The Man Behind Mumbai terrorist attack

The Man Behind Mumbai – by Sebastian Rotella

This article was co-published with the Washington Post

Gavriel and Rivka Holtzberg had come to India on a religious mission. They had established India’s first outpost of Chabad Lubavitch, the Orthodox Jewish organization, in a six-story tower overlooking a shantytown. The Holtzbergs’ guests that evening were two American rabbis, an Israeli grandmother and a Mexican tourist.

Hundreds of miles away in Pakistan, a terrorist chief named Sajid Mir was preparing a different sort of religious mission. Mir had spent two years using a Pakistani-American operative named David Coleman Headley to conduct meticulous reconnaissance on Mumbai, according to investigators and court documents. He had selected iconic targets and the Chabad House, a seemingly obscure choice, but one that ensured that Jews and Americans would be casualties.

Read more : ProPublica

Kashmir’s Fruits of Discord – By ARUNDHATI ROY

… For three years in a row now, Kashmiris have been in the streets, protesting what they see as India’s violent occupation. But the militant uprising against the Indian government that began with the support of Pakistan 20 years ago is in retreat. The Indian Army estimates that there are fewer than 500 militants operating in the Kashmir Valley today. The war has left 70,000 dead and tens of thousands debilitated by torture. Many, many thousands have “disappeared.” More than 200,000 Kashmiri Hindus have fled the valley. Though the number of militants has come down, the number of Indian soldiers deployed remains undiminished.

But India’s military domination ought not to be confused with a political victory. Ordinary people armed with nothing but their fury have risen up against the Indian security forces. A whole generation of young people who have grown up in a grid of checkpoints, bunkers, army camps and interrogation centers, whose childhood was spent witnessing “catch and kill” operations, whose imaginations are imbued with spies, informers, “unidentified gunmen,” intelligence operatives and rigged elections, has lost its patience as well as its fear. With an almost mad courage, Kashmir’s young have faced down armed soldiers and taken back their streets. …


Where we are —Yasser Latif Hamdani

As a long-term ally of both the US and China and having a shared past with India, Pakistan can either be doomed by history or use it wisely to create a state that exists for the benefit of its people

Obama’s warming up to India has not gone down well with our super patriots, and rightly so. Despite 40 odd years of service to the US and now a decade-long alliance that has cost Pakistan many a life and limb, the US has now established a long-term strategic paradigm in South Asia, which sees India as a close ally and Pakistan as a nuisance at best.

Instead of going back to the drawing board and trying to understand why it is that we are increasingly unable to compete with our eastern neighbour, our super patriots have invented another self-defeating narrative. They want us to engage another 50 years in another mini-cold war around an imagined zero-sum game that pits Pakistan and China against the US and India. Even if the Americans were naïve enough to hold such ‘strategic’ hogwash as a legitimate view, neither the Indians nor the Chinese are going to buy into it. Contrary to what a naïve New York Times columnist recently wrote, the Indians know that the big truck their friend in Washington owns has a flat tyre and no spare.

This is the Asian century and enough people in India realise it, which is why there will be no confrontation between China and India — at least any confrontation that mirrors the Soviet-US clash. China is rising and the US is, at best, a fading power, in a position very similar to the British Empire after the Second World War. It will continue to be an important power like Britain but its sole superpower status has irrevocably been shaken. As it grows more multicultural, the melting pot will become less effective and consequently a more fractured polity is likely to hold the US back in the future. India therefore is more likely to play both sides instead of blindly jumping into bed with the Americans. Our response therefore should be similarly cautious.

That we have not thought things through is apparent even from our approach to China. There is little or no recognition in Pakistan that China’s might is derived not from its military but its economic might. Yet how many of our institutions of higher learning have programmes in Chinese language, culture and law? None. It is not enough that Pakistan will become a conduit of energy for western China and, subsequently, an international trade route. Pakistan must realise that it will be important to China only if it remains internally stable, united and moderate. For this to happen, Pakistan must choose a pragmatic path to international geo-politics. It can no longer fool itself with some Pan-Islamic ambition and pursue a policy of Muslim interests. Our military establishment’s cynical flirtation with Islamist groups is dangerous given the Islamist rebellion in some parts of China.

Pakistan faced the full force of Chinese pressure on the Lal Masjid issue where Chinese citizens were attacked by a band of brigands who were, for the most part, seen as a ‘strategic asset’ by our establishment.

Pakistan must realign itself internally to face external challenges and seize opportunities. The reason Pakistan was respected and sought after by the Americans in the 1950s, 1960s and some part of the 1970s was because we were ideologically soft but economically and socially a strong state. By the 1980s onwards, Pakistan has been ideologically hard but economically and socially a very weak state. In doing so we have not only alienated the Americans but our trusted friends such as the Chinese and the Turks. If things continue as they are, even the Saudis will leave us in the lurch.

If — and this is an almost impossible task — Pakistan can roll back project Islam of the Ziaist variety, which requires a major overhaul of our laws, education and media, and can present itself as a moderate, democratic and internally stable state, Pakistan is ideally placed to profit from the changing global economic and political scenario. As a long-term ally of both the US and China and having a shared past with India, Pakistan can either be doomed by history or use it wisely to create a state that exists for the benefit of its people. The latter course will not only keep Pakistan united but will allow it to become one of the most prosperous nations of this century.

However, none of this can be done if ‘independent’ courts in Pakistan sentence to death a mother of five for alleged blasphemy. In the coming days, brace yourself as the entire world condemns us for our barbaric treatment of women, and rightly so. We must make up our minds. Are we going to be a medieval dystopia that is a pariah country like the Islamic Republic of Iran — which is absolutely the worst place to live in, I can assure you — or are we going to be a normal state that the world can do business with? Those of you who question the abolition of the Blasphemy Law on religious grounds must be reminded of what a wise man once said, “Is this the first time in the history of legislation in this country that this council has been called upon to override Musalman Law or modify it to suit the time? The council has overridden and modified the Musalman Law in many respects.” The wise man in question was our founding father, Mr Mohammed Ali Jinnah. He had also cautioned against the misuse of the original Blasphemy Law — Section 295 of the Penal Code — by saying, “We must also secure this very important and fundamental principle that those who are engaged in historical works, those who are engaged in the ascertainment of truth and those who are engaged in bona fide and honest criticisms of a religion shall be protected.” …

Read more : Daily Times

Musharraf’s mumbo-jumbo

Former president General (retd) Pervez Musharraf only opens his mouth to change feet. On a speaking tour of the US, Musharraf pronounced that “civilian governments [in Pakistan] have never performed”. He said that an elected government has to deliver to the people and to the state but “if that is not happening, that is the problem in Pakistan”. By dislodging Nawaz Sharif’s government in a military coup in 1999, Mr Musharraf remained in power for nine years. He then formed a quislings party, the PML-Q, to legitimise his military rule while continuing an elaborate pretence that a civilian government was in place. Musharraf should ask himself why his handpicked government was not able to ‘deliver’ or ‘perform’ when it was in power. The numerous crises that our country is facing today are mostly due to Musharraf’s policies. That said, Musharraf needs to familiarise himself with the historical perspective of why democratically elected governments in Pakistan have had a hard time performing their duties. …

Read more : Daily Times

EDITORIAL: Pakistan for sale!

A bombshell by Balochistan Assembly speaker Mohammad Aslam Bhoothani was dropped on Friday that the office of the prime minister was ‘pushing’ to sell 70,000 acres of land in Balochistan. According to Mr Bhoothani and media reports, the Prime Minister’s House is pressurising the Balochistan government via the Revenue Department to quickly approve the summary for selling the land to Arab sheikhs. …

Read more : Daily Times