Mumbai: Hubertus Hoffmann's Lessons Learned
Just 14 days ago I was a resident of the Oberoi Hotel in Mumbai, sitting in the lobby to discuss a new comic book of the World Security Network Foundation as part of the Human Codes of Tolerance and Respect Project. The story: five young Indians, being Hindu, Muslim, Buddhist, Christian and Jewish travel the religious sites in India and search for the history of tolerance in their communities and religious traditions (see www.codesoftolerance.com).
Now, only several days later, terrorists have stormed this lobby, killed 172 innocent foreign hotel guests and ordinary Indian citizens like the charming receptionists at the concierge desk and the friendly staff members.
What are the lessons learned for India, Pakistan and the world now?
- India is badly prepared for homeland security. One expert I met in New Delhi complained that the Indian counter-terrorist units 'just torture and kill' but are unable to collect data and infiltrate the terrorist networks. This must be changed quickly with the advice of professionals from other countries. India's homeland security is outdated and absolutely not adequate to protect this large country.
- India must improve, not stop, the reconciliation process with Pakistan. The terrorists see this as their main threat and the Mumbai operation was targeted by the man-behind to jeopardize this approach.
- India still loves the 'blame game' of finger-pointing to the arch-enemy, Pakistan. This is outdated, as not only the new Pakistani government but also the military establishment of Pakistan have changed their attitude towards the extremists in Kashmir, Afghanistan and the tribal areas (FATA). Pakistan is the main victim of extremist forces, as they outnumber India and the West's casualties with 2,000 Pakistani soldiers killed in operations in the FATA alone, and have also seen the destruction of the Marriott landmark hotel in Islamabad - where I also used to stay - before the Taj and Oberoi actions took place. India must, in its own security interest, stop the easy blame game and seize the chance to contain terrorism with Pakistan. In the mutual interest of fighting extremism, India should work with and never against or without its Western neighbour.
- The regional anti-terrorism policy from Kabul to Mumbai must be focused where the nest of terrorism is, where training is conducted, in the tribal areas in Pakistan (FATA). To fight honey bees you must smoke out the hive, not kill single ones. The World Security Network Foundation has made this very clear in its international FATA workshop in Berlin in May 2008 (see Pakistan: A new GCC-EU FATA Friendship Fund and Double Strategy to Contain Terrorism and the Taliban). Until now neither Germany nor other European governments nor the US have formulated and implemented any effective FATA policy to dry out the swamp of terrorism there. The bureaucrats are prevailing and preventing any effective anti-terrorist policy by the West. What is needed is a massive action plan (SDP) with more than 2 billion USD to separate the vast majority peaceful people in FATA – more than 99 percent - from the few radicals with development support and then to get the Pakistani military involved against them. This is feasible but so far nobody has done it and only less than 100 million USD in foreign aid had been spend in FATA until now (see GCC EU FATA Friendship Plan here)
- India has no effective Kashmir policy yet. Only when India starts a fresh new reconciliation policy in Kashmir will the terrorist threat begin to disappear. There are too many influential Hindu nationalists who still think and act in the old mindset in Kashmir. New Delhi should copy the Northern Ireland peace process, better now (late) than never. India needs this to survive as one nation, as with more than 150 million Muslims it is the third largest Muslim country in the world after Indonesia and Pakistan.
- Stop talking about a 'war on terror' or even 'radical Islamist terrorists' - they are just criminals and when we use the wordings wrong we only honour them. They are no soldiers in a war nor true Muslims, but rather: just criminals.