Mumbai, Media & Politics

India Pakistan Conflict

Pakistan India Conflict --- courtesy nicholson cartoon

You dont go to war with a country which is already at war!

India might not get this message, but engaging Pakistan in a war across the border, even a minor skirmish, will not bode well for the region. This past decade has proven one thing beyond any doubt, that forcing a war on a nation will not resolve any conflicts. Rather it will only exasperate any imploding matters. US incursions into Iraq and Afghanistan and its ill effects are quite evident to all of us. Israel’s disastrous short war against Hizbullah in Lebanon in 2006 is another great example. Heck, even Kargil conflict between India & Pakistan in 1999 has shown us that hot wars cannot resolve long standing conflicts, it will only make matters worse.

This current Mumbai crisis has the hallmark of becoming a major flash point in South Asian politics. Already, India’s politicians have shown little leadership and more showmanship. Their anger and threats towards Pakistan have actually lost them more friends here than anytime in the past. This was a time to work together with newly elected Pakistani leadership in capturing the culprits. After all, Pakistan is suffering from terrorism within its borders on a daily basis.

What was surprising was the biasness of the Indian Media. When Mumbai crisis began, there was widespread sympathy for the victims. After all, Pakistan is going through a similar turmoil for the past few years. Therefore, there was an immediate connection and people felt sorry. However, Indian media, began implicating anything and everything that is Pakistan without any substantial proof, logic or common sense. As the hysteria was built up by the media, it was apparent, that Pakistanis were beginning to change their perceptions and were more dejected by the false reports being telecast from India. Today, Indian media are considered the “biggest liars on TV” here. They earned this respect in less than a week of irresponsible reporting.

Not many people realize that today, Pakistan has over 100,000 troops engaged in War Against Terror in North West of Pakistan. In fact, Pakistan army is the second largest military force after the US war machinery that is actively engaging Talibans and Al-Qaeda elements within its borders. This military force is not just out there to keep Pakistan safe, but is working closely with international partners to keep the world safe.  Therefore, it would have been prudent for Indian Politicians and media to have engaged Pakistani leadership rather than threatening them with dire consequences.

Earlier this month, British Prime Minister, Gordon Brown visited Pakistan and clearly indicated that it would be prudent for the world to work with Pakistan government in eliminating Talibans within its borders. Today, President Hamid Karzai of Afghanistan is also sending out the same message to its enemies and engaging them in peace talks. India should follow suite and work closely with Pakistan. There should be more sharing of intelligence reports and facts.

The recent Nobel Peace Prize winner, Martti Ahtisaari  when asked about the Mumbai crisis clearly indicated that one cannot resolve such matters without resolving Kashmir conflict. This festering wound has already caused three major wars between India and Pakistan. The longer Indian leadership continues to ignore United Nations resolutions dating back to 1949 on this conflict, the longer the conflict will continue. It is time for all leaders to sit down and resolve old conflicts. Drumming up war with Pakistan will not resolve any crisis rather will act as a catalyst for terrorism to spread to other parts of the world.

Mumbai and War on Terror

Failing War on Terror

Failing War on Terror

What happened in Mumbai is an atrocious crime against humanity. There is no doubt about it. The hallmarks of this terror attack are no different from what Iraq, Afghanistan, Pakistan, Britain, and United States have experienced it during this past decade. This unfortunately is a direct consequence of failing war on terror rather than any stand alone event. It is not caused by any sinister government nor any religious cults of the world. It is precisely a direct consequence of the failed policies dating back decades by most of these countries.

It is our firm belief that the method of waging the war on terror by the coalition forces earlier in this decade has not only failed to curb violence, but has actually acted like a catalyst for terrorism to spread literally across the globe. Today, there is no safe place from the reach of terrorist who can strike anywhere with such force that it makes the previous attacks look child’s play. Terrorism is now a cult and a religion in its own right which answers to no one.

Pakistan is waging an undeclared war on its own citizens in the North West of Pakistan. Namely Wazirstan, Bajaur and Swat Valleys. So far, no productive results have emerged except for over quarter of a million people have been made homeless and made to live in deplorable conditions. Each day hundreds of innocent people die from US drones and Pakistan Military bombings but the world has forgotten them. With the result, Pakistan now faces bomb blasts almost on a daily basis all over the country. I too had my office destroyed during the powerful Marriott blast on September 20, 2008. Like me thousands of people have been affected and many thousands have lost their lives.

Iraq is no different. The Shock and Awe campaign has literally backfired with whole country of Iraq falling into the Al-Qaeda trap. A country which had never really exported terrorism to any part of the world, now harbors and trains Al-Qaeda operatives as a direct consequence of the War on Terror.

India, like the other nations, has on its own part not been a saint when it comes to Kashmir, Assam and other freedom seeking states especially towards minorities within its borders. This is not something new. The brutal massacre at Golden Temple in 1984 or Gujrat in 2002 are just a few of the many attacks the minorities have faced in India which have never been fully answered. Today, there are many innocent people behind bars without trial in the jails of India. Many innocent people have been gunned down by the security forces in Kashmir. A swift and brutal retaliation was not just expected, but actually was waiting to happen. Unfortunately, in 2008, it has happened on a much larger scale in India than anticipated.

It is very easy to blame or accuse someone of a crime, but very difficult to understand why  such heinous attacks are committed. To get to the bottom of these crimes, one has to have an open mind and must engage the other side into a meaningful dialog. President Hamid Karzai, with the help of his coalition partners, is beginning to do just that. He is offering an open dialog with Mullah Umar and Talibans in hope for a long term peace in Afghanistan. The other nations should follow suite. There is no need to bomb and blame others for the crimes. We must look inside ourselves to find solutions.

Peace will come from within. It will not come laden on bombs. This past decade has shown us this message quite clearly.