On the 5th anniversary of the Mumbai attacks, let us take an oath

Both nuclear states should leave the past behind and work towards a peaceful future for the betterment of their people

Nayyar Afaq November 30, 2013
Five years ago, it was the worst of times for my neighbouring country. Mumbai, India’s commercial hub was under attack. The eve of November 26, 2008 was one of the bloodiest days for India. When the calendar marked November 29, the death toll exceeded 100 people.  Everything was deplorable. The entire Indian nation was mourning and rightly so.

It was the worst of times for my country as well, as the whole Indian government and the media turned hostile towards Pakistan and built war hysteria. The attackers were reported to come from my soil. This was a shocking revelation.

The after-effect of this incident was equally devastating.

Amidst the highly tense situation between both the countries, Indian fighter jets violated Pakistan’s air space just a day before the British Prime Minister’s visit to Pakistan. Fingers of blame from India were pointing towards Lashkar-e-Taiba (LeT). India started talking about surgical strikes in Pakistan, something which itself was an act of war.

Later, the government of Pakistan, after thorough investigation, acknowledged that the Mumbai attacks were partially planned on its soil by non-state actors.

The rest is history.

At the fifth anniversary of the devastating incident, what is termed as India’s 9/11, here is what I, as an ordinary citizen of Pakistan, have learned:


The sense of pride for one’s country should not overrule the dignity of being a human being first. Human lives are precious regardless of their nationalities and religion.

Resolution of political disputes

As long as global political disputes are unresolved, the world will never be a safe place to live.

These disputes have fuelled militancy and provided an excuse to non-state actors across the world to lift arms and launch so-called ‘jihad’.

The Kashmir dispute serves as the same unholy excuse for the rivalry between both India and Pakistan. The water dispute linked with it is another serious issue that adds its share in the ongoing animosity between both the states.

We must work together to resolve all such disputes and, must look towards building a peaceful environment for our coming generations. If there is no progress towards the right direction, non-state actors will keep playing their dirty role, be it the incident of Mumbai or that of Samjhauta Express.

No more wars

War is not the solution, even as the last resort.

War between two nuclear states would be catastrophic and in essence, shear madness. We should accept each others’ realities, sovereign equality and move towards confidence building measures to ensure peace and harmony.

Enemy within

States should resolve their matters directly and non-state actors should not be allowed to hamper the relations between the two nations. We need to strengthen our internal security instruments and curb the enemy within before looking to make more outside.


In times of turmoil, a strong and visionary leadership keeps the morale of the nation high. After the Mumbai incident, I found the former lacking. Moreover, the government and the military must work in unison.


Democracy and diplomacy is the way forward. In the aftermath of the Mumbai incidents, Pakistan had to struggle on the diplomatic front. The philosophy of ‘co-existence or no-existence’ demands that we strengthen our ties with the rest of the world. International isolation is fatal for the future of any country.

Normalisation of India-Pakistan relations

Let bygones be bygones. Leave the bitterness of the past behind. We need to think of peace. As written by former President Pervez Musharraf in the guestbook of Bangladesh’s monument of independence,
“Courage needed to reconcile and compromise is far greater than that needed to oppose and confront.”

Both the nations must show this courage and shake hands. Their welfare and well-being depends on mutually cordial relations.

The world must also remember that Pakistan has been fighting the global war against terrorism for more than a decade and has sacrificed over 50,000 precious lives. This should not go unsung. The international community needs to support Pakistan, not just by acts of charity but for the global cause of making this world free of terrorism.

A stable Pakistan is in the interest of the region, India as well as the world.

This is a time to rectify the mistakes, instead of unearthing skeletons of the past. We should not buttonhole ourselves in blame games and harbour distrust anymore. The more we do that, the deeper a grave we dig for ourselves, the generations to come and eventually the world.

Let us take an oath today, in remembrance of the lives lost in the Mumbai attacks and those lost everyday in Pakistan, to defeat terrorism and truly give peace a chance.
Nayyar Afaq He is pursuing a doctorate in Physics from Quaid-i-Azam University, Islamabad and his objective in life is to become a better human being. Nayyar tweets @Nay_Af (http://twitter.com/Nay_Af)
The views expressed by the writer and the reader comments do not necassarily reflect the views and policies of the Express Tribune.


genesis | 10 years ago | Reply To the deniai list add the one about man landing on the moon and hearing azan and people converting.the list is endless but at least it keeps you amused and that is fine.Jews not being in WTC!! big joke.Why not claim that 9/11 never happened like some who say that the Holocaust never occured.
Nobody | 10 years ago | Reply Based on the comments I'm seeing here, I don't see either nation maturing and shaking hands any time soon. I DO however think it is in everyone's best interest to get past the bloody fighting as neither has anything to gain from it. I don't know what will become of Kashmir so I will not comment on it except to say why not ask Kashmiris what they want instead of playing tug of war with them? As for taking an oath, I wish it were so simple. I reacted to the Mumbai terror attacks the way I did to any other atrocity committed against anyone from anywhere: with sorrow. However, although I'm a Pakistani American, I do not feel responsible or ashamed or feel the average Pakistani citizen would have ever wanted this. It's a sinful embarrassment for our government that their utter lack of knowledge as to what's going on on their own soil has allowed hateful terrorists to murder civilians, be it in Pakistan (almost every week) or India five years ago. Bloody useless government sitting around twiddling their thumbs while the nation burns and people die. If you want a shot at 'shaking hands' or taking an oath, bring about a competent governing body instead of these cockroaches.
Sandip | 10 years ago Thanks lady, since you are in such a generous mood when it comes to asking people which country they want to be a part of, pray extend the same courtesy to the people of Balochistan.
Replying to X

Comments are moderated and generally will be posted if they are on-topic and not abusive.

For more information, please see our Comments FAQ