13/7–A Perspective

A few thoughts, following yet another terrorist attack on the city of Bombay.

1) An Indian reaction is overdue. It doesn’t matter if it has been 30 months or 10 years since we were struck by terror strikes. But it is high time India’s leaders understand that the buck really stops here. Two decades of suffering and loss of innocent lives cannot be put away under the carpet without a reaction that raises our dispirited levels, which are currently at an all-time low. The cycle of terror is currently unstoppable and we are all sitting ducks, waiting for that bomb to go off.

2) Yes, there has been improvement in India’s immediate reaction to attacks. The Home Minister was wise enough to not speculate which terrorist group was behind the blasts that killed 17 and injured over a hundred others. This helps avoid alerting the actual group that may be responsible for these vicious attacks. As of now, no group seems to have claimed responsibility and this blogger will also refrain from speculating who might be responsible.

3) News channels and newspapers have disappointed in their scramble for rating points, with gory images doing the rounds in both of these mediums. With the odd exception, most media sources crossed lines and it is unlikely they will ever learn when to respect the dead. Especially, given the way in which these lives have been lost.

4) While we await an official Indian reaction, it is distressing to note that the government admitted to having absolutely no intelligence prior to these attacks. One would expect that given the scale of the attacks in Mumbai less than three years back, India’s intelligence services would have learnt the lessons of failure and improved drastically. Instead, we were treated to question-mark faces. And these are the faces that are supposed to answer our questions in the first place.

5) Twitter, significantly more than Facebook or any other  form of social media, played a heart-warming role in circulating information, aiding the search for missing people and in general, spreading awareness. The idea of creating a spreadsheet listing down all the people capable of delivering help of several kinds stood out. Obviously, Twitter is incapable of helping actual on-ground operations, but it’s importance cannot be understated given how spreading information during a crisis is absolutely desirable. The occasional misleading/erroneous information aside, most of it is generally intended to be useful. I am not sure or qualified to comment if it helped emergency response systems on the ground, if there were any at all.

6) At this point, Congress President Sonia Gandhi and BJP leader Narendra Modi have stressed the importance of unity. In my opinion, this misleads us. People are not empowered to do much, apart from the usual outrage and creation/circulation of public opinion. It is the leaders at the top who are supposed to make critical decisions that is supposed to justify why they were elected to be there in the first place. A mere statement like “India will not tolerate this” never saved our souls. Meanwhile, Congress leader Rahul Gandhi has proved himself to be a top-notch humbug of a leader by claiming that the UPA has thwarted 99% of terror attacks, but 1% of attacks do get through. On what mathematical basis he has managed to come to this conclusion is sense-defying, and makes you want to pull your hair out. This is all the more worrying because this man is almost certain to take up India’s top job, come 2014.

In essence, it is disappointing, depressing and bewildering that yet another terror attack has managed to shackle up the Indian mainland and caused the loss of yet more innocent lives. It was supposed to be a perfectly normal day, with people going about their usual routines.

And suddenly, there came deafening sounds and blinding lights. And some blood.


Will India ever nab Dawood Ibrahim?


Not in the near future, at least.

There are simple reasons behind this, and one does not need to dwell into deep thought to realize why India is unlikely to ever apprehend Dawood Ibrahim. Reasons like ‘Lack of political will’ and ‘We don’t have the capabilities (yeah right!)’ and others of this ilk have been repeated ad nauseum in the hyperventilating Indian media and have even been emphasized by several commentators.

To put it straight, I don’t think these reasons matter. There is a whole psychological argument that I intend to play in this post. It’s plain and simple – India gives it’s enemies too much time to scuttle away. Now a counter-argument can be made here. Some may say it is important for the credibility of Indian democracy that we deliver justice within the ambit of our ideals. Fair enough. But what about people who are our enemies, but not in any sort of direct or indirect control of the Indian state? Like Dawood Ibrahim.

Note that Ajmal Kasab does not come into the equation. I pray, hope and have ample faith in the Indian judicial system that justice will be delivered in the manner it should (i.e. in constitutional accordance) and I call for no urgency or portray any misguided patriotic fervor in hurrying up with the execution of the 26/11 terrorist.

But the question is about the likes of Dawood, and so many others. Here is a man, directly responsible for the carnage of Mumbai 1993 that cost us the lives 257 Indians, who lives and roams around freely in our neighboring nation (?) with no insecurity whatsoever. He marries off his daughter in a five-star Dubai hotel, and we Indians just watch the action.

What is this, if not some sort of intelligence failure? Oh wait. It’s not even intelligence failure. It’s failure of action despite the necessary intelligence. More so, should we wait for inspiration from the Americans before we undertake any action of our own? “Oh, the Americans took down Osama Bin Laden. Time for us to ape them”?

A counter-argument here would be about the threats of retaliation we face from Pakistan, as has been made clear by the Pakistani Army and the ISI, that if we do conduct any operation (covert or not) in the country. In fact, the whole idea about India having to face consequences of any action from the Pakistanis is a despicable farce that is extremely well played by the Pakistani establishment.

The only consequence we face is the time the Pakistanis get to stock up the necessary resources. Pakistan will then go on a series of denials and eventually become stronger in several aspects – diplomatically, in military terms and many others. Yes, stronger. By the minute. By the hour.

So here is a man, wanted by the CBI and the Interpol in connection with 1993 and several other ‘Bleed India’ events, who has no worries whatsoever. A potential superpower sits and watches, weak-kneed all the time. The whole scenario begs the question – Do we eliminate any of our enemies?

No, we don’t. At least, not the ones who matter. And it is not just about the lack of political will or the lack of military logistics (both of which may be fair reasons). It’s more about a basic Indian duty, to instantly counter any attempt made to destabilize the lives of it’s people and convince them that the Indian state does have the necessary power it can portray that will put us to sleep at night with the knowledge that we are safe.

And this is the least we deserve. Just like food, water and shelter.

Of Course, They Knew!

Following the death of the world’s most wanted terrorist, I blogged a few thoughts [Read] about why the Al-Qaeda threat still looms large simply because of the time taken by the United States of America to hunt down Osama Bin Laden.

Moving the stream of thoughts towards Pakistan, one has to say that it is unimaginable that the country’s leadership was unaware of a hiding Bin Laden in Abbottabad, the home of Pakistan’s very own military academy and several retired Army officers (according to news reports). Clearly, it makes sense to believe that the Pakistani Army and the country’s intelligence bureau, ISI, were somewhat aware and indirectly aided the survival of Bin Laden. Even the Americans must have realized this – which could be the reason why they kept the Pakistanis out of the operation they undertook to kill him.

Abbottabad, as a simple query for directions on Google Maps proves, is approximately 88 miles away from the Pakistani capital of Islamabad by road. This indicates that Pakistan may be a safe abode for several other terrorists. The likes of Hafiz Saeed roam around freely in the country giving hate speeches in favour of the Kashmiri ‘freedom movement’, anyway. [See video]

The Pakistani military and the ISI are the two (single-most?) most powerful entities in the country that the whole world will now suspect to be the root of terrorism (not Afghanistan, not anymore). It is very likely that they offered covert protection to Bin Laden and waited in the hope that the Americans would take some time to locate him. And the Americans did take time. They took so much time that the death may not have much significance, except on the streets of New York and other American cities where people are rejoicing. All along, Pakistan has stocked up ‘aid’ in terms of arms, ammunition and other military hardware. For a decade, and counting.

There is so much uncertainty that one is compelled to believe that a clear double game is being played and has been played all along. Pakistan claims to be helping the Americans clean up the terror trail, while we remain unsure about how much of a bonhomie there exists between the Pakistani military/ISI and the Al-Qaeda/Taliban. It is up to the world’s foremost superpower, now that they got rid of a man they so desperately sought, to grind Pakistan regarding Bin Laden’s resort-like mansion in Abbottabad. How he survived for so long? How did he manage to live in the middle of a township, when word all along had been about caves and mountains? More importantly, how did nobody know?

Or maybe, somebody did.

The Bin Laden Death

And the Americans got what they wanted. A man who was responsible for the 9/11 attacks and was omnipresent on any American ‘Most Wanted’ list has been safely buried in the sea. Hiding in a mansion in Abottabad in Pakistan, Bin Laden was hunted down by US Navy SEALs after an operation directly authorized by President Barack Obama himself. Anyway, you can read all of this in the news. [Read]

The Americans are celebrating. But the killing happened a tad too late. It would be foolish to assume that the leadership of the Al-Qaeda would not have seen this coming. For a terror organization that aims to reign down the United States someday, a reliance on Osama Bin Laden is at best symbolic and at worst, non-existent. The Al-Qaeda head has died at the age of 54.  During his time at the helm of one of the world’s most feared terror networks, he has successfully spread the wings of the organization into several pro-fundamentalist countries like Iraq and Yemen. The minimum this conveys is that the Al-Qaeda of today is a vast network, and any network of this kind will have several leaders in several disguises. Making several plans.

In fact, uncertainty regarding the Al-Qaeda leadership has always existed. The Americans and their allies have hardly been able to figure out who the commanders in control are. They’ve zeroed in on Ayman Al-Zawahiri, but remain unsure as leadership changes in Al-Qaeda have happened too often for their liking. Also Al-Qaeda, over the years, has tied up with several other organizations like the Pakistan Taliban and the anti-India organizations operating for Kashmiri ‘freedom’ and this clearly indicates that the network is too strong to be broken down by the death of a man who was most influential as long as a decade ago.

If Bin Laden would have been killed within 1-2 years of 9/11, it would have been a major statement from Washington and a cause of celebration for the Americans. As of now, the Pentagon and the CIA must prepare themselves. A warning has already been sounded by the Pakistan Taliban [Read]. It would, hence, be absurd to believe that in an era of spawned terrorist networks, the world just became a whole lot safer. Until Al-Qaeda is eliminated from it’s roots, which certainly can now be traced down to Pakistan, things remain murky.

The Americans can celebrate, the pro-Bin Laden Middle East can sulk a bit and the rest of South Asia can be cautious.

Meanwhile, life goes on.

Of Pakistani Ministers And Disguised Sincerity

I am no expert on Indian policy. Or Pakistani policy. But after observing what went back and forth in the latest round of talks between India and Pakistan, I am certain that Pakistan has meticulously planned the process of dealing with India and our leaders.

Notice how we never get a meaningful deal out of these ‘talks’. Notice how SM Qureshi imposes his voice and command over English on every press conference he attends, with disguised sincerity. Notice how India is getting duped by deceitful and non-committal people from the other side of the Radcliffe Line.

By attacking GK Pillai (Home Secretary) and equating him with someone as insidious (and inspirer of many a terror acts) as Hafiz Saeed, it is evident that Pakistan is fundamentally against any progress in these talks. To demonstrate sincerity, one must first be sensible enough to separate the ridiculous and the preposterous from the debatable and the unconvincing. And the fact that Pakistan never does that, we can safely conclude there is none on offer.

Also in doing so, Qureshi loses the plot as easily as he mutters a new word in the English language. Maybe, he intends to lose the plot. This is one of those arguments where Indian officials must sit back, regroup and realize that there are no constructive talks happening. At all. None. There is only clichéd elocution. And that too, by the Pakistanis.

Qureshi might well be an English language majors aspirant, who was picked up by the Pakistani government to confuse Indian and international observers and to rationalize what is easily laughable. If this sounds funny (and it wasn’t intended to be), we can speculate that Pakistan has a clear-cut policy on how to deal with Indian requests for talks, and the talks themselves. Even if the country may have no policy on how to ensure the sustenance of her own self.

Pakistan is like an insincere professor, the type that India’s government schools and colleges are infested with. They come to work, they intend to see out their scheduled time because it is part of their routine, they waste time and they take their pay. No difference is made. Because, none was intended to be made.

Pakistan knows. They know how to deal with India following any major terror attack on Indian soil. There is a cycle of denial first, followed by inaction (and minimal acceptance). And as the clock ticks, we have equivalence. Suddenly, everybody is quiet and terror – what terror? Pakistan faces terror too, you know.

So the solution is – Honestly, I have no clue. Maybe, we can NOT talk. And we can speed-deal with terrorists in our control.

Or we can forget. And save our outrage for another day.

Oh wait, THAT we already do.

India attacks Sri Lanka in Pakistan

In the event of the dastardly attack on the Sri Lankan cricket team in Pakistan by suspected terrorists, the Pakistani media is responding with archetypal hysteria and is resorting to blame games bordering on apathetic insanity.

Former chief of Inter Services Intelligence (ISI) Gen(R) Hameed Gul said India is trying to weaken Pakistan.

Commenting on the attack on Sri Lankan team, Gul told Geo News that India wants to declare Pakistan a terrorist state and firing on Sri Lankan team is related to the that conspiracy. [Geo TV]

Even the Sri Lankan government is resorting to questionable conspiracy theories by suggesting that the LTTE might be involved in the attack, hence diverging from Pakistan-sponsored and home grown terrorism.

“I have heard the LTTE mentioned on the airwaves. There is considerable speculation, but we will await the outcome of the investigation before we comment,” Foreign Secretary Palitha Kohona said. “We are reassured that Pakistan authorities are conducting a probe to arrest the assailants and bring them to justice,” he added. [The News Pakistan]

Fortunately, all cricketers are safe according to latest reports. Eight Pakistani security personnel lost their lives in the ‘Mumbai-style’ attacks. It is a shame that Pakistan failed to provide adequate security to the cricket team. Given the undeniable importance of cricket in the subcontinent, this attacks bears heavy on Pakistan’s so-called initiative against terrorism on its soil.

Irrespective of how Pakistan tackles this episode, the future of Pakistan cricket is thrown into complete uncertainty as there is unlikely to be any cricket tour to the country in the forseeable future.

The joke will be on India…again

Anatomy of the Pakistani case for a joint anti-terror “mechanism”

To this question posed by a former dean of social sciences at the Quaid-i-Azam University in Pakistan, let us go back two years in history.

Why is the Indian government employing coercive diplomacy to achieve its objectives when it can easily sort out contentious issues through a joint investigation? The answer to this question is that a joint investigation, bilateral or multilateral, simply does not suit India [DTP-Anatomy of the Indian case]

In 2006, a joint anti-terror mechanism agreement was penned by Prime Minister Manmohan Singh and then Pakistani President Pervez Musharraf [Link]. The UPA government compromised on India’s inarguable right to being long-term victims of terror by agreeing to such a farce, which Dr. Singh had then dubbed as a trial, since we are not going to war.

But the mechanism, which is almost similar to setting up a body of criminals in India to bring criminals themselves to justice, had failed in all restrospect. Not only was it doomed right from the time it was agreed upon, but Pakistan’s promise that it would bring the perpetrators to justice was rebutted by the country at the first meet of the “mechanism”. Instead, they audaciously argued that it was India’s R&AW that was funding suspicious organizations in Pakistan.

And now, the writer dares to question India’s commitment to eradication of terrorism from the region by bringing forward an altogether new reason to the argument. The joint “mechanism” is a complete farce that intends to throw back India’s argument. In fact, this is all that is in Pakistan’s convenience. No wonder, they offered to jointly investigate the Mumbai terror attacks.

And anyway, Pakistan’s record of convicting terrorists is abysmal. No single terrorist attack launched from Pakistani soil has been properly scrutizined by the Pakistani government. No terrorists have been “brought to justice”. No terrorists have been handed over. Can Pakistan present even one case of having successfully convicted the perpetrators of a major attack on Indian soil? I think not. And hence, a joint probe remains a futile concept.

The emergence of a few in-your-face truths continue to evade our leaders, pseudo-patriots and apologists for cross-border terrorism – Pakistan is NOT an ally of India in the war of terror. Pakistan has NO interest in a terror-free India. The ISI will not bring the ISI to justice. The “mechanism” is a farce. And we should never see sense in such nonsense.

Because the joke will be on us…again.

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