London, Jan.3 (ANI): Indian-born Salman Rushdie, the author of famous novels like " The Satanic Verses" and "Midnight's Children", has categorically laid the blame for November terror attacks on Mumbai at Pakistan's doorstep, by saying that all signs pointed to that fact.
"There is no question that this was Pakistan. You could see it as an act of war. The West should be tougher on Pakistan. It is trying to play both ends against the middle - to look like the friend of the revolutionaries on the one hand and a friend of the West in the fight against terrorism. It can't be both things. This country should make clear that as long as Pakistan harbours terrorists it's not going to get any Western aid," Rushdie told The Times in an interview.
He described as strange that the three cities that he lived in and loved - Mumbai, London and New York, have all been subjected to terror strikes in the last decade.
In the interview, Rushdie, who had a fatwa taken out on him by former Iranian strongman Ayatollah Khomeini for writing "The Satanic Verses", said he watched with horror as flames tore through the Taj Mahal Palace hotel in Mumbai in November last year.
"Those are the streets I grew up on. Two of the characters in my novel Midnight's Children consummate their love affair in the Palace, as so many of us did."
His voice trails off for a moment before he says: "It is strange that the three cities in my life that I have loved have all been subjected to terrorist attack in the last ten years."
He believes the people of Mumbai showed extraordinary courage under attack, but now the overwhelming mood is of great anger.
With hindsight, Rushdie says, he realizes the fatwa was merely the "prologue" in a very long novel that is becoming ever more terrifying.
The West should, he thinks, have realized that the fatwa was just the beginning of a new era.
As someone who has lived much of his life under the shadow of fundamentalism, he believes that successive British governments have pursued the wrong policy over religious extremists.
"This country became the safe haven for every extremist group in the world. It was idiocy - idiocy," he says.
Rushdie is not convinced that there is a "clash of civilisations" between Islam and Christianity like the time during the Crusades.
"There is a kind of Islam which is at war with an idea of the West but neither the West nor the Muslim world is monolithic," he says.
Britain has in his view been far too complacent about the rise of extremism. "Both Thatcher and Blair made the same mistake, which was the so-called Londonistan policy where you allow these [Islamist] groups to set up shop here in the belief that if you do that they won't attack this country and that you can monitor them."
There can be few people who feel the threat of fundamentalism more keenly than Rushdie. He lived with the threat of assassination for nine years but he does not regret writing The Satanic Verses.
"Of course I don't, why would I? But I'm pleased that finally it's being read like a book. It used to be taught on politics and religion courses; now it's getting taught on fiction courses."
He hates the idea that he was sponging off the state, pointing out that he was never given a government safe house. "They told me I couldn't live at home and I had to find somewhere else to live and pay for it." (ANI)