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Strange storm brews in South Asia - India and Pakistan

Discussion in 'Strategic & Foreign Affairs' started by pkpatriotic, Dec 2, 2008.

  1. pkpatriotic

    pkpatriotic SENIOR MEMBER

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    Strange storm brews in South Asia - India and Pakistan
    By M K Bhadrakumar
    Dec 2, 2008

    No sooner had the guns fallen silent and the terrorist carnage ended in Mumbai than a keen three-way diplomatic tussle began involving India, Pakistan and the United States. The two South Asian nuclear powers are locked in race to get the US on their respective side.

    For the US, though, it is no longer a matter of acting as a fair-minded, neutral mediator. Today, Washington is a full-fledged participant with its own stakes in the South Asian strategic power equations, thanks to the war in Afghanistan, which is critically poised. Indeed, the South Asian brew couldn't be more strange.

    As "The Old Man" in William Shakespeare's play Macbeth would say,
    "Threescore and ten I can remember well:
    Within the volume of which time I have seen
    Hours dreadful and things strange: but this sore night
    Hath trifled former knowings."

    Washington seems to apprehend that the escalating tensions in South Asia may spin out of hand. According to the latest indications, US Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice is arriving in New Delhi on Wednesday on a mediatory mission.

    Again, Israeli intelligence Mossad is watching from the shade. The apparently Pakistani fidayeen (guerillas) who attacked Mumbai made it a point to target Jews, including Israeli citizens, for particularly gruesome violence. There were nine Jewish victims. Israeli experts have arrived in Mumbai. Israel's fury knows no bounds.

    Meanwhile, China is gently wading into the eye of the storm. On Saturday, China's Foreign Minister Yang Jiechi discussed by telephone the crisis with his Pakistani counterpart, Shah Mehmood Qureshi. They surely condemned the terrorist attacks in Mumbai. But then, Yang went on to express the hope that "Pakistan and India could continue to strengthen cooperation, maintain the Pakistan-India peace process, and to advance bilateral ties in a healthy and steady way", to quote Xinhua news agency.

    Yang said, "These measures are in the fundamental interests of both Pakistan and India." Curiously, Yang and Qureshi also "pledged joint efforts to push forward bilateral ties". In essence, Yang has voiced solidarity with Pakistan and counseled restraint on the part of India. It is unclear whether Washington prompted Beijing to use its good offices to calm the troubled waters or Beijing wished to underscore its relevance to South Asian security.

    One thing is clear, though. As the death toll in Mumbai continues to steadily climb and is about to cross 200 innocent lives, India is overwhelmed by waves of sorrow and anger. The government in Delhi has been shaken to its very foundations by the public outrage that has erupted at the colossal failure of political leadership. The ruling party, Congress, which is the grand old party that led India's freedom struggle, faces an existential threat to its future standing on the chessboard of India's national politics.
    Senior politicians of all shades sat huddled in the prime minister's residence for hours altogether until midnight Sunday, figuring out how to face the daylight and a public which is fast losing faith in them and their shenanigans.

    The interior minister has been forced by an irate Congress party leadership to resign, owning responsibility for the massive failure to prevent the fidayeen from storming India's financial capital with such impunity. Curiously, intelligence wasn't altogether lacking that precisely such an attack from the Arabian Sea needed to be anticipated.

    But the public is not impressed that the dapper minister's head has rolled. The wounds on the Indian psyche cut deep. And there is a growing possibility that the public anger may result in a wild swing in the popular mood toward right-wing nationalist politics in the ongoing provincial assembly elections and the fast-approaching parliamentary elections.

    The government is pointing its finger at Pakistan as the base from where the fidayeen staged their carefully planned attack. The popular perception in India is that there had to be some very substantial degree of involvement by elements within the Pakistani establishment for such a massive, meticulously choreographed operation with detailed logistical back-up to be staged.

    The government is having a hard time maintaining its formal position, which distinguishes terrorist groups based in Pakistan that would have carried out the attack and the Pakistani government as such. The public opinion doesn't buy the subtle distinction, but the government has little choice in the matter.

    Indeed, the Indian establishment seems to lack conviction in what it is saying by way of absolving the Pakistani security agencies of any hand in perpetrating the terrorist attack. The alternative for the government would be tantamount to calling the attack by its name - an act of war - on the part of the Pakistani establishment, given its massive scale. But that will oblige India to respond to the perceived aggression militarily, which of course is unthinkable as a nuclear flashpoint is reachable within no time.

    The point is, the India-Pakistan adversarial relationship with its undercurrents of mutual suspicion and bristling with countless animosities bordering on hostility, is so delicately poised at any given moment that it doesn't need more than a few hours to degenerate into a conflict situation on account of a misstep or two on either side, even when it is camouflaged in veneers of cordiality as it has been during the past three to four years.

    Islamabad, of course, stubbornly rejects all imputations of involvement in the terrorist attack. Under direct pressure from the United States, Islamabad hurriedly accepted the idea that Lieutenant General Ahmad Shuja Pasha, director general of the Inter-Service Intelligence (ISI) Pakistan's premier intelligence service, would visit India to discuss the issue. But this decision, emanating out of a telephone conversation between Rice and Pakistan's President Asif Ali Zardari, seemed to have been a shrewd attempt to finesse the mounting Indian anger. It has since been watered down by the Pakistani military. Evidently, Pakistani army chief General Pervez Kiani, who previously headed the ISI, concluded it might sap the morale for the military to be seen wobbling under Indian pressure.

    Reflexes are hardening on both sides. In the domestic political environment in India with impending national elections, it is politically suicidal for the government to be seen helpless in even coaxing Islamabad into a meaningful exchange. While the Indian left parties have set aside their recent acrimonious differences with the government and called for "national unity", right-wing politicians do not feel the impetus to do so when they sense the chances of their being catapulted into power on a nationalistic wave of popular outrage.

    Meanwhile, Delhi turns toward Washington for more help. And, anticipating further US pressure, the Pakistani military has begun holding out veiled threats that unless Washington and Delhi backed off, all bets are off on its participation in the "war on terror" in Afghanistan. This may put Washington in some quandary - and explain Rice's hurried trip to the region.

    The Pakistani military knows only too well that once the "Afghanistan factor" is brought into play, the calculus changes completely. With an estimated 32,000 US troops already on the field and a prospective force of more than 20,000 combat and support troops possibly on their way on the request of commanders in Afghanistan, it becomes a high stakes game for Washington.

    From Washington's perspective, the crisis erupts at an awkward time, with various departments and agencies of the US administration engaged in devising a fresh strategy towards the war in Afghanistan - White House coordinator for Iraq and Afghanistan General Douglas Lute; CENTCOM commander General Petraeus; chairman of Joint Chiefs of Staff Admiral Mike Mullen; the State Department and the Central Intelligence Agency are yet to complete their assignment.

    The Afghan factor cuts into US interests in different ways. First, in the event of an escalation of India-Pakistan tensions in the coming days and weeks, the US should anticipate a Pakistani decision to divert its crack divisions from the Afghan border regions, roughly totaling 100,000 troops, to its western border with India. Almost immediately, the impact will be felt on the dynamics of the war in Afghanistan.

    In a recent speech in Washington, General David McKiernen, supreme commander of the North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO) forces in Afghanistan, had underscored how important it was that Pakistani military stayed the course in Afghanistan. He said Kiani was shortly expected in Kabul and "we've started from talking to each other to today we coordinate tactical-level cooperation along the border".

    McKiernen added he saw a "shift in thinking at the senior levels in Pakistan that this insurgency is a problem that threatens the very existence of Pakistan, and that they have to deal with it perhaps in ways that they didn’t contemplate a few years ago on their side of the border. So I see a willingness and a capacity, although they have a long way to go to conduct counterinsurgency operations on the Pak side of the border".

    He expressed "cautious optimism" about the war, taking into account the Pakistani military's willingness to cooperate. McKiernen's worst fear now will be that the Pakistani military leadership may be about to plead it has the will to fight the al-Qaeda and the Taliban but lacks the capacity and resources due to the urgent requirement of redeployment on the border with India.

    A second factor working on the US will be the pressure that all this might put on the transit facilities for supplying the troops. Roughly 75% of the supplies for the US troops pass through Pakistan and there are no viable alternate routes except through Iran for supplying the units deployed in the insurgency-ridden southern and southeastern regions of Afghanistan. Third, without Pakistan's support, the Taliban will have a field day in the border regions. And the casualties for the NATO forces will mount, which will have serious political implications for the European capitals.

    Therefore, Washington's prime task will be to cool tempers and avoid an eyeball-to-eyeball confrontation between the two South Asian nuclear adversaries. It will be the last major foreign policy act for the departing George W Bush administration and a curious full-dress rehearsal for the incoming Barack Obama presidency.

    The Pakistani interest lies in forcing a mediatory role on the US that "restrains" India. The Pakistani military feels nervous about the rapidly expanding US-India strategic partnership and would like Washington to be even-handed in its South Asia policies. Curiously, the fidayeen attack on Mumbai forcefully underscores the Pakistani plea that Washington cannot compartmentalize the Afghan war without addressing the core issues of India-Pakistan tensions.

    But all this overlooks the possibility that the Pakistani military may well have a grand motive for ratcheting up tensions with India precisely at the present juncture so as to find an alibi to wriggle out of the commitments to the "war on terror" in Afghanistan. The point is, the Pakistani military harbors deep misgivings about the incoming Obama administration's Afghan policy. Obama has dropped enough hints that he will get tough with the Pakistani military for its twin-track policy of fighting the war and at the same time harnessing the Taliban as the charioteer of its geopolitical influence in Afghanistan.

    The current US thinking leans towards equipping select Pashtun tribes to fight the Taliban and al-Qaeda. It is a controversial move that worries the Pakistani military, as it might ignite violence in the Pashtun regions inside Pakistan and fuel the Pashtunistan demand. Besides, Obama has bluntly warned that he would get the US Special Forces to strike inside the Pakistani territory if the security situation warranted. Such moves will be seen by the Pakistani military as a humiliating slap on its face.

    What is more disconcerting for the Pakistani military is the likelihood that Obama's "exit strategy" will emphasize the rapid build-up of a 134,000-strong Afghan national army. This has been a favorite idea of US Defense Secretary Robert Gates and it may largely explain Obama's decision to keep him at his cabinet post.

    However, the law of diminishing returns begins to work for the Pakistani military once an Afghan national army gains traction. Indeed, an Afghan army will, most certainly, be led by ethnic Tajik officers. At present, Tajiks constitute over three-quarters of the Afghan army's officer corps. But Tajiks have been entirely out of the pale of Pakistani influence - even during the Afghan jihad in the 1980s. Tajik nationalism challenges Pakistani aspirations to control Afghanistan. Summing up these dilemmas facing the Pakistani military, former Pakistani foreign secretary Najmuddin Sheikh recently pointed out, "It [Obama's Afghan policy] would in fact be the realization of Pakistan's worst security fears."

    Ambassador M K Bhadrakumar was a career diplomat in the Indian Foreign Service. His assignments included the Soviet Union, South Korea, Sri Lanka, Germany, Afghanistan, Pakistan, Uzbekistan, Kuwait and Turkey.
     
  2. MBI Munshi

    MBI Munshi RETIRED TTA

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    India's 9/11. Who Was Behind The Mumbai Attacks?

    By Michel Chossudovsky

    01 December, 2008
    Global Research

    The Mumbai terror attacks were part of a carefully planned and coordinated operation involving several teams of experienced and trained gunmen.

    The operation has the fingerprints of a paramilitary-intelligence operation. According to a Russian counter terrorist expert, the Mumbai terrorists "used the same tactics that Chechen field militants employed in the Northern Caucasus attacks where entire towns were terrorized, with homes and hospitals seized". (Russia Today, November 27, 2008).

    The Mumbai attacks are described as " India's 9/11".

    The attacks were carried out simultaneously in several locations, within minutes of each other.

    The first target was in the main hall of Mumbai's Chatrapati Shivaji Terminus railway station (CST), where the gunmen fired indiscriminately into the crowd of passengers. The gunmen " then ran out of the station and into neighboring buildings, including Cama Hospital"

    Attacks by separate groups of gunmen took place at two of Mumbai's luxury hotels - the Oberoi-Trident and the Taj Mahal Palace, located at the heart of the tourist area, within proximity of the Gateway of India.

    The gunmen also opened fire at Café Leopold, a stylish restaurant in the tourist area. The third target was Nariman House, a business center which houses Chabad Lubavitch, Mumbai's Jewish Center. Six hostages including the Rabbi and his wife were killed.

    The domestic airport at Santa Cruz; the Metro Adlabs multiplex and the Mazgaon Dockyard were also targeted.

    "The attacks occurred at the busiest places. Besides hotels and hospitals, terrorists struck at railway stations, Crawford Market, Wadi Bunder and on the Western Express Highway near the airport. Seven places have been attacked with automatic weapons and grenades.(Times of India, 26 November 2008),

    Indian troops surrounded the hotels. Indian Special Forces commandos were sent into the two hotels to confront the terrorists. Witnesses at the hotels said that the gunmen were singling out people with US and British passports.

    Casualties, according to reports, are in excess of 150 killed. Most of those killed were Indian nationals, many of whom died in the attack on the Chhatrapati Shivaji railway Terminus.

    At least 22 foreigners were killed in the attacks. Fourteen police officers, including the chief of the anti-terror squad, were killed in the attacks.

    Who was Behind the Attacks?

    A virtually unknown group called "the Deccan Mujahideen", has according to reports, claimed responsibility for attacks. The Deccan Plateau refers to a region of central-Southern India largely centered in the State of Andhra Pradesh. This unknown group has already been categorized, without supporting evidence, as belonging to the Al Qaeda network of terrorist organizations.

    Police reports confirm that nine "suspected attackers" have been arrested and three of the attackers have, according to unconfirmed police sources, confessed to belonging to Lashkar-e-Taiba [Lashkar-e-Tayyiba], a Pakistani Kasmiri separatist organization, covertly supported by Pakistani military intelligence (ISI). At least one of the arrested, according to the reports, is a British citizen of Pakistani descent.

    In chorus, both the Western and Indian media are pointing fingers at Pakistan and its alleged support of Islamic terrorist organizations:

    "Strategic gurus and security analysts in the US and from across the world are examining Pakistan's role in terrorism following yet another terror episode in India ending with fingers pointed at its widely-reviled neighbor.

    While initial reports from India suggested the Mumbai carnage was a localized attack by militant malcontents in India because of the "Deccan Mujahideen" decoy that was used to claim responsibility, evidence cited by Indian army and security experts based on phone intercepts, nature of weaponry, mode of entry by sea etc., has quickly focused the attention on Pakistan." (Times of India, November 27, 2008)

    The US media has centered its attention on the links between the Mumbai attacks and the "resurgent terrorist groups [which] enjoy havens in Pakistan's tribal areas as well as alleged protection or support from elements of Pakistani intelligence." (Washington Post, November 28, 2008).

    "Clash of Civilizations"

    In Europe and North America, the Mumbai attacks by Islamic fundamentalists are perceived as part of the "Clash of Civilizations". "Militant Islam is involved in a war against civilization".

    The dramatic loss of lives resulting from the attacks has indelibly contributed to reinforcing anti-Muslim sentiment throughout the Western World.

    The outlines of the terrorist attacks in Mumbai, India, are becoming clear. The terrorists targeted India, the U.S. and Britain, and the Jewish people. (Market Watch, November 28, 2008)

    According to the media, the enemy is Al Qaeda, the illusory "outside enemy " which has its operational bases in the tribal areas and North West Frontier Province of Pakistan. Washington's self-proclaimed holy mandate under the "Global War on Terrorism" is to take out bin Laden and extirpate Islamic fundamentalism.

    America's right to intervene militarily inside Pakistan in violation of Pakistan's sovereignty is therefore upheld. Bombing villages in the tribal areas of North West Pakistan is part of a "humanitarian endeavor", in response to the loss of life resulting from the Mumbai attacks:

    "Before these awful raids, news from South Asia had been encouraging. The central problem remains pacifying Afghanistan, where U.S. and other NATO forces struggle to stamp out Taliban and al-Qaeda elements." (Washington Post, November 28, 2008)

    "Washington, however, wants the Pakistani army's cooperation in fighting terrorism. In recent weeks, U.S. officers in Afghanistan reported better results, crediting the Pakistanis with taking the offensive against the Taliban on Pakistani territory."

    Media Disinformation

    US network TV has extensively covered the dramatic events in Mumbai. The attacks have served to trigger an atmosphere of fear and intimidation across America.

    The Mumbai attacks are said to be intimately related to 9/11. Official US statements and media reports have described the Mumbai attacks as part of a broader process, including the possibility of an Al Qaeda sponsored terrorist attack on US soil.

    Vice President Elect Joe Biden during the election campaign had warned America with foresight that "the people who... attacked us on 9/11, -- they've regrouped in the mountains between Afghanistan and Pakistan and are plotting new attacks". (emphasis added)

    These are the same people who were behind the terror attacks in Mumbai.

    These are also the same people who are planning to attack America.

    Immediately following the Mumbai attacks, New York Mayor Michael Bloomberg put New York City's subway system "on high alert" based on "an unsubstantiated report of potential terrorism here in New York. This report led the New York Police Department to take precautionary steps to protect our transit system, and we will always do whatever is necessary to keep our city safe," Bloomberg said in a statement" (McClatchy-Tribune Business News, November 28, 2008, emphasis added).

    It just so happens that one day before the Mumbai attacks, "the FBI and the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) had warned that there is a 'possible but uncorroborated' Al -Qaeda threat against the New York transportation system." (Ibid)

    "As the attacks in Mumbai were carried out, U.S. authorities issued a warning that Al-Qaeda might have recently discussed making attacks on the New York subway system. A vague warning, to be sure. 'We have no specific details to confirm that this plot has developed beyond aspirational planning, but we are issuing this warning out of concern that such an attack could possibly be conducted during the forthcoming holiday season,' the FBI and Department of Homeland Security said." (Chicago Tribune, November 29, 2008)

    Pakistan's Military Intelligence is America's Trojan Horse

    The media reports point, in chorus, to the involvement of Pakistan's Military Intelligence, the Inter Services Intelligence (ISI), without mentioning that the ISI invariably operates in close liaison with the CIA.

    The US media indelibly serves the interests of the US intelligence apparatus. What is implied by these distorted media is that:

    1. The terrorists are linked to Al Qaeda. The Mumbai attacks are a "State sponsored" operation involving Pakistan's ISI

    2. The Mumbai gunmen have ties to terrorist groups in Pakistan's tribal areas and North West Frontier Province.

    3. The continued bombing of the tribal areas by the US Air Force in violation of Pakistan's' sovereignty is consequently justified as part of the "Global War on Terrorism".

    The ISI is America's Trojan Horse, a de facto proxy of the CIA. Pakistani Intelligence has, since the early 1980s, worked in close liaison with its US and British intelligence counterparts.

    Were the ISI to have been involved in a major covert operation directed against India, the CIA would have prior knowledge regarding the precise nature and timing of the operation. The ISI does not act without the consent of its US intelligence counterpart.

    Moreover, US intelligence is known to have supported Al Qaeda from the outset of the Soviet Afghan war and throughout the post-Cold War era. (For further details see Michel Chossudovsky, Al Qaeda and the War on Terrorism, Global Research, January 20, 2008)

    CIA sponsored guerilla training camps were established in Pakistan to train the Mujahideen. Historically, US intelligence has supported Al Qaeda, using Pakistan's ISI as a go-between.

    "With CIA backing and the funneling of massive amounts of U.S. military aid, the Pakistani ISI had developed into a "parallel structure wielding enormous power over all aspects of government". (Dipankar Banerjee, "Possible Connection of ISI With Drug Industry", India Abroad, 2 December 1994).

    In the wake of 9/11, Pakistan's ISI played a key role in the October 2001 invasion of Afghanistan, in close liaison with the US and NATO military high command. Ironically, in October 2001, both US and Indian press reports quoting FBI and intelligence sources, suggested that the ISI was providing support to the alleged 9/11 terrorists.(See Michel Chossudovsky, Cover-up or Complicity of the Bush Administration, The Role of Pakistan's Military Intelligence (ISI) in the September 11 Attacks, Global Research, November 2, 2001)

    Pakistan's Chief Spy Appointed by the CIA

    Historically, the CIA has played an unofficial role in the appointment of the director of Pakistan's Inter Services Intelligence (ISI).

    In September, Washington pressured Islamabad, using the "war on terrorism" as a pretext to fire the ISI chief Lieutenant General Nadeem Taj.

    "Washington is understood to be exerting intense pressure on Pakistan to remove ISI boss Nadeem Taj and two of his deputies because of the key agency's alleged "double-dealing" with the militants.( Daily Times, September 30, 2008

    President Asif Ali Zardari had meetings in New York in late September with CIA Director Michael Hayden. (The Australian, September 29, 2008), Barely a few days later, a new US approved ISI chief Lieutenant General Ahmed Shuja Pasha was appointed by the Chief of the Army, General Kayani, on behalf of Washington.

    In this regard, the pressures exerted by the Bush administration contributed to blocking a parliamentary initiative led by the PPP government to put the country's intelligence services (ISI) under civilian authority, namely under the jurisdiction of the Ministry of Interior.

    In other words, Washington exerts more control over the ISI than the duly elected civilian government of Pakistan.


    The U.S. Violates Pakistan's Territorial Sovereignty

    The US is currently violating Pakistan territorial sovereignty through the routine bombing of villages in the tribal areas and the North West Frontier Province. These operations are carried out using the "war on terrorism" as a pretext. While the Pakistani government has "officially" accused the US of waging aerial bombardments on its territory, Pakistan's military (including the ISI) has "unofficially" endorsed the air strikes.

    In this regard, the timely appointment of Lt. General Ahmed Shuja Pasha to the helm of the ISI was intended to ensure continuity in US "counter-terrorism" operations in Pakistan. Prior to his appointment as ISI chief, Lt. General Ahmed Shuja Pasha was responsible, in close consultation with the US and NATO, for carrying out targeted attacks allegedly against the Taliban and Al Qaeda by the Pakistani military in the Federally Administered Tribal Areas (FATA) and the North-West Frontier Province (NWFP).

    Upon his appointment, Lt Gen Ahmed Shuja Pasha implemented a major reshuffle within the Inter-Services Intelligence (ISI), replacing several of the ISI regional commanders. ( Daily Times, September 30, 2008). In late October, he was in Washington, at CIA headquarters at Langley and at the Pentagon, to meet his US military and intelligence counterparts:

    "Pakistan is publicly complaining about U.S. air strikes. But the country's new chief of intelligence, Lt. Gen. Ahmed Shuja Pasha, visited Washington last week for talks with America's top military and spy chiefs, and everyone seemed to come away smiling." (David Ignatieff, A Quiet Deal With Pakistan, Washington Post, November 4, 2008, emphasis added).

    The Timing of the Mumbai Attacks

    The US air strikes on the Tribal Areas resulting in countless civilians deaths have created a wave of anti-US sentiment throughout Pakistan. At the same token, this anti-American sentiment has also served, in the months preceding the Mumbai attacks, to promote a renewed atmosphere of cooperation between India and Pakistan.

    While US-Pakistan relations are at an all time low, there were significant efforts, in recent months, by the Islamabad and Delhi governments to foster bilateral relations.

    Barely a week prior to the attacks, Pakistan president Asif Ali Zardari "urged opening the Kashmir issue to public debate in India and Pakistan and letting the people decide the future of IHK."

    He also called for "taking bilateral relations to a new level" as well as forging an economic union between the two countries.

    Divide and Rule

    What interests are served by these attacks?

    Washington is intent on using the Mumbai attacks to:

    1) Foster divisions between Pakistan and India and shunt the process of bilateral cooperation and trade between the two countries;

    2) Promote internal social, ethnic and sectarian divisions in both India and Pakistan;

    3) Justify US military actions inside Pakistan including the killing of civilians in violation of the country's territorial sovereignty;

    4) Provide a justification for extending the US led "war on terrorism" into the Indian sub-continent and South East Asia.

    In 2006, the Pentagon had warned that "another [major 9/11 type terrorist] attack could create both a justification and an opportunity that is lacking today to retaliate against some known targets" (Statement by Pentagon official, leaked to the Washington Post, 23 April 2006). In the current context, the Mumbai attacks are considered "a justification" to go after "known targets" in the tribal areas of North Western Pakistan.

    India's Prime Minister Manmohan Singh has stated that "external forces" forces carried the attacks, hinting to the possible role of Pakistan. The media reports also point in that direction, hinting that the Pakistani government is behind the attacks:

    US officials and lawmakers refrained from naming Pakistan, but their condemnation of "Islamist terrorism" left little doubt where their anxieties lay.

    ....

    What has added potency to the latest charges against Islamabad is the Bush administration's own assessment - leaked to the US media - that Pakistan's intelligence agency ISI was linked to the bombing of the Indian Embassy in Kabul some weeks back that killed nearly 60 people including a much-admired Indian diplomat and a respected senior defense official. (Times of India, November 27, 2008)

    The Attacks have Triggered Anti-Pakistani Sentiment in India

    The attacks have served to foster anti-Pakistani sentiment within India as well as sectarian divisions between Hindus and Muslims.

    Time Magazine has pointed in no uncertain terms to the insidious role of "the powerful Inter Services Intelligence organization — often accused of orchestrating terror attacks on India", without acknowledging that the new head of the ISI was appointed at Washington's behest. (Time online).

    The Time report suggests, without evidence, that the most likely architects of the attacks are several Pakistani sponsored Islamic groups including Lashkar-e-Taiba (Army of the Pure), "which is part of the 'al-Qaeda compact'", Jaish-e-Mohammed, a Kashmiri separatist organization belonging to Al Qaeda which claimed responsibility in the December 2001 terrorist attacks on the Union parliament in Delhi and The Students Islamic Movement of India, (SIMI). (Ibid)

    Both Lashkar-e-Taiba and Jaish-e-Mohammed are known to be supported by the ISI.

    Islamabad-Delhi Shuttle Diplomacy

    Pakistani president Asif Ali Zardari indicated that his government would fully collaborate with the Indian authorities.

    Pakistan's newly elected civilian government has been sidetracked by its own intelligence services, which remain under the jurisdiction of the military high command.

    The Pakistan's People's Party government under the helm of Prime Minister Yousaf Raza Gilani has no control over the military and intelligence apparatus, which continues to maintain a close rapport with its US counterparts. The Pakistani civilian government, in many regards, is not in control of its foreign policy. The Pakistani Military and its powerful intelligence arm (ISI) call the shots.

    In this context, president Asif Ali Zardari seems to be playing on both sides: collusion with the Military-Intelligence apparatus, dialogue with Washington and lip service to prime minister Gilani and the National Assembly.

    On November 28, two days following the Mumbai attacks, Islamabad announced that the recently appointed ISI chief Lieutenant General Ahmed Shuja Pasha would be dispatched to Delhi for consultations with his Indian counterparts including National Security Advisor M K Narayanan and the heads of India's external intelligence agency, the Research and Analysis Wing (RAW) and the Intelligence Bureau, responsible for internal intelligence. RAW and Pakistan's ISI are known to have been waging a covert war against one another for more than thirty years.1

    On the following day (November 29), Islamabad cancelled the visit of ISI chief Lt Gen Shuja Pasha to India, following Indian foreign minister Pranab Mukherjee's "very aggressive tone with Pakistani officials [in a] telephone [conversation] after the Mumbai attacks". (Press Trust of India, November 29, 2008 quoting Geo News Pakistan).

    Tense Situation. Deterioration of India-Pakistan Relations

    The Mumbai attacks have already created an extremely tense situation, which largely serves US geopolitical interests in the region.

    Islamabad is contemplating the relocation of some 100,000 military personnel from the Pakistani-Afghan border to the Indian border, "if there is an escalation in tension with India, which has hinted at the involvement of Pakistani elements in the Mumbai carnage." (Pakistan news source quoted by PTI, op cit).

    "These sources have said NATO and the US command have been told that Pakistan would not be able to concentrate on the war on terror and against militants around the Afghanistan border as defending its borders with India was far more important," (Ibid, Geo News quoting senior Pakistani journalist Hamid Mir).

    US Interference in the Conduct of the Indian Police Investigation

    Also of significance is Washington's outright interference in the conduct of the Indian police investigation. The Times of India points to an "unprecedented intelligence cooperation involving investigating agencies and spy outfits of India, United States, United Kingdom and Israel."

    Both the FBI and Britain's Secret Service MI6 have liaison offices in Delhi. The FBI has dispatched police, counter-terrorism officials and forensic scientists to Mumbai "to investigate attacks that now include American victims..." Experts from the London's Metropolitan Police have also been dispatched to Mumbai:

    "The U.S. government's "working assumption" that the Pakistani militant groups Lashkar-e-Taiba and Jaish-e-Mohammed are suspects in the attacks "has held up" as Indian authorities have begun their investigation, the official said. The two Kashmiri militant groups have ties to al Qaeda." (Wall Street Journal, November 28, 2008)

    The role of the US-UK-Israeli counter terrorism and police officials, is essentially to manipulate the results of the Indian police investigation.

    It is worth noting, however, that the Delhi government turned down Israel's request to send a special forces military unit to assist the Indian commandos in freeing Jewish hostages held inside Mumbai's Chabad Jewish Center (PTI, November 28, 2008).

    Bali 2002 versus Mumbai 2008

    The Mumbai terrorist attacks bear certain similarities to the 2002 Bali attacks. In both cases, Western tourists were targets. The tourist resort of Kuta on the island of Bali, Indonesia, was the object of two separate attacks, which targeted mainly Australian tourists. (Ibid)

    The alleged terrorists in the Bali 2002 bombings were executed, following a lengthy trial period, barely a few weeks ago, on November 9, 2008. (Michel Chossudovsky, Miscarriage of Justice: Who was behind the October 2002 Bali bombings? Global Research, November 13, 2008). The political architects of the 2002 Bali attacks were never brought to trial.

    A November 2002 report emanating from Indonesia’s top brass, pointed to the involvement of both the head of Indonesian intelligence General A. M. Hendropriyono as well as the CIA. The links of Jemaah Islamiyah (JI) to the Indonesian intelligence agency (BIN) were never raised in the official Indonesian government investigation --which was guided behind the scenes by Australian intelligence and the CIA. Moreover, shortly after the bombing, Australian Prime Minister John Howard "admitted that Australian authorities were warned about possible attacks in Bali but chose not to issue a warning." (Christchurch Press, November 22, 2002).

    With regard to the Bali 2002 bombings, the statements of two former presidents of Indonesia were casually dismissed in the trial procedures, both of which pointed to complicity of the Indonesian military and police. In 2002, president Megawati Sukarnoputri, accused the US of involvement in the attacks. In 2005, in an October 2005 interview with Australia's SBS TV, former president Wahid Abdurrahman stated that the Indonesian military and police played a complicit role in the 2002 Bali bombing. (quoted in Miscarriage of Justice: Who was behind the October 2002 Bali bombings?, op cit)

    Note

    1. In recent months, the head of India's external intelligence (RAW), Ashok Chaturvedi has become a political target. Prime Minister Manmohan Singh is intent upon firing him and replacing him with a more acceptable individual. It is unclear whether Chaturvedi will be involved in the intelligence and police investigation.

    © Copyright Michel Chossudovsky, Global Research, 2008

    India's 9/11. Who Was Behind The Mumbai Attacks? By Michel Chossudovsky
     
  3. MBI Munshi

    MBI Munshi RETIRED TTA

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    Apr 8, 2007
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    In Wake of Attacks, India-Pakistan Tensions Grow

    MUMBAI, India — In a new sign of rising tensions between two nuclear-armed neighbors, Indian officials summoned Pakistan’s ambassador on Monday evening and told him that Pakistanis were responsible for the terrorist attacks here last week and that they must be punished.

    With public anger building against both the Indian government and Pakistan, officials of India’s Foreign Ministry also suggested that the planners of the attacks were still at large in Pakistan, and that they expected “strong action would be taken” by Pakistan against those responsible for the violence, according to a statement released by the ministry. Nine of the 10 men who appear to have carried out the attacks are now dead, with the remaining one in custody.

    The statement added tartly that Pakistan’s actions “needed to match the sentiments expressed by its leadership that it wishes to have a qualitatively new relationship with India.”

    It was not clear whether India had supplied Pakistan with any proof of its claims. Pakistani officials have said that they are not aware of any links to Pakistan-based militants, and that they would act swiftly if they found one.

    The Indian government is facing strong criticism at home for its handling of the attacks, in which 173 people were killed over three bloody days here in the country’s financial capital. (The authorities revised the number downward on Monday, saying that some names had been counted twice.)

    With elections just months away, the government needs to be seen as acting decisively in the face of the atrocities. But it could be accused of raising a red herring if it does not furnish convincing evidence for its claims of Pakistani involvement.

    There is also a groundswell of popular anger here aimed at Pakistan, and the attacks have raised tensions between the countries to a level not seen since 2001, when a suicide attack on the Indian Parliament pushed them to the brink of war.

    The ominous atmosphere poses a special challenge for the United States, a strong ally of India that also depends on Pakistan for cooperation in fighting Al Qaeda. Renewed tensions between India and Pakistan could distract Pakistan from that project.

    President Bush has dispatched Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice to India, where she was expected to arrive on Wednesday. Speaking in London on Monday, she called on Pakistan in blunt terms “to follow the evidence wherever it leads,” adding, “I don’t want to jump to any conclusions myself on this, but I do think that this is a time for complete, absolute, total transparency and cooperation.”

    India’s assertion that the attackers were all Pakistani echoes a claim by the one attacker who was captured, identified as Ajmal Amir Qasab, said Inspector Rakesh Maria, head of the crime control bureau at the Mumbai police, in a news conference. Mr. Qasab also said he was a member of Lashkar-e-Taiba, a militant Islamist group accused of carrying out terrorist attacks in Indian-administered Kashmir and elsewhere, Inspector Maria said.

    However, no foreign identification documents were found, and some of the attackers had fake Indian papers, he added.

    Inspector Maria also said there were only 10 attackers in all, denying earlier suggestions by public officials that there had been more. However, it remains unclear whether the attackers had at least some accomplices on the ground before the violence began on Wednesday night.

    Some new details emerged on Monday about the difficulties faced by the Indian police commandos who responded to the killings here last week. The attackers used grenades to booby trap some of the bodies in the two luxury hotels where they struck, the Taj Mahal Palace & Tower and the Oberoi, so they would explode when they were moved, Inspector Maria said. It was not always clear, he added, whether the people were dead or just wounded.

    That tactic made fighting the attackers more difficult, and significantly delayed the cleanup after the violence ended, Inspector Maria said. The last militants were routed on Saturday morning, but the Taj hotel was not returned to the control of its owners until Monday morning.

    But those details seemed unlikely to blunt the rising public anger at the government’s handling of the attacks, which have been widely described here as India’s 9/11. The ease with which the small band of attackers mowed down civilians in downtown Mumbai, and then repelled police commandos for days in several different buildings, has exposed glaring weaknesses in India’s intelligence and enforcement abilities.

    Indian intelligence officials issued at least one warning about a possible attack on the Taj Mahal and Oberoi hotels, but that was in September. Security was increased for a while and then relaxed, intelligence officials said. There were reports of many other unheeded warnings, but it was not clear how many were actually communicated.

    On Monday, the rising public outcry pushed Vilasrao Deshmukh, the chief minister of Maharashtra State, where Mumbai is located, to offer his resignation. He is a member of the governing Congress Party, and party leaders were still considering his offer Monday night.

    “I accept moral responsibility for the terror attacks,” he said at a news conference.

    Earlier in the day, his deputy, R.R. Patil, officially stepped down. The two gestures came a day after India’s highest-ranking domestic security official, Home Minister Shivraj Patil, resigned, saying he took responsibility for the failure to forestall or quickly contain the three-day killing rampage.

    His successor as home minister, Palaniappan Chidambaram, the former finance chief, briefly addressed reporters on Monday, promising to respond vigorously to the terrorist threat.

    “This is the threat to the very idea of India, the very soul of India, the India that we know, the India that we love — namely a secular, plural, tolerant and open society,” he said. “I have no doubt in my mind that ultimately the idea of India will triumph.”

    Also on Monday, mourners attended a funeral for a Jewish couple who were murdered at Nariman House, a Jewish outreach center the terrorists took over during their bloody rampage.

    The couple’s orphaned 2-year-old son, Moshe Holtzberg, cried out for his parents, Rabbi Gavriel Holtzberg, 29, from Brooklyn, and his Israeli wife, Rivka, 28. The boy, carrying a small orange inflatable basketball, first cried “Dada” and then inconsolably “Ima,” which means mother in Hebrew, as he accompanied his grieving grandparents and dignitaries, including Israel’s ambassador to India, Mark Sofer, at a synagogue memorial service.

    “The house they built here in Mumbai will live with them,” said Shimon Rosenberg, Rivka’s father, his voice breaking. “They were the mother and father of the Jewish community in Mumbai.”

    Later in the day, thousands of Mumbai residents gathered on the seaside esplanade facing the Taj hotel, where they stared at the black smoke marks marring the building’s stately Victorian architecture. Some chanted “Long live India!” and held up banners proclaiming their defiance. Others placed candles and flowers on makeshift memorials to the dead.

    “I never knew what terrorism was as a kid,” said Mahesh Bhatt, a 36-year-old former Indian Navy officer who now works for a shipping company. “Now, it’s become part of our lives. We can’t continue like this. Something must be done.”

    http://www.nytimes.com/2008/12/02/world/asia/02mumbai.html?_r=1&hp