Tuesday, December 09, 2008


Times of India
Posted by: "Tapsicorp@aol.com" Tapsicorp@aol.com
Mon Dec 8, 2008 6:04 pm (PST)
The following is from Times of India and all of you are requested to review

M J Akbar is one of India's best-known journalists and commentators, someone
with a deep insight into the Indian people and their mindset. In this
first-person, as-told-to piece, Akbar discusses the Mumbai attacks and their
relevance for India.

Many people forget that India is a tough nation. Toothless leaders have
turned India into a soft nation. People forget that India has fought back Muslim
terrorism in Kashmir; Sikh terrorism in Punjab, Christian terrorism in
Nagaland and Hindu terrorism in Assam, and amongst the Naxalites [Images].

We have had everything thrown at the Indian nation State. Still, we have
stood up. The people of India have shown the courage and ability to believe in
their nation and to fight back. But the completely impotent leadership of five
years have turned a tough country into a soft State.

I am very sad. I keep feeling that if they protect India as they protect
their leaders -- whether it is Prime Minister Manmohan Singh [Images] or
Congress President Sonia Gandhi [Images] -- I think I would be safe. Today, India's
leaders are safe and India is in panic.

On what India's response should be:
India's proper reaction would be possible if we understand the extent of the
If the disease is cancer, you can't apply band aid. After making a complete
mess of security issues for five years by asking Shivraj Patil [Images] to go
finally we may have a home minister who doesn't comb his hair and change his
clothes. But we want something more than that. If it is cancer, we need
chemotherapy, a much more serious exercise. It needs a legislative and executive
framework. It needs political mobilisation. People are numbed.

The Indian people have no leadership. You have a prime minister. Did you see
him when he addressed the nation? Nobody knew if he was addressing the
nation or having a cup of tea?

He looked serious, but he didn't talk to us about our anger and about our
anguish. I think this administration is tone deaf to the anguish of the people.
They just cannot understand what the people are going through. They just
don't understand our pain or our anger. The most important thing is that,
perhaps, we have politicised not only the instruments of the State like the police
but we have also politicised the understanding of the nature of the problem.

I think the very first thing to do is to ensure security so that it prevents
the next attack. If any attack takes place under someones job should go.
Don't come to me with alibis.
On the terrorists getting local support:
I am an Indian Muslim and I am very proud of both, being an Indian and a
Muslim. I do not see any contradictions. This is my land and I have nowhere else
to go.
But can I say because I am an Indian Muslim that no Indian Muslim is
involved? Can you, because you are a Hindu, say that no Hindu is involved? We have
to behave like Indians first. Not as a Muslim or as a Hindu first. Because we
need Hindu votes and Muslim votes and because this government thinks that it
needs Muslim votes so it has been in complete denial.

Do you think that these people came across from Pakistan and had no support
in Mumbai?
It is not possible. It was a huge operation. Ten people hit nine places and
you killed nine of them. You want to say that they went from place to place?
Who knows some of them must have slipped away to create new sleeper cells to
hit us six months later.

They are hiding things. I would like to believe that there was an underworld
connection. Because, Karachi and Mumbai are also linked by drug smuggling.
The culture of criminals is aggression. It comes naturally to them. It is not
easy for you and I to become aggressive, however angry we are. It does not
come naturally to us. These are people who are trained psychologically in
aggression. They have no respect for the State. They have no love for the country.
And they have no respect for authority.

Why? Because the only face of authority is the corrupt policeman. The
criminal gives money in the morning and money in the evening. Why should he have
respect for somebody he gives bribes to? For the guy from the underworld his
understanding of the Indian State and authority is corruption. He has no
patriotism to stop him. Why would he not join hands with the terrorists? In any
case, he belongs to another world. We have not even begun to address and discuss

On the Pakistan factor

I am tired of giving Pakistan a long rope on some excuse or the other.
Everybody is saying this will happen if we do this, that will happen if we do
this. Our relations with Pakistan will go, then, let them go. What has our
relations with Pakistan brought us except violence and terror? Why should we be in
charge of saving Pakistan? For what? Every time they turn around and they say
they want evidence. Now, finally we have evidence.

I have been an editor for 35 years from the age of 23. From that time on,
since the days of General Zia-ul Haq, I have been hearing 'Pakistan is asking
for evidence'. We asked for withdrawal of their support to the movement for
Khalistan, they said, 'Oh, we don't know anything about it.' On Kashmir, they
kept repeating where is the evidence. Benazir Bhutto [Images] came, she asked
for evidence. Nawaz Sharif came, he asked for evidence. I think Pervez
Musharraf [Images] asked for less evidence. Now again, they are asking for

There is a terrorist in Mumbai, captured and arrested. How much more
evidence do you want? If what he is saying is not evidence, then how can you get
more evidence?

This government is in its 11th hour. Now they will bluff the people to
protect their votes. There is no time left for them. The agony of departure will
be hard from this government.

On the reaction in the West
The US and Britain have a vested interest in telling India to look within.
Why? When Americans die then they can send their air force 7,000 miles and
bomb every country to smithereens. But when Indians die, they tell us no, no,
you must be patient. You must act like a swami and a yogi. Why? Is an American
life more precious than an Indian life? Why should we keep listening to them?
But we have a government that keeps listening to them all the time. We don't
get tough.

The last time we got tough was after the attack on Parliament. We took some
tough actions under Operation Parakram and then there was a certain lull.
Three years ago, Prime Minister Manmohan Singh was able to tell President George
W Bush [Images] that there are no terrorists amongst Indian Muslims. That
means that lull continued.

Pakistan must be made to realise that it will have to pay a heavy price. Not
necessarily through war, but a heavy price will have to be paid in loss in
trade, in cancellation of orders and other engagements. They should pay a
heavy price in terms of people to people relations. I am not saying you can
freeze a relationship to death, but the message must go out that if there is a
crime there will be a penalty. You just can't get away with it.

Let the Pakistan government cooperate with us. But look at how the Pakistan
government has buckled down and we are sitting here whimpering.

They want to send some lowly officers to India. For what? Even Pakistan is
treating the Manmohan Singh and Sonia Gandhi government with total contempt.
They know how weak it is.

Delink Hindu-Muslim relations and Pakistan
Look, you must not confuse the Pakistan issue with the Indian Muslims issue.
Their so-called alienation or their economic deprivation is not linked to
the issue of Pakistan.

Indian Muslims have nothing to do with Pakistan. They have absolutely no
sympathy for Pakistan. They know that Pakistan was the biggest mistake committed
in the history of Indian Muslims. They know it. You can ask anyone in
Baroda, Bihar or Mumbai. They know how they are suffering the backlash of all the
consequences of cross-border terrorism.

Today, they fear retribution from the government, they fear retribution from
popular disenchantment and anger. They feel helpless. They feel afraid.

We must understand finally that it is not so much the 'local people', it is
the local underworld that is involved in anti-India activities. In 1993, who
were involved in terrorism? The underworld. Why have you not done anything
about it? The State turns a blind eye to the police and corruption. I don't
know how many readers smoke hashish and other stuff, but I am accusing them of
cross-border terrorism. Drugs come to India from Afghanistan via Karachi.

What we can do as individuals

If whoever is responsible for protecting the nation fails, then he or she
should not be allowed to continue in power. That is the toughest and sharpest
message we can give. You can tell that you may be a soft State, but we are a
hard people and we are hard voters.

We are not going to forgive you for your lies and deception and for your
waffling. How many blasts do we need to understand that? When Jaipur [Images],
Ahmedabad [Images], Mumbai and Delhi [Images] happened no one who was
genuinely guilty was caught.

We have to understand now that corruption has eaten away vitals of this
nation. It is the biggest danger to the security of India. It is not just the
case of some spectrum being sold to someone by some minister in. Everyone who is
corrupt get out!

It Is a failure all around. We have to be extremely practical and pragmatic.
There is great deal to be depressed about as an Indian. Frankly speaking, I
feel very angry and upset. I am never upset by the behaviour of our enemies.
I am only upset by the betrayal of those I trust.

M J Akbar, editor-in-chief, Covert magazine, spoke to Sheela


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