More trouble in Pakistan

March 30, 2009

Further evidence of the sorry state of affairs in Pakistan as gunmen have seized a police academy in Lahore.

These attacks are becoming increasingly frequent and the Government of Pakistan must step up its security to an extremely high level to avoid giving the impression that it simply has no strategy to deal with the militants. This attack has similarities to the attacks in Mumbai and on the Sri Lankan cricket team and should be a concern for other countries such as the UK where terrorist could try and replicate the methods used by the terrorists in Pakistan.


Sri Lankan Team Attacked in Pakistan

March 3, 2009

The almost unbelievable attack on the bus carrying the Sri Lankan cricket team in Lahore is further evidence of the perilous security situation in Pakistan. While it is too early to lay blame on a particular group, it seems that once again extremists determined to ensure that Pakistan descends into lawlessness giving them the opportunity to take control are to blame.


Daft on Terror

February 11, 2009

The UK Government has decided that it will respond to potential terrorists with an ad on Pakistan TV with the following key aims:

‘to ensure Pakistanis realise the west is not “anti-Islamic”, that British society is not “anti-Islam”, to demonstrate the extent to which Muslims are integrated into British society and to stimulate and facilitate “constructive debate” on the compatibility of liberal and Muslim values.

It is recruiting prominent British Muslims to say that there is no contradiction in being a Muslim and British. Al Qaeda and his allies will be quaking in their boots as the Government spends £400,000 broadcasting these adverts.

These daft schemes come about when the Government listens to people with self interest in becoming ‘leaders’ in the Muslim communities in the UK. Do Pakistanis not know that there are millions of Muslims living in the UK and in the West who have all rights to practice their religion and that British society is not anti-Islam – do we need to spend £400,000 for that message?

A would be terrorist is not going to do a u-turn after he has watched these adverts. It is an ideology that terrorists follow which allows the killing of citizens of any country they believe is not governed by Islamic Law according to them regardless of how many Muslims reside there. They are not concerned with a country being anti-Islam – their goal is to govern every country based on their interpretation of Islam.

All the Government needs to do is look at why the terrorists have carried out bombings in Pakistan to realise this instead of playing silly beggars with gimmicks on issues such as terrorism. Why are Pakistani nationals carrying out bombings in Pakistan, a country founded on Islam and killing innocent Muslims? If the Government works this out, it won’t end up wasting resources on daft schemes designed to massage egos instead of dealing with terrorists.


Obama’s Historic Moment

January 20, 2009

Barack Obama will be sworn in as America’s 44th president later today. He is the first African-American to become President and expectations of him are monstrously high not just in America but around the world which is reflected in the astonishing fact that 2 million people are expected in Washington and millions more will watch the inauguration ceremony around the world. Not since the release of Nelson Mandela has there been such expectations placed on a politician and managing these will be Obama’s first challenge.  And after today’s pomp and pageantry, Obama will have to deal with a bulging domestic and international in tray with the US economy, Afghanistan, Iraq, the Middle East and Iran needing urgent attention.

Today also marks the end of the Bush Presidency which to say the least has been tumultuous. He leaves the US economy in a mess and also leaves several outstanding foreign policy issues that have defined his presidency including his ‘war on terror.’ Leaving the merits or otherwise of Bush’s foreign policy to one side, Obama has a great deal of work to do to ensure the US is viewed in a positive light around the world after Bush’s unmitigated PR disaster during his eight years in charge. If Obama succeeds in dealing with this one goal, he’ll have done remarkable well.


First Raid by Pakistan Government

December 8, 2008

The international pressure on the Pakistani Government to take action following the Mumbai attacks has led to the first raid on a camp run by Lashkar-e-Taiba. Whether this action is the start of a concerted effort against militant groups in Pakistan or whether this has been done to temporarily placate India and the US remains to be seen. What is obvious is that the Pakistani Government is coming under intense pressure to take tough and decisive action and with the precarious state of Pakistan’s economy and the need for foreign assistance, any future international help may become conditional on its activities against militant groups. 


Will The Terrorists Get What They Want?

December 2, 2008

The increased tensions between India and Pakistan following the Mumbai attacks is precisely what the terrorists set out to achieve. 

India is under huge domestic pressure to provide a swift and proper response to Pakistan not least to jolt Zardari’s Government into taking action against cross border terror raids and to rein in the ISI who India accuses of supporting Lashkar-e-Taiba, the militant group being blamed for the attacks.

Doing nothing would make India look weak, leave the ruling Congress Party open to the charge of being soft on terrorists denting its electoral chances next year and worse, invite further attacks.

But would any military action against Pakistan prove counter productive and actually increase militancy? Look at this potential scenario and the risks associated with an attack on Pakistan: 

  1. India increases the number of its troops on the border with Pakistan or launches a pre-emptive strike against specified targets in Pakistan.  
  2. Pakistan retaliates and moves its troops to the border with India and there is a tense stand off at best, or worse, a full scale battle.
  3. As a result Pakistan reduces troops from its border with Afghanistan giving greater freedom of movement to various militant groups to launch attacks against NATO troops in Afghanistan.
  4. Militant groups increase their activities and are able to recruit more people to their cause especially against the ‘Hindu enemy.’
  5. Even a minor skirmish gives oxygen to militants everywhere and increases the risks of further terror attacks in India not least from home grown terrorists. The Kashmir situation is exacerbated by militant activity.
  6. The freedom of movement between Pakistan and Afghanistan gives groups such as the Taliban and Al Qaeda a chance to re-group and launch more audacious attacks in Afghanistan destabilising the country further.
  7. The US responds to the increased attacks with raids into Pakistan with fighting on two fronts of Pakistan which leads to the fall of the civilian Government with either the military or Islamist backed rulers coming to power. 
  8. The confrontation between India and Pakistan ends with no discernible outcome except the strengthening of militant groups in Pakistan, India and Afghanistan and further destabilising of Pakistan and Afghanistan.
  9. Militant groups are strengthened and are in a stronger position to launch attacks not only in Asia but the Middle East and the West.

India will take action, its people will demand it but will it show restraint and avoid steps leading to the above scenario or punish Pakistan and take a risk? India is standing between a very hard rock and a rock hard place.


Mumbai Attack Updates

November 27, 2008

The siege ended on Saturday 29/11/2008 after the remaining terrorists were killed. The death toll stands at 195.

Update at 19.45pm 28/11/2008: The Taj Palace Hotel still remains unsecured with a few terrorists continuing to battle against Indian Forces. It appears that the terrorists are very well trained and equally well armed and able to take the siege into a third night.

Update at 15.10pm 28/11/2008: 155 people now being reported as killed with 327 wounded. The seige at the Jewish Centre has ended with 5 hostages and 2 terrorists reported as killed. Fighting is still ongoing at the Taj Palace Hotel. 

Update at 12.50pm 28/11/2008: UK Home Secretary Jacqui Smith says the government has no information regarding reports that some of the gunmen may have been British citizens. ‘It’s important that we make judgements on this on the basis of the fullest possible knowledge and intelligence – and that’s obviously what we are working on at the moment.’

Rumours persist of someone from the UK being involved. I suspect there is more to this story than what the official Government line is.  

Update at 10.00 am 28/11/2008: All hostages have been released at the Oberoi Hotel according to CNN. Commandos have abseiled onto the roof of the Mumbai Jewish Centre and the operation is ongoing. Another huge explosion heard at the Taj Palace Hotel.

There are rumours that one of the gunmen may have been British and a lot of finger pointing is going on at Pakistan with the Indian foreign minister saying that ‘elements with links to Pakistan’ were involved. 

Update at 16.15pm: 24 hours after the siege started and gunfire is still being heard from the three sites in Mumbai where the hostages are holed up. Not very clear what is happening due to conflicting reports and differing versions of events.

Update at 15.00pm: CNN is reporting that the death toll from the Mumbai attacks stands at 125 with 327 injured.

Update at 14.00pm: One British national among the dead in Mumbai attack according to Foreign Office. A fire has broken out at the Oberoi Hotel and there are conflicting reports on the hostage situation and whether any have been released.

It remains unclear who the Deccan Mujahideen are and whether this name is being used by an existing terror group seeking to hide its identity.

Update at 12.20pm: India’s PM Manmohan Singh has said that he will take whatever measures are necessary to track down those responsible for the Mumbai attacks. He added that the perpetrators were based outside the country and that India would not tolerate neighbours who provide a haven to militants targeting it. A bit reckless and premature to be pointing the finger at Pakistan when the siege hasn’t even ended?

Update @ 10.40am 27/11/2008 : The hostage situation is still ongoing with explosions heard at the Oberoi Hotel. The Times is reporting that the terrorists are demanding that all ‘mujahideen’ held in Indian jails are freed before they release the hostages.

All financial markets in India have been closed as well as all public places in Mumbai. My relatives have managed to get to Mumbai Central Railway station and are on their way home after a delay of 90 minutes.

Update @ 22.30pm 26/11/2008: It is being reported that there are three separate hostage situations the authorities are dealing with.

Update @ 22.50pm 26/11/2008: Up to 50 people have been rescued from the fire at the Taj Palace Hotel. Gunfire continuing to be heard at the Oberoi Hotel.

Update @ 22.25pm 26/11/2008: The Taj Palace Hotel is on fire and a group calling itself the ‘Deccan Mujahideen’ has claimed responsibility for the attacks. (A group calling itself ‘Indian Mujahideen’ claimed responsibility for the attacks in Ahmedabad in July 2008)

My relatives in Mumbai have twice had the vehicle they were travelling in stopped and searched by Police before being allowed to move on.