[See our earlier post, from a few days ago, when Sree compiled a number of essays written during the attacks. Also note the many comments.]
So, was this or was this not India's 9/11? For a country that has many years of first-hand experience with terrorism, it's funny that India is now playing nomenclatural catchup with the West. But even the Indian media, amazingly enough, has latched on to the phrase. In The Guardian, Priyamvada Gopal writes "Comparing Mumbai to 9/11 diminishes both tragedies":
To characterise last week's tragedy as India's 9/11 is to privilege the experience of the United States as the iconic form of national suffering. The attacks on the twin towers were appalling but the fetishisation of September 11 disregards the experiences of the millions who have suffered as much elsewhere, sometimes at the hands of the US. In an India where globalisation has, on some fronts, spelled a relentless Americanisation, a question must be asked. The gated communities, the lifestyles of the rich and the rampant consumerism carry American labels. Should a calamity as well?
And Amitav Ghosh chimes in, in The New York Times - "India's 9/11? Not Exactly":
The question now is this: Will the November invasion of Mumbai change this? Although there is no way of knowing the answer, it is certain that if the precedent of 9/11 is taken seriously the outcome will be profoundly counterproductive. As a metaphor “9/11” is invested not just with the memory of what happened in Manhattan and at the Pentagon in 2001, but also with the penumbra of emotions that surround the events: the feeling that “the world will never be the same,” the notion that this was “the day the world woke up” and so on. In this sense 9/11 refers not just to the attacks but also to its aftermath, in particular to an utterly misconceived military and judicial response, one that has had disastrous consequences around the world.
But in The New Yorker, Ligaya Mishan titles his blog post "India's 9/11," in which he turns to Pankaj Mishra, who says:
Writing solidly from the left are those who find the Indian government complicit in the attacks, by having failed to provide the necessary social mobility to Indian Muslims (and others) or allowing Kashmir to go unresolved.
Asra Nomani's op-ed in the LA Times is called "Muslims--India's new untouchables":
Pankaj Mishra's piece in the NYT, "Fresh Blood from an Old Wound":
The sense of humiliation and impotence that this loss of sovereignty creates in Pakistan, a country with a strong tradition of populist nationalism, cannot be underestimated.
Writing in Counterpunch, Vijay Prashad equates the Hindu extremist group Abhinav Bharat with Lashkar:
The NYT's Thomas Friedman hints at the kind of comparison Prashad makes - but to a far different end. He says it's time for Muslims to be more vocal in their condemnation. From "Calling all Pakistanis":
Who in the Muslim world, who in Pakistan, is ready to take to the streets to protest the mass murders of real people, not cartoon characters, right next door in Mumbai?
After all, if 10 young Indians from a splinter wing of the Hindu nationalist Bharatiya Janata Party traveled by boat to Pakistan, shot up two hotels in Karachi and the central train station, killed at least 173 people, and then, for good measure, murdered the imam and his wife at a Saudi-financed mosque while they were cradling their 2-year-old son — purely because they were Sunni Muslims — where would we be today? The entire Muslim world would be aflame and in the streets.
In the Washington Post, Robert Kagan has a proposal:
Rather than simply begging the Indians to show restraint, a better option could be to internationalize the response. Have the international community declare that parts of Pakistan have become ungovernable and a menace to international security. Establish an international force to work with the Pakistanis to root out terrorist camps in Kashmir as well as in the tribal areas. This would have the advantage of preventing a direct military confrontation between India and Pakistan. It might also save face for the Pakistani government, since the international community would be helping the central government reestablish its authority in areas where it has lost it. But whether or not Islamabad is happy, don't the international community and the United States, at the end of the day, have some obligation to demonstrate to the Indian people that we take attacks on them as seriously as we take attacks on ourselves?
Would such an action violate Pakistan's sovereignty? Yes, but nations should not be able to claim sovereign rights when they cannot control territory from which terrorist attacks are launched. If there is such a thing as a "responsibility to protect," which justifies international intervention to prevent humanitarian catastrophe either caused or allowed by a nation's government, there must also be a responsibility to protect one's neighbors from attacks from one's own territory, even when the attacks are carried out by "non-state actors."
More to come. But please post your own in the comments section.