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Friday, 5 December 2008

Bombay Burns and We Are All Indians Now

A few days ago an unspeakable attack was carried out on one of the world's most heavily populated, culturally and racially diverse, and cosmopolitan cites -- a city that I shall call Bombay rather than "Mumbai", the name it was given in 1996, for aesthetic reasons, though according to Christopher Hitchens, there are excellent political and anti-theist reasons for continuing to call it by its former name as well (I'm not entirely convinced he's right on this subject, but anyway).

The target was the city's most famous cultural landmarks in the first place, and anyone of American, British, or Jewish nationality in the second.

No group has yet claimed responsibility for the attack, but it bears all the hallmarks of Al Qaida's filthy handiwork, and, according to the Indian authorities, there are unmistakable links too to Pakistan's ISI (Inter-Services Intelligence).

Those who doubt that Al Qaida are waging a nihilistic, cultural, religiously-motivated war against the whole world have to answer why their targets are always symbolic buildings, multi-cultural communities, and cosmopolitan cities. These Islamic nihilists loathe such culturally diverse centres with every evil fibre of their rotten beings. They advocate not only religious exclusivity, but racial and cultural exclusivity also. As Hitchens wrote in Slate magazine:

...what's at stake is the whole concept of a cosmopolitan city open to its own citizens and to the world—a city on the model of Sarajevo or London or Beirut or Manhattan. There is, of course, a reason they attract the ire and loathing of the religious fanatics. To the pure and godly, the very existence of such places is a profanity. In a smaller way, the same is true of the Islamabad Marriott hotel, where I also used to stay. It was a meeting point and crossroads for foreigners. It had a bar where the Pakistani prohibition rules did not apply. Its dining rooms and public spaces featured stylish Asian women who showed their faces. And so it had to be immolated, like any other Sodom or Gomorrah [the Marriott Hotel was bombed in September this year].

That of course was also why the World Trade Center had to be destroyed -- those who point out, correctly, that many of those killed in the WTC on 9/11 were Muslims, as well as Christian and people of other religions and none at all don't always make the connection that this is the very reason why the WTC was so offensive to the Islamic nihilists: it's not that they didn't realize that Muslims were also present in the building: they did not class those persons as true Muslims because they were working alongside the Infidel.

And that's why one of the world's most admired buildings, the Taj Mahal also had to burn:

Just because America has elected a liberal president, and mirabile dictu, one with a brain to boot, does not mean that he won't have to deal with the same problems as Bush contended with so ineptly. Moreover, in the light of some of Obama's campaign trail comments about Pakistan, the involvement of the ISI, if proven, could have serious implications for future U.S. foreign and military policy. In what many portrayed as a major blunder and sign of his lack of experience in foreign affairs, Obama implied that he would be willing to extend the hunt for Al Qaida within Pakistan's borders if that country did not fully cooperate with the war on terror.

He also indicated a willingness to contemplate a surge inside Afghanistan -- quite a volte face for someone who staked so much political capital on his ab initio opposition to the Iraq war. And yet, if his strategy is to withdraw from Iraq while shoring up the allied effort in Afghanistan, he cannot ignore Pakistan, which is effectively the Taleban's hinterland. But such a policy is fraught with danger, in that Pakistan is already notoriously volatile and possesses (like India) nuclear weapons.

One of the earliest indications of Obama's politicals skills will be his handling of the Pakistani issue. Can he bring the Indian and Pakistani presidents together? Can he organize a collective miltiary responce with broad international backing if necessary? It's a real tester for the new President's early days.

In the meantime, all the rest of us can do is offer India our solidarity. In this respect, I am delighted by the news that England are to return to India to play their rescheduled test matches against India, though I won't say too much at this point in case they back down. If it goes ahead, as it should, it would be a clear sign that we stand shoulder to shoulder with the Indian people in their hour of need.

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