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Mumbai attack planned, launched from Pakistan: Pakistani ex-official

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Islamabad: Pakistan must admit its mistakes for allowing Pakistani terrorists to sail to Mumbai and carry out the horrific massacre in Mumbai in 2008, almost bringing Islamabad and Delhi to war, a former senior Pakistani official has said.

Credits-www.deccanchronicle.com
Mumbai Attacks, 2008. Credits-www.deccanchronicle.com

The revelation vindicates India’s stand that 99 percent of the evidence of the 26/11 attacks lies in Pakistan since the entire plotting was done in that country, sources said on Tuesday.

Tariq Khosa, a former director general of the Federal Investigation Agency (FIA), equivalent of India’s CBI, wrote in the Dawn newspaper that “Pakistan has to deal with the Mumbai mayhem, planned and launched from its soil”.

“This requires facing the truth and admitting mistakes,” he said, detailing the various Pakistani links to the terrorists who massacred 166 Indians and foreigners over three days in India’s financial capital.

“The entire state security apparatus must ensure that the perpetrators and masterminds of the ghastly terror attacks are brought to justice,” Khosa said, underlining that the case had lingered on for far too long.

“What’s new in what has been revealed?” a source told IANS. “This is what we have been saying all along, that the entire plotting and financing for 26/11 was done in Pakistan, and the prosecution there has 99 percent of the evidence, but they choose not to act on it.”

“What he (Khosa) has said vindicates our stand. India has been maintaining since 2008 that the entire plotting and financing was done in Pakistan,” the source added.

According to noted strategic expert Uday Bhaskar, the revelations by Khosa are an important statement in the public domain.

“The author is a former DG of the FIA and his observations are that of a seasoned senior professional from Pakistan’s premier investigating agency,” Bhaskar told IANS.

He said the most valuable parts of Khosa’s revelations “are the detailing of ‘facts’ pertinent to the case that have been unearthed or pieced together including the role of the LeT; the casings of explosives recovered from a training camp in Pakistan and matched with devices used in Mumbai; linking the number of the engine used on the dinghy with a Karachi sports shop; the money trail; the operations room etc.”

“Khosa and his team are to be commended both for their investigative diligence and his candor in bringing this to the public domain. One hopes that his personal safety will not be compromised due to such courage,” Bhaskar, director of think tank Society for Policy Studies, told IANS.

He said that while the facts were not new to the concerned Pakistani authorities, “it is unlikely that the Khosa disclosure will bring about a mea culpa transformation in the Rawalpindi-Muridke combine. The deep state in Pakistan is too deeply invested in support to certain terror groups and enabling 26/11 to reach its ethical conclusion will bring too many skeletons out into the open.”

In his article, Khosa said dilatory tactics by the defendants, frequent change of trial judges, and the assassination of the case prosecutor as well as retracting from original testimony by some key witnesses had proved to be serious setbacks for the prosecutors.

Ten Pakistani terrorists sneaked into Mumbai from the sea in November 2008 and carried out a massacre in a well-planned manner.

One of the terrorists, Ajmal Kasab, was caught, put on trial, and later hanged in India. Security forces killed the others. Islamabad initially denied any links with the attackers but later admitted that Kasab and the masterminds were Pakistani nationals.

Khosa pointed out that Kasab was a Pakistani and that the Lashkar-e-Taiba (LeT) terrorists who attacked Mumbai were trained near Thatta in Sindh and launched by sea from there.

“First, the training camp was identified and secured by the investigators. Second, the casings of the explosive devices used in Mumbai were recovered from this training camp and duly matched.

“Third, the fishing trawler used by the terrorists for hijacking an Indian trawler in which they sailed to Mumbai was brought back to harbor, then painted and concealed. It was recovered by the investigators and connected to the accused.

“Fourth, the engine of the dinghy abandoned by the terrorists near Mumbai harbor contained a patent number through which the investigators traced its import from Japan to Lahore and then to a Karachi sports shop from where an LeT-linked militant purchased it along with the dinghy. The money trail was followed and linked to the accused who was arrested.

“Fifth, the ops room in Karachi, from where the operation was directed, was also identified and secured by the investigators. The communications through Voice over Internet Protocol were unearthed.

“Sixth, the alleged commander and his deputies were identified and arrested. Seventh, a couple of foreign-based financiers and facilitators were arrested and brought to face trial,” Khosa said.

Khosa said the Mumbai case was unique, and that proving conspiracy in a different jurisdiction was more complex and required a far superior quality of evidence.

“Therefore, the legal experts from both sides need to sit together rather than sulk and point fingers.”

He asked: “Are we as a nation prepared to muster the courage to face uncomfortable truths and combat the demons of militancy that haunt our land?”

Khosa also flayed India for the “botched investigation” into the Samjhauta Express bombing and the alleged support to the Baloch insurgency as well as the terror financing in Karachi and Fata.

“They (India) too have many skeletons in their cupboards. So why fight shy?

“Let both India and Pakistan admit their mistakes and follies and learn to co-exist while trying to find solutions to their thorny issues through peaceful means.”

Khosa said the political and security leadership of Pakistan had resolved to eliminate the scourge of terrorism, militancy, and extremism.

“The duality and distinction between good and bad Taliban, including all militants and terrorists, should stand removed from Miramshah to Muridke, from Karachi to Quetta.”

(IANS)

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Belling The Cat: The Difficult Relationship of India with Turkey

The land of the Whirling Dervishes, where the compassionate views of Mevlana Jalaluddin Rumi have cast a lasting shadow, is India’s forbidden fruit

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Turkey and India's relationship is very rocky. Pixabay

By Tania Bhattacharya

  • India and Tukey share a bad relationship
  • There are numerous reasons for it
  • Some of the reasons are as trivial as they can get
Ms. Tania Bhattacharya

When the founder of the Turkish Republic, Mustafa Kemal Ataturk, passed away on the morning of the 10th of November 1938, months before the world broke out into war, a Turkish lady in the streets of Istanbul commented to a reporter covering the tragedy, lamenting “Turkey has lost her lover. Now, she must marry and settle down”. The incident is mentioned in Irfan’s Orga’s ‘Phoenix Ascendant’, a comprehensive biography of Mustafa Kemal Pasha.

National heroes are lionized almost everywhere among native communities; but Ataturk and his younger contemporary Subhash Chandra Bose, enjoy a kind of veneration among their people, that even hardened jingoists elsewhere, would not be caught doing. Subhash was an admirer of Ataturk and was determined to meet him, until the British overlords of India, put a spanner in the works. That was not all. In his ‘Glimpses Of World History’, India’s first Prime Minister Jawaharlal Nehru, made glowing references to Mustafa Kemal, calling him a progressive head of state with the singular objective of emancipating the women of his country. Indeed in Turkey, Kemalism is the byword for progressiveness and the radical intellectual approach.

India and Turkey have troubles due to Kashmir as well. VOA

The trajectory of Sultanate ridden Turkey, and post-colonial India have been analogous, but with a few exceptions. Both countries started out with a prominent Socialist outlook, and statesmen who could navigate the complex waters of international one-upmanship to establish their nascent independent territories into positions of respect. Ataturk did this by having the humiliating Treaty of Sevres, scrapped and Nehru hoisted India to the enviable position of the leader of the NAM (Non-Aligned Movement).

Both men encouraged the scientific temper and set their respective countries on the path of western style democracy. India and Turkey are both Constitutionally Laic, Socialist Republics, with elected governments at the helm of affairs. Both states have successfully produced indomitable women heads of state; Indira Gandhi in India, and Tancu Ciller in Turkey.

However, barring the temper of the Constitutions of the two countries, there have been dichotomies which cannot be missed. The Indian state has an army that has never displayed an interest in the legislative functioning of its polity, maintaining a respectful distance from political upheavals. On the other hand, the Turkish military has tried to usurp power multiple times, in that country. The first three times it attempted to do so, it successfully affected a regime change. The years were 1960, 1971, and 1980. A fourth rumbling from the uniformed men was heard in 2016, but was immediately suppressed and extinguished by Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan. Some insiders and whistle blowers have claimed, that the coup was an eyewash, that was perpetrated by Erdogan’s moles present within the military. After all, the only person who benefitted from the crackdowns, was Erdogan himself.

India’s north-western neighbour, has been a major roadblock on the path to India-Turkey relations. Right from its inception, Pakistan has been a firm ally of Turkey. The roots of this friendship go deep down and can be found embedded in the Khilafat movement of the sub-continent during British times, when Indian Muslims had banded together to oppose the abdication of the last Turkish Sultan, and with him, the position of the Caliph of Islam. Turkey supports Pakistan’s stance on Kashmir, something that has always troubled the Indian upper echelons, which wants to steer the relationship between their nation and Turkey, ahead.

Where Kemalism had impressed itself upon the elite masses of Turkey, with its accent on westernization, President Erdogan has managed to ride the votebank of the working class, with his emphasis on political Islam. He, unlike his other civilian predecessors, has not only managed to hold on to his position, but has also been successful in reinforcing it and becoming the master of all he surveys.

Terrorism is yet another problem between the two countries. VOA

Turkey remained unaffected by the Arab Spring revolts that have shaken the Middle East since the April of 2011, with the latest victims being Yemen and Iran, which is a testament to its stability. But, as India has watched from the sidelines, this crucial NATO (North Atlantic Treaty Organization) member, has shown its back to democracy by embracing a new shade of totalitarianism in the form of the Turkish President’s office, stifled the opposition, dissolved protests from dissidents, and has sought to deal with the Kurdish problem in a much harsher way than previous governments.

Turkey being Asia’s gateway to Europe, a member of the OIC (Organization of Islamic Cooperation), and a developed nation by many estimates, is crucial to India as not only an economic partner, but also a comrade among the fraternity of the Islamic states, with whom maintaining good relations is vital to India’s interests. During the Cold War, Indo-Turkish bonding had been left in suspended animation due to a conflict of interests; as India was a founding member of the NAM (Non-Aligned Movement), while Turkey was firmly in the Allied Camp, in the Western created and controlled NATO setup.

In the 21st century, India and Turkey have produced two unexpectedly hawkish point men, who seem to share a warm personal rapport with each-other. While India’s Prime Minister Modi, started out in life as a tea seller, Turkey’s Erdogan used to sell lemonade at a train station. Born and raised in humble circumstances, the two men have shown some resolve in bettering their bilateral ties. The year that Modi was indicted for his indifference to the carnage of Gujarat’s Muslims – 2002 – was also the same year that Recep Tayyip Erdogan made himself visible on the radar of Turkish politics.

Also Read: How a young Astronomer from Turkey turned into an Islamic State Fighter

Despite the co-incidental sweet spot though, India and Turkey are unable to capitalize on the opportunities afforded to each-other. Among the thorny issues that need to be tackled, are:

  1. Trade
  2. Kashmir
  3.  FethullahGulen
  4. Terrorism

1.Trade between India and Turkey, is to the tune of 6.4 billion, but India accounts for a much smaller percentage of Turkish imports than other countries, especially those from within the European Union, from whom Turkey buys goods. There is an enormous potential in investing in infrastructure via construction, as Turkey can provide its assistance to India over the matter.

2. On the Kashmir front, Turkey currently favours Pakistan’s stand, though not openly discouraging India. As an ombudsman in the OIC (Organization of Islamic Cooperation), it is imperative for India, to get Turkey on board over Kashmir and make that country sympathetic to our stand on the issue.

3. FethullahGulen is a spiritual Sufi Turkish leader, who presently lives in exile in the United States. He used to be a formidable political figure in the power corridors of Ankara, and was a close aide of President Erdogan. A one-time imam in Turkey, Mr. Gulen was an associate of Erdogan and his AKP (Justice and Development Party) and continues to preside over an empire of charitable institutions that provide education and low-cost housing to the needy, globally. Many Gulenist institutions function in India and have never caused a friction with the Indian state. However, during President Erdogan’s last Indian visit, which took place on the 1st of May 2017, he had insisted that India close down all Gulenist outlets, as they were instruments of sedition against his government. India refused to do so and looked upon the directive as amounting to interfering with our sovereignty, since any such decision could only be taken by our own authorities. Fethullah Gulen was accused of masterminding the military coup that took place in Turkey in the July of 2016, albeit without sufficient evidence. The coup itself, and the crackdown on it, was the bloodiest in the history of Turkey, but for the very first time, it was successfully contained by the elected government of President Recep Tayyip Erdogan. Spiritually and philosophically, Mr. Gulen’s views are more feminist and reconciliatory than the pro-hardline views held by Erdogan.

President Erdogan of Turkey.Wikimedia Commons

4. During the day long meeting between President Erdogan and Prime Minister Modi, the former pledged full support to India in its fight against terrorism, but cherry picked on the issue. Erdogan’s primary concern was to help India in our war against the Naxalites, which is a Left-Wing secessionist movement in this country. As an Islamist Right Winger, the Turkish President’s anti-Naxalite stand was predictable. However, he evinced no particular interest in the incidents of cross-border terrorism that India has had to suffer. Pakistan and Turkey are close international allies, especially since Pakistan is the world’s only nation that supports the Turkish created entity of the TRNC (Turkish Republic of Northern Cyprus). Turkey has suffered numerous terrorist attacks ever since the inception of the Turkish Republic in 1923, that were carried out by the PKK, an outlawed, armed Kurdish, political resistance group.

The reason why Turkey is important to India, is due to the reality, that Turkey is West Asia’s most important state, geographically, politically, and militarily. Situated at the crossroads of Asia and Europe, this much-misunderstood country, has been knocking on the doors of the EU (European Union) and if it resolves its Human Rights record pertaining to the Kurds, and the Ottoman Genocide, it might very well become the only Asian nation to be an EU member state. As a leading member of the OIC (Organization of Islamic Cooperation), Turkey’s support to India is vital for the latter to gain traction within the community of the Muslim world, since currently only some Gulf nations are friendly with us. Turkey is a NATO (North Atlantic Treaty Organization) member, and its military prowess within that body is substantial. It is the only progressive, and secular (though these are increasingly being eroded), developed nation in West Asia, with a stable political climate. India, being the country with the second largest Muslim population, it is imperative, that the two nations develop closer ties and lasting bonds, if they can lessen the distance between themselves.

The land of the Whirling Dervishes, where the compassionate views of Mevlana Jalaluddin Rumi have cast a lasting shadow, is India’s forbidden fruit. It can only be hoped, that political wisdom, farsightedness, and reciprocity, will allow the Indians to lay the foundations of a unique friendship, with the West Asian colossus of Turkey.

Tania is a freelance writer with a Masters in Defence and Strategic Studies who has a wide range of interests.