Sunday, November 30, 2008

Toothless leaders turn tough nation into soft state

Toothless leaders turn tough nation into soft state
By M J Akbar

Does it need grief to unite us? Where was Raj Thackeray when anonymous heroes from across the nation saved Mumbai from rabid vultures? Why did he not issue a diktat that he did not want any Bihari or Haryanvi or Malayali commando to save Mumbai?

India belongs to Mumbai since Mumbai belongs to India; the two need each other. The Maharashtra government looked hopelessly helpless before an invasion propelled by Pakistanis and navigated by a local, subversive fifth column.

Perhaps the low moment came around 8.30 on Thursday morning. While flames, gunfire, chaos mingled with shock a spokesman for the state government told CNN that the “situation is under control”. Yes, if you live in Somalia.

Hidden under grime and neglect, perhaps there is a little Somalia within Mumbai, waiting to burst out and infect the body politic. This sinewy, seamless nether world is nourished by the “black economy”, and has contempt for authority since it feeds, twice a day, the grubby hand of a policeman. Organized crime requires both sophisticated management and corrupt law enforcement agencies.

The underworld does not live in isolation; smuggling is a multinational enterprise. Once it was gold; today it is drugs. Only the na├»ve are aghast at the thought that ships from Karachi are landing in Mumbai. Each day ships are being loaded in Sindh with street-ready drugs from Afghanistan for the lucrative markets of rising India. Do the stars of Bollywood, the money-shifters of Dalal Street, the dolled up celebrities of Mumbai’s many hills — indeed, from the wealth bracket of many of the guests at Taj on Wednesday night — never ask how their hallucinatory puff has reached them?

The Mumbai mafia, with support from the police-politician partnership, has brought this puff to your party — via Pakistan.

There is a strong Muslim element in the Mumbai mafia. Bereft of either loyalty or morality, it can be easily lured into fantasies of revenge by its contacts in Karachi. Aggression is a psychological necessity of this trade, so the offer of havoc has the lure of a lethal snake. It lives in a unique mental and economic zone, different from the rest of India as well as India’s largely impoverished Muslims.

The initial reaction of some Indian Muslims to Mumbai was denial, a manifestation of their fear of retribution by both the state and the people. Some theories coasting on the net were particularly stupid. The paradox of fear is evident in contradictory manifestations: at one level, an urgent desire to find evidence of conspiracy by either the Mossad or Hindutva elements; at another level, to retreat into the comfort zone of familiar folly, like hope for security from the party that has betrayed them most often. The community will not be able to recognize necessary truths, both within and without, unless it can rub fear out of its eyes.

The most significant part of the outrage should not be obscured by the drama of events.

Hypnotized by attack, we should not become oblivious of defence. We have been defeated by incompetent governance, both in Mumbai and Delhi. Facts will take more time to emerge. But perhaps up to 60 men hit nine targets in coordinated waves. This could not have happened without months of planning. Resources — weapons, rations, money — were mobilized; a small army trained across two countries; targets studied, routes finalized, transport organized, sleeper cells put in place. We learn that terrorists may have been living at the Taj for days, ferrying arms into what was surely turned into a war-room. Men arrived by sea, linked up with compatriots on land and launched multiple attacks. This must have involved hundreds at the planning stage, and the massive infrastructure of government discovered nothing. Where was the police? Where was the Anti-Terrorist Squad? Its chief, Hemant Karkare (undoubtedly a very brave officer, who lost his life in the battles that raged through the night) apparently received a death threat from Pune a few days before the mayhem but his own unit did not bother: they were all busy playing games on behalf of political masters. Complacence and politics gave the terrorists more protection than silence or deception could.

Terrorists may have a religion but death has none. In the first roll-call of death issued by the JJ Hospital, the name next to Karkare was that of Mastan Qureshi. There were six Hindus, four Muslims and two foreigners, presumably Christians, on that list.

Indians are tough. We have fought off Muslim terrorists in Kashmir, Sikh terrorists in Pun jab, Christian terrorists in Nagaland, and Hindu terrorists in Assam and across the country (the Naxalites). But ineffectual leadership turning a tough nation into a soft state. We should have been world leaders in the war against terrorists, for no nation has more experience Instead we are wallowing in the complacent de spair of a continual victim.

Some three years ago, Dr Manmohan Singh told George Bush that there were no terrorists among Indian Muslims. Perhaps he was unaware of the 1993 Mumbai bombings. Perhaps he wanted to please two constituencies: Bush, who needed a certificate for his view that democracy was the cure for all evil; and local Muslims, who were not being given jobs but could always be offered the consolation prize of a pat on the back.

Dr Singh certainly did not fool any terrorists. The Lashkar-e-Taiba might even have interpreted such self-congratulation as a challenge.

I am proud of being an Indian Muslim. Like any Indian, I am angry, frustrated and depressed I am angry at the rabid dogs of war. I am frustrated by the tone-deaf impotence of government. I am depressed at the damage being done to my India.

Appeared in Times of India - November 30, 2008


Narender said...

Sir, We need people like you to influence like minded Indians, who can put nation ahead of individuals/relegion.

Narender said...

Sir, we need people like you to influence like mind Indians, who puts nation above Individuals/relegion.

Anonymous said...


I have a very specific question - how can Indian muslims show their solidarity in such times. How can we show that "Muslims" are not the enemies. I am Indian muslim and this country is as much mine as anyone else's. It frigthens me to see so much rhetoric going on about "people being angry". What Simi Garewal said on TV was so insensitive and immature and completely out of context. She is fanning so much hate !!
There is way too much rhetoric in the media. The politicians have again started to get screen space and they are out fighting like cats and dogs. Why are they being invited ? Obviously the media loves it.
And the media loves picking up shallow thoughts. Ram Gopal Verma for instance. For heaven's sake - RGV as every right to visit the Taj as a saddened citizen of India. Not as a filmaker. But our so righteous media has to take the moral highground.
Also, why is the media not cosnciously highlighting that so many muslims ALSO died in the mumbai terror attacks ? For anyone having any doubts, this will be a huge re-inforcing point. that muslims are NOT the enemies or terrorists.

Amit said...

Excellent article which can be penned only by a thoughtful mind. India is bleeding and politicians are again at what they do the best - taking knee jerk reactions to show their "resolve" and trying to make the maximum out of this issue.

We should realize that our biggest enemies are not the terrorists but the politicians!

Boom_Dhoom said...

Hello Anonymous,

I do agree with you that such incidence should not incite polarization in the society. As an Indian, I denounce Simi Grewal's comment on the TV show (which I too happened to watch).
As far as your comments regarding RGV is concerned, when no other ordinary citizen was being allowed there, how come he goes there? (It was a aftermath of a real attack site, not his reel film set).
As far your query regarding Indian Muslim is concerned. You do not have to prove anything. Just do not fall pray to either the vote-seeking politicians or religious leaders. Just continue do your good work directed towards this great nation as a responsible citizen.

You need not be Anonymous. No one has the right to harm you here. This country belongs to everyone who considers himself/herself Indian.

Hemant Budhivant said...

Are you really qualified journalist that everyone calls you, you have written Muslim terrorism in Kashmir; Sikh terrorism in Punjab, Christian terrorism in Nagaland and Hindu terrorism in Assam, do you really know the basis of all these terrorist organizations, or have you just now arrived from Neverland. In case if you were sleeping since a long time its time you need a update... Sikh Terrorism i.e. Khalistan Liberation Force / Babbar Khalsa, everyone knows they were not fighting for SIKHs but for Khalistan courtesy Pakistan (Islamic Republic), Christian Terrorism - Nagaland - Are they killing everyone from outside nagaland, like muslims do all over the world? or for that matter LTTE is also a Christian Terror Group, courtesy Vatican & Tamil Nadu, Hindu in Assam are you trying to say that ULFA is fighting for Hindu, common akbar i think you should join some comedy circus, dont mislead people from your own community, be fair and wise. while writing such articles, whole world knows which community has problem with everyone, right from indonesia to malayasia india china middle east europe north america bosnia somalia nigeria libya east europe, what's exactly you people want from the world have you ever given a thought over it, or you just want to keep on fighting with everyone

Ajai Malhotra said...

I agree with you that we have atoothless Goverenment. Prime Minister should resign, National Goverenment should be constituted.Internal state of emergency can be declared to give executive powers. Indian High commisioner should be recalled from PAK. Trade with pak should be suspended till Dawood is handed over to India and Pak govt arrests some of the top brass behind attacks

mjmoses said...

This is a very insightful article. But we in India are reading all of these and are convinced that Pakistan is a terrorist. What I would like to know, sir, is that, are people in the US, UK, Japan, Australia, Germany etc. reading these articles. Who is representing India's cause in the 'developed' world? Not enough is being done on this front, else the whole world would have been convinced that Pakistan is the epicentre of terrorism and the only solution is an all-out attack on the terror camps in Paksitan.

chakla said...

Hi Akbar ,after long time nearly 36 years I left Kolkata and last seen you in kolkata but I always follow u through media .recently I read one article of you in Rediff forum on 2.12.08 on Mumbai karnage and this was my views I expressed .(At this grievious economic crisis world over I think niether Pakistan nor India even America cannot effort to take millitary action to solve this menace of terrorism .We know this is a global problem even we know ISI of Pakistan may be behind this act in Mumbai but the real fact that even 80 % of ordinery pakistanis donot subscribe such act and I dont think 80% of our population think to take millitary solution .War will only escalate economic disaster for both the countries rather Pakistan will suffer most and the inocent public of both the countries will follow the suffering .We have already had 4 wars with Pakistan during last 60 years and we have failed miserably to tame each other .Indo -pakistan rivarily last 60 years is purely a ploy or game of the politicians for vote bank only and it is the ordinery citizens suffer like the Mumbai terrorists attack .What happen ? politicians are just trying to play with public for their vote bank by saying some irresponsible remarks .I think this is the 1st time this Mumbai carnage has put all the Indians together and shown their anger against politicians which politicians are unable to digest .We must be carefull to vote such people in future .Media also played a very constructive role by focusing their anger for the 1st time I beleive .India -Pakistan should jointly work together to irradicate this terrorist menace in future and this is the only solution for which Pakistan ordinery public should also join)Asim

Amit said...
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Amit said...
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Indian Vitchdokta said...

Here is what I think are our best options:

01.Cease all diplomatic and any kind of relations with Pakistan NOW.
02.Let the Pakistani people sort out their internal problems one way or another - it isn't our divine duty to help those who can't help themselves, Even god doesn't.Fortify ourselves and address our security issues immediately , while treating Pakistan as a hostile nation who has declared war on us.We could learn lessons on this from the US and others who have successfully precluded these since 9/11
03.Make sure that we eradicate the underworld threat in India which will deprive such fractricidal forces from a fertile playground. Choke their money flows and the drug trade by going for its jugular.
04.Call Pakistan's bluff by letting US deal with the Terror camps - let us not be distraction and also allay our friend's Nuclear trepidations