Saving Pakistan From Al Qaeda
In times of stressful relations between nations, conspiracy theories abound. With manipulative terrorist organizations as the Al Qaeda having mastered the art of disinformation, the potential to widen the cleavage between India and Pakistan over the Mumbai terror strikes is excellent. Enter the Qaeda's information manipulators and we have two nuclear powers on the brink of a war, which they had avoided in 2002.
Thus reports of hoax calls from India's Foreign Minister to the President of Pakistan leading to alerting the Pakistan Air Force are widely bandied in the media. The denial of the Indian Foreign Minister is couched in a language which can provoke the Pakistani establishment which accused of being too soft on the Indian state has now taken to sniping at every word emanating from New Delhi. Thus even proof dug out by a London Daily of Mr. Kasav alias Iman the only surviving terrorist who struck Mumbai, belonging to a village in Pakistan sees no reaction from the other side. Iman's parents are mysteriously unavailable when the reporter visits the village.
Reports in the Indian media indicate that the armed forces are ready for a surgical strike on Pakistan and the armaments likely to be used are listed, with the Indian Air Force, the most reluctant of the three services to go to war, knowing fully its implications this time around seeming more than keen to strike.
The economy of Pakistan is floundering with the State Bank of Pakistan indicating a further slide. India is no better with a bail out package failing to soothe the nerves of bankers and realty brokers alike. Both cannot afford to go to war, but may just will in case they fall into the trap of the Al Qaeda. And while India may survive, Pakistan would surely collapse given the multiple traps set for it by the wily terrorist group. And as the state folds up in Islamabad, the Al Qaeda can extend its writ across the country rather than just the western tribal corridor adjoining Afghanistan.
Thus the issue today is not just who planned the attack on Mumbai, but who will benefit from the emerging confrontation between India and Pakistan. Many influential writers across the world have reached the conclusion that it is the Al Qaeda and its supporters in Pakistan who are set to gain.
Ayaz Amir writing in the News International Pakistan on 05 December indicates that while it may not be clear so far if the Al Qaeda is involved or not in the Mumbai attacks, the methodology of attack and the consequences of the same which has resulted in totally disrupting the coalition between India and Pakistan which was growing against Al Qaeda's brand of terror would have been welcomed by Osama bin Laden or his second-in-command, Ayman Al Zawahiri.
The Al Qaeda has been under pressure in the Western parts of Pakistan along the Afghan frontier and the rift between India and Pakistan would imply that the Pakistan Army whose 'heart was never in this fight in which it found itself engaged only because of overwhelming American pressure' as per Amir would shift its focus to the Eastern frontier. The situation that is arising from the strike thus suits the Al Qaeda for if the Pakistan Army shifts the 5 divisions deployed in the FATA, it would provide freedom to the militants to operate with impunity and also disrupt the war in Afghanistan. Amir recalls that the Al Qaeda is known to make such strategic plays, for instance the Madrid train bombings split the US coalition in Iraq with Spain withdrawing from the same. Amir also finds the duo of Zardari and Gillian relatively inexperienced in responding to such situations and calls for institutionalized mechanisms to deal with the same.
Fred Burton and Ben West, writing in Stratfor.com report, 'From the New York Landmarks Plot to the Mumbai Attack', compare the Mumbai plot with a failed plot which targeted Manhattan in July 1993 planned by the Al Qaeda at a time when it was a relatively unknown organization. The Landmarks plot targeted prominent hotels in Manhattan with eight terrorists charging the Island with automatic rifles, grenades and improvised explosive devices (IEDs) attempting to kill maximum people. Waldorf-Astoria, St. Regis and U.N. Plaza hotels, the Lincoln and Holland tunnels, and a midtown Manhattan waterfront heliport were some of the targets considered by the terrorists.
Ria Novosti, the Russian state agency on 27 November a day after the attack brought out a report quoting an official, "The Russian secret services have information that certain groups that have carried out attacks in Mumbai have contacts with Al-Qaeda. This includes the Lashkar-i-Tayyiba terrorist group. Fighters from this group undergo special training in Al-Qaeda camps, located on the border between Pakistan and India," the official was quoted as saying.
With all this evidence and state agencies should hopefully have much more than what is in open source it is time Indian leadership works towards saving Pakistan from the Al Qaeda rather than worrying about hoax calls and information innuendos.
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Col. Rahul K. Bhonsle
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