha-Allah. We will not rest until the whole of India is dissolved into Pakistan.” He again said at a rally in Karachi in 2000: “There cannot be any peace while India remains intact. Cut them, cut them, cut them so much that they kneel before you and ask for mercy”

Since the creation of Pakistan as a separate homeland for Indian Muslims, Pakistan has been in search of a national identity. It has not been found so far and as stated by Strobe Talbot in ‘Engaging India’: “The Pakistanis seemed to wear on their sleeve an insecurity about the cohesiveness and viability of their own state, not to mention the durability of its democracy. After more than half a century Pakistan was still grappling with the questions of identity and survival.”

Rand Corporation study

This influential US think-tank states: “The attack put into actual practice LeT’s previous rhetoric about making the Kashmir dispute part of international Jihad. In doing so, LeT has emerged, not as a subsidiary of Al Qaida, but as an independent constellation in the global jihad galaxy...”

It study warned that India can expect more terror attacks like Mumbai from Pak-based terrorist groups, with high body counts and symbolic targets, in an escalating terror campaign in South Asia. “India will continue to face a serious jihadist threat from Pakistan based terrorist groups and neither Indian nor US policy is likely to reduce that threat in the near future,” said Angel Rabasa, lead author of the study.

It added: “Pakistan was very likely to take minimal steps needed to defuse the present crisis while still retaining a capacity to use the militants in future,” and “If LeT operated with some degree of complicity from the military and intelligence agencies, the Mumbai attack offers a number of disturbing implications.”

The crux of the report is: “The attack among other things suggests that attacking India with the aim of weakening it remains the ambition of at least some key elements in the Pakistani security establishment,” and that while India understands the costs of military action, from its point of view there are also costs to not responding.

The study highlighted that: “Pakistan has likely concluded from the events since December 2001 attack on the Indian Parliament complex and prior that India is unable or unwilling to mount a serious threat to punish or deter Pakistan from these attacks.” India is likely to remain a target of Pak-based terrorism due to India’s inability and that of the international community to compel Pakistan to dismantle the terrorist infrastructure comprehensively. It reinforced the expanding participation of Indians in Islamist violence with varying degrees of assistance from Pakistan and Bangladesh.

US Money

As per the report on ‘Direct Overt US Assistance and Military Reimbursements to Pakistan, FY 2001-FY 2008,’ prepared by the Congressional Research Service, US has given Pakistan $1.3 billion towards foreign military financing and an additional $418 million towards ‘other security related aid.’

US has provided a whopping $5.7 billion to Pakistan during this period as Coalition Support Funds, which is “funding to reimburse Pakistan for its support of US military operations.” The total ‘Non-food Aid Plus Coalition Support Funds’ that were transferred from American to Pakistani accounts added up to $9.8 billion. According to The New York Times report, these funds have been “diverted to help finance weapons systems designed to counter India.” Is it not a matter of concern for India?

Pakistan’s state policy tripod

Hussain Haqqani observed in his book ‘Pakistan between Mosque and Military’ that: “Since the country’s inception, Pakistani leaders have played upon religious sentiment as an instrument of strengthening Pakistan’s identity,” and that “Very soon after independence, Islamic Pakistan was defining itself through the prism of resistance to Hindu India.” Late President Ayub Khan characterized India as a Hindu state and Hindus as irreconcilable enemies of Islam and Muslims, Pakistan’s eternal enemy, Islam as a national unifier, and the United States as the country’s provider of arms and finances.

Stephen Cohen in ‘Pakistan Army’ noted that: “for Pakistani officers of succeeding generations, the distrust of India is a fundamental assumption… The other was the self-delusion of the military and the belief that it not only had mastered the Pakistani politics but could master the Indians as well… Pakistanis were told that the 1965 war demonstrated their martial superiority over Hindu India.”

In South Asia, Islamists have been allies in the Pakistan’s military’s efforts to seek strategic depth in Afghanistan and put pressure on India for negotiations over the future of Kashmir.

Cohen adds, “A few hardliners even look forward to the day when India might be broken up, adding to the list of independent South Asian Muslim states. A minority of Pakistani officers went further, arguing that since India was unviable, Pakistan only needed to give a push and this artificial Hindu state would implode.” The dominant view in Pakistan army is that Pakistan can continue to harass soft India. With nuclear weapons, missiles and tough army, Islamabad can withstand considerable Indian pressure as was proved in the last deployment of the Indian army in the aftermath of the terrorist attack on Parliament and will usually find international supporters to back it up.

Cohen pertinently pointed out, “This could mean the occasional crisis or a fresh challenge to India with the ever present possibility of a war or a nuclear incident. Pakistan might also be able to again assert a strategic presence in the west or the North. As for the Islamists, the scenario also assumes that the Establishment will continue to use Islamist forces and outright terrorists as instruments of diplomacy in dealing with its neighbours.”

Terrorism –a strategic defense doctrine

Terrorism is discussed as a part of the curricula of strategic studies in army training courses in Pakistan and in its war games. Brigadier Malik’s ‘Quranic Concept of War’ emphatically states, “The concept of terror is central to the Islamic conduct of modern war.”

“Terror struck into the hearts of the enemy is not only a means, it is the end in itself. Once a condition of terror into the opponent’s heart is obtained, hardly anything is left to be achieved. Terror is not the means of imposing decision upon the enemy; it is the decision we wish to impose upon him. Nuclear weapons are the modern terror weapons.” The strategy of nuclear deterrence, in fashion today, cannot work unless it is capable of striking terror in the hearts of the enemy.

It has been well established by American intelligence that Lt. General Taj Nadeem, DG-ISI till September 2008, was responsible for the attack on the Indian embassy in Kabul and he might well have planned the Mumbai carnage before he was shifted. It is also established that Lt. General Javed Nasir orchestrated the Mumbai terrorist attacks in 1993.

Al-Qaida has evolved from headquarters-planned conspiracies to diffuse ideological groups under its overall inspiration. Yosri Fouda, senior investigative reporter in London from Al Jazera television network, said “I do not really believe there is such a thing as Al-Qaeda, the organization, there is Al-Qaeda, the mind-set.” It is believed that the current threat in Europe is from a new generation of recruits much less connected to the core of Al-Qaida. These cells are getting younger and are forming over the internet. India is also getting into this phase as some segments of Muslim youth seems alienated from the mainstream. Autonomous networks of terrorism outside J&K have emerged.

UN report on counter-terrorism

The Counter Terrorism Committee of the UN Security Council observed: “India lacks capabilities to win terror war.” It says: “Terrorism in India has claimed 70, 000 lives over the years” and that the “country’s laws on terrorist financing do not fully comply with the UN resolution 1373 adopted after Sept 11-2001” which lays down the benchmark for counter-terrorism laws worldwide and is binding on all member-states.

“Most terrorist financing in India occurs through informal channels, including hawala, the use of fake Indian currency, and drug trafficking,” the report said. Many problems could be tackled if India adopted comprehensive counter-terrorism legislation. Currently, India has no comprehensive strategies in place to prevent terrorist organizations from posing as legitimate charities or to prevent diversion of funds to support terrorist activities.

Other nations on counter terrorism

America enacted the USA Patriot Act of 2001 (Uniting and Strengthening America by Providing Appropriate Tools Required to Intercept and obstruct Terrorism Act of 2001), which allowed its security agencies to search telephone details, e-mails, medical, financial and other records.

Australia has given “Stop and search” powers to its police. It has also issued a ‘control order’ that allows police to approach a closed court and ask for restrictions to be placed on someone who poses a terror threat.

Even Bangladesh has implemented new terror laws, creating special tribunals to hear terror cases and clear these in six months with a provision of death penalty for terrorism and financing of terrorism.

India must assert itself

India should stop looking towards USA for any help on Pakistan. We will get only lip service and nothing substantive.

America needs Pakistan for security against Al Qaida and Taliban who are operating with impunity in Afghanistan, on Pak-Afghan border, in FATA and Swat valley. America needs Pakistan for sheer physical survival and this is well known to the Pakistani establishment.

Ahmed Rashid and US Afghanistan expert Barnett Rubin, in their article in Foreign Affairs Journal, wrote that Pakistan would be persuaded to stop supporting terrorism if India could resolve Kashmir, which they argue to be a bigger strategic threat to Pakistan than terrorists on their soil. They argued Pakistan needs to be assured it is under no threat, and the best way to do that was to “resolve Kashmir;” only then would Pakistan lift its umbrella of support for terrorists and terrorism.

It is absurd to presume that there will be peace in the sub-continent if there is an amicable solution of the Kashmir issue. The aim and policy objectives of Pakistan have been clearly spelt out above. Now Pakistan has added another dispute in Indo-Pak relations - that of sharing of waters.

In a recent op-ed piece in Washington Post, Pakistan President Asif Ali Zardari said, “The water crisis in Pakistan is directly linked to relations with India. Resolution could prevent an environmental catastrophe in South Asia, but also failure to do so could fuel the fires of discontent that lead to extremism and terrorism.”

Here it may be pertinent to note that after signing the Indus Water Treaty with Pakistan, where Prime Minister Nehru consciously gave much more water to Pakistan than due, just to buy peace, he lamented that even then Pakistan will remain hostile to India!

I conclude with a warning from the US think tank ‘Stratfor’ that, “The gradual unravelling of command and control within the Pakistan military establishment has enabled many more of Islamabad’s militant proxies operating in Pakistan and India to team up with transnational jihadists to carry out deadlier and more strategically targetted attacks,” and that, “Though the timing is uncertain, India is likely to witness another large scale attack on its soil that will once again escalate cross border tensions.”

India will have to take hard decisions for its survival.

The author is a former Director General of Police, Punjab, & President, Forum on Integrated National Security, Chandigarh

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