As the tragedy unfolds in Mumbai, I find myself wondering why no one is bringing up this fact:
This is by all definitions a foreign attack on Indian soil. India is not a Muslim country, and its own Muslim minority, apart from Kashmiris, by and large does not have a beef with the central government. There is no indigenous jihadi movement (SIMI’s radicalisation is, of course, a point of contention); what there is, is mostly encouraged, if not overtly funded, by Pakistan. In fact, India is the only non-Muslim country in the world where foreign-supported Islamic terrorists have killed hundreds of people since 2001. (I’m discounting Israel, as I think its problems are largely home-grown.)
So here’s the thing: If the U.S. was almost unanimously considered as being within its legal rights to attack Afghanistan after 9/11, wouldn’t an Indian attack on Pakistan be equally justified? Doesn’t a country have the right to defend its citizens from outside aggression? What, if not an act of war, would you call 10 simultaneous terrorist strikes in a country’s financial capital? And, most importantly, does the fact that both you and your opponent possess nuclear weapons mean you cannot retaliate at all?
Then again, I might be totally wrong. Here’s RAND’s Christine Fair in today’s NYT:
“There are a lot of very, very angry Muslims in India. [...] The economic disparities are startling and India has been very slow to publicly embrace its rising Muslim problem. You cannot put lipstick on this pig. This is a major domestic political challenge for India.”
“The public political face of India says, ‘Our Muslims have not been radicalized.’ But the Indian intelligence apparatus knows that’s not true. India’s Muslim communities are being sucked into the global landscape of Islamist jihad. [...] Indians will have a strong incentive to link this to Al Qaeda. ‘Al Qaeda’s in your toilet!’ But this is a domestic issue. This is not India’s 9/11.”