Wednesday, December 31, 2008

India, Mumbai, and the Pakistan Connection: Following Facts

I've gotten the impression that quite a few Indians are convinced that America is shielding Pakistan from the India's righteous wrath over the Mumbai attack. After all, it's been (just) over a month since terrorists killed people and set fire to buildings in Mumbai.

"Obviously," it was the work of Pakistan's LeT: and Pakistan must be punished.

Equally "obviously," it was the work of Hindu terrorists, bent on disrupting upcoming elections and/or deflecting attention from their own naughtiness. That point of view doesn't seem as common, though.

If the American government had not gotten involved in the investigation of the Mumbai attack, that would have been proof of America's apathy: or that America was shielding Pakistan. Or Hindu terrorists.

As it is, America is presumably guilty of dragging its feet over admitting the obvious guilt of Pakistan:
"It was meant to be a swift and airtight investigative effort after India opened all doors of cooperation with US investigators. As it turns out, a convinced US did ask Pakistan for access to Lashkar-e-Toiba operations chief Zaki-ur-Rehman Lakhvi and communications in-charge Zarar Shah but has heard nothing positive on the request, leaving India frustrated and disappointed."

India, Mumbai, Pakistan: 'My Mind is Made Up, Don't Confuse Me With the Facts'

After the 9/11 attacks, it was 'obvious' that Saudi Arabia was involved:
  • By the afternoon of September 11, 2001, there were strong indications that "Saudi militant Osama bin Laden" was behind the attack
  • Lots of Saudi Nationals left America, after
    • National airspace re-opened on September 13, 2001
    • Being checked by the FBI
  • All but four of the hijackers were from Saudi Arabia
    • At least, they had the names of Saudi nationals
Evidence didn't show that the House of Saud was involved, although bizarre pronouncements by Saudi clerics - some of them high-ranking officials - make suspicion of Saudi involvement plausible.
Suspicions Aren't Facts
It's one thing to suspect that Hindu fanatics set fire to the Taj Mahal Hotel in Mumbai and killed a key government official. Proving it is another matter.

In fact, testimony by the surviving terrorist, a telephone number stored in a cell phone's memory, and other evidence, points to Pakistani territory, and the LeT. Not Hindu extremists.

Pakistan, the LeT, ISI, and a Reality Check

India is, in my opinion, a stable democracy. Pakistan is not. There's a civilian government in Pakistan that might eventually succeed in getting control of the country's military, and the territories now run by tribal leaders. I think the odds are good that, with some help, a Pakistani civilian government might cut off the ISI's independent sources of revenue and bring that intelligence agency under civilian control.

But right now, there are quite a few different 'Pakistans' - the one presumably controlled by the elected civilian government, the one that the military runs, and the ISI - that's been described as a "state within a state."

American investigators got communications intercepts - and a confession from Zarar Shah, a top LeT leader - that may prove LeT involvement in the Mumbai attack. Americans turned evidence over to Pakistani authorities, and the American government is leaning on Pakistan's to cooperate with Indian authorities.
Trusting Feelings vs. Following Evidence
I'm sure it's not as emotionally satisfying to some as nuking Islamabad would be: but America doesn't work that way. Even the "unilateral" invasion of Iraq was based on evidence that clearly indicated a WMD program. The equipment and weapons haven't been found. They may not exist, or they may have been hidden. There's a fair amount of undeveloped, open, landin Iraq.

The coalition could have waited to see what cities Saddam Hussein destroyed first, but they decided to act. It may have been just as well. Very few Iraqis miss Hussein's rule, apart from a minority who benefited from it. And, apparently, one shoe-throwing reporter.

I can understand feeling deeply in one's heart, that Pakistan - the whole country - is responsible for the Mumbai attacks. But feelings aren't facts.

Even if India did decide to attack Pakistan, and the conflict ended in a regional nuclear war: wouldn't it be nice if the decision to devastate two countries was based on something besides somebody's feelings?

Better yet, wouldn't it be nice if India's government behave like the stable democracy it is, and be willing to allow a serious investigation to run its course?

Happily, that's what seems to be happening.

India and Minorities: Some Good May Come from Mumbai's Loss

Judging from an op-ed piece, some Indians are considering the possibility that India's policies - official and otherwise - toward minorities may not be ideal.

As long as this introspection doesn't descend into the simple abuse that some of America's 'serious thinkers' indulge in, I think that India's people and government might benefit from a serious and practical look at how people who aren't part of the majority's ethnic, religious, and cultural pattern are treated.

What terrorists did in Mumbai was wrong. But that doesn't mean that India's government shouldn't let evidence and reason guide its decisions. I think there's even a chance that Pakistan's civilian government might learn that terrorists within its borders can't be tolerated - and get more practical control of the territory it's supposed to have.

Related posts: News and views:


A Casual Observer said...

Hello I like your Blog I have a similar one reporting from Lahore Pakistan ,

Let's link up and share info. :)

Brian H. Gill said...

A Casual Observer,

I'm finally catching up. Thanks for the offer - I'll 'link up' to the extent of making that URL a link here -

Thanks for responding - and we'll see what happens.

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Note! Although I believe that these websites and blogs are useful resources for understanding the War on Terror, I do not necessarily agree with their opinions. 1 1 Given a recent misunderstanding of the phrase "useful resources," a clarification: I do not limit my reading to resources which support my views, or even to those which appear to be accurate. Reading opinions contrary to what I believed has been very useful at times: sometimes verifying my previous assumptions, sometimes encouraging me to change them.

Even resources which, in my opinion, are simply inaccurate are sometimes useful: these can give valuable insights into why some people or groups believe what they do.

In short, It is my opinion that some of the resources in this blogroll are neither accurate, nor unbiased. I do, however, believe that they are useful in understanding the War on Terror, the many versions of Islam, terrorism, and related topics.