If there is a Google to check the most asked question in Mumbai today it is this: what makes the latest terror attacks in Mumbai different from the earlier ones? There are several hypotheses and innuendoes to explain why the government has sat up to take notice and introduced a slew of measures to combat further attacks. The remarkable thing is the international reaction which is so unusually pro-India this time round. Earlier terror attacks in Mumbai have been more gruesome, taking a much wider toll in terms of the number of dead and the injured. But Pakistan made a huge mistake this time if they thought that the reaction in India and abroad would be tepid.
First and foremost, the 24×7 news coverage put paid to Pakistan'scomplicity in the attacks, so much so that even if the terrorists enjoyed full media exposure for days on the end, the outrage in the world community, especially in the West, made sure that action against Pakistan would be commensurate with the outrage. Second, if Pakistan had presumed that attacking Israelis in Mumbai would only attract the same kind of indignation as that of attacking Hindus, they were terribly mistaken. The cruel joke that has gained most currency in Mumbai local trains is that Ajmal Qasab could have joined Bollywood and become a national hero like Sanjay Dutt if it weren'tfor the attack on Jews. In all the former terrorist attacks in Mumbai the death toll always had been more than double of that seen in the latest attack.
The US did all this while had only paid lip service to India'spain in being at the receiving end of Islamic terrorism, but attack on Jews in Mumbai ensured that the US and western Europe demonstrably came on India'sside. The happy change in attitude towards Pakistan'scomplicity in breeding terrorism has resulted in the United Nations banning Jamaat-ul-Daawa which is a front for Lashkar-e-Taiba. It should not be lost on anyone that banning a terrorist organisation in Pakistan does not mean anything, as the arrested people are free to move about to propagate and conspire further attacks on India. Pakistan should have learnt the lesson when a journalist of the Wall Street Journal Daniel Pearl was abducted and killed by what is now popularly known as non-state actors. The accused in that case was promptly booked and sentenced to imprisonment because Daniel Pearl was an American national.
Unlike in India where there is no value for its citizen'slives, most countries in the West don'ttake things lying down. It is always an eye for an eye. Pranab Mukherjee might fret and fume in the Parliament over Pakistan'scomplicity in repeated terrorist attacks but would not forget to add the rider at the end of his speech: ?war cannot solve problems?. The world is almost convinced that unlike Israel, India simply does not have the courage and the fortitude to take Pakistan to task.
On December 3, over one lakh Mumbaikars assembled at the Gateway of India in a congregation called by a local organisation to protest against Pakistan. The majority of the protesters that day, and that is over 70 per cent of the crowd, was made of college-going youngsters. The groundswell support that was evident that day on the streets of Mumbai had to be seen to be believed. Though most news media reported that people were angry against the politicians, the real anger was directed at our western neighbour. There were placards calling Dawood Ibrahim by four-letter words, even as slogans by student group were laced with the choicest abuses. Surely, that day offline editors in news channels had a hard time editing the footages.
All this only reflects on the growing impatience of people who want to see some substantial action. The growing feeling among the common people is that Pakistan has to be given a resounding slap on its face. The least that people had expected was an apology from our Prime Minister for mishandling the combat efforts. ?After every terror incident all that our politicians do is to call it an intelligence failure. One wonders if this country has any intelligence at all, and the pun is intended there?, Sourav Das (name changed), a student of KC College told this reporter at the Gateway of India protest rally. The whole emphasis of the Indian government has been to ask the US to take action against Pakistan. People in this country are perplexed over the sabre-rattling and threats, for which Pakistan only shows its unconcealed amusement. Why is the Indian government so petrified about taking direct action against Pakistan. ?There was not even a customary by-your-leave when the US attacked Afghanistan or Iraq to retaliate the terror attack on the twin towers in New York. The world community was a mute bystander?, said another student.
The reaction of the Indian government to terrorist attacks planned and executed by Pakistan has become quite predictable. It goes without saying that the death toll this time which included the CEO-types residing at the Taj Hotel has ensured that the government does not just give a fleeting look, make all the right noises of fighting terrorism and finally start counting Muslim votes when it comes to bringing tough laws to combat terrorism. The pressure being put by corporate India on the government to prevent any such future attacks by making all the amends in policy as well as execution may be subtle and under-cover, but it will certainly teach Pakistan that this time the worm has turned.