by Joyce Marcel
American Reporter Correspondent
December 17, 2008
OFF THE GRID
BRADENTON, Fla., Dec. 1, 2008 -- Ever since I lived and worked in India for about six months in 1972, when I had the chance to meet heads of state throughout the region and many of the diplomats posted there, I have had a strong interest in its affairs. That interest was particularly well-served by two of the distinguished American Reporter Correspondents who covered the South Asia region for us.
It has been the work of American Reporter Correspondents Aman Singh in India and Ahmar Mustikhan in Washington, D.C., in fact, that has informed those who read this publication that the events of the past week in Mumbai, the former Bombay, were not unique, and not even that rare in India.
As Correspondent Singh reported here on several occasions, many deaths resulted from terrorist attacks mounted with the same AK-47s and grenades that armed the cold-blooded terrorists who attacked nine sites in Mumbai last Wednesday night and kept their grip on the nation's commercial heart for an ensuing 60 hours of horror.
Take this example of her work from 2002:
NEW DELHI, Sept. 24, 2002 -- Terrorists struck the main Hindu temple in Gujarat's western capital city of Gandhinagar in the late hours of evening today as hundreds of devotees said their prayers, blasting their way into the pink sandstone Akshardham Temple in a white Indian-made Ambassador sedan while hurling grenades and firing indiscriminately at helpless people who had been praying there.
Many incidents, some larger and some smaller, almost all associated with Kashmiri separatism and the shadowy organizations fostered by al-Qaeda, have splashed their bloody jihad across the front pages of India's vibrant free press. And just as luridly, some Indian militants - especially those who lead Maharashtra, of which Mumbai is the capital - have blamed Pakistan's hapless, inchoate government for their crimes. But India has many home-grown terrorists, and if not home-grown, many who have become folded into pan-regional umbrella organizations that bolster their ability to commit heartless acts of terror.
Here is another example, also provided by Aman Singh's splendid reporting:
NEW DELHI, Nov. 24, 2002 (7:55 am EST) -- Repeating a recent assault, militants attacked the famous Raghunath shrine in Jammu a second time Sunday and left 11 dead and many wounded in their wake.
We mean no offense when we say you don't need to reach six years into the past to find such incidents, or to find a note of posturing in India's current imprecations against the government of Pakistan, charging complicity in these crimes. What is needed now more than outrage is the inspiring example of the soul of India's great War of Independence, Mahatma Ghandi. While non-violence is not an option here, a unified search for peace between two great nations certainly is, and that can lead to peace he yearned for.
We presume to believe Ghandi would be appalled not only at the horrific violence of the attackers who struck the postcard-perfect suburbs of Mumbai and killed so many innocent people, but also at the unseemly rush to blame Pakistan for the attacks. It is absolutely inconceivable that the government would have an official role in those events, anymore than India had in the 2008 assassination of the beloved Benazir Bhutto or the 1975 killing of Bangladesh's Sri Mujibur Rahman.
It is not at all inconceivable, however, that the terrorists had pan-South Asian and even Middle Eastern origins, training and funds. Nor is it too much to imagine - especially in light of the report by our own Ahmar Mustikhan just two months ago revealing the Pakistani Inter-Service Intelligence (ISI) role in the bombing of India's embassy in Afghanistan - that rogue agents of the ISI had a role in last week's events in Mumbai. Pakistan's official establishment only wishes that it could control the ISI; time and again, it has proved unable to exert real leadership against the agency's dangerous fundamentalists who back al-Qaeda and its plans throughout the Middle East.
Thus, now is not the time for war between India and Pakistan; now is the time for these two nations, both longtime allies of the United States and the nations of Europe, to effectively join in cleansing the fundamentalist jihadis from the region, whether they are Indian, Pakistani or citizens of the distorted world of militant Islam that is al-Qaeda. What they cannot do alone, especially in reforming the ISI, they can do together, carefully, with persistence and determination. We would propose the creation of a South Asian Intelligence Service composed of Indian, Pakistani and Bangladeshi experts that would serve the entire Subcontinent to achieve lower costs, greater efficiency, and more effectiveness for all.
Both of these nations owe it to their honored dead to embrace the role they have inherited from the region's autocratic past to build the civilized and modern world of the new democracies. They must not let terrorism that is beyond any national origin become the master of their destinies as terrorists try to provoke them to fight one another. They must instead seize the open opportunity to unite their efforts against the evil of terrorism and join all of the good world in fighting it together.
American Reporter Editor-in-Chief, a former foreign correspondent in India, Pakistan and the Middle East for New York's Village Voice, is now based in South Florida in the Gulf Coast community of Bradenton.