Monday, December 1, 2008

India's 9/11

The massacre in Mumbai was news throughout the Thanksgiving holiday. But what comes next could be even more important. What will India do about the alleged Pakistan connection? And what kind of reponse is appropriate when the collateral damage is likely to include citizens just as innocent as those killed in India? What is worse, both of these countries have nuclear weapons and the means to deliver them.
These events are important here for a number of reasons. Oakland County has a sizeable population of Indians and Pakistanis. International corporations, including the auto industry, do a substantial amount of business with India. And many residents here have traveled to this region.
I am a part of that last group. I have been to India a number of times because my wife was born there and regularly visits relatives living there. We have passed through Mumbai (formerly Bombay) many times. And, a decade ago, we stayed at the Taj hotel. It is strange to watch the news and see it happening in places you know from personal involvement.
And that brings up the final part of why these events are news. The attackers, for the first time, specifically targeted U.S. and British citizens. And although the number of fatalities to Westerners was small compared to the overall death toll, it still raises a concern about India's tourism industry. Will Westerners shun this country after this attack? And was the targeting of Westerners specifically planned to chill both Western business investment and tourism?
A number of Westerners who were there during the attack said they would return. And I would have to agree with them -- I and my family are not deterred by these terrorist attacks. But such answers are always qualified by the one thing that would stop us -- direct hostilities between India and Pakistan.


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