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Monday, 14 December 2009

Indian Blame Game

By Sajjad Shaukat

13th of December, 2001, the day when a group of militants had attacked Indian parliament by penetrating the tight security, resulting into deaths of four gunmen along with six police officers after an exchange of gun battle, has come at a time when India has been repeating the same blame game against Pakistan in relation to Mumbai terror events which occurred on November 26 last year. 

On December 14, 2001, Indian ruling National Democratic Alliance  had accused Pakistan-based militant groups, Lashkar-i-Tayiba and Jaish-i-Mohammed for the assault on Indian parliament. In that regard, the then Home Minister LK Advani had disclosed indirectely referring to Pakistan, “We have received some clues that a neighbouring country, and some terrorist organisations active there are behind it.”

Just like the former leadership, Indian present rulers have continuously been acting upon a blame game against Pakistan regarding the November 26 Mumbai carnage. In this regard, prior to his recent visit to the US, Indian Prime Minister Manmohan Singh already exposed his cunning diplomacy by showing his illogical approach during his interview to the Washington Post and Newsweek. He remarked that India “wants to resolve all outstanding issues with Pakistan”, while accusing the latter of “sponsoring terrorism…planning another Mumbai-type attack in India.” During his trip, Singh left no stone unturned in convincing Washington raising alleged concerns that Pakistan was supporting militancy in both Afghanistan and India.

In the aftermath of Mumbai terror attacks, Singh and the then Foreign Minister Pranab Mukerjee had pointed fingers at Pakistan. Like Indian media, Mukerjee while alleging our country, urged Islamabad to stop supporting the militants.

The militant group, Lashkar-i-Tayiba which was banned by Islamabad in 2002 and which has often been accused by the Indian leadership having support of Pakistan’s ISI was held responsible for Mumbai catastrophe, but on November 28, 2008, a spokesman of Lashkar-i-Tayiba, Abdullah Ghaznavi while strongly condemning the attacks clarified, “We have nothing to do with Bombay attacks,” and “we do not believe in killing innocent civilians. It appears to be an act of Hindu militants who will then unleash a reign of terror against Muslims under the garb of these attacks.” 

It is notable that Lashkar-i-Tayiba had also denied any hand in the parliament attack of 2001. 

In the immediate aftermath of the parliament incident, Indian print and electronic media including many politicians had called for strict action against Pakistan, suspecting in arming and training the militants. One can note Indian same old blame game which still continues against Islamabad in respect of Mumbai catastrophe.

Interestingly, similarity in the two different events could be noted not only from Indian same nefarious designs against Pakistan but also from a number of other developments. In this context, India had demanded Islamabad to hand over some most wanted persons to New Delhi. Surprisingly, she had presented the same list of the suspected men to Islamabad, which it had sent in 2002. Afterwards, New Delhi submitted a new list in this connection. On December 2, last year, Pakistan urged India to provide credible evidence about persons living in Pakistan, allegedly involved in the Mumbai terror attacks, but India failed though Pakistan arrested some suspected men, but still there is no concrete proof against them. Even in the past, when Pakistan demanded solid evidence for the official involvement of Pakistan’s any intelligence agency in the terrorist incident of Indian parliament, New Delhi could not produce anything, which had exposed the hollowness of its anti-Pakistan propaganda.

Like the present leadership, while responding to Indian blind accusations, the then Pakistani Ambassador to the U.S., Maleeha Lodhi had explained on June 5, 2002 that her country’s soil was not allowed to be used for carrying out terrorist activities against other countries. 

Nevertheless, despite the denials of any involvement of our country in the Mumbai tragedy and Pakistan’s full assurance in cooperation in the investigation as stated by the President Asif Ali Zardari and Prime Minister Yousaf Raza Gilani, a continued wave of similar allegations by India against Islamabad which it had conducted through a deliberate game in 2001-2002 has exposed her real designs behind the Mumbai devastation.

The fact of the matter is that in 2001, India wanted to avail the Bush’s anti-terrorism enterprise by manipulating the parliament incident, so that Pakistan could be pressurized in order to get good bargaining leverage over Paki-India disputes, especially the thorny issue of Kashmir. India had cancelled fights between both the countries, besides suspending trade. 

On December 20, 2002, India deployed its troops across the occupied Kashmir and the international border, what was called Indian largest military mobilization since the 1971. In response to the Indian nefarious designs, Pakistani forces were put on high alert. Pakistan’s former military spokesman Major-General Rashid Qureshi had revealed  that the “Parliament attack was a drama staged by Indian intelligence agencies to defame the freedom struggle in the occupied Kashmir,” warning that India would pay “heavily if it engages in any misadventure”. 

Again, under the pretext of Mumbai mayhem, India concentrated its troops on the Pak-Indian border. On December 6, 2008, Prime Minister Gilani after chairing a meeting with Foreign Minister Shah Mehmood Qureshi, Defence Minister Ahmed Mukhtar, Army Chief Gen. Ashfaq Pervaz Kayani and ISI Chief Lt. Gen. Ahmed Shuja Pasha made it clear that the government would “defend every inch of the country’s soil and those who cast an evil eye on Pakistan would face an appropriate response.”

It is of particular attention that three suspected Kashmiris, Mohammed Afzal, Shaukat Hussain and a professor were arrested and sentenced to death in 2002 for aiding in the attack on Indian parliament. In July, 2004, Indian Supreme Court delayed the execution of the suspected. Nevertheless, uptil now, no evidence has been brought against them and that is why, there cases remain pending.

Meanwhile, Indian police had arrested two persons of Indian origin; accused of illegally buying mobile phone cards, used by militants in the Mumbai attacks. Before it, India had accused that the arrested gunman, Ajmal Amir confessed his links with Lashkar-i-Tayiba and told that he is from Faridkot, situated in Pakistan. In good faith, Islamabad fully cooperated with New Delhi in the investigation. While, early reports disclosed that an organization, calling itself the Deccan Mujahideen claimed responsibility for the Mumbai terror incident. 

However, as regards Indian blame game against Pakistan, Newsweek indicated on December 4, 2008, “India has been extremely reluctant to come to terms with the fact that at least some of its terror problem is now homegrown Indian Muslims face substantial discrimination in many facets of everyday life. Their second-class treatment has led some Muslims to lose faith in India’s democratic institutions and to violently turn against the state.”

Last year, relations between Pakistan and India had reached the breaking point as the latter was pursuing coercive diplomacy, setting aside the peace process which started in 2004 and perhaps was ignoring the fact that the former is also a nuclear power. Some political analysts indicate in case of Indian prospective ‘surgical strikes’ that New Delhi can hit some selective targets in Pakistan. But it is not possible because Islamabad could also target Indian suspected places from where Indian intelligence agency, RAW with the support of Israeli Mossad has been sponsoring terrorism in Pakistan. Any irresponsible act by India will culminate into an all-out war, even to a nuclear conflict between the two rivals who have already fought three wars on the issue of Kashmir.

Taking cognizance of Indian war-mongering style, Pakistan’s Foreign Minister Quereshi had warned that any deterioration of situation would force the country to divert troops to the Indian border and away from a US-led war against terrorism on the Afghan frontier. While taking serious notice of the situation, some western countries like UK, Australia and the US had asked India to exercise restraint. On December 6, 2009, a White House official Scott Stanzel had refused to favour Indian calls for punitive actions against Pakistan, insisting that the best way was to resolve the crisis through diplomatic channel.

Nonetheless, in the aftermath of the Mumbai tragedy, war-mongering posture coupled with a blame game did not pay India and she faced a diplomatic defeat like 2002 when after one year, New Delhi had to withdraw her troops from the Pak-Indian borders.

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