Terrorism with an ISI mark
September 19, 2006
The conviction of two men who had planted bombs outside Mumbai’s Plaza cinema in 1993, has confirmed a suspicion long held by many that Pakistan has been involved in terrorist attacks on India for a long time.
Though it was generally believed that Pakistan’s Inter Services Intelligence (ISI) had started fomenting trouble in Kashmir in 1989, soon after the Russians left Afghanistan and the freelance mujahedeen had little else to do, the rest of India was not targeted. When Mumbai got hit with serial blasts in 1993, some experts did suspect an ISI hand, but there was no hard evidence.
Now, it appears, the operation had a strong Pakistani connection. Shahnawaz Qureishi, the man who left behind an RDX-loaded van outside the cinema, has confessed that he was taken to Dubai and Pakistan for training in arms and explosives.
The entry and exit of Qureishi and 18 others, was not recorded in their passports, a time-honoured tactic of intelligence agencies which allows them to plausibly deny that a person had ever been inside a country.
Clearly, the Pakistani intelligence establishment had spotted an opportunity to exploit the alienation some Muslims may have felt after the demolition of the Babri Masjid and its sordid aftermath in Mumbai and other places. Qureishi himself has claimed he did it “for his religion.”
Since then, as we know, terrorists and their backers in Pakistan have only escalated their operations in this country. The attacks on Akshardham, Parliament, Benares and once again in Mumbai, all seem to have the marks of a Pakistani-backed and supported operation, never mind the claims of General Musharraf that all the terrorists in his country are freelancers.
Now the world too is taking notice that the trails of several global terrorist acts lead up to Pakistan. Indeed, earlier this week a suspect in a terrorist case in Britain bluntly told the court he would not give evidence because he feared the ISI would gravely harm his family in Pakistan.
The time has come for the world to openly call Pakistan’s bluff. Agreeing to conduct joint investigations into terrorism-related cases, as India has just done with Pakistan, will amount to little. Pakistan is the cradle of terrorism. Unless the world recognises this and forces Islamabad to stop supporting and training terrorists on its soil, let’s face it, this menace cannot be checked.