While assessing the meeting of Prime Minister Dr.Manmohan Singh with President Asif Ali Zardari of Pakistan at Yekaterinburg in Russia in an article on June 19,2009, available at http://www.southasiaanalysis.org/papers33/paper3261.html
I wrote as follows:
"Manmohan Singh is not a man of confrontation. He took the decision to freeze the composite dialogue mainly because of the fears of a likely adverse impact on the voting in the recently-held elections to the Parliament if he did not take a seemingly hard line against Pakistan. Now that the Congress (I)-led coalition has come back to power----with the Congress (I) improving its own individual position in the Lok Sabha, the lower House of the Parliament--- he is unlikely to feel the need for maintaining the present hardline position on the composite dialogue........ At this time, when winds of some change for the better seem to be blowing towards India from Washington DC, Manmohan Singh would find it difficult to reject suggestions from the US for a political gesture to the Government in Islamabad by way of a resumption of the composite dialogue. The question is no longer whether it will be resumed, but when and how it will be projected to save the faces of both India and Pakistan."
2.In the context of this assessment made by me on June 19, today's development during his meeting with the Pakistani Prime Minister Yusuf Raza Gilani of Pakistan in the margins of the non-aligned summit at Sharm El Sheikh in Egypt did not come to me as a surprise. I do feel upset not so much by the reported agreement of Manmohan Singh that "India was ready to discuss all issues with Pakistan, including all outstanding issues" as by the phraseology relating to terrorism in the joint statement, which would enable Pakistan once again to wriggle out of any negative consequences arising from its involvement in the Mumbai terrorist strike of November 26/, 2008
3. The relevant question is not whether Pakistan is against terrorism. All Pakistani leaders had said that they are against terrorism. But, not one of them had ever agreed that the Lashkar-e-Toiba (LET), which carried out the Mumbai outrage, is a terrorist organisation. Even the Pakistani judiciary has already pronounced that the Zardari Government has not been able to produce any evidence linking the LET or the Jamaat-ud-Dawa (JUD) with any terrorist movement. The Lahore High Court judgement of June 6,2009, explaining the decision to release
Prof.Hafiz Mohammad Sayeed, the JUD Amir, from house arrest,clearly said as reported by the "Daily Times" of Lahore: "About the Dawa leaders’ involvement in the Mumbai attacks, the bench observed that not a single document had been brought on the record that Dawa or the petitioners were involved in the said incident. There was no evidence that the petitioners had any links with Al Qaeda or any terrorist movement.”
4.The oral observations made earlier this week in the Pakistan Supreme Court by Chief Justice Iftikhar Mohammad Chaudhury during the preliminary arguments on the appeals sought to be filed by the Punjab and the federal Governments against the release of Sayeed made more or less similar observations and expressed considerable skepticism over the case against Sayeed and the JUD.
5. When senior judges of the Lahore High Court and the Supreme Court have already expressed their skepticism in open court over Indian allegations of the involvement of the JUD, the political wing of the LET, in the Mumbai attack, to expect that justice will be done to the memory of the 166 persons killed in Mumbai-----123 Indian civilians, 25 foreign civilians and 18 brave officers and other ranks of the security forces--- by the terrorists of the LET as promised by the Pakistani co-operation against terrorism will be naivete of a very high order comparable to the naivete of Neville Chamberlain, the predecessor of Winston Churchill as the British Prime Minister.
6. I would have been at least satisfied if the two Prime Ministers had specifically stated that the countries would co-operate against the LET instead of just saying that the two countries would co-operate against terrorism. If the Prime Minister's advisers had properly briefed him before his meeting with Gilani, they would have drawn his attention to the following facts:
· While even Musharraf banned the LET for some months after the December,2001, attack on the Indian Parliament, Zardari has till today not banned the JUD, the post-2001 name of the LET.
· He and his advisers have been saying that they had to act against Sayeed and his associates because of the declaration of the anti-terrorism committee of the UN Security Council that the JUD is a terrorist organization and not because they had any independent evidence against it. It was on this ground that Sayeed was ordered to be released.
7. Not a single reference to the LET. Not a single reference to its continuing terrorist infrastructure. And, we have provided dignity to Pakistan's baseless allegations against Baloch freedom-fighters by agreeing to make a reference to Balochistan in the joint statement in the context of terrorism by indirectly bringing on record in an official statement Pakistan’s projection of the late Nawab Akbar Khan Bugti and other Baloch leaders as terrorists. Hafiz Mohammed Sayeed is not a terrorist, but Bugti and other Baloch leaders were or are.That has been Pakistan’s contention and we have let this figure in the joint statement.
8. This agreement, which seeks to white-wash years of Pakistani sponsorship of terrorism against Indian civilians and security forces, will make all those who died at the hands of the terrorists shed tears in heaven.
9.Annexed is a copy of my preface to my forthcoming book titled "Mumbai 26/11: A Day of Infamy." ( 16-7-09)
( The writer is Additional Secretary (retd), Cabinet Secretariat, Govt. of India, New Delhi, and, presently, Director, Institute For Topical Studies, Chennai. E-mail: email@example.com )
PREFACE OF MY FORTHCOMING FIFTH BOOK “MUMBAI---26/11—A DAY OF INFAMY)
Even while holding talks with the US on peace in the Pacific, the Japanese Empire secretly and treacherously planned and carried out massive surprise attacks from the air and the sea on Pearl Harbour in Hawaii on December 7, 1941, killing a large number of American military personnel and civilians and destroying the US naval base there.
In an address to the US Congress the next day, which came to be known as the "Day of Infamy" speech, the then US President Franklin D.Roosevelt said: "Yesterday, December 7, 1941 -- a date which will live in infamy -- the United States of America was suddenly and deliberately attacked by naval and air forces of the Empire of Japan. The United States was at peace with that Nation and, at the solicitation of Japan, was still in conversation with its Government and its Emperor looking toward the maintenance of peace in the Pacific. Indeed, one hour after Japanese air squadrons had commenced bombing in Oahu, the Japanese Ambassador to the United States and his colleague delivered to the Secretary of State their reply to a recent American message. While this reply stated that it seemed useless to continue the existing diplomatic negotiations, it contained no threat or hint of war or armed attack. It will be recorded that the distance of Hawaii from Japan makes it obvious that the attack was deliberately planned many days or even weeks ago. During the intervening time the Japanese Government had deliberately sought to deceive the United States by false statements and expressions of hope for continued peace. .... The facts of yesterday speak for themselves. The people of the United States have already formed their opinions and well understand the implications to the very life and safety of our Nation. As Commander-in-Chief of the Army and Navy I have directed that all measures be taken for our defense. Always will we remember the character of the onslaught against us. No matter how long it may take us to overcome this premeditated invasion, the American people in their righteous might will win through to absolute victory. I believe I interpret the will of the Congress and of the people when I assert that we will not only defend ourselves to the uttermost but will make very
certain that this form of treachery shall never endanger us again. Hostilities exist. There is no blinking at the fact that our people, our territory, and our interests are in grave danger. With confidence in our armed forces -- with the unbounded determination of our people – we will gain the inevitable triumph -- so help us God. I ask that the Congress declare that since the unprovoked and dastardly attack by Japan on Sunday, December seventh, a state of war has existed between the United States and the Japanese Empire. "
Sixty-seven years later, the world saw another day of infamy on November 26,2008. Around 8-30 PM, a group of 10 Pakistani terrorists belonging to the Lashkar-e-Toiba (LET), an ally of Al Qaeda and a strategic asset of Pakistan's Inter-Services Intelligence (ISI), secretly landed in the seafront area of Mumbai, the jewel of India and the business and financial capital of a newly-emerging economic power, divided themselves into four groups and went around spreading death and destruction over a wide area in the sea-front.
It was a commando-style raid by a group of specially trained jihadis, the like of which the world had not seen before.
One group killed the ordinary people of the city----innocent men, women and children. Many in a railway station. Some in a hospital. And some others on the roads and elsewhere.
Two others, after killing the diners and staff of a restaurant, entered and occupied two five-star hotels frequented by the business and social elite of India and the world. They remained in occupation of the hotels for nearly 60 hours and engaged in a confrontation with the security forces before they were killed.
The fourth group forced its way into a Jewish cultural-cum-religious centre, took its six inmates----four Israelis and two with dual US nationality--- hostages, tortured them and finally killed them before the security forces could intervene. Among those tortured and killed by them was an Israeli woman, who was expecting a baby.
It was one of the most treacherous attacks in the history of terrorism. And one of the most dastardly.
As treacherous and as dastardly as Al Qaeda's attacks in the US homeland on 9/11.
But Al Qaeda was not the tool of any State. No State was using it to attack the US.
The LET was. It was the tool of Pakistan's military-intelligence establishment.
It has been since its creation in the 1980s during the so-called jihad against the Soviet troops in Afghanistan.
The ISI used it in Afghanistan in the 1980s.
It has been using it against India since 1993.
Initially in Jammu & Kashmir. Subsequently, in other parts of India.
The LET helped the ISI in its strategic agenda against India.
This did not stop it from helping Al Qaeda in its operations against the West.
The fact that post-9/11, the LET had started acting as the strategic ally of Al Qaeda did not come in the way of its continued role as the strategic asset of the ISI.
This was not the first act of mass casualty terrorism carried out by the LET in Mumbai.
This was the second.
The first was in July 2006 when terrorists trained by it carried out a series of explosions in the suburban trains of Mumbai killing over 170 innocent civilians.
Instead of reacting with as much righteous indignation and force against Pakistan as Roosevelt did against the Japanese Empire for its act of treachery, we chose to give it the benefit of doubt.
Within two months of this act of treachery, we entered into an agreement with Pakistan for setting up a joint counter-terrorism mechanism as if Pakistan looked upon the LET as a terrorist organisation.
It never did.
We entered into peace talks with Pakistan. Through governmental and non-governmental channels. Composite dialogue, it was called.
Even as these talks were going on, the ISI was preparing two other groups of terrorists for use against India,
One group attacked the Indian Embassy in Kabul in the first week of July,2008.
What brave statements we made after the Kabul attack! We threatened to have the ISI destroyed!
The Pakistanis and the ISI must have chuckled within themselves.
Imagine the Government of India translating its brave words into action!
It has never done it.
The Pakistanis must have been certain that it will never do it in future.
So as the peace talks were going on and as the so-called joint counter-terrorism mechanism was holding one meeting after another, a new group of terrorists was being trained commando style.
Initially, they were trained in camps in Pakistan-occupied Kashmir.
Subsequently, in Karachi.
Then, they sailed to Mumbai and attacked in the darkness of early night.
The Japanese Pearl Harbour attack lasted just a few hours.
The LET attack lasted 60 hours plus.
The Japanese attack targeted mainly military installations and personnel.
The LET attack targeted only civilians---Indians and foreigners.
The ISI-sponsored LET attack was as treacherous as the Japanese attack.
And as dastardly.
And how did we react?
As a nation?
As a people?
As a political class?
As we have always done.
Brave and indignant words in the beginning.
And a subsequent reluctance to translate the words into action.
The day of infamy on December 7,1941, changed the history of the world.
And our own day of infamy of November 26,2008?
Has it changed the history of the sub-continent?
Have we created the fear of God in the minds of Pakistan and its terrorist surrogates?
Have our reactions made it certain that there will not be another 26/11 in our history?
Far from it.
Far, far,far from it.