The attacks and after
Aman called Satish Verma, who was until recently a part of India’s Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) probe team, has claimed that both the 2001 attack on the Indian parliament and the 2008 Mumbai attacks were ‘set up’ with the aim to strengthening counter-terror legislation in the country. It needs to be recalled that in the aftermath of the November 2008 terror attacks in Mumbai, India passed two sets of very harsh laws that were regarded by human rights campaigners as an erosion of the country’s federal structure and amounted to limiting fundamental liberties. The Indian Parliament, meeting after the November 26-29 Mumbai attacks, passed the said legislations. There was almost no debate on the laws and the ruling United Progressive Alliance (UPA) of Prime Minister Manmohan Singh simply pushed them forward despite several amendments tabled by a number of parliamentarians. Among the two laws, the National Investigation Agency (NIA) Act sought to establish a new police organization to investigate acts of terrorism and other statutory offences while the Unlawful Activities (Prevention) Amendment (UAPA) Act radically changed procedures for trying those accused of terrorism, extended periods of police custody and of detention without charges and denied bail to foreigners. India’s civil liberties activists and civil society expressed their abject horror about the new laws, describing them as draconian and excessive in relation to the measures that India really needed to take to fight terrorism.
It took Satish Verma four years since the Mumbai attacks to come up with the revelation that the Indian parliament in 2001 and the 2008 Mumbai attacks were orchestrated by the Indian government itself. His statement has caused considerable apprehension in Pakistan which has continued to be accused by Indians of all shades and hue for having orchestrated the attacks. It can be said for India that it has hundreds of undersecretaries working for its central and state governments and it does not mean much when one of them speaks about state complicity. The question also arises as to why would the Indians plan and execute such attacks as the ones it is said to have perpetrated in Delhi and Mumbai, resulting in the loss of life? If the idea was to implicate Pakistan, it could easily have done so through other means. It is of course in the fitness of things that Pakistan’s Information Minister, Parvez Rasheed has sought an explanation from India over the statement by the former CBI officer and the Pakistan government would issue its response after the Indian government has come up with its version.
The fact to worry about is that both the 2001 and the 2008 attacks brought both India and Pakistan to the verge of a nuclear holocaust. Ever since, relations between the two neighbours have been rather unmanageable and hardly has there been any forward momentum in that context. India vehemently clings to its guns and approaches the question of normalization of relations with Pakistan with sticky fingers. It is therefore hoped that when Indian Prime Minister Dr Manmohan Singh meets his Pakistani counterpart on the sidelines of the 68th session of the United Nations General Assembly, he would be a bit more careful about mentioning the 2001 and 2008 attacks on India. Let’s hope too that Pakistani Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif would also take things in stride and discuss with the Indian premier the stunning revelations of Mr. Satish Verma in a more realistic tone.
Syed Jawaid Iqbal