A Year ago ten men carried out the one of the most deadliest terrorist attacks and took a city to hostage for nearly 3 days and pushed a country to a chaotic and deadly void. The City is Mumbai and the country, Pakistan. We have often repeated a particular question, what effect has 26/11 have on India? The answer, after a long year of political Tamasha : Not much.
Mumbaikars were expected to vote in large numbers and give a verdict to the State and Central Goverment’s mixed response to the tragedy(Although the security forces did a fantastic job of handling the chaotic situation but they were badly let-down by a goverment that was shockingly ill-prepared for an attack of such magnitude). Sadly the story turned out to be different. Mumbai’s voting percentage was 42% and south Mumbai, where all the action happened, fared a touch better at 47%. Not only the UPA goverment was voted back to power but also the Congress-NCP combine again formed the State goverment. By the way the then Home Minister of Maharashtra, Mr.R.R.Patil, who was forced to resign, has again come back as Home Minister. Mr.R.R.Patil had memorably said,”Big cities face [such]small problems.” There is a saying in Hindi, Yeh public hai, yeh sab janti hai. I wonder………………..
However, it is the glorious comeback of the great defender of the Marathi Manoos that takes the cake. A year ago, urban India’s enraged voice was heard not only against the armed men who attacked Mumbai but the also against the notorious Raj Thackeray, who advocated a virtual sealing of non-Maharashtrians from seeking of employment in in his home state. Emails, Text Messages flowed from Computers and Mobiles mocking Raj Thackeray’s chauvinism and lauding the armed forces that battled in that chaos and how the men battling in Mumbai were mostly North Indians. Raj Thackeray and his band of hooligans were no where to be seen.
Ironically, Thackeray, has’nt stopped his Marathi Manoos tirade and his demand of his home state being keep free from non-Maharashtrian settlers. Thackeray’s brand of Chauvinsim had at best a tenuous connection with National Security. So it is perhaps not surprising that the large section of the electorate welcomed backed this native’s darling with open arms. The Indian Electorate’s canniness sometimes baffles me.
If we recall the various catastrophes that have befallen Mumbai-serial blasts, explosions in crowded stations, communal riots- 26/11 do not appear unique. The scale of devastation was similar but careful planning and perfect execution that went into it baffled and startled everyone. We always come to know about terrorist attacks after it has happened. Terrorism became a game of numbers for us. 50 injured, 30 died. This was terrorism for us. But 26/11 was terrorism live on T.V, at primetime slots. For 62 hours we saw fanatical men carrying terrorism on live T.V. It was also a unique leveller. The Rich and the famous were taken out of there comfort zone in Taj and Trident and also the common man being attacked at CST. 26/11 became a leveller of sorts.
Mumbai’s capacity to spring back to normal life is a stuff of legends; so is the dilly-dallying of its political class. This chalta hai has also been evident in Indo-Pak diplomacy. Faced with the testimony of Mohammed Ajmal Kasab, the gunman from Faridkot who was caught alive, Pakistan’s initial response was to deny all evidence and allegations. The denial went on for weeks even as the foreign media traced the roots of Kasab and interviewed his parents. Finally under the pressure of UNSC and USA, Asif Ali Zardari took matters to his ‘able’ hands. He legalized sharia in the Tribal area but put conditions on the bill that he knew that the Taliban will refuse. This provided Zardari the opportunity to send his troops in the mad-mullah country resulting a Civil war and terror attacks all over Pakistan.
There is so much Zardari can do as a head of a state that is governed by forces beyond his controls. Even foreign aid fails to entice Pakistan to behave well. When US dangled a golden carrot of $7.5 billion, Pakistan, despite its imminent bankruptcy, refused to compromise on its ‘sovereignty'(read, its license to make mischief). No doubt India has a great deal to reckon with one year on from 26/11. Yet it is Pakistan that has still too may ghosts to exorcise-and its increasingly mixing up its friends with foes.