PAKISTAN India relations have always remained virulent because of many factors. Blame game certainly is a never missed opportunity particularly by India as recently we are witnessing tension across the LoC and despite warnings India continues to have unprovoked firings. On different instances India has often created hype and for any kind of terrorist activity without validation, India indicts Pakistan. Be it a Pathankot incident earlier this year, Uri attack or claims of surgical strikes, India has always sought to direct its guns towards Pakistan. In history such events led to the simmering relations between two countries.
eight years since the Mumbai attacks which took place from November 26, November 29 of the year 2008, the relations between both countries had receding tides. India criticised Pakistan and its security forces for the training of terrorists and fully created drama to grab attention of international community. If the details of Mumbai attack are followed one can clearly understand that such organized attacks were not easy to carry out without preparations and scouting about the areas. Till this date, it remains a mystery whether the real reason behind the attacks was incompetence of the Indian forces or they were only accusing Pakistan to save their face in the international community for their lack of security. The reports which India media claimed for Mumbai attack said that attackers entered India via sea route. As quoted in Indian media, it was on 21st November, 2008 that ten terrorists left Pakistan in boat, and headed towards India.
The terrorists killed four fishermen and hijacked an Indian traveller and threatened the captain to sail to India on 23rd November. On 26th November, while they were 7km away from the Mumbai shore, the terrorists killed the captain, and headed towards Mumbai in inflatable speedboats. It’s interesting to note that India media claimed that these terrorists introduced themselves as students once they were off the shore. It must be kept in mind that Mumbai is the major naval port and dockyard of their warships. The level of security at the port then can be anticipated and that too without the help of an insider all attackers were aware of the pathways in India. The question definitely arises that was it so easy for attackers to access Mumbai port or was it easy for India at that time to abate Pakistan’s image internationally and hide flaws and loopholes in state security.
According to details of this Mumbai attack, attackers chose five places for outbreak. The first target was in the main hall of Mumbai’s Chatrapati Shivaji Terminus railway station (CST), where the gunmen fired indiscriminately into the crowd of passengers. The gunmen then ran out of the station and into neighbouring buildings, including Cama Hospital. Attacks by separate groups of gunmen took place at two of Mumbai’s luxury hotels – the Oberoi-Trident and the Taj Mahal Palace, located at the heart of the tourist area, within proximity of the Gateway of India. The gunmen also opened fire at Café’ Leopold, a chic restaurant in the tourist area. They also targeted Nariman House, which is Jewish business centre in Mumbai.
Indian media created hype that 10 terrorists from Pakistan have created havoc in Mumbai with coordinated shooting and bombings. Though all terrorists were killed but only one was caught alive named Ajmal Kasab, who was later hanged to death in Pune. According to reports “Deccan Mujahedeen” group claimed the responsibility for attacks however, India accused Lashkar-e-Taiba for carrying out these attacks with the help of Pakistani intelligence agency. The Deccan Plateau refers to a region of central-Southern India largely centred in the State of Andhra Pradesh. This unknown group was already categorized, without supporting evidence, as belonging to the Al-Qaeda network of terrorist organizations. Indian and western media for the long time pointed fingers at Pakistan for supporting terrorists. Times of India in their 27 November, 2008 newspaper quoted this incident without authenticity as, “Strategic gurus and security analysts in the US and from across the world are examining Pakistan’s role in terrorism following yet another terror episode in India ending with fingers pointed at its widely-reviled neighbour.
While initial reports from India suggested the Mumbai carnage was a localized attack by militant malcontents in India because of the “Deccan Mujahedeen” decoy that was used to claim responsibility, evidence cited by Indian army and security experts based on phone intercepts, nature of weaponry, mode of entry by sea etc., has quickly focused the attention on Pakistan.” Likewise Washington Post on November 28, 2008 cited, “The US media has centred its attention on the links between the Mumbai attacks and the resurgent terrorist groups which enjoy havens in Pakistan’s tribal areas as well as alleged protection or support from elements of Pakistani intelligence.” Indian media while blaming Pakistan forgot that during the time of Mumbai attack Pakistan was working closely with CIA and the question comes to mind is that with so much of liaison, why not the CIA had any prior information about this saga?
There was long debate in media about the origin and later training of the caught terrorist Ajmal Kasab. Indian maintained that Kasab was Pakistani national though reports later confirmed that he left Pakistan quite a long time ago and was trainee of Indian intelligence agency. Somehow findings of research by Pakistani scholars says that this Mumbai carnage was Indian stage drama and well fabricated with blames on Pakistan. While India preserved that Pakistan and its non-state actors are behind this episode. After so many years of these attacks and witnessing relations between both countries presently one can say with clarity that India has always stepped back from findings and joint investigations of any kind of attack. India had been sending spies into Pakistan for covert actions with TTP and other militant groups, while Pakistan has curbed militancy with successful military operations to flush out extremists. The question is can India be trusted for cordial relations with such behaviours of allegations without confirmations?
— The writer works for Pakistan Institute for Conflict and Security Studies, a think tank based in Islamabad.