Mumbai and Lahore attacks different?
Even since the attack on Sri Lankan cricketers took place in Lahore on March 3, a section of media both in India and Pakistan has been trying to draw similarities between what happened in Mumbai on 26/11 and in Lahore. In support of the wrong thesis, it is being said that as in Mumbai, the Lahore attackers also carried backpacks and were armed with ammunition and used the same modus operandi. They were young and in similar age groups and the operation was carried out with military precision. But my view is totally different and when it comes to Pakistan, I will always like to give credence to some of the conspiracy theories doing the rounds.
Even on the morning when this dastardly attack took place, I pointed it out to some of my colleagues that this incident maybe used by the Pakistanis to portray themselves also as victims of terror. The suspects had attacked the cricketers and killed some policemen and escaped on their motorcycles with remarkable ease leaving their weapons behind. If they were Fidayeen why would they leave and not engage Pakistani security forces in a battle to the end. Since they were not part of any suicide mission, they chose to leave their weapons and even rocket launchers behind. My suspicion at that stage was that after the initial investigations, the Pakistanis would come out with the findings that the arms and ammunition had Indian ordinance factory markings and the miscreants were RAW agents. I was not entirely wrong since sections of Pakistani media and some leaders did hint at the Indian hand though subsequently wisdom prevailed and they did not pursue this theory.
Another suspicion I had on the same morning was that since Sri Lankan cricketers were targeted, the LTTE, which is fighting a losing war against the Sri Lankan army, might have engaged some elements of Lashkar-e-Tayeibba to carry out the mission. This theory also found support in Sri Lanka and a senior government functionary did not rule out the involvement of the LTTE. Nothing, however, has been established as yet.
Another suspicion was that Pakistanis were keen that since the Champions trophy was in trouble already why not put the IPL also in jeopardy. After the attack on Sri Lankan cricketers, many international stars may have second thoughts of touring India for the fear of similar strikes. Partially this objective may have been achieved. The Indian government has already made it clear to the organisers of the IPL that security of citizens was more important than any tournament.
I have always considered Pakistan to be a failed Nation where things seem to be going from bad to worse each day. There maybe merit in the argument that a weak Pakistan may not be good for India but that does not take away from the basic premise that Pakistan is both a failed state and the epi centre of terror. Its attempts to show it also as a victim of terror to the western world is primarily because the westerners do not understand the levels of terrorists that exist in that country and how the ISI has always meddled with some of these outfits. Some terrorist groups operating out of Pakistan target only India while others attack only westerners. But there is no denying that Pakistan is the sanctuary for terrorists of all hue and shades.
The statement by President Obama which tries to distinguish between the “good’’ and “bad’’ Taliban is both faulty and wrong and based on lack of understanding of this region. Taliban is Taliban and there is nothing good about it, it should be clear to anyone. Such outfits interpret religion to its negative extremes and such elements would want the US to carry this impression. The difference between India and Pakistan is that while India is a victim of terror that is perpetrated from Pakistan, Pakistan is victim of its own terror groups many times.
The comparison of these dreaded groups with some amateurish militant groups that struck at Malegaon are both ill founded and misleading. While terror by everyone must be condemned out rightly, such a comparison creates unnecessary confusion of how terrorism in this country and sub continent should be viewed. It’s like comparing an act of a pickpocket with that of a major dacoity that leads to many deaths. I have never supported Hindu militants if that is how they want to call themselves but by their actions they have wrongly tried to create an erroneous impression of India, which is the biggest democracy in the world and a truly secular state unlike Pakistan and many other countries in this region.
I have a strong suspicion though many from across the border may refute suggestions that those who attacked the Sri Lankan cricketers may have operated with the blessings of the ISI or some strong elements in the Pakistani establishment. There is no plausible explanation as to how they got away and the fact that there was no security presence even though the threat perception to the cricketers was considered very high. The perpetrators of Mumbai attacks came through the sea route, engaged our security forces for more than 72 hours and even attacked the little known Nariman House, which housed Jews on visit to India. At Lahore, the terrorists fired at will and got away with hardly any police to challenge them.
Pakistan is a state where one does not know who is doing what. It is facing enormous problems on its borders with Afghanistan and also other parts of the country because of its failed policies and the over bearing say of the Army and the ISI in how things are being run. There is no doubt in my mind that there are very fine people in Pakistan but unfortunately they do not have any say in how their country is being run.
Mumbai and Lahore had only superficial similarities but Mumbai was in actual terms, the 9/11 of India. Lahore has contributed in putting a question mark over the participation of foreign cricketers even in Indian tournaments. Terror has to be battled with single minded determination and ultra groups which follow one book religions and carry arguments which result from faulty interpretations can never be termed as good, moderate or bad. The westerners must engage experts who know such things and not rely on half-baked information from Pakistan or many who are part of the western think tanks and can never under stand things given their inbuilt complexities.