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Generational Dynamics Web Log for 30-Nov-2008
After Mumbai's "26/11" nightmare finally ends, India - Pakistan relations face crisis

Web Log - November, 2008

After Mumbai's "26/11" nightmare finally ends, India - Pakistan relations face crisis

Enraged Mumbaikers are demanding action and change today, after 150 people were killed and hundreds more wounded in the horrendous three day, 60-hour assault on the business and technology center of India.

The iconic Taj Mahal Palace Hotel, prior to the terrorist attack
The iconic Taj Mahal Palace Hotel, prior to the terrorist attack

Relieved that the worst is over, Mumbaikers are proud of their city: "Mumbai stands tall" after the ordeal. There's particular pride that the grand Taj Mahal Palace Hotel, a major landmark for all of India, still stands.

True, many windows are broken and some floors are gutted. The terrorists tossed grenades into room after room, hoping to burn the entire structure down, and gain the notoriety of the terrorists who brought about the collapse of the World Trade Center towers in New York City on 9/11.

But the 26/11 attacks failed to do that. And that's what they're calling it, incidentally: 26/11 for November 26. It's Mumbai's 9/11.

They're also proud of their fallen police heroes, those who had died in the course of duty, saving the lives of hundreds of others. "They died so that Mumbai might live."

Here's an al-Jazeera video of some of the scenes of battle:

The CST Railway Station in Mumbai, in the aftermath of the attack <font face=Arial size=-2>(Source:</font>
The CST Railway Station in Mumbai, in the aftermath of the attack (Source:

There were 126 people killed, and 327 people injured. Although the terrorists were supposedly targeting foreigners (Americans, British, Israelis), the vast majority of casualties were Indians, inflicted at the CST Railway Station, where one of the terrorists sprayed the crowd with bullets, killing as many people as possible.

Horror turning to rage

As relieved as Mumbaikers are the ordeal is ending, their pride in their police heroes does not extend to their police leadership. It resembles the criticism of FEMA after hurricane Katrina in 2005. The criticism is that the police were totally unprepared -- had the wrong equipment, and were caught completely by surprise.

Here is a typical commentary by B. Raman, a former government official:

"The Mumbai Police, the NSG, the Army, the Navy, the Air Force and the Mumbai Fire Brigade have confronted the terrorists and handled the crisis in an exemplary manner, of which the entire nation can be proud. Their performance has been as exemplary as the crisis management of their counterparts in New York after 9/11. About 20 officers of various ranks, including the chief of the ATS, an additional Commissioner of Police of Mumbai, and two young and intrepid officers of the NSG have died fighting the terrorists.

The Government of Prime Minister Dr.Manmohan Singh and his Congress (I) are back to their denial and cover-up mode. ...

I watched with shock and disbelief on TV, visuals of Hemant Karkare trying different helmets and bullet-proof vests before choosing one which suited his build. Here was the most threatened officer of the Mumbai Police and the Government had not even given him a protective gear tailor-made for him. This is a telling instance of the casual way we handle counter-terrorism and we look after our brave officers fighting terrorism."

Even worse, it turns out that the CIA had warned India's intelligence services in September of a planned Lashkar-e-Taiba (LeT) sea-borne attack on Mumbai, and other sources had confirmed that intelligence. People are furious that absolutely nothing was done to stop the terrorist attack, when this level of detail was previously known.

Mounting crisis with Pakistan

But mostly, Indian fury is growing towards Pakistan. The Pakistan government is not being blamed for perpetrating the attack, but they are being blamed for "coddling" LeT, doing nothing to arrest its leaders and close down its training camps.

Pakistan's response is that India is jumping to conclusions, and that India has plenty of its own home-grown terrorism. Here is one commentary, by a Pakistani defense analyst:

"Instead of speculating on the identity of those responsible for the Mumbai attacks, there is a need to carefully examine the evidence. Such a massive and coordinated operation is beyond the capacity of an external group unless it has developed strong links with a well-entrenched and powerful domestic group. It could also be a combination of elements from the criminal underworld of Mumbai and a violent group with a strong anti-India agenda. Given the power and reach of the Mumbai underworld, this combination cannot be ruled out.

It is interesting that Indian security agencies failed to detect such a massive operation during its planning stage, but wasted little time in fixing the blame on some Pakistani group. If they knew who was responsible, why could they not pre-empt it?"

Despite the logic of that opinion, logic has little relevance to anything going on today, anywhere.

An alarmed Pakistan President Asif Ali Zardari gave an interview to the Indian television station CNN-IBN. Recall that Zardari has good reason to decry terrorism -- his own wife, Benazir Bhutto, was killed by Sunni Islamist terrorists:

Pakistan President Asif Ali Zardari being interviewed live on Indian tv <font face=Arial size=-2>(Source: CNN-IBN)</font>
Pakistan President Asif Ali Zardari being interviewed live on Indian tv (Source: CNN-IBN)

"I am appalled, I am hurt, I am bleeding. Your wound brings attention to my wound, it is also very recent. I stand with the people of India. I stand with the leadership of India. I am sorry that you are going through this. I can see this on the TV. Today's infotech brings all the pain to us in our bedrooms, in our homes. ...

As the President of Pakistan, let me assure you that if any evidence points towards any individual or group in my part of the country, I will take the strictest of action in the light of the evidence and in front of the world. ...

Sir I'll deliver because I stand by my people. I am delivering for Pakistan, I am delivering for the existence of Pakistan. I have a personal threat, I have a threat from the same forces. They may not be the same individuals but they are definitely the same forces and the same mindset, so I am not standing to appease any other people. I am trying to save my own nation. My country and the future of my children, so therefore I am as committed as can be."

Afghanistan, Pakistan and India
Afghanistan, Pakistan and India

The next step will be that India will provide Pakistan with specific evidence of the names and locations of LeT leaders and camps, and they will be asked to conduct raids and arrests, and turn the perpetrators over to India. Pakistan President Asif Ali Zardari has promised to cooperate fully with India in arresting the perpetrators, but how far this will go when words turn to action remains to be seen.

Still, if it turns out that Pakistan's ISI (intelligence services) had knowledge of a planned attack, and if Pakistan could have taken action to stop the attack, then there could be a major crisis between India and Pakistan.

One possible scenario is that the Indians could unilaterally attack LeT camps on Pakistani soil, provoking a response from Pakistan's army.

As things stand now, Pakistan is threatening to pull troops from Pakistan's western border, the one with Afghanistan, and shift them to its eastern border, the one with India, if tensions escalate on the border with India.

This is bringing full strength American diplomacy into the picture, as Secretary of State Condoleeza Rice apparently spent Saturday calling both sides to reduce tensions.

What to watch for

There have been dozens of terrorist attacks by Islamist extremists throughout the world, but if I had to name the top ones in terms of international significance, they would include the following:

It's too early to be sure, but to these I would now add the "26/11" Mumbai attack to this list. This was a new direction for these kinds of attacks. It was a "low-tech" attack in that it didn't require sophisticated bombs. But it was a highly sophisticated attack because of the complex logistics. Furthermore, by targeting Americans, British and Israeli guests, it was guaranteed international news coverage for many days.

In other words, it has to be considered a highly successful attack.

Al-Qaeda linked terrorist groups, including Lashkar-e-Taiba (LeT), embark on these attacks because their goal is to provoke a war -- a war between Pakistan and India, a war between Muslims and infidels. With billions of Muslims in the world, they believe that war is the only way to create Muslim nations.

Their model is the 1979 Islamic Revolution in Iran, where a major war defeated the existing US-backed Iranian government, and installed hardline Muslim fundamentalists. They believe that they can repeat that "success" in India, Pakistan, and other nations.

Thus, the main thing to watch for in the next few weeks is whether tensions between India and Pakistan escalate critically, possibly leading to armed skirmishes on their mutual border, or whether tensions subside after a while.

Most interesting will be to watch the effect of the Mumbai bombings on the elections taking place in India in the next few months, at the state and national level. There has been an upsurge of 'Hindutva' Hindu terrorist violence, and this Muslim terrorism may spark an upsurge in the Hindutva philosophy, and a gain to the Hindu nationalist Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP).

Pakistan and India had a massively genocidal war between Muslims and Hindus when Partition occurred in 1947, creating the two nations. From the point of view of Generational Dynamics, a re-fighting of the massively genocidal war following the 1947 Partition is coming with absolute certainty. This war will involve numerous ethnic groups, but underlying it will be Sunni Muslims versus Hindus + Shia Muslims.

(Comments: For reader comments, questions and discussion, see the Mumbai Shootings thread of the Generational Dynamics forum.

Other topics being discussed in the forum include the following:

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