The at­tacks and af­ter

Southasia - - COMMENT -

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

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