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'India should not blame Pakistan for Mumbai terror attack'

By Arthur J Pais
November 28, 2008 01:41 IST
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Blaming Pakistan for the recent terror attacks in Mumbai will be extremely counterproductive for India's efforts to fight terrorism, believes Professor Hasan-Askari Rizvi, an independent political and defense analyst based in Lahore.

"Pakistan will reject any such accusation," he said. "And the dialogue between the two countries, which has been faltering quite a bit, will falter further. It will be a big loss to the people of the two countries."

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"No one can deny the gravity of the situation in India," Rizvi, who has written extensively in recent months on the threat of suicide bombers against Pakistani targets, said.

"India and Pakistan ought to work together to fight terrorism, but India will not get the cooperation of Pakistan if it blames Pakistan for masterminding these terrorist attacks." he said, referring to the statement by Prime Minister Manmohan Singh, claiming the terrorist attack originated from abroad.

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"Dr. Singh is indirectly blaming the neighbours," Rizvi said. "But we do not know who exactly planned and ran this massive terrorist attack."

He will not be surprised if there is talk of India waging war against Pakistan, but Rizvi is not worried. "The Indian government has become more mature in recent years," he said.

Reacting to the reports in the American media that the attacks could have come from the elements opposed to the recent thawing of hostilities between the two countries, and Pakistan offering peace gestures, he said the speculation has some merit.

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"We have seen in the past that when such efforts were made, there were groups who worked to destabilise the situation," he continued. "But to do that, a small incident in the border states could have sufficed. There was no need for such a massive operation in Mumbai."

He believes that the attack was not just against American and British tourists in Mumbai but on the democratic and financial apparatus.

"The target is India itself," he said. "The attackers want to destabilise the state and the Indian economy, and that is why they targeted the economic centre of India," he said. "The attackers want to add to India's present problems."

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Many groups are opposed to the democratic and secular Indian state with a global outlook, he said, including a pocket of indigenous Muslim groups, international terrorist organisations as well as the various Hindutva groups.

Rizvi, who has taught political science at Columbia University and Johns Hopkins University, said that Pakistan no longer backs Mujahideen groups in Kashmir. This is because of the increasing internal threats in the country and pressure against its old policy.

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Speaking on the attack on the Indian Embassy in Kabul, Rizvi expressed doubts about Pakistan instigating the attack. He conceded that a few rogue elements in Pakistan's Inter Services Intelligence could have backed the attack plan.

"You can't rule out the political possibilities of such a development," he had said in an interview a few weeks ago.

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Arthur J Pais