The Times of India worries that fundamentalist violence in Afghanistan and Pakistan are spilling over into India:
‘In Pakistan, deaths in bomb blasts and other fidayeen attacks and actions of security forces have increased almost 10 times in the last four years from 648 in 2005 to 6,310 in 2008, till November-end . . . According to the last report by the UN secretary-general, submitted in September this year, 1445 civilians had been killed in the first eight months of 2008. Of these about 800 were killed by the Taliban and the rest by Nato troops.
In 2007, the death toll was 1,633, while in 2006 it was 929. . . What has all this got to do with terrorist violence in India? For one, the players are virtually the same. The same fundamentalist groups that spread violence in Pakistan are supporting or themselves carrying out attacks in India. ‘
As the Times says as well, Ahmed Rashid correctly argues that the terrorist attack on Mumbai was a diversionary tactic, aimed and relieving the Pakistani military pressure on the Tehrik-i Taliban Pakistan in the tribal agencies and on the remnants of al-Qaeda. Neither India nor Pakistan should fall for this tactic.
Indian interrogations of the sole surviving Mumbai attacker, Ajmal Amir Qassab, revealed that Lashkar-e Tayiba operatives Yusuf Muzammil and Zaki-ur-Rehman Lakhvi were directly involved in planning and guiding the attacks, and were in continual telephone contact with the perpetrators.
The Indians insist that they also have evidence that the Pakistani military was behind the attack. But it seems to me that what they have evidence of is that the Pakistani military at some points in the past has trained and equipped the Lashkar-e Tayiba terrorist organization for operations against Indian security men in Kashmir. I doubt that the Mumbai operation was coming from high in the Pakistani government.
The Indians say that ex-military men from the Pakistani army helped train the attackers. But the Pakistani government has been purging the radical fundamentalists from the army, so it seems to me that the ex-military doing training may be a sign that they were frustrated by being cashiered and wanted to sharpen the contradictions between India and Pakistan so as to pursue their own war in Kashmir.
Anand Gopal asks at Tomdispatch.com “Who are the Taliban?” in Afghanistan.