Sunday, November 30, 2008

Mumbai Reflections. both Indian and Pakistani

I'm sure there are many other examples, but here are two links reflecting deep introspection sparked by the Mumbai tragedy. One is from an Indian perspective, the other is of Pakistani origin.

As is often the case, finger-pointing becomes the most common response to any such tragedy. That was and continues to be the case in America following the destruction of the World Trade Center. Instead of wondering why they do it, most people are satisfied to jump to the conclusion that it makes no difference why. All we need to do is find out who they are and eliminate them.

This response is, of course, counter-productive, since every certified "terrorist" killed leaves behind a family and peer group who may or may not have supported what was done, but whose response to the killing of their friend or family member makes them closer to the cause for which the person died than the cause resulting in his death.

Rarely there are those who look inward.
Here are two.

India cannot pin all the blame on outsiders

...unlike 9/11 there is evidence of an entirely domestic element at play. In recent months there has been a spate of bombings in Indian cities. Responsibility has been claimed by the Indian Mujahadin - one of several fronts for the Students Islamic Movement of India (Simi). It is through Simi, Indian officials fear, that international terrorist networks have begun to penetrate more deeply into India - often through links with the Gulf.


despite the multi-religious and multi-ethnic origins of terrorist violence the Indian authorities have, until recently, tended to treat only Muslims as terrorists. So while Muslim “terrorists” have been subject to extraordinary laws of detention and trial in special courts, Hindu nationalist “rioters” have been tried in regular courts, or, more usually, not been punished at all.

One of the principal complaints of Indian Muslim groups is the failure to bring to trial any of the Hindu ringleaders responsible for pogroms in Bombay in 1993 and Gujarat in 2002 in which more than 4,000 Muslims died.


While “Untouchable” and other low-caste groups are actively promoted into universities and prestigious state jobs, India's 150 million Muslims, who make up 13 per cent of the population, hold only 3 per cent of state posts. They are even less well represented in the police.

There are signs that the present Congress-led coalition recognises these problems. On taking office in 2004, Dr Singh's Government abolished the controversial Prevention of Terrorism Act (Pota), which, the Prime Minister argued, was propagating rather than preventing terrorism.

And from the Pakistani side...

I am a Mumbaikar: In Prayer and in Solidarity

The solidarity I feel with Mumbaikars is deep and personal.

The first time I ever visited the Taj Mahal Hotel was with my wife. We had been married just weeks and were not staying at the Taj but went to the historic “Sea Lounge” at the hotel for tea and snacks during a short visit to Mumbai. We went to the Oberoi Hotel the same visit in the naive and mistaken belief that we would find Bollywood bigwigs hanging out there. In later years I would come back and stay at the old wing of the Taj - down the corridor from where Ruttie Bai Jinnah and stayed - I would even present in the grand ballroom whose pillars, supposedly, had been brought from her father’s estate. Each time I passed through Victoria Terminus I stood in awe of the pace as well as its presence. In awe of the architectural structure, but also of the sea of humanity around me. I cannot hear of terrorists attacking these places without my own muscles twitching in anger.

This short piece is from a Pakistani site, All Things Pakistan. At this writing there are 137 comments at the post, reflecting a variety of serious reactions. This spirited discussion is cause for Americans with a two-dimensional view of the Mumbai tragedy to deepen their grasp of what happened.

It didn't happen to Americans this time. On the face of it the victims were supposed to have been American and British tourists, but when you look at the casualties the majority of victims were from India. I have no way of knowing, but my guess is that a good number may have been Muslim. In any case, dismissing this as just another terrorist attack is a shallow and overly simplistic reasponse.

H/T 3 Quarks Daily for both links.

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