Thursday, November 03, 2005

So Much For Relief Diplomacy: Delhi Blasts

Ahmed Rashid has an op-ed in the UK Telegraph that I would recommend.

He says in so many words something that occurred to me in passing when I first heard about these blasts last Saturday: so much for the thaw. Things had seemed particularly warm between India and Pakistan just a couple of weeks ago, following the earthquake in Kashmir. Then this:

On Sunday, Pakistan's president, Pervez Musharraf, had invited the media to a press conference, followed by a jovial "Iftar" dinner in the garden of his home, for the closure of the day's fast in Ramadan.

He strongly condemned "the dastardly terrorist attack" in New Delhi and offered all help from Pakistan. At the end, he casually got up, saying he was going to ring India's prime minister, Manmohan Singh, to offer him Pakistan's condolences and support.

Instead of a grateful Singh on the other end of the line, the Indian prime minister dropped a bombshell, telling Musharraf that the terrorists who carried out the attacks were linked to Pakistan. In a well-orchestrated media blitz, Mr Singh's comments were on the news wires within 30 minutes, undermining Musharraf's entire press conference.

In coming days, India will clearly try to pin the terrorist attacks on Pakistan-based extremist groups. Pakistan will demand proof. India will say the evidence is secret, and so things will steadily worsen. We will be back to the days of tensions, recriminations and shelling across the Line of Control.

I can't help but think that Rashid is right. It seems hard to imagine anyone other than a Pakistan-supported terrorist cell carrying out bombings of the size and sophistication of last week's attacks in Delhi.

I might also add (with the abject failure of the relief effort in Pakistan in mind), that it seems hard to imagine anyone more incompetent at running a country than Pervez Musharraf. (I know what you're going to say, and I agree: George W. Bush is a close second)


Suvendra Nath Dutta said...

I believe some Bangladeshi group has been suggested also. Presumably because of the very similar bombings there a couple of months ago. What came of that anyway? The Begum's nurturing of extremists coming home to roost.

Unfortunately this sort of stuff just exacerbates the kind of nonsense that masquarades as competent punditry about South Asia here. Take a look at this drivel by Marcus Ranum.

Note that this guy isn't some idiot sitting by the keyboard in his pyjamas, but a well known expert on computer security. Clearly the guy has no idea what India (or South Asia in general) is like but feels free to suspect the motives of an entire country full of people. The big problem he sees of outsourcing to India is the downtime that would result from a nuclear war between India and Pakistan. I mean seriously, we wouldn't talk like that even in a private dinner conversation. But its okay to blithely talk like this when you are a pundit?

Sorry, I guess that was off in a tangent.

4:14 PM  
Rob Breymaier said...

Does anyone know of terrorists actions in reverse? If not, it truly seems as though India has the moral high ground here. I say this with the opinion that neither country has a superior claim to the whole of Jammu and Kashmir. Then again, I feel like the two countries should just accept the line of control as the border and move on. Either that or autonomy. At any rate, if Indians aren't blowing up bombs in Pakistan then tehy seem justified in stiffarming the Pakistanis for doing so.

5:17 PM  
Kumar said...

Dr. Singh:

I vehemently disagree with Mr. Rashid's op-ed. In his portrayal of India as insufficiently grateful for more hot air from the General, and his knowledge of what all 'Kashmiris' desire, the op-ed is disappointing. What makes it truly reprehensible is that he's essentially calling for the 'international community' to force Indian acquiescence to Pakistani-harbored, if not sponsored, terrorists.

After all, according to Mr. Rashid, "...reining in the militants has never been an option for Musharraf....until India offers something concrete....a political process in which India negotiates with the Kashmiris on both sides of the Line and with Pakistan....Instead, for the past two years, India has stalled over the political process, confident that, being far stronger than Pakistan, it need not grant concessions...."

Opening the border (now upto 5 points), allowing the secessionist faction into the negotiations is no longer enough, apparently. Notice that there is no logical stopping-point to such demands.

What should any Indian think about such truculence, even from an ostensibly rational, non-fundie Pakistani like Mr. Rashid? Nothing, except that the Pakistani govt. with the support of its citizens, will never give up the gun until they achieve what they want.

This will not happen: I continue to be baffled by the inability of Pakistanis to understand that a democratic country, undefeated on the battlefield, is not likely to surrender in a negotiating room. Mr. Rashid's vain hope that India will surrender to Pakistani terrorism is a recipe for continued instability in the subcontinent. Such hopes and dreams, ultimatley, are more of a threat to Pakistan's existence than to India's.


10:53 PM  
Nitin said...


All this stuff about Musharraf offering assistance in investigating the bombings is bogus. Was Mullah Omar ever going to be convinced by American proof that 9/11 was carried out at Osama's behest?

The correct response for India now is to realise that Musharraf is yet to make good the pledges he made after the last Delhi attacks. Too much of slipping and sliding has been going on, without any concrete reciprocation by Pakistan.

And if recent views of people like Ayaz Amir and Ahmed Rashid are anything to go by, it is clear that acts of concession by India are seen as Pakistan's entitlement. Time to set those signals right.

Brace yourself for news and views on why the vulnerable Musharraf is the last hope for Pakistan, and how fundies are poised to take control etc etc

12:38 AM  
jammy said...

I agree with you...but to carry out a serial bomb blast it takes months of planning and considering India-Pakistan relationsship has gotten better only in the last few months...I wud assume these bombers were already loose in India to create havoc.
Because the perpetrator of the crime wants no connections...they servere all relations...and thus sending change in instructions become difficult....
But i agree...India-Pakistan relationship is going nowhere!

1:24 AM  
Kush Tandon said...

3 million people will be facing hunger and cold soon.

It does not matter whether somebody's take is a) compassion or b) real politick, both India and Pakistan need to act fast together. Otherwise, fall out will be ugly.

To some degree, bombing issue should be dealt separately and independently (wrt to Pakistan alleged complicity).

3:48 AM  
Pankaj said...

Kind professor,

The qoute you have bolded is an example of the typical perfidy of Islamic intellectuals. These charlatans are not the right person to be read and form ones opinions on.

You have also contradicted yourself by stating that Rashid is right in what he writes and then stating >>It seems hard to imagine anyone other than a Pakistan-supported terrorist cell carrying out bombings of the size and sophistication of last week's attacks in Delhi<<

Rashid's whole thrust is on trying to pre-empt and deflect the culpability of Pakistan and the double game which Musharraf plays.

12:59 PM  
vk said...

Mr Tandon,
Why does India have to act fast? India does not control those areas of J&K which are hit by the earthquake. And Pakistan does not want Indian relief there. So what has India got to do with anything? I feel sorry for most of the victims of the earthquake, and I am sure the Govt of India does too, but there is very little it can do about them. And I definitely do not support giving any money to the Pakistani Govt (which unfortunately India has) because all they will do with it is to build new terrorist camps to replace those that have been destroyed. The one good thing that did happen is that nature did what the Indian Army has not done, and wanted to do, in PoK for a long time.

3:00 PM  
Amardeep said...

Thanks for your comments everyone.

Despite my frustration with President Musharraf, I tend to agree with Kush Tandon that the greatest priority right now should be humanitarian.

7:22 PM  
vk said...

I agree that humanitarian priorities must prevail at the moment. An earthquake is a pretty awful thing to go through, and the people affected are usually the most vulnerable parts of society. But what does this mean in practical terms?

There is something insidious underlying this combination of India-Pakistan. The Pakistani Army has been more interested in looking after its own and the jehadis, while it callously watched average people die. The situation is completely different on the other side of the border. This is something you are not going to know by reading Somini Sengupta and her colleagues in the NYT. Rather, there has been considerable attention in those pages devoted to sniping at the efforts on the Indian side of Kashmir. India has also repeatedly offered her help in relief efforts to Pakistan, which have been used by Musharraf and his puppets in the Hurriyat to play politic with the aftermath of the earthquake. Furthermore, his jehadis have tried to utilize the opportunity to infiltrate and kill Indian citizens. Inspite of this, the GoI has offered money and material help to Pakistan.

It is not India's fault that people in PoK are dying. If the international community does think this to be the case, then they must accept Indian sovereignity over PoK. India and Pakistan cannot act "together" as long as there is bad faith displayed by the Pakistani government. So, if people are going to ask for better relief efforts , they are better off expecting this from Pakistan rather than "India and Pakistan".

10:10 PM  
ggk said...

Hmmm it was a article
ManMohan Singhs criticism regarding pakistans involvement has been muted.
I dont know where Rashid is getting his 'media blitzcreek' fix from.
Rashid suggests its a pattern where india witholds evidence saying its secret.
Indians gave concrete evidence that Sheikh Omar Saeed is in pakistan, and mushie said he is not than the man was charged in the daniel pearl case.
Mussharaf in the indian airlines hijacking case back in 1999 had said that it was done by indians.
Pakistanis deny that mr dawood ibrahim is in pakistan? Yet mussharaf was on the invited list for his daughters wedding.
Perhaps rashid is worried about a real blitzkreek india may take if they push it too far.
The choice is upto pakistan. India has offered aid and can help out a little bit on pakistani side of kashmir but if they keep encouraging jihadis then pakistanis will face real blitzcreek.

1:30 PM  

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