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My Warning: Before you start reading this, be warned – this article has all the potential to be a piece based on conspiracy theories.

On 26th November 2008, Mumbai came under a well coordinated attack. Started by indiscriminate firing at Chhatrapati Shivaji rail station (CST) to assassination of top Anti-terrorist force members (including ATS Chief Hemant Karkare) to holing up in a Jewish center which ended in brutal killing of a young husband and wife administrators there to the final showdown in the different top hotels of the city.

What followed next was a within 15 minute finger pointing at Pakistan, a parallel near-war like hysteria fueled by the Indian media who for a minute looked more eager for a war than the Indian Government even. No stone  was left unturned to not let even the slightest possibility of an inside link remain in public view for even a minute, which was obviously in a national interest as this would have otherwise resulted in a backlash on local Muslim community (Gujrat incident proves my suspicion). Therefore, the whole nation was rallied under a slogan of threat from Pakistan – hence resulting in a united Indian nation against a foreign element. A nation ready to make great sacrifices to ward off an old adversary.

Days passed, immature Pakistani democratic government officials made one mistake after other. In a country where President, Prime Minister, Information Minister, Advisor for Interior Affairs, Minister for Shipping, and minister for just anything find it as important to give “near” official statements which might contradict not only each other but the official Government policy – where an immature President would forget what the internationally understood decorum of diplomatic engagements are, we in Pakistan gave ample oil to Indian media and worldwide war mongers to burn midnight long.

Pakistan had to detain the top Jamat-ud-Dawa people, Pakistani Air force had to intercept and warn Indian Air force violations, reject American request to allow India surgical strikes, and finally forcing World to make India tone down its war hysteria. This ended up on India finally admitting that it might be non-state actors. But then of course election time grew near in India (which is just around the corner now) and the accusations on Pakistani establishment surfaced yet again. But of course we cannot blame someone during election time for such tactics.

After this long introduction and recap of the events, questions should be how in Pakistan we succeeded with all the “November Operation” in Mumbai? What has our great “ISI” (as alleged) achieved? What did Lashkar-e-Taiba (LeT) achieve from this? Or perhaps, did we miss something?

Just for sake of argument, imagine you have not read whatever I have written above. And allow me some lines to explain a different story. There is a global recession and there are only two industries at the moment which got a continuous profitable business, first the oil & gas industry and second the defense related industry. During the peak oil prices, oil producing Arabian countries made record orders, but as the price came from 140 USD to 42 USD a barrel, the orders plummeted; leaving behind the only few markets which still had money.

It is no secret that years of hard work and right policies has made India and China very stable markets. In these troubled times they are only two countries which can still actually purchase things – untapped potential. China is still looked up with suspicion and many countries in West still have embargoes on sale of certain technology to China. India on other hand has no such issues.

So what happens after the Mumbai attack?

India orders one of the world’s biggest arms order for the year which helps Western companies to keep their operations up and running. To understand how much some of these companies are dependant on such orders, the 2005 F-16 order of Pakistan to Lockheed Martin should explain it clearly. In 2005 when American Government agreed to sell F-16s to Pakistan it proved as a life line to an over 4000 people strong production facility in Fort Worth, USA at edge of being laid-off. Similar sort of sale had already taken place in 1992, 150 F-16s were sold to Taiwan to save the ailing company from a closure. Meanwhile interestingly even back in 2005, the sale to Pakistan was seen as a way to motivate India into placing a similar order.

India has decided to spend at least directly 45 million USD over the next five years (with more in the pipeline) for modernization of the Indian Armed forces. All thanks to the trigger provided by the Mumbai attacks. This is apart from the proposed rise by a third to military in the budget for 2009, increasing to a significant 32.7 billion USD. This amounts to a rise of around 23.6% from the last years actual defense budget which also given the trend that it will actually get higher after debates in the Parliament.

There are five permanent members of United Nations Security Council, which also happen to the world’s biggest defense related systems exporters. All the orders placed by India to either buy a complete solution or build something locally is benefiting at least one or more of these five countries. And when the whole world is hard hit by economic turmoil, suddenly the closed honey pot of Indian market has fully opened itself and embraced the West. It has even marked in a change of relationship with Russia, where Russia has stopped treating India like a partner and more like a client. USA has been able to attract Indian attention by first the nuclear deal and now is winning the Indian heart by massive sales of ammunition to her.

If this trend is continued USA might over take Israel as the largest seller to India for arms. But Israel still remains the biggest trainer of Indian soldiers (over 3000 Indian soldiers are being trained by Israeli forces).  Israel’s RAFAEL made a good headline around the world with its “amazing” video advertisement explaining the special relationship between the two countries (related video: Israeli Rafael’s Indian promo). Which in a creepy manner makes one wonder once again why was this little known Jewish center in Mumbai attacked?

American understanding of how important India is to them can be perhaps easily summed up in words of Jerry Powlen, Vice President of Integrated Communication Systems for U.S. defense contractor Raytheon, talking about his disappointment at slower sales but still calling, “is one of the most important markets for us as a company going forward and the United States wants to foster good relations with India,” he says. “It gets better every day.”

But this is not all. America desires not only a base of operations in South Asia, which Afghanistan is offering but also needs a comprehensive and dependable footprint, for which India becomes handy.

India is fast on a course to be the next watchdog of USA. Just as Israel looks after US interests and provides a presence on ground for USA in Middle East, India is being evaluated at the time to be part of the same design but in South Asia. Such a design will counter China and in future rising bear of Russia. This of course will come at a price of friendship with Russia. But a close analysis will reveal that perhaps India is willing to make such sacrifices. India has already started to distance Iran from itself after it has nearly backed out of the proposed Iran-Pakistan-India gas pipeline under American pressure and gift of civilian nuclear technology without singing on non-profilation treaties.

So returning to our main argument, who benefited in Pakistan from all this?

If this was a LeT operation, then if they were not closed down after the Indian Parliament attack, they are tightly strangled now. Further the amount of disrepute they have brought to Pakistan and Pakistanis, majority of country hate them anyway. So what did they achieve?

If it was ISI trying to distance Pakistan and India from peace, then what they did achieve is totally opposite. Pakistani Government has become more vocal for peace (though they are over and over again being dished out by near-election Government in India).

If it was Pakistani Government itself, then Pakistan has just got a militarily stronger India on its one side with most advance weaponry with stable supplies to face.

I as a Pakistani admit that my country’s agencies have been involved in clandestine operations worldwide as any other country’s intelligence agencies are. But what I am not willing to understand is how they can go on to do everything which helped anyone but Pakistan in the end in anyway at all!

Only likely scenario can be if Pakistan is the new arms trade advertisement for West.

So did we miss something?

References:

  1. Washington Post – Pakistan’s Order Lifts Lockheed F-16 Plant
  2. Reuters – After Mumbai, India boosts arms modernisaton
  3. Janes – India commits to major defence budget increase
  4. Time – Arming India: Can the US Get a Piece?
  5. The Times of India – US okays record $2.1bn arms sales to India
  6. The Boston Globe – US is top purveyor on weapons sales list (Shipments grow to unstable areas)
  7. Asian Tribune – New Arms Sales to India Make Israel a Top Global Weapons Supplier
  8. Global Issues – The Arms Trade is Big Business (Developing Nations Are Top Recipients)
Author writes regularly at www.Paki.in/WTF.
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