Wednesday, December 3, 2008

The Aftermath of Mumbai

Before the terrorist attacks in India last week, probably few Americans had even heard of Mumbai. But it is the city that was formerly known as Bombay just like Beijing was formerly known as Peking.

Mumbai is India’s largest city with a population of over 13 million and is its financial capital along with being its largest maritime port. So in many ways, Mumbai is to India what New York City is to the US. So when Mumbai was victimized by organized terrorist attacks just like New York City, it is not hard to understand why many Indians consider this to be
their own 9/11.

And what did America do after 9/11? After grieving for the senseless loss of life, the next step was to find out who did this and then not only send troops to Afghanistan to get the people who did attack us but also send troops to attack Iraq because we thought that they might attack us (in keeping with the
Bush Doctrine).

It is not taking very long to point the finger at where the terrorists came from as detailed in this NYT article
US and India See Link to Militants in Pakistan.

American and Indian authorities said Tuesday that there was now little doubt that militants inside Pakistan had carried out the terrorist attacks in Mumbai. Indian officials said they had identified three or four masterminds of the deadly assault, stepping up pressure on Pakistan to act against the perpetrators of one of the worst terrorist attacks in India’s history.
To make things worse, Pakistan which is mostly Muslim and India which is mostly Hindu have a lot of bad blood between them, including several wars over disputed territories in
Kashmirand both have nuclear weapons!

So now the US is doing its best to keep India from doing what the US did after 9/11 which is send troops to the offending country to wipe out the terrorists. And while keeping what would be a terrible war from starting is a good thing, it is an awkward position for the US to be in because of how hypocritical it all looks for many in India.

The mounting evidence increased the pressure on the United States to find a way to resolve the tensions between Pakistan and India, two nuclear-armed neighbors. The officials said there was still no evidence that Pakistan’s government had a hand in the operation, although investigators were still searching for clues of outside support for the terrorists.
Thus far, India is showing restraint while the pieces of the puzzle are being put together in trying to find who is ultimately responsible for the attacks. But if it is determined that Pakistan’s government was part of the operation, it is hard to imagine that some external military action would not be eventually be undertaken in Pakistan to deal with this.

But even if it is shown that the terrorists are stationed in Pakistan but had no government involvement, an equally crucial question is whether the weak government (assuming they are sincere about doing something) has the power to do much about bringing them to justice.

It is
widely believed that Osama bin Laden is hiding somewhere in Pakistan. During the presidential debates, now President-elect Obama said that if he were to get “actionable intelligence” about the whereabouts of bin Laden or other “high-value terrorist targets”, he would take them out with or without the permission of the Pakistani government.

So assuming the terrorists are proven to be based in Pakistan, unless the Pakistani government is willing and able to complete the task of rooting them out and bringing them to justice, somebody else may have to do the job. But who? We all fear India getting into another war with Pakistan with possible nuclear consequences. But if not India, the US may be dragged into this mess. With the promise by President-elect Obama of the US withdrawal from Iraq, more US troops will likely then be sent to Afghanistan to finish the job of dealing with Al Qaeda and the Taliban. Will this mean expanding the war into Pakistan anyway? In reality
it already has.

Officials in New Delhi might also feel less compelled to follow calls for a controlled response from the Bush administration, which has steadily escalated a campaign of airstrikes on Pakistani soil using remotely piloted aircraft. The Pentagon has even sent Special Operations forces into Pakistan to attack suspected militant targets, partly in an attempt to stop the militants from crossing the border into Afghanistan, where they are helping fuel an increasingly robust Taliban insurgency.

Fortunately, there are some incentives for both India and Pakistan to avoid going to war. India’s economy has progressed very well in recent years. They know that a war would not only cost many lives but also be a setback to the progress they have made as a nation. As for Pakistan, they surely know that to continue to be an accepted sovereign nation in the world community, they will have to do their part to cooperate in bringing the Mumbai terrorists to justice. And just as important they must show that they will no longer allow their country to serve as an operating base for terrorists.

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