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Like other noble Lords who have spoken, I want to address two questions: first, on the lessons we might learn from that heinous attack and, secondly, on the principal challenges that India faces. The ferocious assault on the Taj Mahal Palace Hotel and other targets in Mumbai was not an isolated incident; it was part of a concerted and systematic international campaign. According to the Wall Street Journal, 5,000 have died in India since 2004more terrorist fatalities than in any other country except Iraq. This is the third major attack on Mumbai in 15 years. In July 2006 alone, 183 people were savagely murdered as they travelled on commuter trains. During 2008, militants attacked hotels in Delhi, Bangalore, Jaipur, Ahmedabad and the Marriott hotel in Islamabad. One lesson that we must learn is that more commando-style raids on soft targets are likely.
Their purpose, of course, is to spread fear, to disrupt, and to assert a violent ideology. The visceral nature of that ideology can be seen in the decision by the terrorists to hunt down a rabbi and a small group of Jews in Mumbais Nariman House. It can be seen in the terrorists decision at the Taj Mahal Palace and Tower Hotel to look specifically for American and British guests, in order to execute them. It can be seen in their hatred of all things Indian, the idea of India, that led to the indiscriminate and wholesale massacre of innocent Indian lives.
Some have pointed the finger of blame at Pakistan, for persisting, perhaps, with its battles over the status of Kashmir, or secretly aiding and abetting extremists schooled by al-Qaeda, Lashkar-e-Taiba, the Taliban and their affiliates in the madrassas of the north-west frontier. Pakistans President, Asif Ali Zardari, has refuted these accusations of complicity, rightly insisting that the same forces who have attacked India want to destroy Pakistan too.
Mr Zardaris shaky Government need all the help they can get in countering terrorism; and all of us welcome Gordon Browns decision to travel to Islamabad and India to underline that message. However, I add the cautious rider that it does not bode well that Mr Zardari quickly retracted his offer to send the head of Inter-Services Intelligence to India, and elements of the Pakistani military have clearly played a double game, by saying that they are fighting the Taliban on
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It may be tempting for India's politicians to try to deflect criticism of intelligence failures into rumbustious forms of anti-Pakistan sentiment, or to advocate cross-border attacks; but this would be a dangerous and, given the respective nuclear capabilities of both countries, potentially catastrophic outcome. Competitive demagoguery, and sabre rattling by the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) and the Congress Party, would be self-indulgent. It risks raising the temperature rather than effectively combating those seeking to destroy the idea of India.
Any escalation of military tension would force Pakistan to divert its army from the West, which in turn would allow the militants to strengthen their bases. An attack on Kashmir would rally extreme elements in Pakistan, escalating an already dangerous situation. This would play into the hands of the Mumbai terrorist-recruiting sergeants. In Pakistan and in parts of Britain, along with the fifth column that operated inside Mumbai, there would be a new glut of applications.
Instead, India and Pakistan, with international support, must combat an enemy that threatens them both. The casus belli of the recruiting sergeants must also be addressed, finding solutions to the running sores of Palestine and Kashmir, as well as assisting the entrenchment of strong civil societies in countries such as Afghanistan and Iraq. But these questions should not be used as an excuse for dealing with deeper structural questions and questions of identity.
In 2009, Indias 700 million voters will elect a new Government, but whoever wins will face the fundamental issues that threaten Indias cohesion. Islamic extremists, Hindu radicals, Maoists and communalismethnically or religiously based sectarianismhave all found a fertile breeding ground in India. Terror has spawned terror. The bombing of the Malegaon mosque in 2006 and the arrest of several persons related to Hindu radical groups underline that. Moderates have disavowed violence, whereby, for instance, Muslims have disallowed the bodies of terrorists from being buried in their graveyards and have marched with their countrymen in protest against terrorism; but too often, extremism and communalist violence have gone unchallenged.
Revolutionary Maoism has found a foothold in eastern India. The Prime Minister, Dr Manmohan Singh, has described Maoist insurgency as the greatest internal security challenge the country has ever faced. The political classes, without a Gandhi or a Nehru, have not risen to these challenges. Criminal elements have found their way into the highest reaches of political life. Of the 522 Members of Parliament in Delhi, 120 are facing criminal charges and 40 face serious charges including murder and rape. Too often, processes of governance face paralysis.
Plenty of attention is given to what should be done; more attention needs to be given to how it should be done. Our Indian diaspora in Britain, great human capital, are uniquely placed to assist in that process. However, the fact that social policy is neglected in
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World recession is likely to reduce growth next year to 5.5 per cent, the lowest since 2002. Exports fell in October by 12 per cent and the country faces phenomenal challenges in building a modern infrastructure while simultaneously reducing carbon emissions. India is the fourth biggest emitter of greenhouse gases in the world.
As my noble friend Lord Harries of Pentregarth mentioned, education is a key to this issue. India is to be admired for providing near-universal education, and there has been a rise from 7 per cent to 13 per cent in those entering higher education, but many agree that teaching remains poor and only 20 per cent of job seekers have any vocational training.
Even these opportunities tend to be denied to the dalits and the 84 million tribal people, who suffer discrimination and marginalisationan issue touched on by my noble friend Lord Sandwich and many others. The failure to address the caste system, which has left 167 million dalit people trapped by the curse of untouchability, and the failure to counter the surge of communalist violence in states such as Orissa, threatens the idea of India and the countrys future. This vast expanse of humanity, trapped in a time warp, appears wholly unconnected to and at variance with India's sophisticated economic and technological advancesand is certainly at variance with the advertising slogans, Amazing India and Incredible India.
What is truly amazing and incredible in this day and age is that around one in four of Indias population should be classed as tribal or dalit, a term which derives from a Sanskrit word meaning broken or crushed. Two years ago, on 26 March, on the 200th anniversary of the abolition of the transatlantic slave trade, I quoted William Wilberforce in your Lordships House. He described the cruel shackles of the caste system as,
That week I attended the launch of India's Hidden Slavery, a powerful film which highlights the violence, exploitation and discrimination experienced by the dalits. The persistence into the 21st century of this degrading and pernicious system threatens the social stability and economic progress of India. Other noble Lords have rightly quoted Dr Manmohan Singh, who said that:
It is estimated that every day three dalit women are raped; dalit women are often forced to sit at the back of their school classrooms, or even outside; it is estimated that every hour on average two dalit houses are burnt down; higher castes will avoid having a dalit prepare their food for fear of becoming polluted; in one recent year alone, 25,455 crimes were committed against
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Segregated and oppressed, the dalits are frequently the victims of violent crime. In one case, 23 dalit agricultural workers, including women and children, were murdered by the private army of high-caste landlords. What was their crime? It was listening to a local political party, whose views threatened the landlords hold on local dalits as cheap labour. The list of atrocities and violence is exponential.
Although laws against caste discrimination have been passed, discrimination continues and little is done to prosecute offenders. In recent years, however, there has been a growing desire for freedom among the dalits and low-caste Hindus. Demands have been made for justice and freedom from caste slavery and persecution, and a detailed charter of dalit human rights was drafted, with appeals to the international community and the UN, in the hope that this would put positive pressure on the Indian Government.
I have one further connected point to make. Since 1956, when the dalit leader, Dr B.R. Ambedkar, led hundreds of thousands of dalits to convert to Buddhism, dalits have often seen religious conversion as a means, either symbolic or actual, of escaping caste. Coercion in a number of waysthe loss of assistance through affirmative action for dalit converts to Islam, Christianity or Buddhism, for exampleand anti-conversion laws both need to be challenged because of the way that they affect dalits.
These laws undoubtedly contribute to a climate of violence and aggression against Indias tiny Christian minority, which numbers some 24 million followersjust 2.3 per cent. St Thomas the Apostle brought Christianity to Kerala in India in 52AD, long before it arrived in the US, the UK or many European nations. Christianity in India is almost as old as Christianity itself. However, in Orissa, as my noble friend Lady Cox points out, we have seen the worst spate of communal violence ever faced by Indian Christians since independence in 1947. This has included vicious murdersthe Catholic Church puts the number at over 60and has included burning alive and mutilating bodies. At least 160 Christian churches have been destroyed. I hope that the Orissa state government and the Indian Government will institute a widespread inquiry into these issues and ensure that those responsible are prosecuted.
Every single Hindu I know has been deeply disturbed and more than a little ashamed by the recent violence against Christians ... It reminds us that beneath our gleaming high-tech, IIT-engineered facade, there lurk medieval forces, full of hatred and bloodlust ... without a tradition of religious freedom and equality, we would
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In conclusion, India is the worlds largest democracyhome to one-sixth of the worlds population. It can be proud of its many fine achievements. Like all our democracies, it is a work in progress, and there are many bright spots. India produced one of the first female Heads of Government; a dalit wrote the constitution; a female dalit is currently one of the most powerful politicians in the country; a Muslim has been head of state four times; and a Jew and a Sikh are two of Indias greatest war heroes. So an astounding amount has been achieved.
However, India cannot be proud of the more general fate of the dalits, the caste system or the extremism which still play too great a role in fashioning modern India. In the light of these recent tragic eventsfrom Mumbai to OrissaBritain and India need to seize the moment and find rational political responses based on our shared values.
Lord Dholakia: My Lords, I add my congratulations to the noble Baroness, Lady Cox, on securing this debate. I also congratulate the noble Lord, Lord Paul, on becoming a Deputy Speaker in your Lordships House. I have no doubt that, had he not been sitting on the Woolsack, he would have been on his feet in this debate.
I suspect that in my case the title of this debate is a bit of a misnomer, as I shall be discussing matters in which Indias neighbours bear responsibilitythe events that took place between 26 and 29 November, in which more than 173 people died and twice as many were injured. We are, therefore, talking about developments in the Indian subcontinent, which includes Indias neighbour, Pakistan.
This was a graphic portrayal of violence, the like of which bears some comparison with the events at the World Trade Centre in New York on 9/11 and the bombing of the Tube and buses in London on 7 July. The most striking and ugly feature of the barbaric actions of the terrorists was witnessed live throughout the world on television screens. This memory will not fade away; nor should it be allowed to be yesterdays news. When the TV cameras switch their attention elsewhere, the innocent victims are picking up the pieces to rebuild their lives. There are the injured and maimed individuals, who will take a long time to recover. There are those who went to work and never returned and whose memories will haunt their families for a very long time to come. We can express our sense of outrage and understand the anger that Indian nationals have felt.
The facts of the incident are not in dispute. Gunmen launched a series of attacks across Mumbai, the financial capital of India. As the noble Earl, Lord Sandwich, pointed out, these included the Taj Mahal and the Oberoi hotels, the main railway station, a hospital, restaurants and the Jewish outreach centre. It is reported
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There is no doubt that foreign nationals were the targets, as the hotels and restaurants that bore the brunt of the attacks are normally frequented by foreign tourists. So the terrorists intentions were not simply to destabilise the financial capital of India; they were more sinister than that. They were aimed at many of our democratic institutions in the free world. There is no doubt that the terrorists were well briefed and well rehearsed. How else could they have targeted the Jewish outreach centre? However, little publicity has been given to the fact that among those who died were at least 70 persons of Muslim faith.
There are more Muslims in India than in neighbouring Pakistana point stressed by the noble Lord, Lord Bilimoria. In fact, during the communal violence in Gujarata point raised by a number of noble Lordsthe noble Lord, Lord Parekh, and I were the first people of Indian origin in Parliament in this country to contact the Chief Minister in Gujarat and the Prime Minister, making it absolutely clear that these were Indian nationals and that any dispute whatever in a democratic country must be resolved through the process of law and not by communal violence. There is no dispute that we should be able to remind the worlds largest democracy again and again that violence perpetrated by communities is unacceptable.
Perhaps I may talk about the Muslim community. Muslims are Indian nationals who reflect the diversity and secularism that the worlds largest democracy provides. To its credit, the Muslim community in India is predominately law-abiding and there is no evidence that it is involved in these terrorist activities. It is also to Indias credit that there has been no backlash against the community in this current situation.
In contrast, since its creation in 1947, Pakistan has alternated between civilian and military rule. The prospect of democracy looks fragile, and peace and stability are often threatened by internal dissent and radicalism, which the terrorists have used to destabilise Pakistan. The role of the ISI and Pakistans future democracy seem incompatible. You can have a democracy with an independent judiciary and the rule of law but any interference by the military in the body politic of Pakistan is bound to discredit this process, as it has done in the past. It will inhibit pluralism, the elimination of poverty, the building of prosperity and, more important, Pakistans relationship with its neighboursin this case India.
We cannot compensate for the lives that have been lost but, after the bombing at the Indian embassy in Kabul, the attacks on the Indian Parliament, the explosions in Bangalore and Jaipur, and the atrocities at the Akshardham temple in Gujarat, there is irrefutable evidence that the Pakistan-administered-Kashmir-based militant group Lashkar-e-Taiba has been responsible for these attacks. The intercept evidence provided by the United States and the intelligence obtained by the security service have confirmed this and Condoleezza Rice has been forthright in bringing that to the attention of the Pakistan Government.
India has been pressing Pakistan to take action against this group and has requested that the United Nations proscribe the Jamaat-ud-Dawa group, a front for Lashkar-e-Taiba, for being associated with terrorism. Add to this the voice of our Prime Minister, Gordon Brown. He is to be congratulated on the way in which he was able to articulate what he knew was happening in India at that time. He named the Lashkar-e-Taiba militants as responsible for the attacks. The Prime Minister of India, Manmohan Singh, was right when he said:
International evidence points to the fact that the war on terror has not reduced terror. Over 22,000 people have been killed worldwide. In the United Kingdom, the security service estimates that 1,600 individuals are a direct threat to our country. I commend the words of our Prime Minister Gordon Brown. He said:
The time has come not for more words but for more action. We will offer our support to the democratically elected Government of Pakistan, but that Government must act rapidly and decisively against the terror networks based on their soil.[Official Report, Commons, 15/12/08; col. 816.]
Pakistans own future depends on action against those within its borders who are bent on the destruction of its elected Government and its relations with its neighbours. It has already experienced terrorism on its own soil; the regrettable death of Benazir Bhutto is a case in point.
Now we do not simply need brave words; we need practical action. Indias position in world politics has been recognised, a point well made by the noble Lord, Lord Bilimoria. The relations between India and the USA have never been stronger. The USA has provided intelligence that has helped to nail down the terrorist bases in Pakistan, but the fact remains that both the US and British Governments are so deeply entrenched in their military role in Afghanistanand therefore need co-operation from the Pakistan Government towards this endthat they have failed to give practical support to eliminate terrorism on the borders of the subcontinent. I can well understand their reluctance, because they depend heavily on Pakistans co-operation for their military action in Afghanistan, but this is a very blinkered strategy. Those terrorists who have turned against India and other democratic institutions in the world would not hesitate to turn on their own Government, as past events in Pakistan have confirmed. I trust that the Minister will say something on that point.
However, if past experience is anything to go by, South Africa immediately springs to mind. Nelson Mandela was branded a terrorist and both the British and US Governments failed to condemn the apartheid regime. The message is clear. We cannot condemn terrorism and yet at the same time condone activities that give shelter to terrorists. Condemnation alone is not enough. There must be practical demonstration on the ground. We cannot defeat terrorism unless the international community squarely confronts terrorist activities. There cannot be any compromise in the
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Equally, Pakistan has an important role to perform. The use of its territory for launching such heinous attacks requires strong action on its part. Of course, there is evidence of steps that have been taken by Pakistan, but much will depend on whether such steps lead to their logical conclusion. The attacks in Mumbai failed to sow the seeds of communal division in a country that prides itself on its secular policies. It is not enough to see al-Qaeda as sole agents for terrorism. There is evidence that young radicalised people, often the product of madrassahs, are now actively involved. Their activities do not recognise territorial boundaries, a point well made by the noble Lord, Lord Anderson of Swansea. There is ample evidence of funding from international sources. More needs to be done to bring rogue states to account for their action in supporting the radicalisation of young people, which, in turn, influences jihadis on the ground.
Terrorism is not restricted to India and Pakistan. Also, it is a red herring to suggest that this is an issue related to Jammu and Kashmir. Terrorists have no mandate and no democracy would negotiate a political solution under the threat of terrorist activities. To the credit of both, India and Pakistan have opened a political dialogue. The evidence is there for all to see: more tourism and prosperity in Kashmir; more movement of people across the border; and free and fair elections. This has to go much further, however; there has to be a political solution untainted by terrorist activities. The example of the China-India dispute is a case in point. Despite disagreement over the border issue, both countries have regularised their relations on other outstanding matters. Perhaps that could be a way forward with regard to Kashmir.
The international community, for its part, should ensure that there is a comprehensive convention to deal with cross-border terrorism. This is the biggest menace that we all face. One of the most unexplained dimensions of this terrorist attack was that for the first time foreigners were targeted. They played no part in any dispute between India and Pakistan.
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