War on Terror
What about the Taliban? What is their thinking? President Karzai is banking heavily on the possibility that the Taliban, accepting him as a genuine interlocutor, will respond to his overtures. These are early stages, with everything up in the air, different possibilities being floated but nothing definite on the table as a genuine starting point.
For Pakistan the danger is obvious. We are caught in a bind. The more our American friends flounder, the greater will be their frustration, and the greater their readiness to take out their anger on us by accusing us of a double-faced policy: hunting with them but also in touch with the Taliban. Every failure begets the need for scapegoats and we shouldn't be surprised if we are blamed for the US's own failures of judgment and resolve. -- Ayaz Amir
The time has come for the silent majority to break its silence and speak out loud against the blatant atrocities of the Taliban. “Terrorism is the tactic of demanding the impossible and demanding it at gunpoint” —Christopher Hitchens.
The aforementioned rationale is not shared by many here who are staunch advocates of making peace with the demons. Every now and then a violent act claims several cherished lives. As we mourn the lost ones and seek refuge in the burial rituals, a sense of vulnerability and frustration keeps on mounting and most start losing hope in the political system, in the faith and, more importantly, in civilisation. It is absolutely deceitful of the apologists and supporters of the Taliban to now suggest that the Taliban should not be given a taste of their own medicine. Why were these torchbearers of people’s rights tight-lipped when innocent men, women and children were being slaughtered, beheaded and flogged? These sympathisers shed no tears when self-righteous zealots torched down thousands of schools for those institutions were a symbol of modernity and free will.
The Taliban apologists continue to claim that the Taliban are not terrible creatures and that we should try to ‘understand’ them and address their ‘demands’. They, however, forget to address the inconvenient truth that we did so in Swat and it backfired. Operation Rah-e-Rast demonstrated that if all the Taliban within Swat are not dealt with with an iron hand, we would be sowing the seeds for their return in even greater numbers. The tactic of holding peace talks/negotiations have failed on numerous occasions and such strategies only serve as short-term appeasement exercises for the militants. The Laal Masjid saga is a perfect example in this regard. The state did not react persuasively when they illegally occupied a children’s library and then assumed the role of morality police by detaining foreign nationals. This appeasement led to an unavoidable showdown for which many would rightly blame the state. -- Ammar Zafarullah
Finally, in 1966, the Miranda decision established a universal standard, requiring people in police custody to be read their rights before being questioned. Under most circumstances, failure to comply with this rule would lead to a suppression of the confession. However, contrary to common belief, the Miranda warning doesn’t confer rights; it simply reminds arrestees of the rights already granted to them by the Constitution....
But resolving immediate emergencies is about as far as we should go in delaying the Miranda reading or creating exceptions to it. To open non-emergency exceptions, like the one proposed by the Obama administration, would be to go down a road toward the eventual nullification of the constitutional protection against self-incrimination. The Miranda rule enables us to protect a fundamental right without forcing the courts to allow the legitimacy of every confession to be proven before it is allowed into evidence. To compromise the rule would be counterproductive to the freedom we enjoy — a freedom that terrorists would like nothing better than to destroy. -- Sol Wachtler
Islamabad reacted with anger to media accounts of Headley's claims about the ISI. But the case of the Kanpur spy suggests that a great part of the truth about Mumbai is either unknown to, or is being hidden from, Pakistan's civilian government...
Last week, the former Indian diplomat, Chinmaya Gharekhan, called on the government to test Pakistan's commitment to act against anti-India terrorists by using “quantifiable criteria which can be spelt out.” Pakistan's willingness to fill the gaping holes in its investigation will clearly be key to these criteria. Early this year, Mumbai authorities quietly buried the bodies of the nine Lashkar jihadists, who were killed during the attacks, after months of waiting for Pakistan to reclaim them. Eighteen months after the carnage, the FIA has identified just three of those men: Mohammad Altaf, Imran Babar, and Nasir Ahmad. Nothing could better illustrate Pakistan's disinclination to discover the truth about Mumbai. -- Praveen Swami
Yes, a country to which the United States is giving full support and billions of dollars in aid is doing little or nothing against those responsible for the September 11 attacks and for the killing of about 3,000 Americans. But the Obama Administration doesn’t believe in getting tough or putting pressure on those countries actually giving America trouble. Ah, maybe it does understand. After all, if it really regarded Pakistan as an ally, instead of a hostile state, it wouldn’t be treating it so well! -- Barry Rubin
The public trial and provision of legal defence for Qassab enhanced the reputation and credibility of the Indian judicial system and further disclosed to our eternal pride that there were victims and bereaved who were prepared to forgive him. But the overwhelming popular indignation and feeling of revenge is quite understandable, and is to be expected. It is also an unacknow-ledged tribute to the Indian system that Pakistanis want Indian judicial officials to give evidence in the in-camera Pakistani trial of the LeT handlers for the Mumbai attack. The contrast between the mature Indian democracy and the incipient Pakistani system could not have been better brought out, with the open trial in India and the closed trial in Pakistan…..
The image of Qassab with his AK-47 at the Chhatrapati Shivaji Terminus will haunt for a long time to come. 26/11 in the longer run may have a more significant impact on our security thinking than the 1947, 1965, 1971 and 1999 wars with Pakistan. -- K. Subrahmanyam
Back in 2008 Boyle made an astute joke on BBC’s Radio 4 programme Political Animal. "I've been studying Israeli army martial arts. I now know 16 ways to kick a Palestinian woman in the back. People think that the Middle East is very complex but I have an analogy that sums it up quite well. If you imagine that Palestine is a big cake, well … that cake is being punched to pieces by a very angry Jew."
In fact, no one can describe the barbarism and collective sadism performed by the Jewish State more accurately. –- Gilad Atzmon
The victims' relatives' feelings are understandable, but Hemant Karkare's wife Kavita also said that Qassab should be hanged in public. How can you condemn the savagery of Kasab and his nine associates by recommending medieval practice of hanging of Qassab in public? By giving fair trial to Kasab, India is arguing that it is not a banana republic. Slain police officer Tukaram Omble's relative said on television that Qassab's limbs should be cut into pieces in public and then salt should be applied on. This view is just not Indian….
"Pakistan should get the message clear unlike the 1993 serial Mumbai blasts that divided the Indian society; the 2008 terror attack has united India. Hopefully, the times are changing. Hindus and Muslims -- urban and rural India, rich and poor and middle class -- all felt strongly for those 166 families whose relatives were killed by the attack by 10 Pakistani terrorists. Irrespective of the legal weaknesses or strengths of Judge Madan Tahilyani's verdict, generally, Indians would be happy that the trial took place with a speed that is not common in India and he has delivered a sound judgment. -- Sheela Bhatt
In the late 1980s and early 1990s, however, terrorism and guerrilla warfare started occupying global centre stage. And while this was a game changer, the Western world relegated it to a Third World or West Asia problem.
The 9/11 attacks changed that dramatically. The much vaunted two-ocean defence assurance (the idea of being guarded by the existence of two oceans on its two sides) that the US had historically banked upon evaporated overnight. Al Qaeda showed that it was possible to strike the world’s sole remaining superpower, just like 10 years earlier the Taliban had shown that they could take on the mighty Soviet Union. And while the US responded with its own and allied military might, it was hobbled by a doctrine that was woefully out of date. Several hundred thousand troops and kilotonnes of bombs later, its enemy was very much alive and kicking. Around seven years after George W. Bush pronounced “Mission Accomplished” in 2003, the world has discovered that when it comes to terrorism, the mission itself has to be redefined. Killing insurgents does not equate to killing insurgency. -- Raghu Raman
The scholars of today seem to have realised, though belatedly, that Ibn Taimiya’s fatwa had been a source of inspiration for the extremist, radical and sectarian schools of thought in the Muslim world and had given birth to Al Qaeda,Taliban, Lashkar-e-Taiba, Al Shahab and other terrorist organisations all over the world causing death, destruction and slaughter of innocent people in the name of Jihad. The acts of violence have not only killed non-combatants among the Muslims and non-Muslims but have also damaged the image of Islam as a religion of peace because even during a war, Islam is against assaulting or harming non-combatants, women, children, the elderly and unarmed persons. The so-called jihad had its political consequences as well. It did the Islamic world more harm than good.-- Sohail Arshad
Photo: Islamic scholar Habib Ali of Egypt
One important political development in the subcontinent went largely unnoticed by the political analysts in January. Just two days before Bangladesh Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina's visit to India, an important minister in her cabinet Syed Ashraful Islam shocked India by disclosing the fact that the former BNP-Jamaat Regime had arranged a clandestine meeting between the former Pakistan president Perwez Musharrarf and the top leader and founder of ULFA, Anup Chetia while he was languishing in a Dhaka jail. Bangladesh’s external intelligence agency, Directorate General of Forces Intelligence (DGFI) had played an active role in arranging the meeting as a section of the DGFI officials was hand in glove with the Pakistani intelligence agency ISI. -- Sohail Arshad
Photo: PM of Bangladesh, Sheikh Hasina
The call for a balanced approach to life in our highly terror-prone world came at a seminar on Terrorism and the response of composite culture organised by urdutahzeen.net on Sunday at Mumbai’s Taj Palace Hotel, the site of 26/11 massacre just over a year ago.
Dr Ajai Sahni, the last speaker of the first session, gave his strategic view of the India’s place not just vis-à-vis its neighbours like Pakistan but in the global context. If India fails against terrorism, the whole world will fail.” He called for a credible and effective response to the barbarians who are threatening our society and civilization and plainly questioned the wisdom of continuing the dialogue with Pakistan, the “enabler of terrorism.”
“We are living in glass houses and there is no need to demolish any mosque or temple because God belongs to all whether we call him Ram or Rahim. The Gita and Quran have the same message,” said the opening speaker, Dr. P.S. Pasricha, former DGP, Mumbai, and Maharastra.
Organized by Urdutahzeeb.net of London based NRI Ajit Singh, the event was marked by highly emotional, thought provoking and divergent opinions both from the invited panel of speakers and the floor.
Islamic commentator and editor of New Age Islam website Sultlan Shahin called for soul searching and introspection by the Muslim community both in India and abroad to counter terrorism and notions of narrow Islamic superiority and separatism.
Photo: Shabana Azmi, film actor and victim of media distortions, gave a forceful answer to those who questioned her identity as a Muslim and an Indian
This once again underlines the fact that mindless cruelty to animals is an early indication of future criminality. In their paper ‘From Animal Cruelty to Serial Murder: Applying the Graduation Hypothesis’, in The International Journal of Offender Therapy and Comparative Criminology (47.1), Jeremy Wright and Christopher Hensley write, “Since the late-1970s, the FBI has considered animal cruelty to be a possible indicator of future serial murder. The FBI documented the connection between cruelty to animals and serial murder following a study of 35 imprisoned serial murderers. The convicted murderers were asked questions regarding their childhood cruelty to animals. More than half of the serial murderers admitted to hurting or torturing animals as children or adolescents.” -- Hiranmay Karlekar
The contours of this nefarious joint venture were fairly simple, as an intelligence official puts it, "Use disaffected Indian youth to carry out terror strikes using locally available bomb material. The objectives of the project were twofold: strike terror in the Indian heartland without raising suspicions of Pakistan's involvement."
In intelligence jargon, this is called a plausibly deniable operation. Unlike the 26/11 Mumbai attacks which left behind damning evidence of Pakistani involvement--Pakistani national Ajmal Amir Kasab--this operation would use only Indian nationals. They were recruited by Lashkar spotters either in India, Pakistan or Bangladesh and indoctrinated using propaganda videos showing the Babri Masjid demolition and Gujarat riots. -- Sandeep Unnithan
When video footage of a girl from Swat valley flogged by Taliban shocked entire Pakistan and drew wide-spread condemnation, Ansar Abbasi appeared on Geo TV and defended Taliban's flogging of the girl on the plea that Taliban did what Allah had ordained in Quran. Hence, in his view, condemning Taliban was tantamount to disrespecting Quran. His story on Marriott, lacking all the ingredients of journalistic objectivity, was an attempt to justify the attack on the hotel claiming lives of many innocent civilians. Since hatred for US is justifiably universal in Pakistan, hence, banking on this hatred Ansar Abbasi attempted to justify the deaths at Marriott as collateral damage. The PPP MNA (member parliament from Bhutto's Pakistan People’s Party, or PPP) mentioned in this news report contradicted the story. However, in a hurriedly written piece for Counterpunch, Ansar Abbasi's story was cited to convince the readers that U.S. presence was destabilising the region. The U.S. presence, no doubt, is destabilising the region. But we do not have to base our anti-imperialism on half-truths spun either by Media Mujahideen or Western reporters building their exclusive stories on fake encounters with fake Taliban commanders. -- Farooq Sulehria
Photo: Farooq Sulehria, Afghan journalist based in Sweden
Saudi Arabia's diplomatic mission in Afghanistan is an essential step in its efforts to "whiten its face" and restore its reputation in the West,particularly the United States,which has not forgotten that the majority of the September 11,2001,hijackers were Saudi citizens,and that the government failed to manage the Taliban during the years leading up to those attacks.
For the Saudis,a bid to rehabilitate the Taliban,despite the damage they have caused to the Kingdom's diplomatic standing in the West,serves a strategic purpose.The Kingdom has suffered from the rise of the Shi'a in neighboring Iraq and is keen to maintain Sunni supremacy in the Islamic lands further to the east.Yet they see that,under Karzai,Saudi influence has declined in Afghanistan since 2001,while that of the Iranians has strengthened. -- Mai Yamani
In recent weeks a Pakistan-based jihadi online discussion forum has come to light that is actively frequented by members of Ilyas Kashmiri’s 313 Brigade. This discussion forum set up allegedly by members of a madarsa that was the target of Pakistan military action in Lahore back in 2007 is notable for attracting mostly anti-establishment jihadi sympathisers in Pakistan. A curious refrain in this forum is the deep distrust harboured by participants towards Hafiz Saeed-led Jamaat-ud-Dawa’h and the Lashkar-e-Tayyeba both of which are viewed as proxies of the Pakistan state and the ISI. Of particular interest is one participant in this forum who describes himself as a soldier of Ilyas Kashmiri’s 313 Brigade who was one of the first to affirm news of Ilyas Kashmiri being alive after speculation of Kashmiri’s death in a drone attack back in September 2009. -- Shashi Shekhar
What they had proved once again is that the Taliban could strike at will anywhere in the heart of Kabul, the citadel of Afghanistan protected by the US military. The Taliban have managed to strike at a number of key targets within the city in recent times, including, among others, the ministry of justice, a United Nation’s guesthouse and the Indian embassy. All these have been suicide attacks meant to send a message.
This time too, as the New York Times pointed out, the "effect of the attack seemed primarily psychological, designed to strike fear into the usually quiet precincts of downtown Kabul — and to drive home the ease with which insurgents could strike the American-backed government there". A Washington Post reporter quoted locals who shared this view: "This is to show the Afghan government and the internationals that they can carry out an attack one kilometre from the presidential palace". -- Indranil Banerjie
Many believe that Abhinav Bharat carried out many attacks earlier attributed to jihadist groups — notable among them, the bombing of the Mecca Masjid in Hyderabad in May 2007, and a subsequent attack on the famous shrine at Ajmer. Despite persistent questioning of Abhinav Bharat cadre, though, the investigators have not been able to link the group to the attacks.
Judging by recent Hindutva terror attacks, like last year’s bombings in Goa, it is unclear if they still have the capabilities to mount a sophisticated attack of the kind seen in Pune. Few investigators believe that the organisations — or other Hindutva cells — mounted the operation. “Still”, says one Maharashtra police official involved in investigating both Hindutva and jihadist attacks, “you can’t help wondering — what if?” -- Praveen Swami
One is again hearing whispered preliminaries of the cowardly chorus of this being “not our war, after all”, despite the undeniable fact that Pakistani citizens and members of our armed forces are being blown up, shot and killed in a variety of dramatic ways. ....
No less a personage than the prime minister has been heard asserting that force is not the answer to terrorism (sic) and that ‘dialogue’ is necessary. Dialogue? With unrepentant and exceptionally cruel and violent terrorists? For heaven’s sake, prime minister, what kind of company have you been keeping? Consider the previous others who have endorsed or demanded ‘dialogue’ with these treasonous savages. They have included General Pervez Musharraf (who signed away whole swathes of the sovereign territory of Pakistan that he had usurped when he illegitimately seized power), the likes of Generals Hamid Gul and Aslam Beg, the religio-political parties and their beardless fellow traveller Imran Khan, and such jelly-kneed politicians as NWFP’s Mian Iftikhar Husain who trembled at the suicide bombers standing allegedly behind them as they consigned the hapless people of Swat to a living hell. ....
Counter-terror measures are not military in nature. They are a police matter — an issue of effective law enforcement. In his book, The Idea of Pakistan, Stephen Cohen remarked that while Pakistan was not, in his view, a failed or failing state, the corruption and incompetence of its police apparatus could well drag the country toward that direction. We have seen for example that, again and again, massive quantities of high explosives have been procured, processed, mobilised and utilised in one terrorist act after another; but no intelligence or investigation has been able to penetrate the elaborate financial, logistical and human trails involved. -- Salman Tarik Kureshi, Karachi
The name Yemen means "country on the right." (If one looks toward Mecca from the West, Yemen is on the right side and Syria on the left.) The right side also connotes happiness, and the name of Yemen is connected to al-Yamana, an Arabic word for being happy. The Romans called it Arabia Felix ("Happy Arabia"), because it was rich through trading in spices. (By the way, Obama may be interested to hear that another leader of a superpower, Caesar Augustus, once tried to invade Yemen and was trounced.) If the quiet American, in his usual mixture of idealism and ignorance, decides to bring democracy and all the other goodies there, that will be the end of this happiness. The Americans will sink into another quagmire, tens of thousands of people will be killed, and it will all end in disaster. -- Uri Avnery
But a fissure right down the middle of the online watchdog discourse is whether to take down jihadi sites — as Internet Haganah does — or mine them for intelligence. Anyway, along with assaulting online jihadists, cyberspace will have to be protected — and entire populations and economies dependent on it — from terrorist assaults. Encryption and information safety will call for new defences. Let alone military personnel, very soon we’ll all be paranoid about our PCs and cellphones. In cyberspace, terrorists operate inside the ring we all are in, with technology no longer restricted to superpowers. And there’s no time for online jokes like the Nigerian “b***-bomber” taking Freudian psychosexual growth to a new dimension. -- Sudeep Paul
“Future historians,” wrote Walter Lacquer, “will be intrigued and puzzled by the staggering disproportion between the enormous amount of talk about terrorism and the tiny effort made to combat it.”
Ever since the savage Lashkar-e-Taiba attack on Mumbai in November 2008, Indians have been demanding that the government add muscle to the country’s counter-terrorism defenses...
The key problem is not the lack of institutional arrangement for the management of India’s counter-terrorism response but system-wide deficiencies in skills and capabilities. Vision and hard work will be needed to address them. -- Praveen Swami
Far from being "silent co-conspirators" -- as some are wont to call the Muslim community -- Muslims are an instrumental part of the fight against the terrorists and extremists who act in the name of their faith. It would have been an horrific act of mass murder. A Nigerian man allegedly attempted to ignite an explosive device aboard Northwest Airlines Flight 253 to Detroit, but the device failed, and he was quickly subdued by other passengers. I thank God the plot failed, and I commend the bravery and heroism of those passengers who risked their own safety to help avert a potentially terrible terrorist attack. An investigation into the alleged plot is currently underway. -- Hesham A. Hassaballa
How has occupying two nations at a cost of 5,000 dead, 35,000 wounded and a trillion dollars made us safer from an enemy that more resembles the Apache of Geronimo than the panzers of Rommel? If protection of the homeland against another Sept. 11 is the goal of this war, how relevant to that goal is the building of clinics and schools in Kabul and keeping the Taliban at bay in Helmand?
Are we fighting other people's wars, rather than our own war?
We Americans are today widely hated in the Arab and Islamic world by scores of millions, out of whom al-Qaida need but recruit a few hundred suicide bombers to wreak havoc on our country. Does having 200,000 U.S. troops in their part of the world, fighting and killing Muslims, make our country more secure than defending our borders, keeping radicals out, running al-Qaida down, and tracking and killing them where they are? To win the war we are in, we have to fight the war we are in, not the war we prefer to fight because no one else is so good at it. -- Pat Buchanan