Mumbai carnage: A smokescreen to kill whistleblowers?
Mon, 08 Dec 2008 18:33:22 GMT
By Arash Parsa, Press TV, Tehran
The slain head of the ATS, Mahant Karkare
The South Asian region has been a flashpoint particularly since the independence of India and Pakistan which created two rival states in the already volatile region.
Although the two nations have taken steps to normalize their ties, there have been thorny issues hampering any peace efforts.
The issue of Kashmir, the arms race between India and Pakistan and the blame game policy adopted by the two states have always fueled tension between the two nuclear neighbors.
These factors have significantly contributed to a political trend which has turned the South Asian region into a political seismic zone. Although some political earthquakes in the region should be seen as sporadic incidents, there are also tremors like the Mumbai attacks which trigger aftershocks and even tsunamis.
The coordinated attacks were one of the most tragic carnages in modern Indian history. After the attacks, Indian officials showed little hesitation to accuse the country's archrival, Pakistan, of masterminding the operation. Pakistan, in turn, said it had received a threatening phone call from the Indian Foreign Minister.
There is little doubt that Pakistan, traditionally a US ally, played the role of Washington's proxy and has been recruiting, training and funding militant groups which once fought the former Soviet Union during the occupation of Afghanistan.
At that time, strengthening such groups was in US's interests.
The Pakistani intelligence agency (ISI) is also accused of assisting and organizing several militant groups including the Taliban and some separatist factions in Indian-administered Kashmir.
The timing of the Mumbai attacks, however, cast doubt on the speculations that Islamabad may have masterminded the attacks; in fact, the terrorist operation took place while officials from both sides launched a shuttle diplomacy to thaw their ties.
The attacks had significant impacts in terms of India's domestic policy.
The death of Hemant Karkare, Maharashtra state's Anti-Terrorism Squad chief, in the attacks has raised concerns among both the Muslim community and the moderate Hindus in the state. Karkare was in charge of investigations into a series of bombings in Malegaon in 2006 which targeted the Muslim community of the city.
Indian officials initially blamed a Muslim group for the bombing but after investigations by the Anti-Terror Squad (ATS), extremist Hindus fell under suspicion.
The ATS, under the command of Karkare, arrested several Hindu figures including an ex-army officer. The new wave of arrests indirectly implicated ultranationalist Hindu parties including BJP and RSS and based on Karkare's investigations, for the first time in recent years extremist Hindu leaders became the prime suspects of a terrorist attack.
Karkare, who had earlier received death threats, was to deliver a report on terror activities of extremist Hindu groups to Prime Minister Manmuhan Singh but he was killed in the Mumbai attacks.
It is remains unclear how the senior official was killed.
The incident has also an important international impact.
Pakistan is halfway through a transition period to restore democracy in the country after years of military rule.
Months of political turmoil and uncertainty, combined with a security crisis and a surge of insurgency, have made the government of Pakistan very fragile. Any military reaction to the Mumbai attacks could push the country to the brink of partition; a scenario many analysts believe the US is pushing the country toward it.
Pakistan has announced that it would cooperate with India to bring the culprits of the attacks to justice while at the same time it warned that if New Delhi deployed its troops along the Kashmir border it would take retaliatory measures and move its troops from the Afghan border to the boundaries of the disputed region.
Pakistani President Asif Ali Zardari also urged the Indian government to avoid retaliatory measures against Pakistan.
There are also other clues which have led to other hypotheses. Some of the terrorists who carried out the Mumbai attacks had lived in the Nariman House for two months. Given the fact that the center was a Jewish institution and was not open to all, some Indian analysts have not ruled out the possibility that Israeli intelligence agency (Mossad) was behind the attack.
No matter who really masterminded the terror attacks, one thing is certain, the region is a powder keg ready to explode and any military adventurism could bring dire consequences.