It took 195 lives (but with the number still rising), according to the Associated Press, with roughly 300 wounded and maimed, besieged ten sites and lasted more than 60 hours. Barack Obama put it as clearly as he could: "These terrorists who targeted innocent civilians will not defeat India's great democracy nor shake the will of a global coalition to defeat them. The United States must stand with India and all nations and people who are committed to destroying terrorist networks and defeating their hate-filled ideology." The fact is that India is our partner, a plural social democracy rooted in British law and a burgeoning free enterprise economy steeped in the diligent initiative of its population. If we are not to stand with
India and its besieged people with whom else, for God's sake, will we stand?
It was clear from the beginning that this was a Muslim atrocity. Islamic extremism has put its patent on the great enormities of the age. But it will still be interesting to see what kind of apologetics are mustered for the villains by the likes of Juan Cole, John Esposito and CAIR. In this regard, amidst all the early evidence that this was a holy act in the name of Allah, the Financial Times had its own doubts: "One of the Mumbai attackers, presumed to be Islamists, was photographed wearing a sacred Hindu thread around his wrist." Are the editorialists at the FT sure that the thread wasn't one of those red strings that Madonna and Jewish Kabbalists wear as a sign of faith and to ward off evil spirits? Maybe the terrorists were actually Jews and, if so, surely Zionists.
Let's face it: the world is divided. This is a fact and no engagement with the Taliban or Al Qaeda or the myriad of Muslim terror groups in Kashmir, elsewhere in India and in Pakistan will bring either solace or peace to the region. But Pakistan should not be burdened with blame for this atrocity. It is true that, as governments go, Pakistan can least be thought of as one rational actor. Or, as the case may be, one irrational actor. The government is not unified and the authority of the state is everywhere challenged, not least by official actors of almost every sort.
Jane Perlez is correct in her Friday Times analysis, "New Risk in Danger Zone," that Pakistani president Asif Ali Zardari, husband of poor Benazir Bhutto, has been trying to ally against terrorists with India, at least at the top. He seems sincere. But Pakistan is rich in terrorist movements. And India is not at all bereft of them. If the Hindu opposition party, Bharatiya Janata, were to gain strength and win national and state elections Muslim madmen will be tremendously under stress. At the same time, Hindu madmen would be encouraged.
The Congress party, rather mild in its response to the Islamic murder gangs, is already under siege. Mumbai is likely only to exacerbate the siege.