What should India’s counter terrorism plan look like …

Posted in Current Affairs, History, Indo Pak Relations, Media, Uncategorized by Anuraag Sanghi on December 1, 2008

The Blood letting

The Indian media (especially English) and the India’s Westernized elite has been hounding for blood ever since the terrorist attacks on Mumbai’s upper class business centres for the first time. After the 26/11 attack on Mumbai prime centres, they have been able to force the resignation of Shivraj Patil, India’s Home Minister. Maharashtra’s Home Minister, RR Patil has also resigned. Maharshtra’s Cheif Minister is expected to be replaced also – soon.

Rafiq Zakaria, a Westernized Indian, now a US citizen, said on CNN, at the Global Public Square program.

This crisis has highlighted one of the peculiarities about India. Its society, economy, private sector are amazingly dynamic. The same cannot be said of the Indian state. Government in India is too often weak, divided, incompetent.

The Times Of India, desperately sombrely, thinks, “it is time to ask our politicians: Are you going to go back to playing politics with our lives? Or are you going to do something worthwhile with yours?” The normally incisive, MJ Akbar, falls into the trap of blaming politicians, latching onto politico bashing, by saying, “We have been defeated by incompetent governance, both in Mumbai and Delhi … ineffectual leadership (is) turning a tough nation into a soft state. We should have been world leaders in the war against terrorists, for no nation has more experience Instead we are wallowing in the complacent despair of a continual victim.”

The normally vacuous Lord Baron Meghnad Desai,writing in the Indian Express, continued with his inanities, “It is a test of leadership. Can India‘s political parties, tested for 60 years in the crucible of democracy, rise to this occasion and save our country?” Hindustan Times joins in with its own two bits. Inderji Hazra, in a very superior fashion writes, but does not see the contradiction when he talks about ‘Frankly, the ‘lack of form’ shown by our political class isn’t a big deal for me … The two things: political meddling and the law of averages.” Prabhu Chawla, at India Today magazine, shed some more darkness with some empty words “Our politicians never get the message. The fury of a nation betrayed by its political class knows no bounds. Our discredited politicians are protected with the most sophisticated arms when the ordinary cops have only antiquated guns to save the citizens. Soon, the netas may have to be protected against their own people.”

How can politicians become effective without ‘meddling’, and if they don’t ‘meddle’, we will then blame them for ‘inaction’.

Apportioning blame

Blaming politicians, who are temporary office bearers, is escapist and is a well tuned strategy by the entrenched Westernized bureaucracy, which bears a significant, though partial responsibility, for this – the success of this operation and the lack of efforts to kill this problem at its root.

The Indian Government (Central and State together) have an employee base of about 55 lakhs. The number of elected representatives total around 5,500. The Indian population totals 110 crores (1100 million). It makes no sense to make scapegoats of 5500 politicians.

Blaming 5500 politicians is the knee jerk reactions by the intellectually devoid. Taking down Shivraj Patil is small consolation.

The responsibility (for not taking actions) and the credit for the brilliant commando operation is with the bureaucracy. The rewards should go to the various people for handling this operation so well, starting with the Mumbai police – and the culpability of those who have twiddled for years, starting with the Indian diplomatic community, the IFS and the Finance Ministry bureaucrats, who have not earmarked enough attention to these areas, is more important.

Who gets killed determines actions

India Today reports,

‘1,202 have been killed in 23 terrorist strikes in the country since the attack on Parliament. Five of them took place between December 2001 and May 2004 when the NDA was in power and the rest during the last four-and-a-half years of the UPA Government.’

Millions were affected in Bihar, when the Kosi river changed course and flooded Bihar.

As the overall flood situation in Bihar registered significant improvement with the water level all major rivers flowing below the danger mark, Bihar government today launched distribution of money for relief and succor on a war footing.

The water level of Kosi, Ganga, Burhi Gandak, Gandak, Mahananda and Bagmati were maintaining receding trend and was flowing below the danger mark along their course in Bihar, Central Water Commission sources said. The death toll in the current spell of floods stood at 217 in 18 districts, official sources said.

How come no one resigned till now? Not after the train blasts in 2006. Not after the bomb blasts in 1993. What is the difference this time around? The difference is that the rich and famous have been affected this time around.

We cannot afford the rich and famous to get affected, can we? But that is another discussion and another place.

Round up the usual suspects

One idea that has now been floating around is the creation of a central agency for coordinating intelligence and anti-terrorist activities – much like the FBI and the CIA. The many failures of the FBI and the CIA is usually overlooked – against its few successes. While there may be a case for such an agency, this cant be the winning idea between 1993 to 2008.

The other idea is of course war with Pakistan! A direct war with quasi-nuclear power is something that India cannot afford, is unprepared for and raises more questions than it answers. Post war scenarios are of course much worse. India will neither be able hold onto Pakistan or let go of a truncated Pakistan. It may well turn out to be another Bangladesh – where the HuJI is emerging as another terrorist force threatening the East and North East India.

Then there is perennial loser idea of international and UN intervention. These are defensive ideas whose value is limited. India now needs to become more aggressive.

A street scene in Pesahwar?

A street scene in Pesahwar?

What can India do!

India must follow a five point agenda.

One – Close down the Peshawar arms bazaar. This one-time small arms bazaar has became the sourcing centre for terrorists all over the world. Initially, stocked up with arms from the CIA funded jihad against the Soviets in Afghanistan, Peshawar, has become a problem that never ends. If required, there should be a UN mandate to send in a multinational force to surround, capture and destroy this centre for arms and armaments.

Two – Pakistan precarious financial position does not allow it the luxury of an arms race with India. The world must withdraw all technology from Pakistan for all arms and ammunition. No RDX, no tanks, no F-16s, no APCs. Pakistan must be put on strict diet of military technology blockade by the world. No less.

Pakistan’s suspected role in counterfeit currency operations must also be put under the scanner. Controlling Government’s of the 12 companies that dominate the currency printing business must be made to choose. Between India and Pakistan. If the German Government can arm twist their companies to suspend currency supply to Zimbabwe, there is no excuse for them to not to lean on dealings with Pakistan.

Pakistan’s (valid) security concerns should be met with a tripartite agreement between China, India and Pakistan which will guarantee Pakistan’s current borders. No disputes, no claims from Pakistan have any legitimacy any more. Let Pakistan take care of its current territory and people. POK will remain with Pakistan – and current LOC will remain unchanged. So, Pakistan will not lose.

Three – Pakistan is at the crossroads of a jihadi, terrorist, criminal elements who have joined together and created an incendiary mash-up. Fueled by a drugs trade worth billions, arms trade worth millions and respectability, as they are ‘carrying out a religious jihad’.

The leadership of these gangs has to be de-fanged. LK Advani, as the earlier Home Minister, forwarded a list of ‘Most Wanted 20′ to Pakistan nearly 7 years ago. Not one has come to India. The US has not co-operated on this one important Indian requirement.

Four – Zardari wants to export cotton (raw, yarn, gray cloth, finished cloth), cement and sugar to India. India has a large market for all – and can easily absorb Pakistani exports. Tie these Pakistani exports to quantitative achievements in shutting down terror camps in Pakistan.

Five – Pakistani Hindus (especially Dalits) are crucial to Pakistan. Announce a scheme for Hindu immigration from Pakistan to India. The loss of this 2% of Pakistani population can make life difficult for Pakistan. Facilitate Pakistani Hindu immigration to India.

How can India make this happen

It has to be realpolitik. India can no longer give away benefits without quid pro quo. Make P&G, ABB, Alsthom, Renault, Unilever, Siemens, Pepsi and Coke earn their living. The Indian operations of these companies pack a mean heft. They must join in to secure the markets they wish to exploit. The US has to deliver. Peshawar markets must close down. The Pakistan defence production cannot be used against India. Pakistan has to deliver the criminal elements – dead or alive.

Indian co-operation with the West on the new world financial system will be based on co-operation by the West. India should move to create systems which allow political and social stabilization a rule – and not an exception.

These strategic elements of using Indian advantages to gain our ends is the way to forge ahead.

15 Responses

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  1. galeo rhinus said, on December 1, 2008 at 5:37 pm

    >>Blaming politicians, who are temporary office bearers, is escapist…

    Absolutely right… the “media” is unfairly blaming the politicians for this mess… after all why should it be these “temporary office bearers” worry about things such as coordinating intelligence information with other states? it is escapist to ask them to go above and beyond their expected roles.. or worry about formulating a more responsive crisis management system? or be facilitators in coordinating a response?

    You are right – it is a ridiculous and unfair criticism… truly escapist 😉

    >>India must follow a three point agenda.

    That’s right… It is ‘India’ who should take action not politicians… it would be escapist to expect these “temporary office bearers” – would it not?

    I am assuming when you say ‘India’ you are not referring to these ‘temporary office bearers’…

    …perhaps you are proposing the creation of an organization called as the MVG (Mumbaikar Vigilante Group) that coordinates the activities with other groups such as the BVG and DVG (Begaluru and Delhi). These groups could be more “permanent” rather that these “temporary” groups – who should not be burdened with these trivial responsibilities.

    In fact – these MVGs, BVGs, CVGs, PVGs will need some funds for their management… the people of ‘India’ should make some voluntary donations to these groups (taxes)… and then the appointments of the people running these groups becomes important… let’s not use any mechanism that has a time limit on their appointment since they will again become ‘temporary office bearers…’

    yes – additionally it should be these groups who negotiate with Pakistan and the US… why burden these ‘temporary office bearers’ to formulate any meaningful foreign policy?

    Yes – Brilliant 😉

  2. Anuraag Sanghi said, on December 2, 2008 at 10:44 am

    Nice try at sarcasm …

    It still does not hide the fact that you do not address any issues in your reply …

    1. How many bureaucrats have resigned? Are you absolving the bureaucracy of all blame, responsibility?

    2. The ‘feeding frenzy’ in the Indian media against the political class would have warmed the hearts of many ex-colonialists who tried and could not make it happen … But their propaganda remains …

    3. The political class – regardless of membership, have not covered themselves in glory. Which still does not justify the feeding frenzy.

    4. I would like to see how many of these who have joined in this feeding frenzy of the politicians, go out and win one election, or even something smaller, resolve one issue – like maybe an overflowing drain?

    5. Out of the 23 blasts, the poor were targeted in 22 of them. I did not see such shrillness at those times. One attack on the rich and powerful, and the knives are out??

    6. Where did the MVG, BVG and DVG come from?

  3. world war one | Digg hot tags said, on December 2, 2008 at 12:57 pm

    […] Vote What should India’s counter terrorism plan look like … […]

  4. galeo rhinus said, on December 3, 2008 at 4:32 pm

    OK – I think I get your broader point…

    …the way I see it is as follows – see if what I say makes sense to you…


    if people are the foundation of a democratic institution then the politicians – despite – all their flaws are the pillars… together they create the “structure” of a democratic institution…

    the government – that includes the “bureaucrats” and the “elected officials” constitute the people in charge of this structure…

    …criticizing the people in charge of the structure – IMO – is fair play – but an attack on the foundation or the pillars – is not only a cynical manifestation – but dangerous.

  5. Anuraag Sanghi said, on December 4, 2008 at 1:37 pm

    I think the Indian social structure is a trusting and optimistic structure. It is not designed for paranoia, persecution, xenophobia, et al.

    Terrorism in the case of India, is actually a political weapon being used by unidentified opponents – who are using Pakistan. Unlike the Palestinian terrorism against Israel.

    In such a situation, to blame our politicians singly, wholly and totally is pathetic. We need a response which is cool, balanced, low cost, effective – and manageable.

    To use your analogy, we cannot focus our attention on only one part of the structure – and attacking that one part of the structure.

  6. galeo rhinus said, on December 5, 2008 at 12:24 am

    >>”…who are using Pakistan”‘

    Implicit in this statement is the assumption is that Pakistan is a coherent entity.

    Neither its polity, its nationhood, nor its people represent a tangible structure.

    In fact a large section of Pakistani people have difficulty defining its identity…. in India – only the Macaulayan fruits face the same problem 🙂

    Politically speaking – it is becoming apparent that there might be two parallel Pakistani governments… a shadow government might either be a participant or a indirect supporter of events such as these.

    In this case.. blaming the politicians might not be appropriate – but blaming the government for refusing to have any meaningful policy is definitely so.

    Whether it is negotiating with Pak, its shadow government or Pak’s proxy rulers in the US, or creating a better crisis management system, or creating systems to track the flow of terror money is clearly the responsibility of the government…

    I am surprised that none of your blogs openly and clearly do not make any attempt to criticize the current government…

  7. Anuraag Sanghi said, on December 5, 2008 at 12:14 pm

    1. Governmental administrative structure is made up of temporarily elected officials and permanent bureaucrats.

    2. Of course, the bureaucrats would like to remain invisible and create straw targets like politicians who can then be blamed for any such mishap. The entrenched bureaucracy cannot wash away its responsibility – and the politicians are so busy defending themselves, that they cannot see beyond their noses.

    3. The logic of Western democracy is to mislead people that they have the power through their elected representatives – who are all powerful and full dispensable.

    4. Reality is that there is an entrenched bureaucracy which is getting away scot free with incompetence, vacuity, unresponsive systems – and vastly corrupt system. The fall guy is the ‘neta’.

    5. The media, the academia, think tanks have a role to play – in developing an intellectual alternatives to such threats. They have failed – miserably. Along with the Westernized bureaucracy, the media and bureaucracy are using the politicians as fall guys.

    Regarding your invitation to me for joining in the feeding frenzy on the current administration, I will pass.

  8. lvs said, on January 6, 2009 at 8:07 am

    I think the counter terrorism plan should include technology, more technology and much more technology.

    I think so far we have been too Pakistan focussed. The fact is Mumbai attacks could have been prevented if we had used technology in the form of sonar and radar surveillance, technology to eavesdrop and track wireless communication. The fact is terrorism is ingrained into the Pakistani soil and just bombing a few places will not help. The US has the luxury of 10,000 miles between them and the terrorists which we dont have. In fact we also have homegrown terrorism now. Lets use technology as a force multiplier and as a deterrent.

  9. Anuraag Sanghi said, on January 6, 2009 at 8:28 am

    We should end terrorism at its root – which will be cheaper and this ‘technology’ option will be more expensive and less effective.

    My feeling is that technology will have a greater ‘shock and awe’ effect – and less effective. Technology gives too much data – which requires more people to decode that data.

    Anyway, even after the technology, we will still need to close down the terror mechanisms and the ‘actors’. We will still need to confront the Pakistani state. The cost of this ‘technology’ will be a few billion dollars which will anyway not stop Pakistan from this terrorism.

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  13. […] Congress needed to create an enemy. A demon, who they could blame, use, abuse – and Pakistan fitted the bill perfectly. A failed state (!), a hotbed of terrorism – […]

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  15. masculineffort said, on February 24, 2014 at 2:10 pm

    I don’t think the west will co-operate with India on this. I do not think India will give the west a choice between Pakistan and itself. I would love to see that happen. I hope it happens. But hope is not a strategy.

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