Tuesday, 30 December 2008

Skeletons in the Closet

This thought has been lingering in the back on my mind for a long time. The people who planned the Mumbai attacks must have had help from the local underworld, maybe the local representatives of Dawood Ibrahim’s gang. It is well known that services offered by the underworld, especially money laundering services, are used by the rich and well-connected in India. If investigators are on the trail of Mr. X who provided credit cards or cash to the attackers, Mr. X might be able to call on someone high and mighty, say Mr. Y, to protect him. Mr. Y might be just a businessman with good connections who has nothing to do with terrorism. Mr. Y might or might not suspect what Mr. X is up to, but would protect him nevertheless, since Mr. X might otherwise spill the beans on him. In short, as long as India has such a vibrant parallel economy that puts the legit one in the shade, India will be vulnerable to terrorist attacks.

Jawed Naqvi, the Dawn’s correspondent in Delhi, one of the smartest Indian journalists today, has written a brilliant piece on this issue.

There’s an interesting piece in the Independent which says India has not been passing on information to Interpol about the Mumbai attacks or the results of its investigation.

It makes sense for Indian investigators to want to keep their findings to themselves if sharing facts with Interpol or other foreign investigators will raise too many uncomfortable questions for India’s high and mighty, who might have had dealings with criminals and terrorists. Funnily, the Independent news report above does not say that India has been hiding its findings. Instead, it says Indian investigators have been regularly feeding the media, though not briefing Interpol.

The Indian investigation into the Mumbai attacks now seems to bear a startling similarity with the way Pakistan has been investigating the Bhutto assassination. Even though Bhutto’s own party, the PPP, is in power, the investigation into the murder has made little headway. It’s been over a year since Bhutto was assassinated, but the truth behind who was responsible, is yet to emerge. Is this because if the truth were to be found, many respectable players will have to run for cover? Is this because the guilty are being shielded by those in power who have been hand-in-glove with them in various other nefarious activities?

Corruption, black money and a parallel economy are some of the things India and Pakistan have in common. Now it seems that both countries have too many similar skeletons in their closets.

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