Editorial
The Mumbai attacks came too soon after the declaration of friendship made by President Asif Zardari. He announced to give up the first use of nuclear weapon and declared there is an Indian in every Pakistani and a Pakistani in every Indian. Not a revolutionary thought, but coming from no less than the president himself, it irked the right wing elements on our side no end. Among them, those who get regular space in the newspapers as strategic analysts raised furore in their columns, questioning the president's lack of education and boasting their own patriotic credentials.

overview
Beyond the line of control
Pakistan, India and Afghanistan are battling extremists at different levels and all three of them are 'destined' to play a role in the 'war on terror'
By Hassan Abbas
Naomi Klein, Canadian columnist and author of The Shock Doctrine insightfully says, "Terrorism doesn't just blow up buildings; it blasts every other issue off the political map. The spectre of terrorism - real and exaggerated - has become a shield of impunity, protecting governments around the world from scrutiny for their human rights abuses." South Asia today is a victim of terror in this context. Social injustice, political instability, religious fanaticism and a rising sense of insecurity are the factors pushing South Asians to the brink of a prolonged conflict.

Special 'intelligence'
Sharing information and conducting anti-terrorist operations jointly is a strange option for ISI and RAW which have historically shown very little or no faith in each other
The never-ending blame game between the top spy agencies of Pakistan and India -- Inter Services Intelligence (ISI) and Research and Analysis Wing (RAW) -- has led the people of these two countries in particular and the world in general to arrive at a conclusion. They now believe that without taming these agencies and making them answerable to democratic governments, acts of terrorism in the region cannot be stopped.

borders
We've been here before
Previous wars, decades of tensions and the 2002 eyeball-to-eyeball military confrontation have trained both countries in recognising the limits of putting political and military pressures on each other. Each side is hardened enough to know how much posturing can be applied and where to stop
By Adnan Rehmat
Things may look bad in the wake of the terrible Mumbai attack by terrorists but we've been here before. While it is difficult to see the current anger in India and the panic in Pakistan resulting in a fifth war between the two countries, a lowering of tensions is not only desirable but inevitable. The biggest victim of the terror attack is, undoubtedly, the peace process between the two countries. Diplomacy will provide -- indeed it is already happening -- a more rational way to address the latest episode of the serious crisis between the two countries.

It's not cricket!
Every time India and Pakistan played a game of cricket, it served as the microcosm of a battlefield, with gladiators on the pitch holding the destiny of the people in their hands
By Usman Zafar
India and Pakistan form a strange bond. They are at once united and disparate, diverse and plural, holistic and yet strongly nationalist. At times, a call to peace is made by people of the two states, citing the hundreds of years the two nations have lived together under one banner. And yet, in times of antagonism, the public in both states evoke the most intense patriotism in the name of nationalism.

Timeline
November 26, 2008:
Attackers unleash a wave of gun and grenade assaults on Mumbai landmarks, killing more than 150 people. India's Prime Minister Manmohan Singh says militant groups based in "neighbours" carried out the assaults. Pakistani Prime Minister Yousaf Raza Gilani condemns the attacks while Pak-based militant group Lashkar-e-Toeba denies having any role in the carnage.

War of words
Our responses to terrorist incidents are governed by the media
By Syed Nadir El-Edroos
Surfing through the various news channels on TV on 26/11, one saw a lot of chaos, explosions, militarisation of streets, deaths and turmoil. It seemed that the two (traditionally rival) nations of India and Pakistan had reached the brink of a war -- yet again. Interestingly, much of this 'full-blown conflict' was made to believe by the media, chiefly Indian. A comparison of the intensity of the 'war' being 'waged' in the media on both sides of the border raises two important points.

 

 

Editorial

The Mumbai attacks came too soon after the declaration of friendship made by President Asif Zardari. He announced to give up the first use of nuclear weapon and declared there is an Indian in every Pakistani and a Pakistani in every Indian. Not a revolutionary thought, but coming from no less than the president himself, it irked the right wing elements on our side no end. Among them, those who get regular space in the newspapers as strategic analysts raised furore in their columns, questioning the president's lack of education and boasting their own patriotic credentials.

While the president was still under this vitriolic fire came the Mumbai attacks, and the ensuing blame game. It was unfortunate, to say the least, because it came after president's declaration of peace and at a time when the composite dialogue was in progress and Pakistan's foreign minister was in India and the Pakistani state was making all possible overtures of friendship.

The attacks would certainly change the Indo-Pak peace landscape, even if temporarily. And this is the subject of the Special Report this week.

Terrorism being a global phenomenon and given the US involvement on the subject in the region especially Pakistan, India and Afghanistan, Hassan Abbas, a fellow at the Harvard University's Kennedy School of Government argues very rationally that "the remedy lies in rule of law, empowerment of the ordinary, pluralism and resolution of the regional conflicts. No change in the Western power corridors alone can usher in a transformation in South Asia, especially Pakistan, Afghanistan and India if these three states remain poorly governed, distrustful of each other and continue with the policy of marginalisation of their minority communities -- ethnic as well as religious."

Some analysts here pointed out that Indian Prime Minister Manmohan Singh took the lead from the media in quickly passing the buck towards Pakistan after the attacks and in not being his usual reserved, contained and diplomatic self.

Thereon, it became a usual Pakistan-India dispute, with not much thought being given to the tragedy itself; the humbling response one expected from the media was hardly seen on the television screens. We knew the Indian electronic media projected the patriotic line as opposed to objectivity or neutrality in times of crisis because this was the logic fed to us for taking the Indian news channels off after the Dec 2001 parliament attack in Delhi. Or was it even before this, at the time of Kargil? But Pakistani electronic media. It was a different story. It kick-started a movement for the restoration of constitutionalism and democracy not too long ago, did it not?

Here was the first test case for electronic media on our side and, by and large, it failed to measure up to the standards it had claimed of upholding uptil now. While pointing out the jingoism of Indian media, it lost its own cool. Of course, saner exceptions remained on both sides and it is to them that we look up. The media after Mumbai attacks deserves another special report really.

Meanwhile we have attempted a profile of Lashkar-e-Toeba for our readers. An interview with Hafiz Mohammad Saeed, the founder of LeT and currently the ameer of the Jamaatul Daawa also forms a part of this Special Report.

 

 

overview

Beyond the line of control

Pakistan, India and Afghanistan are battling extremists at different levels and all three of them are 'destined' to play a role in the 'war on terror'

 

By Hassan Abbas

Naomi Klein, Canadian columnist and author of The Shock Doctrine insightfully says, "Terrorism doesn't just blow up buildings; it blasts every other issue off the political map. The spectre of terrorism - real and exaggerated - has become a shield of impunity, protecting governments around the world from scrutiny for their human rights abuses." South Asia today is a victim of terror in this context. Social injustice, political instability, religious fanaticism and a rising sense of insecurity are the factors pushing South Asians to the brink of a prolonged conflict.

If this diagnosis is accurate, then logically the remedy lies in the rule of law, the empowerment of the ordinary, pluralism and the resolution of the regional conflicts. No change in the Western power corridors alone can usher in a transformation in South Asia, especially Pakistan, Afghanistan and India, if these three states remain poorly governed, distrustful of each other and continue with the policy of marginalisation of their minority communities ethnic as well as religious. India is better governed than Pakistan and Pakistan has a better track record than Afghanistan but at a regional level the fate of these countries is interlinked. Bangladesh and Sri Lanka have similar issues but for the purpose of this article, I am only focusing on countries which are battling extremists at different levels and are 'destined' to play a role in the 'war on terror'. United States' relations with and stakes in these three states also put them into a unique category of sorts.

The fact that President-elect Barack Obama of the United States has not used the phrase 'war on terror' at least since he won the election on Nov 4 is a hopeful sign. It is encouraging because the 'war' has complicated the South Asian scene immensely in the last eight years or so and a different strategy and perspective is the need of the hour. However, any change in US policy can only have a complimentary effect as South Asians themselves hold the real key.

Beginning with the case of India, its democratic and pluralistic credentials are well established. In a Hindu majority state, till recently a Muslim was the president of the state and currently a member of the Sikh minority community is the prime minister. However, there are also active insurgencies in its Northeastern part and, according to South Asia Intelligence Review, a mainstream Indian research centre, there are 30 armed insurgent groups operating in that region. India's controversial policies in regard to Jammu and Kashmir, are more well known to Pakistan. Despite sustained economic growth, poverty and inequality are also serious challenges facing India. Last but not the least of its troubles relate to the plight of minorities in India primarily Christians and Muslims. Attacks on many Christian churches in recent years, orchestrated by Hindu extremist groups, are well recorded and findings of the Sacher Committee report about the social, economic and educational status of Muslims of India speaks volumes about the societal as well as institutional biases against Muslims. Massacres of Muslims in Gujarat a few years ago were reported worldwide. Despite these problems, India is internationally recognised as a rising power and its economic success is acknowledged round the globe. According to a recent US intelligence assessment (NIC's 2025), India's rise as one of the major global economic powers in coming years is a foregone conclusion. Growth rate statistics and infrastructure improvements in India substantiate this view. The fact that the Bush administration went out of its way to sign a treaty for nuclear cooperation, ignoring the concerns of many influential quarters even within the US, show the US deference for India's success.

In this context, the ghastly and deplorable terror attacks in Mumbai jolted India as well as the international community. Besides exposing the failure of its intelligence services and counter-terrorism outfits, it damaged the credibility of Indian politicians in the eyes of the people. More importantly for Pakistan, however, is the Indian consensus that Pakistan has at least something to do with all this. By and large, the international community - and especially the Western states - share Indian suspicions. Interestingly, Pakistan sees this assessment as a mere propaganda. Irrespective of whether any Pakistan based militant group will be found involved in Mumbai attacks, Pakistan must look inwards also to analyse and evaluate why Indians think on these lines.

Without a doubt, Indian media channels jumped to conclusions that were targeting Pakistan even when the details about terrorists were very sketchy and unconfirmed, but likewise mainstream Pakistani media was also unwilling initially to even hypothetically consider that militants from Pakistan can be involved. If Pakistani militants can destroy Islamabad's Marriott hotel and blow themselves up so often in almost all corners of Pakistan, what can possibly stop them from going to India and conducting similar operations. Considering all possibilities dispassionately is no sin.

Indian government had its own limitations, inhibitions and political compulsions to put all the blame on Pakistan right from the word go. Hopefully, wisdom will prevail when India comes out of the shock. Extremism, bigotry and violence know no state boundaries. The fire that is burning in Afghanistan and parts of Pakistan was bound to reach India in some shape or the other. Indian regional policy has its share of failures and transgressions. In the sphere of intelligence wars too, India was not behind other states in the region. However, given that India's democratic institutions are strong, it will likely realise that unresolved conflicts, perennial distrust between neighbours and use of force against one's own people exacerbate differences and increase chances of non-violent reactions.

Pakistan is more or less in a similar bind, though the causes are perhaps more potent and symptoms of malaise are more pronounced. Authoritarianism, feudal mentality of the political elite (with few exceptions) and confusion about the role of religion in state encouraged by the 'defenders of the faith' has engendered an identity crisis in the country that has stilted Pakistan's growth and progress. Ethnic and sectarian confrontations are a by-product of this phenomenon. Rivalry with India and consequent insecurity on the other hand undermined Pakistan's potential significantly. Rather than trying to figure out how to tackle these serious challenges, historically Pakistan's leadership pushed it into regional and global battlefronts in search of security. The consequences are proving to be disastrous. We must not forget that this vicious cycle of instability begins from state's failure to govern and stabilise itself.

Afghanistan's story is not much different, though it went through a longer spell of instability, civil war and violence. Tribalism, besides failure to develop an equitable formula to share power among different ethnic groups and bridge the gap between its urban and rural areas spell the disaster for Afghanistan. Consequently, its leaders looked outwards for strength and resources turning it into a rentier state. Afghan Jihad of the 1980s saved Afghanistan from Soviets but destroyed its social fabric and the US involvement in the country since late 2001 has created more problems. Taliban resurgence is a gift of Western 'nation-building' failure. The solutions there, too, are hidden internally.

This brief analysis about political and security dynamics in India, Pakistan and Afghanistan is geared to make just one basic point internal solutions in terms of empowerment of the people, equitable rights and instituting accountable and representative governments are crucial to stability, security and development of any state. The ugly face of religious extremism and radicalisation leading to violence in South Asia can only be defeated by these three countries through reconciliation, mutual cooperation and by forgiving each others' past mistakes. United States under Obama presidency can facilitate as well as complement such a transformation by supporting those in this region whose rights have been trampled upon and to whom justice has been denied. That would be a sure way to play a constructive role in stabilising the region.

 

(Dr. Hassan Abbas is a fellow at the Harvard University's Kennedy School of Government. He is the author of Pakistan's Drift into Extremism: Allah, the Army and America's War on Terror and runs a blog Watandost. He can be reached at hassan_abbas@ksg.harvard.edu)

 

Special 'intelligence'

Sharing information and conducting anti-terrorist operations jointly is a strange option for ISI and RAW which have historically shown very little or no faith in each other

The never-ending blame game between the top spy agencies of Pakistan and India -- Inter Services Intelligence (ISI) and Research and Analysis Wing (RAW) -- has led the people of these two countries in particular and the world in general to arrive at a conclusion. They now believe that without taming these agencies and making them answerable to democratic governments, acts of terrorism in the region cannot be stopped.

It is in this backdrop that the world powers are stressing the need for India and Pakistan to begin sharing intelligence information and start conducting anti-terrorist operations together. This proposal seems quite strange considering that ISI and RAW have very little or no faith in each other. In fact, they hold each other directly responsible for the menace they are supposed to control.

Over the years both Pakistan and India have been blaming each other's spy agencies for just about everything that has gone wrong. On many an occasion the law enforcing authorities of the two countries have simply put the blame on each other within minutes of a terror strike in their territories. Most of the times these charges were levelled without any concrete evidence and their countrymen also did not ask for one. In fact the involvement of 'foreign hand' in subversive activites has been used by both ISI and RAW as the most valid excuse to hide their failure in pre-empting and averting a terror threat.

The question that arises here is that who will determine the type of information to be shared between the two agencies. If one believes that they will open their coffers to each other and allow them to rummage through each and every file one is living in a fool's paradise.

For example, Pakistan agreed to share intelligence information with India in August 2006 but it was to be through Interpol -- as per the joint anti-terror mechanism agreed upon by the two countries. Under the agreement, Interpol would issue Red Corner Notices against the wanted terrorists making it binding on the partners of the agreement to help each other in catching hold of them. This joint mechanism was agreed upon at the Summit level meeting between President Pervez Musharraf and Prime Minister Manmohan Singh on the sidelines of the Non Aligned Movement (NAM) meet at Havana, Cuba.

Considering the level of mistrust between the two spy agencies the involvement of a neutral third party has been termed a must to see this idea working. Otherwise, the whole scheme may fizzle out and both of them start misguiding each other instead of showing them the way.

Secondly, it has to be seen whether the ordinary people, politicians and members of the military bureaucracy are ready to see an official of their enemy spy agency within them. The whole idea will be useless if these two countries cannot send their intelligence or police officials to each other's territories to work and join probes already going on there.

Regardless of all these negative factors the importance of intelligence sharing cannot be shot down. Just like terrorist organisations who operate in the form of a network, regardless of international boundaries, those trying to track them must form synergies among each other. An intelligence advice for India and Pakistan as well.

-- S Irfan Ahmed

 

borders

We've been here before

Previous wars, decades of tensions and the 2002 eyeball-to-eyeball military confrontation have trained both countries in recognising the limits of putting political and military pressures on each other. Each side is hardened enough to know how much posturing can be applied and where to stop

By Adnan Rehmat

Things may look bad in the wake of the terrible Mumbai attack by terrorists but we've been here before. While it is difficult to see the current anger in India and the panic in Pakistan resulting in a fifth war between the two countries, a lowering of tensions is not only desirable but inevitable. The biggest victim of the terror attack is, undoubtedly, the peace process between the two countries. Diplomacy will provide -- indeed it is already happening -- a more rational way to address the latest episode of the serious crisis between the two countries.

While the Pakistan People's Party-led coalition government of Pakistan in its short nine-month life has being characterised by a largely failed attempt to bail the country out of an economic default, while even its best friends (no friend gave a single dollar or barrel of oil; only the IMF helped avert an economic suicide), the Mumbai terrorism and the ensuing accusatory finger pointing at Islamabad, all pushing Pakistani officialdom and political leadership into an unusually high-profile diplomatic outreach.

This has helped mask an early tottering attempt by Islamabad to defend itself against charges of official involvement. While Pakistan was fairly quick to reach out to several key countries to defend its position, including key European and Asian capitals, the most important international player by far that it had to engage, and it did engage, was the United States. With its own deep stakes in the region that it cannot afford to compromise, particularly amidst a change of guard in the works in Washington and a planned scale-up of operations in Afghanistan and in the Pak-Afghan border regions, the US has expectedly come out the strongest in terms of appearing to be making an honest effort to ensure that the peace efforts between Islamabad and New Delhi that were just being ramped up are brought back to the point where they got cut off mid-way with Pakistani foreign Minister Mehmood Qureshi in India when the Mumbai tragedy unfolded.

With strategic stakes on both sides, the US made an effort to do the right thing by making calculated statements that would appease the anger on the Indian side while assuaging Pakistan's outrage at being implicated. Washington expressed strong solidarity with New Delhi and said the terror attack was unacceptable and those responsible should be brought to justice and also, astonishingly for many, that there was no evidence to show Pakistan was involved, leaving India the task of coming up with more than mere allegations to prove culpability. This was backed up by sending Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice to both countries to manifest its interest and effort to not just cool down temperatures but also to institutionalise a role for itself as a mediator/guarantor on the issue and to prevent anger from escalating into conflict. This ensures that future peace prospects don't die with the terror attacks.

China has been the other major international player that has reportedly stepped in, contacted both sides and openly counselled against escalating a war of words into a military conflict. Beijing has even reportedly offered to be on stand-by for any diplomatic and economic help that Islamabad may need if things get worse. Notwithstanding whether China or the US will actually bail out Pakistan in case a face-saving is required -- Washington already did this in 1999 in the wake of the Kargil fiasco -- but it is difficult to imagine that either of these two nuclear powers would want to let tensions escalate so much that they end up going to war. Again. If a war between these two countries is not comprehensively decisive -- no past wars between the two have been -- it will be a useless exercise.

Why war is not an option -- and, by that extension, peace process is not dead -- is, paradoxically, Pakistan's diplomatic offensive to threaten readiness for war if that's what India wants. The pivot of Islamabad's succeeding diplomatic efforts to avoid conflict is an undiplomatic declaration to pull back its 100,000 troops on the western border with Afghanistan to its eastern flank with India. India may see this as political blackmail but Pakistan knows the US can't afford to ease off military pressure on Al Qaeda-Taliban combine in the tribal areas that is proving to be a success for the past several weeks. This is a master card that seems to have forced US to intervene and keep India off Pakistan's back.

India is also now backing off from its raw rhetoric of implied Pakistani establishment's involvement in the Mumbai terror episode in response to diplomatic channels (the politics of demarche, which is the art of putting on paper something that can't be said and yet gets communicated by implication) to do the allegation-making in 'diplomatese'. Demands to hand over alleged terrorists and Pakistanis wanted in India for decades is its official way to retreating into a more familiar -- and safer -- tread of 'friendly fire'.

Why also there is less likelihood of war and a greater probability of a resumption of peace talks -- albeit some months down the line and re-negotiating the negotiated -- is that, perversely, the Kargil war, the attack on Indian parliament and the Samjhota Express carnage are major flashpoints between Pakistan and India that have prepared them for a more acceptable way of dealing with political and diplomatic confrontation: experience. The experience of former wars, decades of tensions and the 2002 eyeball-to-eyeball military confrontation -- and dealing with not too infrequent setbacks -- have trained both countries in recognising the limits of putting political and military pressures on each other. Each side is hardened enough to know how much posturing can be applied and where to stop.

Both countries can wage diplomatic wars -- and India can do this always better than Pakistan considering its size, clout and democratic credentials in order to extract political concessions from Pakistan -- but going to actual war is impossible unless a rogue missile comes either way. The best India can do at this stage is to demand a bunch of suspects to be handed to it and closure of military training camps real or imagined. And, depending on how much Pakistan manages to annoy India on a terror episode and Islamabad's suspected involvement, Pakistan can get away by making announcements (such as closing camps and banning organisations that re-emerge later anyway) and appearing to accede.

As for future peace prospects, paradoxically the Mumbai terror attack might even prove to be a fillip (barring a few months of cool-down period) towards normalcy because the peace process before the attacks has been so painfully slow that the chorus of those who opposed it had been rising and winning more converts. No political government on either side that has before it a majority of its 5-year term can afford to speak of war. By the time that the peace process will resume -- and resume it will -- more key developments will have taken place and the Mumbai terror attack will have been overtaken by them -- general elections in the spring in India and a new government in place in Delhi, and Obama will have taken over formally as the new stakeholder in the region. He has already said that South Asia poses the biggest threat to the US. What he means is that he cannot afford to let owners of nuclear weapons in the neighbourhood bully each other and put at risk his own little fight in Afghanistan to nab someone whose name rhymes with his own: Osama.

Neither India nor Pakistan can annihilate each other. The war of words will not turn into a war of nations. The future of India-Pakistan peace is not in jeopardy albeit it has taken a leave of absence. Peace between the two angry neighbours will not come in a blaze of glory; it is an elaborate dance for India and Pakistan and it will come piece by piece.

 

It's not cricket!

Every time India and Pakistan played a game of cricket, it served as the microcosm of a battlefield, with gladiators on the pitch holding the destiny of the people in their hands

 

By Usman Zafar

India and Pakistan form a strange bond. They are at once united and disparate, diverse and plural, holistic and yet strongly nationalist. At times, a call to peace is made by people of the two states, citing the hundreds of years the two nations have lived together under one banner. And yet, in times of antagonism, the public in both states evoke the most intense patriotism in the name of nationalism.

The fact is that both countries remain deeply divided over each other -- something which is both a circumstantial and a chronic issue. Depending on the situation between the two, both countries can embrace with open arms or tighten a noose around each other's neck. Similarly, though both countries call for unity based on their cultural vindication, there remains an element of extreme mistrust between the two, which has been deeply marred by events in history. Time is the best healer of such wounds, and it seems that 65 years are still not enough.

Yet there was one platform that seemed to join the public from both sides together. Whether you were interested in it or not, the spectacle of the platform grabbed the attention of all, even those who were never part of India or Pakistan. That platform was an India-Pakistan cricket match. No matter how indifferent you were to the game, the spectacle of a clash between the two nations had a pull that was inescapable. It was not merely the quality of the match that was exemplary, though the remarkable talent of the Subcontinent in the game is apparent to all. It was much more than that. Its splendour was not witnessed on the pitch, but in the stands, where fanatic fans shouted, booed, jeered and cheered with every ball, every hit and every movement. The atmosphere was electrifying as the sound of the crowd became deafening, responding to every act on the pitch. It served as the microcosm of a battlefield, with the gladiators on the pitch holding the destiny of the people in their hands. Those who scintillated with their brilliant performances became the demigods of their lifetime and beyond, worshipped by all. Those who disappointed became notorious forever and left their mark on a public that reviled them no matter how well they performed otherwise. They were forgiven, but never forgotten. Just ask Chetan Sharma and Javed Miandad.

Cricket was the one stage where diplomacy and war were both waged as one. In a way, it became the uniting force for the two nations who came together under the enclosures. But, the holistic ones considered it to be the one platform where battle was waged without blood. It became the one event where wars could be fought, and yet no one suffered, not in the way people did from war. It emerged as the lone force of India-Pak relations, where glory replaced the gory, and the winner remained the public who stood transfixed and mesmerised by it all. Cricket is not a game in this region. It is a religion and we are all its followers.

All this comes as no surprise, considering that athletic competition was founded to serve such predilections. The primordial origin of organised sport, the Olympic Games, was created to build cordial relations between the Greek states, which were in a perpetual state of war. The games provided a basis for competition to exist without any bloodshed, and helped to build diplomatic bonds between them. India and Pakistan remain the greatest proof of this basis in modern times, and serve to develop diplomatic relations to this day using a cricket pitch.

However, the terror situation in the region has changed everything. With massive operations in the tribal regions, suicide attacks rampant all over Pakistan, and coordinated bomb attacks in major metropolitan areas in India, the love of the game seems all but lost. This year, Pakistani cricket has suffered enormously as foreign teams are afraid to tour due to security concerns. That fear cost Pakistan the chance to host the lucrative Champions Trophy, which will probably never come again given the security situation.

India was immune to these concerns for a long time. Despite their own shares of attacks, with the blasts in Jaipur and Delhi at the time when foreign tours were taking place, India remained the pot of gold for world cricket. With the formation of the sport's most financially lucrative venture, The Indian Premier League, the Board of Control for Cricket in India registered its first ever billion-dollar revenue year. India became the magnet for money and cricket and put the region in the driver's seat for the first time in cricketing history.

But alas, the Mumbai blasts have changed all that. The England tour has been cancelled, the Champions trophy postponed, and the ICL World Series delayed. The attacks took place a day before touring teams were due to stay at the Taj Mahal Hotel, which suffered a violent 60 hours of resistance from the terrorists.

The whole region is now inflicted with fear and violence. Signs are appearing even bleaker now, with Pakistan and India both at odds over the situation. With India constantly implicating its neighbour in the attacks, the animosity between the countries has returned. But this time, there is no cricket match to ease the pain, no entertainment to soothe the wounds, since players will not tour now out of fear. The disparities will be left to fester and sore under the unpredictability of the terrorist threat.

The terrorists, it seems, have already won. By denying us the right to our greatest source of entertainment, they have done what a bloody history, a violent partition, three full-scale wars and 60-odd years of antagonism has not done: stop the one force that united us beyond all.

Cricket has been used in a strategic form to ease tensions when relations between both countries were strained. In fact, many claim that the results of the matches are rigged in favour of improving diplomatic relations, citing the 2003-04 tour in Pakistan (which India won) and the 2005 series in India (which Pakistan won). But with the two neighbours at each other's neck and fear preventing cricket from dominating the screens again, it seems that the basis for the creation of the sport is dying away. It must not be allowed to do so. Better security measures can be placed, so violent escalation can pave the way for a cordial compromise. It is a necessity to bring back our favourite pastime to make up for all that has been lost to terrorism in both nations. Both countries need a show of solidarity in the face of a common terror, and the nature of athletic competition is created to serve these interests.

Cricket must be allowed to prevail once again and ease the pain that India and Pakistan are going through. In fact, that is exactly what they require right now. In times of crises upon crises, what better way to alleviate the pressure than reverting back to our favourite addiction?

With tension looming on both sides of the border, it seems that such a situation will continue on. But the animosity needs to give way to diplomacy. And there is no better diplomatic tool than a ball, and a bat.

 

Timeline

November 26, 2008:

Attackers unleash a wave of gun and grenade assaults on Mumbai landmarks, killing more than 150 people. India's Prime Minister Manmohan Singh says militant groups based in "neighbours" carried out the assaults. Pakistani Prime Minister Yousaf Raza Gilani condemns the attacks while Pak-based militant group Lashkar-e-Toeba denies having any role in the carnage.

September 29, 2008:

Six persons are killed when a motorcycle bomb explodes in Malegaon. Nine persons, including a sadhvi and a former army official, are arrested. One of them, Lt Col Prasad S Purohit, is already being interrogated in the 2007 Samjhota Express blast case.

February 19, 2007:

Bombs are set off in Samjhuta Express's two carriages, both filled with passengers, just after the train passed Diwana Station near the Indian city of Panipat. 68 people are killed in the ensuing fire and dozens injured. Of the 68 fatalities, most happen to be Pakistani civilians. Mumbai Anti-Terrorist Squad in India claims that a serving Army officer, Lt Col Prasad S Purohit, is involved.

July 11, 2006:

A series of bomb blasts (seven, to be precise) take place over a period of 11 minutes on the Suburban Railway in Mumbai. The bombs are said to be set off in pressure cookers on trains plying on the western line of the Suburban Railway network. As many as 209 people lose their lives and over 700 are reported injured. Mumbai Police blames the bombings on Lashkar-e-Toeba and Students Islamic Movement of India (SIMI). Peace talks between India and Pakistan stand cancelled.

November 2003:

Pakistan announces ceasefire in Kashmir. India accepts and the truce takes effect on Nov 26.

January 2002:

India masses hundreds of thousands of troops on the border. Pakistan follows suit, raising the spectre of another war.

December 2001:

Gunmen attack Indian parliament. India blames Pakistan-based militants. Pakistan denies. India cuts all links, pulling out its diplomatic staff.

 

Compiled by Naila Inayat

 

War of words

Our responses to terrorist incidents are governed by the media

 

By Syed Nadir El-Edroos

Surfing through the various news channels on TV on 26/11, one saw a lot of chaos, explosions, militarisation of streets, deaths and turmoil. It seemed that the two (traditionally rival) nations of India and Pakistan had reached the brink of a war -- yet again. Interestingly, much of this 'full-blown conflict' was made to believe by the media, chiefly Indian. A comparison of the intensity of the 'war' being 'waged' in the media on both sides of the border raises two important points.

First, that we in Pakistan (as seen through the medium of television) view terrorism 'superficially'. Secondly, even though Pakistan has consistently experienced terrorist attacks for the past good few years, we are still stuck in a rut of 'us' versus 'them'. This is a vintage the-world-is-out-to-get-us worldview of a victim. We suffer not due to our actions, rather due to the actions of those beyond our control.

The attacks in South Mumbai clearly targeted the elite of the city. However,the Indian media remained focused on highlighting the failure of the security apparatus to protect the common man. Remember when Rehman Malik in the aftermath of the Marriott attack somewhat proudly claimed, "No VVIP is killed!" Or, during the Lal Masjid operation, how the VVIP areas of the city were "secure" and the citizens of G6 were under curfew without civic amenities for days. The attitude of the state apparatus in Pakistan is geared towards protecting and serving the elite. The police has become a glorified VIP security service -- de-moralised, underpaid and poorly equipped.

Even while operations at the Taj hotel were underway, panelists were questioning the failure of the state to provide security, corruption, ill-equipped police force, the role of politicians and the consequences on individual freedoms. Most impressive was the 'self-confession' by the media pundits that many of these debates are often regurgitated after such events and nothing actually changes. Returning to Pakistan, the Anti Terrorist Act, amendments to the Army Act, operations in FATA, SWAT were implemented without little or no public debate. Issues of national security even in today's open media and IT savy environment continue to be considered taboo. Unfortunately, our media brings the debate on such issues to the forefront, but it is easily diluted with the responses that have been fed to the public for the last 60 years. What makes these responses so powerful is the ability to bring any further questioning to an end. "Threat to our nation" and "the spirit of sacrifice" are thrown around as simple but effective shut-up calls. No one wants to be seen as unpatriotic by pointing out the oversimplification and absurdity of blindly following the status-quo.

When Indian politicians representing the BJP began taking political potshots at the Congress, the Indian media quickly highlighted the shallowness of 'doing' politics at such a juncture. In Pakistan, the present head of the PML-Q once called for anyone who criticised the Army to be shot. While the Lal Masjid saga unfolded, every political party was quick to criticise rather than offer viable solutions.

Those reading this article may feel that this scribe is extremely cynical about Pakistan and overly enthusiastic about India. The argument here is not to view the Indian response to the Mumbai attacks as a guide to what we should be doing. The argument is that we in Pakistan have yet to develop our own response to terrorism. At the same time, we refuse to learn from or even empathise with terrorist attacks in the West. In such a situation, perhaps the experience of Mumbai would help Pakistanis draw some parallels with our own experiences and re-evaluate our own stance on violence.

(Email: nadirnwo@gmail.com)

 

 


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