BY TAYLOR MARSH
It’s not in the numbers. It’s in the shock, devastation, and the focus of the
targets. One Mumbaikar has a
retort for the terrorists: … I’m booking flights to Mumbai.
I’m going to go get a beer at the Leopold, stroll over to the Taj for
samosas at the Sea Lounge, and watch a Bollywood movie at the Metro. Stimulus
doesn’t have to be just economic.
of Pakistani nationals connected to Lashkar-e-Taiba, reveals a long, sustained
effort inside India to hurt the country at its core, including “field
agents” that allowed the plot to proceed. The attack was unlike any
other India has experienced in its deadly scope. The Pakistani based group focused
on India for their role in Afghanistan. Karzai has been criticized for allowing
India to reopen embassies, something that caused the recent bombing, which was
designed out of Pakistan. It proves once again how important refocusing in Afghanistan is to our interests.
The terrorists came
by sea, according to some reports. Much like the 9/11 attacks in the U.S.,
were rehearsals, Lashkar fidayeen sent first in 2007. But in fact, this
time around the terrorists were stopped, only to be given a pass through a bribe.
The way of the region, whether on land or sea.
Just as the images of billowing smoke from the twin towers of New York are
seared in the memories of people all over the world, similarly the
television visuals of the raging fire in the ornate faÃ§ade of Mumbai’s
iconic Taj Mahal Palace and Tower Hotel will be recalled whenever the deadly
terrorist attack on India’s financial capital Nov 26-29 is mentioned. The
booming sound of gunfire as the security forces engaged the jehadis will also
become a part of the nation’s collective memory.
Although Mumbai is no stranger to such outrages – the Taj itself experienced
a car bomb attack in 2003 – the latest tragedy stands out from the rest for
the simple reason that it was an evidently commando-style raid by suicide
bombers with the express purpose of inflicting as much damage as possible
on some of the city’s landmarks and targets of its prosperity and progress.
Many good articles
and posts on the subject available today, all adding brighter light to the
India’s success is signified by Mumbai. Bollywood equals Hollywood, which translates
into cash, money, success, western style. India’s twin towers equivalents. Hit the power base and
you shake the foundation of 21st century India. Change is coming to Central
Asia over your dead body.
Bollywood dream-makers are shaken. “I am ashamed to say this,”
Amitabh Bachchan, superstar of a hundred action movies, wrote on his blog.
“As the events of the terror attack unfolded in front of me, I did something
for the first time and one that I had hoped never ever to be in a situation
to do. Before retiring for the night, I pulled out my licensed .32 revolver,
loaded it and put it under my pillow.”
However, the prize is Afghanistan. Like bin Laden thought of the U.S. on Saudi soil, the Pakistani based Lashkar wants India to stay out of Afghanistan. It’s not just religious, but territorial, tribal.
When westerners think of terrorism in Central Asia, Pakistan, FATA (Federally
Administered Tribal Areas), Baluchistan, Afghanistan, Kashmir come to mind,
but rarely India. Most think of computers, outsourced U.S. job, rising capitalism
and a successful country breaking into 21st century capitalism, which is represented by Bollywood and Mumbai, the center of success. A nuclear nation,
yes, but a civilized one compared to Pakistan’s unruly populace. But the actual
reality in the region is just one reason I see a strategic interest for the
U.S. in Afghanistan, while other progressives do not. An assessment of the Mumbai bombings prove it is a strategic concern for the U.S. India and Pakistan are
in a power struggle not only for Kashmir, but also Afghanistan. As Pakistan’s
extremists rise, India’s terrorism problem has gone unnoticed by the vast majority.
The truth is that these trio of countries are so interconnected that to lose
one is to throw the power balance off entirely. Barack Obama is correct to want
to invest in a limited troop increase strategy in Afghanistan, pushing back
on both Pakistan and India who see opportunity in their neighboring country’s
return to unwinding. The further Afghanistan goes down, the more the tensions
escalate between India and Pakistan.
Let’s hope the Mumbai bombings have made people wake up to the complications we face going
forward, which reveal the intertwining of these countries. The crushing conclusion that George W. Bush’s Musharaff policy has been a devastating failure, even as Bush reignited our India relations in response to China, which was seen as progress, yet missed as a threat to Pakistan. Proving yet again that these countries must be dealt with together, something Bush’s one crisis at a time foreign policy did not accomplish.
With Lashkar’s stunning coordination (assuming the reports to date are correct), the scope and targeting of these bombings elevated
India’s quiet terrorism challenge to the front pages everywhere. It’s one reason
why the 9/11 comparison is so apt. Like the once sleeping U.S., India’s financial
mecca was hit to such devastating proportions as to change the perception of
the country, awakening the world to the scope of her enemies, as well as the wider horror revealed. That this
trio country region, so to speak, with all its dangers, including Kashmir, can
no longer be ignored as simply tribal areas, border disputes and separate missions.
They are one.
So, what’s the right response for the people of India? Far be it from me to offer advice, though one comes to mind. Cricket. Seriously,
there is no more real a sign that India will not be shaken than to let
the games begin.