BY DR G.H AYUB
The incident of 9/11 was an unnerving and shocking experience for Americans. They couldn’t believe their mainland would be attacked in such a sophisticated way, leaving many theory-generating questions. Prominent among them was the conspiracy theory- a word as allergic to a westerner as paper mulberry flowers are to a common Islamabad dweller. There was a knee jerk reaction by the American public and rightly so. The Bush government was quick to respond and pointed fingers at a group headed by OBL with a past record of doing similar acts. Americans accepted the notion and the government took advantage of their sentiments enforcing semi draconian laws, which were unthinkable in the US. 9/11 became a symbol of change for other civilized countries even if it meant taking uncivilized back steps such as compromising on civil liberties.
The incident divided global society into Muslim and non-Muslim groups; and the Muslim Ummah into traditionalists and spiritualists. Alquaeda headed by OBL became the symbol of traditionalist theology with strong backing from the influential Wahabi Saudis. They were well organized politically and had long been working on spreading Wahabism by methodically taking over mosques and opening Madaris all over the world. Spiritualists, on other hand, had no political aims. They remained indistinct politically and inactive socially. We saw the results; the world turned into an inferno claiming innocent lives. Which group in US became the beneficiary is any body’s guess, but in the Muslim world, it provoked the Sufis to come out of their slumber, get activated as a political force, and counter Muslim fanatics to show the world the other face of Islam-the spiritual face.
Meanwhile, the likes of 9/11 kept repeating in other parts of the world. It showed its ugly face in London paralyzing the well-organized transport system. The damage was vast but the psychological response of the traumatized public was not as extreme as was seen in the 9/11 of the US. The mature British public responded prudently with logic dominating their emotions. Their anger was distributed between the one against Muslims and the incumbent government of Mr. Blair and his pro-American policies. In Spain, a similar episode cost the governing party elections and America lost its coalition partner in Iraq. In Pakistan, the Marriot Hotel blast was labeled as 9/11 of the country. Initially, the government pointed fingers in the direction of the Taliban in Waziristan exonerating RAW in India and Alquaeda in Afghanistan. The public and the media acted sensibly accentuating the tragedy without losing a grip on their emotions. America stood by Pakistan in condemning the blast offering FBI support.
Then, India was added in the loop and 9/11 was born on November 26th 2008. The carnage hit Indians in a big way. Without a second thought Pakistan became the target. The government, the public and the media joined hands and started prosecuting Pakistan, ISI and rogue elements in the country. To make things worse, the president and the prime minister of Pakistan gave statements, which could only make the Indian case stronger. America was quick to respond by sending Ms Rice to the country showing its solidarity. She, at the end of her tour, urged (not requested) Pakistan to do more. If she did not fear exposing American forces to the Taliban on the western border of Pakistan, she might as well have accused Pakistan of the blasts. The footage of her _expressionless naked gaze in response to the wide smile of President Zardari was nothing less than that in body language.
In the case of the original 9/11, America accused OBL and Alqueda within 24 hours of the attack because they had been following the group’s anti-American activities for decades. In contrast, according to news report, the top brass of RAW was in Islamabad just a few weeks earlier sharing intelligence with ISI. In the initial days of the American 9/11, OBL refused to take the blame; while president Zardari was ‘bold’ enough to accept the blame on behalf of ‘stateless actors’ within Pakistan. Similarly, Mr Gilani’s response to his Indian counterpart for sending ISI chief to India should have been taken as confusing rather than accepting the blame. So, how could India blame Pakistan or ISI within a few hours of the carnage is beyond any comprehension. To make the situation more confusing, an apparent hoax call by the foreign minister of India was put through to president Zardari on 28th threatening Pakistan with dire consequences. This could only mean a nuclear threat. In panic, the president called the foreign minister of Pakistan back from India on a special plane. Why was the call put through to the president and why did the president accept the call is beyond any diplomatic wisdom and skill-related grasp. According to reliable sources once a similar call by the foreign secretary of America was put to the then Prime Minister Mr. Nawaz Sharif. The PM did not accept it directing his subordinates to politely direct the call to the foreign minister.
The small group of 10-15 that took part in the carnage must have had local backing and were trained by a group with; organizational capabilities; training facilities; equipping powers; and funding potentials. The assumption is based on the way they executed the given task with precise accuracy. Such a job could only be carried out by any organization with capabilities mentioned above. The question is which organisation could have done it;
Alquaeda; Kashmir has been the core foreign policy of Pakistan and pivotal issue between Pakistan and India. Alquaeda, up until recently (that too by Aiman Alzawahiry and not Osama), has never publicly supported the Kashmir cause. It means the policies of Pakistan and Alquaeda diversify in principle on this issue. So, Alquaeda can become the major beneficiary, as in the event of war, Pak army will be withdrawn from Afghan border, giving it breathing space to regroup; a position most damaging to the US interests.
Mossad; to pitch India against Pakistan as a short-term strategy by putting pressure on Obama as he is getting ready to take oath in the next few weeks. One should remember that Obama publicly talked about tackling the Kashmir issue. In the short term, Mossad’s interests equate to the interests of RAW and CIA vis-à-vis nuclear Pakistan.
CIA; to bring India and America closer and uplift India as a political power in the region vis-à-vis China.
RAW; to defame the incumbent Indian government on the face of the inquiry held against serving Indian army officers and make the field ready for BJP to win the coming elections. It is believed that strong elements in RAW have affiliation with the BJP.
Taliban; there are Afghan Taliban and Pak Taliban. The former has Pak sympathizers in its ranks and files and would not want to take actions, which would weaken Pak army or ISI. They are fighting a war against foreign infiltration of their motherland. The latter, as records indicate, is primarily supported by CIA/RAW and has major recruits from Punjab. They would not like to see Pakistan caught in a war that might result in a change of its geographical borders.
ISI; might not be happy with democratic government headed by Asif Ali Zardari but would not take such a drastic step to bring nuclear Pakistan against nuclear India with disastrous results for both the countries.
There might be a large number of other reasons and even other actors, but under such a confusing dilemma, the Mumbai carnage can turn into a Pandora’s Box; the opening of which will light a fire burning not only the subcontinent but its flames shall engulf the far flung continent where 9/11 was originated eight years ago. Let us hope, we do not see a repeat of Hiroshima and Nagasaki in multiplied form at a global level bringing Armageddon at the doorstep of human race