This is a guest blog entry by Mustafa - a good friend, who wanted to voice his opinion regarding the current political situation between India and Pakistan. I may not agree with some of what he has to say, but than there is nothing is like diversity in opinion.
India should carefully, very carefully, weigh its options
Much has been said by many of the Mumbai horror being India's 9/11.
No less a figure than US Senator John McCain has counseled Pakistan that if it did not do all that it should to comprehend the "Bad Guys" he had personal information that India would launch air strikes on "terrorist camps" in Pakistan and that Washington would abstain from interfering as Mumbai was India's 9/11.
However, what happened in NY seven years ago cannot be equated and should not be equated with the horrible tragedy last month in Mumbai. The context is different, the times are different and they demand a different response from New Delhi. The Indian leadership would be well advised to reach at a set of decisions independent of the baggage of 9/11.
The Mumbai carnage was not an isolated incident. There have been a series of horrific incidents unleashed on India including Guwahati, Bangalore, and Malegaon. The question that one needs to ask is why? Something has gone very badly wrong in India
One should never justify or condone the use of terror to achieve political objectives such as Mumbai being used in response to Indian atrocities in Kashmir. However one needs to understand the context so as to effectively address the issue.
Yes, Pakistan has its Hafiz Saeed. He supports the use of suicide bombings, considers Shias non-Muslims, thinks democracy to be flawed and non-Islamic, would prefer to see all Jews eradicated from this planet and is all for jihad being waged to have his Salafist version of Islam imposed upon the world.
However, India also its share of hate mongers. Babu Bajrangi of Ahmedabad. He played a key role in the 2002 Gujarat massacre of muslims and who on TV expressed his to kill 50,000 Muslims. Then India has his mentor, Narendra Modi.
It is true that all these years, Hafiz Saeed has been allowed to live unencumbered by the Pakistani Government while he has spewed hatred.
India does not have clean hands either. Babu Bajrangi, is out on bail very much doing what he pleases in Gujarat. The butcher of Gujarat, Narendra Modi, is still the chief minister of Gujarat. What does India have to say in her defense that the man who presided over the Gujarat genocide has been re-elected twice.
Yes, Hafiz Saeed's organization has branches and volunteers throughout Pakistan. The Hindu Supremacy organization, the RSS too has 48,000 branches and 9 million volunteers throughout India. Members include former prime minister AB Vajpayee, and current leader of the opposition LK Advani. India is in no position to take the High Road.
Partition may have happened 61 years ago, the wounds however are still raw. The third generation on both sides still sheds tears over the massacre of more than a million people. Kashmir is still the tinderbox that it was 60 years ago. A never ending nightmare with no end in sight – a quicksand that has sucked in 65,000 lives. Pakistan may have become a corrupt (in every sense of the word) state with no protection for minorities. India too has had its share of Babu Bajrangis, bent on raping, maiming and killing Muslims until the last of this circumcised lot leaves the land of the Ganjes. Babri Masjid was not an isolated random incident. Gujarat is not going to be the last time that a Muslim will be massacred.
Clearly Pakistan is as close to a failed state as one will see, a tragedy unfolding in slow motion as it slowly implodes. A population in denial, a civilian government unwilling and unable to keep the militants in check, an army with a million rogue elements, fanatic mullahs – this is a very toxic soup.
However, military action by India will further exacerbate matters. It will lead to total chaos and India will also be dragged into the morass. The ultimate nightmare is a destroyed Pakistan with rogue agents in control of the nuclear stockpile in India's immediate vicinity. Is this what India wishes?
India needs to set its own house in order. If its 150 million Muslim citizens cease to become marginalized and begin to thrive, much of the ammunition that the likes of Hafiz Saeed has to play with will go away. They will fail to recruit young boys and transform them into mindless killers. These 10 young men who created so much havoc in Mumbai were remarkably efficient killing machines. They made no demands and did not wish to negotiate. They waded ashore with one intention -- kill as many people as possible and cause as much damage as they could before they were killed themselves. They had no respect for life, not even their own. It did not matter to them that a large number of their victims were Muslims, or that their action could ignite a severe backlash against Muslims in India.
Yes, Pakistan needs to do all that it can in eradicating these monsters, but India needs to remove the very acts of injustice and persecution that forms the fertile breeding ground for these recruits.
The strategy adopted by USA after 9/11 has not been successful. It is currently engaged in two costly wars that it cannot win. It is today despised across the world. Its economy has been crippled. More of its young sons and daughters have died in these last five years than on 9/11. Its citizens have lost some of their civil liberties.
India will suffer the same fate by engaging in military action against Pakistan. Yes, Pakistan will get destroyed but at a price to India that will be unpalatable. India needs half a million soldiers to police Kashmir. How many for Pakistan's portion of Punjab and Sindh? The Indians should do their maths.
What the two countries are experiencing is the result of six decades of unwise policies that have with each passing years made matters worse. They are sowing what they have reaped.
Enlightened leadership is needed on both sides. Not war.