Sunday, October 01, 2006

Politics: Pak ISI Mumbai Bombing - I was in India on their 7/11

The recent news story on how the July 2006 Mumbai bombings were planned by Pakistan's intelligence service, ISI, is worrisome. See the below quote:

“We have solved the July 11 bombings case,” Anami Narayan Roy, the police chief of Mumbai, said during a televised news conference. “The whole attack was planned by Pakistan’s I.S.I. and carried out by Lashkar-e-Taiba and their operatives in India.”

I would be amazed away if this were actually true. Why would Pakistan do such a thing? What do they have to gain? Does this allow them to have internal peace? Does it allow the military to keep control of the country. The whole thing does not make any sense as peace between the 2 countries furthers their economic development. Businesses require security and stability when they make investments. Most make a high level call based on gut feel. While those who are already invested will dig deeper to understand the impact, many just read the headlines. There are 180 countries, just go elsewhere.

I was in India during that week. On Tuesday I was in Bangalore having dinner with my team and investors. We heard about the bombing. I was advised that this would trigger riots and reprisals. It was a good idea to go home. I was scheduled to go to Mumbai on Friday. I called Manju to check into getting me home quickly.

Then the next day, the whole environment changed. There were no riots, Mumbai was functioning. Even the trains were running. There was a state of calm in Bangalore. The streets were full of traffic. We decided to continue with the trip to Mumbai as the airports were running.

After flying over on a full Jet Airways plane, I went to our new offices across the street from Shivaji park. This was in the same area in which there were riots a week earlier over the smearing of mud on a statue (apparently everyone has an ax to grind). Everything was calm. That Friday, plenty of people were walking the streets - same with Satuday and Sunday. People were not even talking about it on the streets - this is, except for on the news channels.

I found Indians to be a resilient people. It was a bit eerie to see restaurants and streets completely full a few days after the bombing. There were no extra checks at the airport. Nothing. It was as if life just went on to the continuous whirling beat. In a city of 18 million where homes and apartments are relatively small, there is really no place to go but to the street. It's too hot and there's too much going on. People have their work, kids have to go to school...people need to live life. A train bombing was not going to stop things. Heck, the trains were running literally hours after the explosion.

In the US, we are not used to life like this. We have had 9/11, the first foreign attack on US soil in 50+ years (no one died in the first one). We are used to relatively calm and safety. Our homes are big enough to stay in for quite a while. In India there has been 3 wars in 60 years. There have been bombings in Kashmir, Delhi and Mumbai. There has been communal violence as well. However, nothing seems to slow down there.

Now that there is this allegation. I hope they have their facts straight. The last thing we need is another threat of war between the 2 countries. It would chill the air and hurt progress in both nations. If it is true, I hope Musharraf takes action. I hope they can move forward towards peace. Let the continuous march of progress move on...

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