The 10-man attack that boomeranged
The terror attack on Mumbai four years ago was supposed to hit India where it hurt the most and hurt it irrevocably. The goal was to shatter India’s dream of being the next economic giant, it was supposed to crush the ambitions of its millionaires, it was supposed to lay nought the hopes and aspirations of its burgeoning middle class. It was supposed to break India’s will and bring it on par with its self-destructive neighbour that was not willing to compete fairly.
It was a masterstroke as far as strategy, planning and execution went, but it failed miserably because it underestimated the will and power of the adversary. Not just a failed tactic, 26/11 as an asymmetrical war strategy rebounded on Pakistan. In the four years since those fateful three days in Mumbai, India’s neighbour has become an international pariah, on a downward spiral. It is a country where even the liberal media and politicians bemoan the fact that not an iota of hope is left. Every institution in the country has been wrecked asunder by jihadi elements that have sunk their tentacles deep. A country than can play host to Osama bin Laden, but a Malala has to flee.
Pakistan is a country of 170 million people which today can boast of an enviable nuclear arsenal and little else. It is a dysfunctional state that could never come to terms with the upward trajectory of its neighbour. And when it lost the will to compete fairly, it employed sabotage as a state policy. From Kargil to 26/11, the footprints are clear.
Despite evidence provided by India and testimonials by David Headley, Ajmal Qasab and Abu Jundal, all Pakistan did was to deny its role in the attack, hiding behind the fig leaf of ‘non-state actors’. But on January 7 2009, Pakistan’s then Information Minister and now ambassador to the United States, Sherry Rehman officially accepted Qasab’s nationality as Pakistani and on February 12 2009, Pakistan’s Interior Minister Rehman Malik admitted that parts of the attack had been planned in Pakistan. Yet, the farcical trial dragged on in Pakistan, with the judges changing five times, and it not impacting one bit on the University of Jihad. India meanwhile got a conviction and an executed a sentence during this process.
A Pakistani newspaper ‘The Dawn’ on Nov 11 2012 reported that intelligence officials informed an anti-terrorism court (ATC) in Rawalpindi Adiala jail that suspects in the Mumbai attacks case got training at various centres of the banned Lashkar-e-Taiba (LeT) militant organisation, including navigational training in Karachi. “The officials were in charge of CID stations in Okara, Bahawalpur, Rahimyar Khan, Mandi Bahauddin and Sheikhupura. They said the suspects, who allegedly participated in the attacks, were trained at the LeT training centres at Yousaf Goth in Karachi, Buttle in Mansehra, Mirpur Sakro in Thatta and Muzaffarabad... additional abettors were trained at LeT centres and at sea near Yousaf Goth in Karachi’s Gadap town.”
Head honcho of the JuD, Hafiz Saeed who carries a bounty on his head roams freely offering funeral prayers for Qasab while Zaki-ur-Rehman Lakvi sires a child when he has been in the high-security Adiala jail in Rawalpindi since December 2008! But in the past four years, not just Hafiz Saeed and Lakvi, there are thousands of terrorists whose writ runs in Pakistan’s towns and cities. In this year alone, over 4,500 civilians and military personnel have been killed in bomb blasts, attacks on forces and sectarian violence. The laboratory experiment of 26/11 has boomeranged on Pakistan. Its people, 50 per cent of who live in poverty, can only wonder what went wrong.
When I first visited Pakistan in 2004, there was none of the despair that one sees now. There were smart young working women everywhere; there was buoyancy in the economy despite a lurking fear of a military coup. They were mildly embarrassed of their Prime Minister, the portly Zafarullah Khan Jamali and we in the Indian media delegation were terribly proud of our Prime Minister Atal Behari Vajpayee.
In 2012, they continue to switch prime ministers, who never complete their term in office and their army continues to mess with their polity. Without any degree of schadenfreude one can clearly see that the contrast with India cannot be more apparent.
As the Bollywood song goes, ‘Teer kabhi ban jaate hain khud nishaney….chahe tuh maaney chahe na maaney.’
Smita Prakash is Editor, News at Asian News International. You can follow her on twitter @smitaprakash