December 2008, Vol. 3, No. 11

Mumbai Attacks: India, Pakistan on Edge

Taj Mahal HotelThe Indian investigation into the Mumbai attacks has centered on Ajmal Amir Kasab, the only alleged terrorist captured alive. Details of Kasab's life emerged in the Indian media and Pakistani newspaper Dawn went on a fact finding mission into Kasab's village. It found his family and the father gave a revealing account of the circumstances which led to his son leaving home. Interestingly, after the story appeared, the family can no longer be found in the village.

While President Zardari maintains that there is no “firm” evidence to prove the link to Pakistan, the government banned Jamaat-ud-Dawa (JuD), an Islamic charity which acted as a front for LeT after the latter was banned in 2001. The move followed a UN Security Council resolution to ban JuD. Previous attempts were blocked by China in defense of Pakistani interests, observes a Daily Times editorial.

While diplomacy between both countries has been restrained and somewhat effective, the same cannot be said of the media's initial coverage in both countries. The initial bellicosity of the Indian media and the use of conspiracy theories by the Pakistani media are detrimental to their government positions, write Beena Sarwar and Irfan Hussain.

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In this Issue:

  1. Feature: Mumbai attacks: India, Pakistan on edge; The Attackers of Mumbai; Fallout: Indian Politicians under fire; Strong Reaction From Indian Muslims; Pakistan's Response: Crackdown on Jamaat-ud-Dawa; Criticisms of Media Coverage

  2. Carnegie Events and Analysis
    Terrorists Attacking Mumbai Have Global Agenda; What Pakistan Won't Do, the World Should; Bloodbath in Bombay: India's Leading Voices Speak Out

  3. Views from South Asia:

    Foreign and Domestic Politics

    State Elections: Congress' Surprising Victories; V.P. Singh Passes Away;

    Economics and Development
    Stimulus and its Discontents; Pawar's Politics of Import and Export

    Peshawar and the Attack on NATO Supplies; Why LeT Does Not Attack The Pakistan Army; Munir Mengal and the Baloch Movement

    Economics and Development
    Karachi Stock Exchange: Floored; Long-Term Strategy for a Recovery

    The End of Emergency and the Return of Politics

    Fissures in Government; New Constitution Drafting Process Begins

    Costs of War; Irony of India's Response to Terrorism

Editor's Note

Last month's terrorist attacks in Mumbai profoundly shook India and the reverberations were felt across South Asia. The targeting of seven prominent Mumbai locations, murder of more than 170 Indians and foreign tourists and a 60-hour long siege of the Taj Mahal Hotel captured on live television, prompted media comparisons with 9/11. Intense public fury with politicians erupted in India. Television anchors were accused of feeding the frenzy. As details from the ensuing investigations emerged, Indian, U.S. and British intelligence agencies concluded that the attackers were trained in Pakistan and belonged to Lashkar-e-Taiba (LeT), a terrorist group which gained fame in the 1990s for its suicide attacks in Kashmir.

While Pakistan's civilian government condemned the attacks and cracked down on LeT's charity arm, doubts remain about how much control Pakistan exercises over the Army and its intelligence agency, Inter-Services Intelligence (ISI), which has supported and encouraged LeT in the past to wage a low-cost, covert war against India. This issue of South Asia Perspectives focuses on the investigations into the Mumbai attacks, the media coverage following the attacks, and diplomacy of the Indian and Pakistani governments.

The perception following the attacks was that that the right-wing Bharatiya Janta Party (BJP) would gain power in the upcoming elections as the current government suffered from the perception of being weak on national security issues. The results of local elections seem to dispute the notion as Indian National Congress, the ruling party at the national level won three of five contests. Psephologists see a new explanatory variable for Indian elections – the ruling party's success in achieving development goals.

A car bomb explosion and an audacious attack on NATO supplies in Peshawar bring into sharp focus the question of Pakistani sovereignty and expose the danger of hailing Pakistan Taliban as patriots, concludes a Daily Times editorial.

Bangladesh goes to the polls on December 29 after a two-year period of rule by the army. Both political parties are battling on the economic plank but neither says how they will finance their plans, writes Fahim Ahmed.

Fissures emerged in the Nepal government with disagreements between the Maoists and other parties on integrating Maoist combatants into the national army, writes Ram S. Mahat.

Sri Lanka 's war against the LTTE rages on. The Island thinks India 's newly hardened stance on terrorism is ironic given that it supported the LTTE, considered a terrorist organization by many countries, in its formative stages.

Ashesh Prasann
Editor, South Asian Perspectives



Propitiate the BullThe Attackers of Mumbai
Praveen Swami narrates the story of Mohammad Ajmal Amir, one of the ten terrorists involved in the Mumbai attacks, who was captured alive. Ajmal's story illustrates how Lashkar-e-Taiba preys on the most vulnerable in Pakistan 's society to further its agenda. (The Hindu, December 2, 2008)

Meanwhile, Outlook published the full text of Mohammad Ajmal Amir's statement to Indian authorities. (Outlook, December 10, 2008)

In an excellent piece of investigative journalism, the Pakistani newspaper Dawn tracks down Ajmal's family in Faridkot, verifying details about his life reported in the Indian media. (Dawn, December 12, 2008)

Harinder Baweja travels to the Jamaat-ud-Dawa center in Pakistan, Muridke, which India claims was the training ground for Ajmal and other LeT members. A tour of the Muridke complex and a conversation with the spokesperson of JuD produced interesting revelations of the organization's position on Kashmir and its refusal to confirm or deny Ajmal's education at the center. (Tehelka, December 20, 2008)

Fallout: Indian Politicans Under Fire

In a scathing open letter to the prime minister, Harsh V. Pant castigates him for not taking terrorism seriously until the end of his term. He argues that despite the political opportunism of the two primary national parties, Congress and BJP, it should have been the prime minister's priority to forge a consensus on national security issues. (Outlook, December 4, 2008)

Tarun Tejpal, in a hard-hitting editorial, writes that the Mumbai attacks have caused intense public outrage because the elite have been targeted. The roots of Mumbai, a failure of the political class, lie in the continued abstention of Indian elites from politics and the slow failure of institutions in India. He concludes that India 's elite have to “dirty their hands to get a clean country.” (Tehelka, December 13, 2008)

Sociologist Andre Beteille points out the risk of criticizing the whole political class – who will lead in a democracy if they won't? He reckons that outrageous public reactions calling on Indians to stop voting and paying taxes were caused by the distorting effect of people being on television, a trend which could develop dangerously if not checked. (Tehelka, December 13, 2008)

Pakistan 's response – Crackdown on Jamaat-ud-Dawa

Propitiate the BullThe Hindu welcomes Pakistan 's arrest of Zaki-ur-Rehman Lakhvi, the alleged mastermind of the Mumbai attacks, suggesting that Indian and international pressure on Pakistan is working. At the same time, India should consider the weakness of the civilian government in Pakistan and not reject Pakistani proposals of intelligence sharing and a joint investigation committee. (The Hindu, December 10, 2008)

The Times of India questions the value of placing Lakhvi under house arrest. Nuclear proliferator A. Q. Khan and Jaish-e-Mohammad leader, Maulana Masood Azhar have been under house arrest for years, but this has only prevented them from being interrogated by international investigation agencies. (The Times of India, December 10, 2008)

An editorial in Dawn cautions that Pakistan has banned militant groups in the past, only for sister organizations like Jamaat-ud-Dawa (JuD), LeT's charity and political wing, to flourish. Islamabad needs to unambiguously stamp out terrorism this time and a pragmatic approach from India and the international community will help the government. (Dawn, December 12, 2008)

An Asian Age editorial lauds India 's decision to approach the UN Security Council for the ban on JuD but cautions that if the international community does not heed its concerns, India may be forced to take necessary steps in self-defense. In such a scenario, American strategic interests in Afghanistan should not constrain India 's actions. (The Asian Age, December 10, 2008)

Hasan Askar Rizvi questions the wisdom of Pakistan 's former policy of taking military action against Pakistan Taliban in the tribal areas, but not against non-Pashtun Pakistani terror groups like LeT in the mainland. He also thinks India is mounting a diplomatic campaign to drum up support for airstrikes in Pakistan, which will defeat the idea of a long-term counter-terrorism strategy that includes Pakistan. (Daily Times, December 14, 2008)

In another editorial, Daily Times explains the significance of China 's refusal to the UNSC resolution banning Jamaat-ud-Dawa, as it has in the past. (Daily Times, December 13, 2008)

Criticisms of Media Coverage

Propitiate the BullIn one of the most forwarded articles in the wake of Mumbai attacks, Gnani Sankaran poses a difficult question: Why did the Indian media's coverage skew towards the Taj Hotel, where elites dine, while Chhatrapati Shivaji Terminus (CST), Mumbai's famous train station and the site of the first attacks, was largely ignored? The answer, he reckons, lies in the ordinary Indian's resilience while the rich and powerful cry for government intervention only when they are targeted. (, November 29, 2008)

Beena Sarwar ponders the jingoistic media coverage that regularly follows national crises. She believes that mass media often suffers from errors of omission rather than commission. When this occurs in the frenzied atmosphere after crises like Mumbai, it can have disastrous consequences. (Dawn, December 3, 2008)

Irfan Hussain worries that many Pakistanis still believe the conspiracy theory that the CIA, Mossad and RAW, the Indian intelligence agency, plotted the Mumbai attacks. He thinks this refusal to accept objective truth is disturbing for a country that is the focal point for global jihad. The onus is on the government to act rather than claim victim status. (Dawn, 13 December, 2008)

In an assessment of media reactions in Pakistan after the government's crackdown, a Daily Times editorial concludes that opinions are more balanced now. The government should be commended for acting on the UNSC resolution, not condemned for caving into international pressure. (Daily Times, December 14, 2008)


Carnegie Events and Analysis

Terrorists Attacking Mumbai Have Global Agenda
Ashley J. Tellis Despite the tangled history of India and Pakistan, the latest terrorist attacks in Mumbai require the world to take a fresh look at the nature of the terrorist threat. Lashkar-e-Taiba, the terrorist group which carried out the attacks, is a global threat, seeking to promote an Islamic Caliphate by breaking up India and destroying confidence in stable democracies, while isolating it from Western countries, writes Ashley J. Tellis.
Click here for the full article.

Robert KaganWhat Pakistan Won't Do, the World Should
Following the Pakistani terrorist attacks in Mumbai, the international community should respond by declaring that parts of Pakistan have become ungovernable and a menace to international security. This violation of Pakistan's sovereignty will begin to show the world that states that harbor terrorists cannot take their sovereign rights for granted — these rights need to be earned, writes Robert Kagan.
Click here to read the full text

Mumbai VigilBloodbath in Bombay: India's Leading Voices Speak Out
According to a group of prominent Indian public figures, the international community should not view the Mumbai attacks solely through the prism of Indo-Pakistani relations. Instead they emphasized that the best way to address terrorist organizations operating outside Pakistani state control is to promote stable democracy and increased state capacity so the civilian government can dismantle the infrastructure of terrorism in under-governed parts of the country – a project in which both India and the international community have a stake. Ashley J. Tellis moderated the Carnegie event, co-sponsored by Confederation of Indian Industries (CII).

Click here for more on the event


Views from South Asia

INDIA - Foreign and Domestic PoliticsJamia students peace march

State Elections: Congress' Surprising Victories
In the recent state elections in Delhi, Rajasthan, Madhya Pradesh, Chhatisgarh, and Mizoram, the Congress performed better than expected. An editorial in the Hindu punctures the Congress' euphoria at winning three of the five states, arguing that the BJP's victory in Madhya Pradesh and Chhatisgarh is remarkable given its frequent changes in leadership. BJP's victory in these states can be credited to its focus on development issues rather than the politics of division that it frequently practices, the editorial concludes. (The Hindu, December 11, 2008)

An editorial in the Asian Age points out that “development” has only recently become a variable which can predict electoral outcomes in India. Sheila Dikshit and Shivraj Singh Chauhan, chief ministers of Delhi and Madhya Pradesh respectively, were unlikely victors but were united in their focus on development. India 's increasingly younger population and the absence of politically charged issues will make development a key factor in future elections as well. (Asian Age, December 9, 2008)

V.P. Singh Passes Away
Former Prime Minister V.P. Singh passed away on November 27. Prabhash Joshi chronicles the life of a leader who changed the dynamics of Indian politics forever and was always at odds with positions of power, even when he occupied them. (Tehelka, December 20, 2008)

INDIA - Economics and Development

Stimulus and its Discontents
S.L. Rao argues that the prime minister's recent economic stimulus package lacks one crucial component – measures to encourage the resumption of lending. He advocates an insurance plan to protect banks and other lending institutions from defaults. (The Telegraph, December 15, 2008)

The real problem for India in the global financial crisis is its depression mentality. Sreekant Sambrani argues that consumers may not increase their retail spending because of this mentality. Also, increased public spending on infrastructure is too slow to impact growth outcomes. India will have to broaden its basis for growth to overcome the crisis, he concludes. (Business Standard, December 5, 2008)

Pawar's Politics of Import and Export
Aditi Phadnis dissects the absurd economic logic of Sharad Pawar's political support for raising the procurement price for cotton and importing sugar. While cotton output has increased and global prices are decreasing, Pawar has demanded a 46% higher procurement price for cotton, thus winning the support of Maharashtra farmers. He has also won friends amongst sugar traders by demanding an increase in sugar imports, despite Indian reserves of 7-8 million tons. (Business Standard, December 13, 2008)

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Asif Zardari and Bush

Peshawar and Attack on NATO supplies

An editorial in the News describes the attack on NATO vehicles and supplies in Peshawar, which lasted for two hours and lit up the night sky; shockingly, the first fire brigades arrived seven hours later. The News bemoans the continued absence of a strategy to protect these supplies. (The News, December 9, 2008)

A Daily Times editorial reckons another car bomb explosion in Peshawar weakens the case for protecting Pakistan 's sovereignty against external intervention. It criticizes the Pakistan government's shifting policies against terrorism, to the extent that that even Beitullah Mehsud was deemed a “patriot” after his televised offer to join forces with Pakistan against India . (Daily Times, December 7, 2008)

Why LeT Does Not Attack The Pakistan Army

In an interview with the Hindu, Pervez Hoodbhoy notes that the LeT is one of the few extremist groups which do not attack the military and ISI in Pakistan. Part of the reason is that the group is predominantly Punjabi and its agenda is India-specific, He thinks that the Pakistani army has been reluctant to eliminate the Islamic extremists because its own personnel were recruited and trained as defenders of Islam and fighters against India. (The Hindu, December 15, 2008)

Munir Mengal and Baloch movement

Rahimullah Yusufzai recounts the experience of Munir Mengal, who was allegedly imprisoned and tortured by Pakistani armed forces for trying to start a Baloch language television channel. Mengal's accusations that former President Musharraf and Iran were complicit in his imprisonment, is a potential tinderbox, as it suggests that Pakistan and Iran are cooperating to keep the lid on the “Baloch problem”. (The News, December 13, 2008)

Economics and Development

Karachi Stock Exchange: Floored

The government recently removed the floor it had imposed on the Karachi Stock Exchange (KSE) index, leading to a further drop of 4 percent. Dawn sees little chance of the KSE recovering in the near future, given that the IMF has forbidden the government from bailing out brokers. (Dawn, December 16, 2008)

Long Term Strategy for Recovery

Syed Mohammad Ali thinks that quick fixes like bad privatization deals that Pakistan is contemplating, and encouraging consumer lending are not recipes for success in this economic downturn. Pakistan should leverage future savings from reduced oil and food prices for development purposes. (Daily Times, December 16, 2008)

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Sheikh Hasina waves

The End of Emergency and the Return of Politics

Fahim Ahmed is struck by the Awami League and Bangladesh Nationalist Party's focus on the economy in their recent manifestos. With foreign aid cuts becoming increasingly likely, attracting foreign capital is an imperative to stimulate the economy; neither party has explained how they will target foreign capital. (New Age, December 17, 2008)

In a television briefing, General Moeen Ahmed says that the Army has returned to its traditional role after the emergency, thus proving a point to skeptics who thought it would hold on to power. He cites the army's refusal to intervene after the 2006 violence, when many diplomats requested him to declare martial law, as a further example of the army's commitment to democracy. (Daily Star, December 16, 2008)

An editorial in the Daily Star points out that the return of political activity has brought back a disregard for laws, strictly enforced during the Emergency, and an absence of civic decency. The erection of a big podium for a BNP led alliance's public meeting on one of Dhaka 's main roads, clogging up regular traffic, is a case in point. (Daily Star, December 16, 2008)

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Prachanda gesturesFissures in Government

Ram S. Mahat thinks Maoists are betraying the peace process with their increasingly public demands to merge the Nepal army with erstwhile Maoist combatants. There is widespread fear that that an indoctrinated army will become a tool for completing the Maoist revolution. He concludes that the World Bank and UN's financial support for the rehabilitation of former combatants can be used as leverage to prevent this. (Kathmandu Post, December 14, 2008)

An editorial in the Kathmandu Post detects a pattern in Nepali politics. Whenever the Nepali Congress (NC) and Communist Party of Nepal fall out with the Maoists, they make calls for establishing commissions agreed to during the peace process. Political compromises are made and an “agreement” is announced. The last agreement to establish the Land Reforms commission breaks the pattern in that it does not include the NC. This may indicate an irreparable break between Maoists and NC. (Kathmandu Post, December 11, 2008)

New Constitution's Drafting Process Begins

Prakash Acharya reports that Nepal officially began drafting a new constitution by setting up fourteen committees. The committees are studying the judiciary systems of India, China, Sweden, Cuba, and the United States. (The Himalayan Times, December 16, 2008)

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SL forces in KilinochhiCosts of War

Ranjith Jayasundera analyzes the Sunday Leader 's research into government data and concludes that 2008 was the bloodiest year in the conflict between the Tamil Tigers and the Sri Lankan army. He argues that if the Tigers carry out a war of attrition now, Sri Lanka 's indebted economy will be hit badlyas that foreign aid is unlikely in the current global economic crisis. (The Sunday Leader, December 14, 2008)

Frederica Jansz writes that despite the “liberation” of Eastern Sri Lanka , violence is still a part of daily life. Much of it has to do with TMVP, the political party which now represents Tamils, whose members have not given up the “culture of violence” from their LTTE days. (The Sunday Leader, December 7, 2008)

Irony of India's Response to Terrorism

An editorial in the Island sees contradictions in Indian Prime Minister Manmohan Singh's statement that “the use of terrorism as an instrument of state policy is no longer acceptable,” accusing India of creating the Liberations Tigers of Tamil Eelam (LTTE). (The Island, December 13, 2008)

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Editorial Staff

Ashesh Prasann, Junior Fellow, South Asia Program, Carnegie Endowment

Carnegie Endowment for International Peace
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Ph: 202-939-2332

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