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Geopolitics of The Mumbai Attacks

Posted on: Disember 11, 2008

[This article was adapted from http://www.khilafah.com. The writer, Adnan Khan is also the author of the books  “Geopolitical Myths” and “The Global Credit Crunch & The Crisis of Capitalism” which are downloadable at khilafah.com]



On the 26th November the world watched as the mass murder of people was taking place in the Indian city of Mumbai. A group of gunmen carried out what was described as a very sophisticated operation with Indian commando’s struggling to cope and failing to contain the attack.

On the surface the attack does not seem that sophisticated due to the type of weapons used and the operations size and scope. However, multiple methods of approaching the city and excellent operational security and discipline in the final phases of the operation, enabled the last remaining attackers to hold out in the Taj Mahal hotel for several days.

The blame for the attacks was placed squarely on Pakistan by the Indian government. As of yet no evidence has been provided apart from the alleged confessions of the one of the captured gunmen, Ajmal Amir Kasab, who, it is said, admitted to being a member of Lashkar-e-Taiba and received training in Pakistan.

US Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice’s visit to the region in response to the attacks has resulted in many leaks to the media, which has only fuelled the flames of mistrust. Rice’s trip took place amid a rash of leaks in the Indian and US media blaming the Pakistan-based Lashkar-e-Taiba for masterminding the Mumbai attacks. An unnamed Indian official stated in the Wall Street Journal that India had identified Yusuf Muzammil of Lashkar-e-Taiba as the man who orchestrated the plan. The Indian press over the week after the bombings reported that India had “proof” that Pakistan’s ISI was involved in the Mumbai attacks. Significantly, the New York Times cited an unnamed former US Defence Department official as saying that: “American intelligence agencies had determined that former officers from Pakistan’s Army and its powerful Inter-Services Intelligence agency helped to train the Mumbai attackers”.

No evidence has been made public to confirm any such accusations. Several articles have cast doubt on even the basic claims made about the detained gunman. The Times in London noted that Pakistani officials had been unable to trace Kasab to the village of Faridkot in Punjab-a fact widely cited by Indian police-and pointed out that there were in fact three villages with that name in the province.

India continues to allege that Pakistan was directly involved in the bombings. In New Delhi on the 3rd December, Condoleezza Rice publicly backed India’s demands on Pakistan for tough measures against the alleged perpetrators of the atrocity. The following day, after meeting with President Zardari in Islamabad, she declared that Pakistan was “very focussed and committed” to fighting terrorism, but reinforced the message that the Pakistani government had to provide “unequivocal assistance” to India.

Hence the bombings are being blamed on Pakistan and pressure is being placed upon Pakistan to root out such perpetuators, without a shred of evidence being presented.

India‘s Domestic Woes

With general elections in early 2009 an important aspect of the bombings that has been deliberately missed is the role of right wing Hindu groups who have already been implicated in other bombings in India that resulted in violence against Muslims.

The BJP which is a coalition of Hindu parties has previously used violence such as the Gujarat massacre and the Godhra issue for electoral politics. With National elections in May 2009 Chief Hemant Karkare of the Anti-Terror task force (ATS) had already exposed links between right wing Hindu groups and the Malegoan and Samjauta express blasts, something which was designed in a manner to pin blame on Muslims. The chief had exposed the involvement of the mode of operations of various radical Hindu groups, despite severe political pressure. He was also in the middle of an investigation which would have exposed the secret links between the Indian military and Hindu terror groups.  His investigation resulted in uncovering the involvement of three Indian military intelligence officers in terrorist acts that were blamed on Muslim groups. In the very first hours of the Mumbai attack, the unknown attackers were able to achieve a singular feat: the targeted murder of Hemant Karkare,

Right wing Hindu groups began an aggressive advertisement campaign across India urging a scared population to rise against the government. Two days after the attacks, front-page advertisements appeared in several newspapers in Delhi showing blood splattered against a black background and the slogan “Brutal Terror Strikes At Will” in bold capital letters. The ads signed off with a simple message: “Fight Terror. Vote B.J.P.” There were also advertisements that were cast as an appeal from Atal Bihari Vajpayee, the prime minister in the last BJP led coalition government. They cited the loss of lives in Mumbai and concluded, “We must elect a government that can fight terror tooth and nail.”

The right wing Hindu groups who make up the coalition in the BJP want to see India emerge as a superpower closely allied with the United States. They are excited about American plans for India as a regional policeman and have no problem in confronting Pakistan to achieve this status. They think time is slipping and they don’t want a hesitant political leadership in their way. Already the instability in the wake of the Mumbai attacks is being exploited to start a war with Pakistan. The fact that this will also help the US military facing a tough time in Afghanistan appears to be more than just a coincidence.

This is why public opinion in India is shifting from stunned to furious. India’s government led by the Congress party is politically weak and nearing the end of its life span. It lacks the political power to ignore the attack, even if it were inclined to do so. If it ignored the attack, it would fall, and a more intensely nationalist government would take its place.

The position of the Congress party was further hampered by a US official who told the Associated Press that the Indian authorities had been told of an apparent plot to launch an attack on Mumbai from the sea. The leaking of such information by the US at such a crucial time for the Congress led government has played directly into BJP hands.


The US and India for some time have accused Pakistan’s Inter-State Intelligence (ISI) apparatus and elements within the army of supporting, training and maintaining Jihadi groups throughout the region. In order to understand this claim and the subsequent actions Pakistan is continually being pressurised to undertake, the reality of Jihadi groups and the role they have played in the region needs to be understood.

The Soviet invasion of Afghanistan in 1979 was not viewed as an isolated event of limited geographical importance but had to be contested by the US who viewed it as a potential threat to the Persian Gulf region. Operation Cyclone was the code name for the United States CIA programme to arm the Afghan mujahideen. The US also initiated programs for training Jihadi groups in techniques such as car bombings and assassinations and in engaging in cross-border raids into the USSR. The so called support for Islamisation was seen as necessary and a useful tool to drive out the Soviet Union. In this way the US through Pakistan and the ISI trained and funded many Jihadi groups.

The US eventually stopped all funding after the Soviet withdrawal in 1989 and essentially left Pakistan to pick up the mess. The cooperation between the Pakistani army, Mujahideen and the ISI meant relations ran deep and this continued until 9/11. After the events of 9/11 the Jihadi groups, the training camps and Pakistan’s support to the Taliban were seen as counter to US interests. As a result when Musharraf sided with the US in the war on terror the supply line that fed the network of Jihadi groups ceased.

It should be remembered that the Taliban and all the mujahideen groups could not exist without the support Pakistan provided them. They were never independent and therefore could never become self-sufficient. For the US the Islamisation programme has essentially outlived its use and was now threatening US interests. Therefore after 9/11, in cahoots with General Musharraf, the US has worked to actively reverse this process. However, the US is finding that many elements within the army and especially within the ISI are refusing to end their support to the Mujahideen. The US is also in similar vain looking to reverse the Islamic revolution which it secretly backed in Iran in 1979 as it has outlived its use but is finding similar problems as conservatives exist across the military, intelligence services and judiciary.

It is for these reasons Pakistan is continually blamed for having radical elements amongst its ranks. Musharraf was given over $10 billion dollars to purge his army and carry out military action along the Durand line against targets chosen by US intelligence. Although Musharraf complied, on many occasions due to pressure from elements within the army, deals were made with tribal leaders to not support the Taliban and other Jihadi groups. However after 5 years the US has found this strategy has failed and the Taliban have returned even stronger.

It is for this reason the bombings in Mumbai have been used to pressurize Pakistan to remove the radical (Islamic) elements within the military apparatus as well as the ISI. Pakistan is also being accused of having training camps (which the US funded during the Soviet invasion) which need to be bombed, so that the US and NATO can win the war in Afghanistan.

Without Pakistan’s cooperation the US would be in a real predicament since it would be unable to gain full grip on the region.

Regional Geopolitics

President elect Barack Obama has made it very clear that the real war is not in Iraq but along the Durand line in the sub-continent. Pakistan is right in the middle of this geopolitical struggle. However the problem is not actually Afghanistan, but central Asia. Afghanistan became a problem because the US has failed after five years to dominate Afghanistan.

US interests in the region, centre around containing China and attempting to deal with a resurgent Russia who is adamant on bringing back under its fold all the nations that formed the USSR. The US in the mid-1990’s viewed India as key to containing China and as a result the US through many multinationals and defence deals worked to develop India as a counter weight to China. The biggest problem the US-India axis faced was the huge financial burden India had in maintaining troops in Kashmir. Hence the key for the US in the region is solving the Kashmir dispute, which will then allow India to police the region. However Islamic elements within the Pakistan army continue to frustrate such a plan.

All this clearly shows that the region will only grow in importance, and Pakistan holds the key for US hegemony in the region.

If all such issues are taken in to account any of the following scenario’s are possible:

  1. The position of the Congress Party has weakened considerably with the Mumbai bombings. Radical elements from the right have successfully created public opinion against the Congress led government in regards security failures and inaction. Congress will have to undertake some action if it wants to win the general election in 2009. India may push forces forward all along the Indo-Pakistani frontier, move its nuclear forces to an alert level, and may even bomb some targets in order to appease domestic public opinion.
  1. Given the nature of the situation India could attack short distances into Pakistan and even carry out air strikes deep in Pakistan. However this would be fraught with danger due to the response Pakistan could give.
  1. India may move to a near-war posture, but will use this to make demands of Pakistan, such as passing intelligence and dismantling Jihadi training camps. However the problem with this outcome is that it may be seen as insufficient action by the Indian public.
  1. For the US any type of confrontation between India and Pakistan means Pakistani forces would be shifted from the Durand line to the border with India, which in essence would give the Taliban a field day as the noose that was attempting to tighten it would have disappeared.
  1. The US in all cases will have to heed to Indian demands to increase the military presence against Pakistan to a near war situation. This places the US in a considerable dilemma since its forces will have to defend themselves on their own. However, more importantly a stray bullet, missile or tank on the Indian Pakistan border could kick-start a war.
  1. Both the US and India will up the ante against radical elements within the Pakistani establishment. The US will pressurise the Pakistan government to dismantle the Jihadi training camps, bomb those who support them and purge the army and ISI. This to some extents will create a problem in Pakistan as Zardari’s civilian government is weak and unable to impose itself on the military. Zardari’s initial decision of sending the head of the ISI caused him much embarrassment. Lieutenant General Ahmad Shuja Pasha sent a lower ranking officer, which for the US and India will continue to be used as a basis to prove that radical elements actually run the country.
  1. In the long term this may very well mean the US will extend bombing well into Pakistan and do the job the Pakistani army refuses to do. However this will lead to a direct confrontation with Pakistan and its army, and the current US situation in the region is very weak to carry out such operations.

A Resurgent Pakistan

Islamabad has been unable to control radical Pakistani Islamic groups. India in the past did not want war with Pakistan as it felt it had more important issues to deal with domestically. New Delhi therefore accepted Islamabad’s assurances that Pakistan would do its best to curb terror attacks, and after suitable posturing, allowed tensions originating from Islamist attacks to pass. However this will in all cases not happen after the Mumbai bombings.

For Pakistan it will have a much more aggressive India and the US who is not only bribing Pakistan with aid to kill its own people, but is very quickly running out of patience with Pakistan’s performance.

Pakistan finds itself at the centre of a geopolitical conflict that will only get more complex as the aftermath of the Mumbai attacks unfold. Pakistan has done nothing to shape the geopolitics that is unfolding in front of its very eyes. The civilian government of Zardari is out if its league and has reduced itself to being America’s proxy. The Radical (Islamic) elements within Pakistan understand US intentions well and are attempting to defend Pakistan against US hegemony. However they have found resistance from secular elements within the establishment.

Pakistan actually has no choice but to restructure the nation so it can better deal with the geopolitics that is being played out. However weak anyone considers Pakistan it actually has all the ingredients that will allow it to industrialise rapidly and take its destiny into its own hands. This can be seen as:

  1. Pakistan has actually sustained America’s war in Afghanistan by supplying it essential fuel. According to expert data, almost 80% of the fuel used by the American war machine in Afghanistan is currently being supplied by Pakistani refineries.
  • 2. Pakistan has immense varieties of minerals and natural resources. Baluchistan province is a mineral rich area having substantial mineral, oil and gas reserves which have not been exploited to their full capacity or fully explored.
  • 3. Any developing nation needs large reserves of energy resources as industrialisation would not be possible without them. Whilst countries like Japan and Germany were forced into territorial expansion and colonialism due to their small energy resources, Pakistan has no such problem. Pakistan has no shortage of coal and gas. Pakistan has been blessed with the world’s largest untapped coal reserves, whilst its operational coal reserves are the 4th largest in the world. The Thar coal field in Sindh is the world’s largest coal field. Thar coal is one of the world’s largest lignite deposits discovered spread over more than 9,000 sqkm. It comprises around 175 billion tonnes of coal which is the equivalent of 618 billion barrels of crude oil. This would meet country’s fuel requirements for centuries.
  1. Pakistan has managed to achieve virtual self sufficiency in submarine development, tanks, aircraft overhaul, bullets, arms, trainer aircraft, combat aircraft, frigates and navy ships. The Pakistan Aeronautical Complex facility is the world’s third largest assembly plant assembling and manufacturing aircrafts.
  1. Pakistan has managed to establish the foundations of a manufacturing sector and military industry. All it would need to do is expand its capacity. It has already managed to develop nuclear weapons, its own drones, a tactical ballistic missile programme and a basic space programme. With the political will, only achievable today with a sincere Islamic leadership, Pakistan could very easily become a global player.

Pakistan needs to restructure the economy as well as the nation in order to deal with its problems and challenges. The current scenario, if allowed to continue, will lead to the inevitable fragmentation of Pakistan. However unlike Iraq, Pakistan has all the ingredients it needs to change. All it needs is the political will to do so. Pakistan must take its destiny into its own hands and become the Khilafah, which the Messenger of Allah صلى الله عليه وآله وسلم promised would return. So we ask the people of Pakistan, in their capacity as Muslims who belong to this noble Ummah, to work with Hizb ut-Tahrir and rise up against these rulers and systems and replace them with the Khilafah ruling system.

وَعَدَ اللَّهُ الَّذِينَ آمَنُوا مِنكُمْ وَعَمِلُوا الصَّالِحَاتِ لَيَسْتَخْلِفَنَّهُم فِي الْأَرْضِ كَمَا اسْتَخْلَفَ الَّذِينَ مِن قَبْلِهِمْ وَلَيُمَكِّنَنَّ لَهُمْ دِينَهُمُ الَّذِي ارْتَضَى لَهُمْ وَلَيُبَدِّلَنَّهُم مِّن بَعْدِ خَوْفِهِمْ أَمْنًا يَعْبُدُونَنِي لَا يُشْرِكُونَ بِي شَيْئًا وَمَن كَفَرَ بَعْدَ ذَلِكَ فَأُوْلَئِكَ هُمُ الْفَاسِقُونَ

“Allah has promised, to those among you who believe and work righteous deeds, that He will, of a surety, grant them in the land, inheritance (of power), as He granted it to those before them; that He will establish in authority their religion – the one which He has chosen for them; and that He will change (their state), after the fear in which they (lived), to one of security and peace: ‘They will worship Me (alone) and not associate aught with Me. ‘If any do reject Faith after this, they are rebellious and wicked.” [Surah Nur 24:55]


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Sikap Hizbut Tahrir sendiri terhadap gerakan-gerakan Islam lainnya setidaknya tercermin dari pernyataan Amin Nayaf , salah seorang tokoh Hizbut Tahrir –ketika beliau memberikan jawaban atas tuduhan terhadap beliau yang telah menyebarkan pemikiran Mu’tazilah: “Janganlah kalian mencoba untuk mencari permusuhan atau mengarah pada permusuhan terhadap gerakan-gerakan Islam lainnya. Kita harus waspada terhadap pihak-pihak yang mencoba untuk memecah-belah gerakan-gerakan Islam. Kepada merekalah seharusnya serangan itu dilancarkan.

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“Say: If it be that your fathers, your sons, your brothers, your mates, or your kindred; the wealth that ye have gained; the commerce in which ye fear a decline: or the dwellings in which ye delight – are dearer to you than Allah, or His Messenger, or the striving in His cause;- then wait until Allah brings about His decision (ie. Torment): and Allah guides not the rebellious.” [TMQ Surah At-Tawbah: 24]
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