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Monday, December 8, 2008

President of Pakistan on Mumbai

I am impressed with this op-ed!

Mr. Zardari needs to follow it up by action, catch them bad buys, each one of them, then the words and actions will match. - Mike Ghouse


December 9, 2008
Op-Ed Contributor
The Terrorists Want to Destroy Pakistan, Too

Islamabad, Pakistan

THE recent death and destruction in Mumbai, India, brought to my mind
the death and destruction in Karachi on Oct. 18, 2007, when terrorists
attacked a festive homecoming rally for my wife, Benazir Bhutto.
Nearly 150 Pakistanis were killed and more than 450 were injured. The
terrorist attacks in Mumbai may be a news story for most of the world.
For me it is a painful reality of shared experience. Having seen my
wife escape death by a hairbreadth on that day in Karachi, I lost her
in a second, unfortunately successful, attempt two months later.

The Mumbai attacks were directed not only at India but also at
Pakistan's new democratic government and the peace process with India
that we have initiated. Supporters of authoritarianism in Pakistan and
non-state actors with a vested interest in perpetuating conflict do
not want change in Pakistan to take root.

To foil the designs of the terrorists, the two great nations of
Pakistan and India, born together from the same revolution and mandate
in 1947, must continue to move forward with the peace process.
Pakistan is shocked at the terrorist attacks in Mumbai. We can
identify with India's pain. I am especially empathetic. I feel this
pain every time I look into the eyes of my children.

Pakistan is committed to the pursuit, arrest, trial and punishment of
anyone involved in these heinous attacks. But we caution against hasty
judgments and inflammatory statements. As was demonstrated in Sunday's
raids, which resulted in the arrest of militants, Pakistan will take
action against the non-state actors found within our territory,
treating them as criminals, terrorists and murderers. Not only are the
terrorists not linked to the government of Pakistan in any way, we are
their targets and we continue to be their victims.

India is a mature nation and a stable democracy. Pakistanis appreciate
India's democratic contributions. But as rage fueled by the Mumbai
attacks catches on, Indians must pause and take a breath. India and
Pakistan — and the rest of the world — must work together to track
down the terrorists who caused mayhem in Mumbai, attacked New York,
London and Madrid in the past, and destroyed the Marriott Hotel in
Islamabad in September. The terrorists who killed my wife are
connected by ideology to these enemies of civilization.

These militants did not arise from whole cloth. Pakistan was an ally
of the West throughout the cold war. The world worked to exploit
religion against the Soviet Union in Afghanistan by empowering the
most fanatic extremists as an instrument of destruction of a
superpower. The strategy worked, but its legacy was the creation of an
extremist militia with its own dynamic.

Pakistan continues to pay the price: the legacy of dictatorship, the
fatigue of fanaticism, the dismemberment of civil society and the
destruction of our democratic infrastructure. The resulting poverty
continues to fuel the extremists and has created a culture of
grievance and victimhood.

The challenge of confronting terrorists who have a vast support
network is huge; Pakistan's fledgling democracy needs help from the
rest of the world. We are on the frontlines of the war on terrorism.
We have 150,000 soldiers fighting Al Qaeda, the Taliban and their
extremist allies along the border with Afghanistan — far more troops
than NATO has in Afghanistan.

Nearly 2,000 Pakistanis have lost their lives to terrorism in this
year alone, including 1,400 civilians and 600 security personnel
ranging in rank from ordinary soldier to three-star general. There
have been more than 600 terrorism-related incidents in Pakistan this
year. The terrorists have been set back by our aggressive war against
them in the Federally Administered Tribal Areas and the
Pashtun-majority areas bordering Afghanistan. Six hundred militants
have been killed in recent attacks, hundreds by Pakistani F-16 jet
strikes in the last two months.

Terrorism is a regional as well as a global threat, and it needs to be
battled collectively. We understand the domestic political
considerations in India in the aftermath of Mumbai. Nevertheless,
accusations of complicity on Pakistan's part only complicate the
already complex situation.

For India, Pakistan and the United States, the best response to the
Mumbai carnage is to coordinate in counteracting the scourge of
terrorism. The world must act to strengthen Pakistan's economy and
democracy, help us build civil society and provide us with the law
enforcement and counterterrorism capacities that will enable us to
fight the terrorists effectively.

Benazir Bhutto once said that democracy is the best revenge against
the abuses of dictatorship. In the current environment, reconciliation
and rapprochement is the best revenge against the dark forces that are
trying to provoke a confrontation between Pakistan and India, and
ultimately a clash of civilizations.

Asif Ali Zardari is the president of Pakistan.
# # #


December 9, 2008
Pakistan Raids Group Tied to Attacks

ISLAMABAD, Pakistan — After mounting pressure from the United States
and India, Pakistani authorities raided a camp run by the militant
group suspected of carrying out the Mumbai attacks, Pakistani and
American officials said Monday.

The operation on Sunday appeared to be Pakistan's first concrete
response to the demands from India and the United States to take
action against the militants suspected in the attacks, which have
raised tensions between the nuclear-armed neighbors to their highest
point in years.

The Pakistani authorities said that among those arrested was Zaki
ur-Rehman Lakhvi, who Indian and American officials say masterminded
the attacks for the militant group, Lashkar-e-Taiba, according to a
State Department official in Washington.

American Embassy officials could not verify the claim independently,
he said. Neither would Pakistani officials in Islamabad.

A senior Pakistani security official, who spoke on the condition of
anonymity, said about a dozen people had been arrested in the raid,
which took place in Muzaffarabad, the capital of
Pakistani-administered Kashmir.

The official at first said that Mr. Lakhvi, an operational commander
for Lashkar, was among them, but later backed away from the assertion.

Lashkar-e-Taiba was founded 20 years ago with the help of Pakistan's
intelligence agencies as a proxy force to challenge Indian control of
part of Muslim-dominated Kashmir.

American intelligence and counterterrorism officials told The New York
Times that Pakistan's spy agency, Inter-Services Intelligence,
continued nurturing the group, even after 9/11, when the Pakistani
government pledged to sever its ties with militant groups.

While investigators and intelligence officials say there is no hard
evidence linking Pakistan's spy agency to the Mumbai attacks, they
have pointed to Lashkar as the likely culprit.

The Pakistani government has resisted the notion that Pakistani
citizens may have been involved in the Mumbai attacks, and it has so
far refused to hand over 20 criminal and terrorist suspects long
demanded by the Indians.

The raid on Sunday appeared to be the first step by the Pakistanis
that at least tacitly recognized the American and Indian claims.

Counterterrorism experts familiar with the behavior of the Pakistani
security services said there was a need by Pakistan to be seen to be
doing something to alleviate the American and Indian pressure, as well
as to avert the possibility of an Indian military strike.

Still, the effectiveness of that action might be less than India or
the United States would like, they said. In the past, Pakistan
detained militants under pressure from the United States and Britain,
and then quietly let them go, said Sajjan M. Gohel, a director of the
Asia-Pacific Foundation in London.

A senior Pakistani official said the operation was part of a gradual
effort to bring the militants under control. This accords with the
general view among civilian politicians that Pakistan cannot afford to
appear as if it is being coerced into shutting down militant groups
that have been created to fight India.

"Pakistan will do it at its own pace, not at gunpoint," said a senior
politician in the Pakistan Peoples Party, who declined to be named
because he was not authorized to speak.

Moreover, the politician said that the efforts by Pakistan's
president, Asif Ali Zardari, to deal with the Mumbai attack were
interpreted by the Pakistani public as an attempt to mollify the
Indians rather than stand up to them.

"The street is upset," the politician said. For that reason, the
government could not move too harshly against Lashkar-e-Taiba, he

The murky relationship between Pakistani military and intelligence
services and Lashkar seemed to contribute to the confusion over what
actually happened during the raid and who had been detained, as well
as to the official reluctance to discuss the matter.

Whether law enforcement officers or soldiers were on the scene in
Muzaffarabad was unclear on Monday. Most Pakistani news reports said a
helicopter hovered near the compound.

Some reports said the compound was run by Lashkar-e-Taiba, while
others said it belonged to Jamaat-ud-Dawa, the related charity

On Sunday night, the senior official in the Interior Ministry, Rehman
Malik, told the newspaper The Nation that he believed that the raid
was being conducted by the local police, but that he was not sure.

The information department of the Pakistani Army released a statement
on Monday evening saying an "intelligence-led operation against banned
militant outfits and organizations" was under way. There had been
arrests, it said, and the results of investigations would be available
"on completion of preliminary inquiries."

A resident near the compound told Dawn, an English-language newspaper,
that she had heard an army helicopter over the area and then two or
three loud explosions in the early evening.

All the national newspapers reported Monday morning that Mr. Lakhvi,
the Lashkar-e-Taiba leader, was among those who were arrested during
the raid. Later in the morning, a senior security official confirmed
that Mr. Lakhvi had been arrested, along with about a dozen others.

But by the afternoon, after a meeting of the Defense Council of the
Cabinet, a civilian body that includes the army chief of staff, Gen.
Ashfaq Parvez Kayani, the security official said he understood that
Mr. Lakhvi had not been arrested.

At one point during the day, word spread that Mr. Lakhvi had eluded
arrest. On Monday night, two members of the cabinet declined to
confirm whether Mr. Lakhvi was in custody.

If Mr. Lakhvi was indeed in custody, India and the United States would
regard his arrest as a good first step, diplomats said.

But his arrest along with the arrests of a handful of others would
fall well short of fulfilling the expectations of Washington or New
Delhi, they said.

Mr. Lakhvi, who is in his 50s, fought in Afghanistan as a mujahedeen
against the Soviet Union, said Arif Jamal, a visiting fellow at the
Center on International Cooperation at New York University and the
author of a coming book, "Shadow War: The Untold Story of Jihad in

Mr. Lakhvi had not actually fought since 1989, Mr. Jamal said. He said
Mr. Lakhvi possessed excellent organizational skills and a strong
ideological commitment to the jihadist cause. "If Lashkar-e-Taiba was
involved in the Mumbai attacks, Mr. Lakhvi would have an important
role because of his organizational abilities," Mr. Jamal said.

Lashkar-e-Taiba, which regards itself as a wing of the charity
Jamaat-ud-Dawa, dismantled most of his training camps after 9/11, Mr.
Jamal said. "They keep erecting mobile camps for training," he said.

Mr. Lakhvi was active in the relief effort organized by Jamaat-ud-Dawa
after the earthquake in Kashmir in 2005. That was the last time Mr.
Jamal said he had seen Mr. Lakhvi.

A spokesman for Lashkar-e-Taiba, Abdullah Gaznabi, confirmed Monday
that the Pakistani security forces had carried out a raid "under
pressure from India and the United States," but would say nothing
specific about who or how many people had been detained.

"We have already made it clear that the Lashkar has nothing to do with
the recent attacks in Mumbai," he said by phone from an undisclosed
location, "and by constantly trying to drag our organization's name
into these is nothing but to malign it."

He also warned the government against sacrificing the cause of
Kashmir, which has been disputed by India and Pakistan for more than
60 years. "Being Kashmiris, it is our right to use any part of the
territory of Jammu and Kashmir for our just freedom struggle," he

The Pakistani authorities offered on Monday to send a "high-level"
delegation to India for a joint investigation, the foreign secretary,
Salman Bashir, said.

Police officials in India, meanwhile, said they had identified the
hometowns of all 10 known gunmen — all of them from Punjab Province in
Pakistan — and said they had evidence further establishing the
Pakistani origins of the men. "There are mailboxes from Pakistan,
there are medical kits from Pakistan," said Rakesh Maria, the joint
police commissioner in Mumbai who is in charge of the case. "The
rations — the flour, the rice — that has markings from places in

Eric Schmitt contributed reporting from Washington; Yusuf Jameel from
Srinagar, Kashmir; and Robert F. Worth from Mumbai, India.

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