2ndlook

Mumbai Massacre – The real blame and real culprits

Posted in Business, Current Affairs, Islamic Demonization, Media, Uncategorized by Anuraag Sanghi on November 30, 2008

Vital stats of the Mumbai siege operation

On 26th November, a Wednesday night, ten terrorists, (nine killed and one taken alive), mounted a terrorist strike in Mumbai. They attacked at least ten venues (Cama Hospital, Guru Tegh Bahadur Hospital, CST Train Terminus, Leopold Cafe, Girgaum Chowpatty, Metro Junction + the four buildings occupied) and later occupied four building complexes ((The Oberoi Trident Hotel; The old Taj Mahal Hotel and the new Taj;The Nariman Building), killed nearly 190 people over a space of nearly 60 hours. These terrorists came with machine guns, machine pistols, grenades, incendiary bombs, satellite phones, credit cards, Indian currency and US dollars, conflict rations of dry fruits like almonds, raisins, etc.

Indian commando On Nariman House, Mumbai

Indian commando On Nariman House, Mumbai

The assault on these terrorists, initially by local police and later by the elite NSG and MARCOS commando units spread over 60 hours, sanitized nearly a 1000 rooms, covered nearly 70 kilometres of passage ways, corridors, alcoves, enclosures, rooms and passages, in 4 building complexes, spread over nearly 1 square kilometre of dense urban population. Some 150 commandos were used – and final tally of defence personnel killed was 14 policemen and 3 commandos.

Jyoti Krishan Dutt

Jyoti Krishan Dutt

After this operation, crowds cheered and the commandos were surrounded by jubilant crowds. Indian media provided live coverage of this terrorist carnage with multiple cameras at multiple sites in a brilliant operation.

Israeli ‘experts’ were quick to condemn the Indian commando operation. Imagine the Israelis talking about collateral damage. ‘Experts’ carped about the total intelligence failure – whereas, it was clear that requisite intelligence information was drowned in the accompanying ‘noise’.

The aftermath

One day after the end of this operation, the Indian media and commentators are unanimous. Blame the politician.

The Times Of India, desperately somber, intones,

as heaps of bodies lie in morgues in a charred or decomposed state, and loved ones huddle outside to receive them one last time, 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? How many deaths will it take till you know that too many people have died?

Normally incisive, MJ Akbar, falls into the trap of blaming politicians.

The most significant part of the outrage should not be obscured by the drama of events hypnotized by attack, we should not become oblivious of defence. We have been defeated by incompetent governance, both in Mumbai and Delhi … Complacence and politics gave the terrorists more protection than silence or deception could. But ineffectual leadership 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. Some three years ago, Dr Manmohan Singh told George Bush that there were no terrorists among Indian Muslims. Perhaps he was unaware of the 1993 Mumbai bombings. Perhaps he want ed to please two constituencies: Bush, who needed a certificate for his view that democracy was the cure for all evil; and local Muslims, who were not being given jobs but could always be offered the consolation prize of a pat on the back. Dr Singh certainly did not fool any terrorists. The Lashkar-e-Taiba might even have interpreted such self-congratulation as a challenge.

Declares, Lord Baron Meghnad Desai,writing in the Indian Express,

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? Can we set aside partisanship of our politics and forge a united front? Can the two major parties set aside differences in their visions of India and weave a common narrative of why India is a nation, united and single?

Hindustan Times joins in with its own two bits. Inderji Hazra writes, in a very superior fashion,

Frankly, the ‘lack of form’ shown by our political class isn’t a big deal for me. The pre-poll mud-slinging looks bad. But so does the shit on our roads. What makes me break into a twitch is something beyond this beggar’s opera. When pundits talk about ‘asymmetrical warfare’, they never mean lathi-wielding policemen vs AK47-armed terrorists, do they? And aren’t patrols and security checks, whether along sea fronts or at the entries of malls too much of a drag to bother about day in, day out? As for bringing about more stringent anti-terror laws — or even following standard procedures of law and order and investigations — is it worth all that effort when only two things really determine how easy or hard it will be for future terrorists to attack us?

The two things: political meddling and the law of averages.

Before coming to conclusions about this attack, let us also look at some other incidents across the world in the last few years.

Global Benchmarks

On 23rd October 2002, at a theater in Moscow, the Nord-Ost incident, some 40-50 Chechnyan separatist “Special Purpose Islamic Regiment” took an estimated 850 people hostage. An estimated 300 Russians died in an attempted rescue – and 39 terrorists were killed. This entire operation took was completed after 3 days by releasing a deadly poison gas – that killed many more hostages than the terrorists.

On September 1st, 1995, again in Russia, in the Beslan school tragedy, more than 360 people were killed in the 1995 raid, purportedly led by the Chechen warlord Shamil Basayev, who escaped during the botched rescue attempt by troops. Basayev’s claims of responsibility for this attack on Beslan School Number One, are disputed. Basayev used a gang which turned out to be bigger than what Russian authorities initially claimed. An investigator, Mr. Torshin disputed the claim, posted on a Chechen website, saying it “could be a hoax”. Of the 32 hostage-takers, one was captured alive, 30 died and one was blown apart. And the number of time taken to ‘resolve’ this crisis was again about 3 days.

On 5th May, 1980. the ‘famous’ SAS rescued hostages from the Iranian embassy in London. On April 30th, 1980, six Iranian Arab gunmen, opposed to Ayatollah Khomeni, took hostages, demanding release of some nearly 100 Iranian political prisoners. After 5 days of planning, some 30 ‘crack’ SAS troops overran the embassy. Of the six gunmen, five were killed and one arrested. Of the twenty two hostages, ninteen were set free, one died and two injured in the cross-fire. A film was later made on this operation.

In Peru, the siege of the Japanese embassy began on 17 December when the Marxist rebels stormed a diplomatic cocktail party, seizing more than 400 guests as hostages. The Peruvian forces, with the help of the British SAS, took two weeks to plan this assault.On April 22nd, 1997, the hostages were finally released – after some 4 months.American FBI pitched in, claiming some credit for this operation.

In India, the Akshardham Temple attack took four days to clear.

Let us get real, shall we?

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

Future Actions

India needs to act differently. India must work on a three point agenda.

Pakistani tribesman makes a grenade launcher in the Darra Adam Khel tribal area, 47 km from Peshawar

Pakistani tribesman makes a grenade launcher in the Darra Adam Khel tribal area, 47 km from Peshawar

One – Close down the Peshawar arms bazaar. This small time bazaar 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 – 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.

Three – Secure Pakistan‘s borders 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.

These three actions will rid the sub-continent of all tensions and conflicts – no less. It has to be underpinned by India and China. The West, and Pakistan will protest, but must be made to follow this prescription.

China And India – 2 Books, Two Views, Take a 2ndlook

Posted in Current Affairs, Indo Pak Relations, Media, Uncategorized by Anuraag Sanghi on September 29, 2008

The India China Relationship

To most in India, China is possibly the biggest defence threat and is a ‘feared’ competitor.

However, the 2ndlook blog has discounted the ‘threat of the Chinese dragon’ based on an active engagement with China – and not benign neglect.

No less than Arun Shourie has weighed in on the ‘Chinese threat’ side of perception. This puts the 2ndlook blog in a minority. In the 2ndlook blog dated May 31st 2008, there was a significant analysis of the China-India face off. More on that later.

Two Books – Opposite Themes

In the meantime, Arun Shourie’s book has evoked scant interest – excerpted below.

… important parallels, as Shourie points out, between the situation pre-1962 and the situation now. Border talks are regressing, Chinese claims on Indian territories are becoming publicly assertive, Chinese cross-border incursions are rising, and India’s China policy is becoming feckless … India has always been on the defensive against a country that first moved its frontiers hundreds of miles south by annexing Tibet, then furtively nibbled at Indian territories before waging open war, and now lays claims to additional Indian territories. By contrast, on neuralgic subjects like Tibet, Beijing’s public language still matches the crudeness and callousness with which it sought in 1962, in Premier Zhou Enlai’s words, to “teach India a lesson”. (Stagecraft and Statecraft: Lessons for today’s India from the 1962 Chinese invasion).

The lack of coverage in Indian media for an important book like this is a matter of concern. At the same time, another book on a similar subject, from an American perspective is vastly different – and closer to the views of the 2ndlook blog.

This one, … (by) Ms Shirk (former deputy assistant secretary of state who dealt with China) … should become a must read for every Indian who cowers and cringes at the very mention of China. For, as Shirk shows, there is no reason to do so. The core of her message is that only one thing has changed over the last two decades: instead of being a paper tiger, China has become a cardboard tiger.

… recall how China responded to the Tibetan uprising just before the Olympics to get a sense of its vulnerabilities and the resultant paranoia. The Chinese embassy in New Delhi was surrounded by three rings of defence against attacks by Tibetan women. You don’t become a super power merely because you have some money and some guns.

the Chinese leadership no longer has to fear the foreign devil who speaks English; it has to fear the average Chinaman who does so. She also shows how there is no shortage in the variety of unrests in China: you name a type of discontent, and it is there. But unlike India, China has not had the sense to develop political outlets for the head of steam that is building up. The only way it knows of dealing with mass discontent is repression.

Shirk also deals with the aspect that the Chinese leadership is most anxious to hide: a split not in the ranks of the party, but in the highest echelons of the leadership. And the second- and third-level Chinese leadership knows this. The drive against corruption, for example, when mayors are hanged, is seen as just a tea leaf, a straw in the wind that the big boys are pulling in opposite directions.

contrary to popular belief, especially in India, China can’t get along with anyone. Japan, Taiwan, Korea, India all have difficulties with a neighbour whose word can’t be trusted and who tends to rely more on strong-arm tactics than diplomacy. This, too, seems to be a part of the Communist party repertoire, merely their way.

As we see in this book, when push comes to shove, China always backs down. Its leaders simply don’t have the stomach for a confrontation because they don’t know how it will turn out for them personally. That’s the key thing: the personal interests of the Chinese communist leaders. It now always comes before the country’s interests, or is at least seen as being coterminous with it. (Book Review of FRAGILE SUPERPOWER by Susan L Shirk).

The Chinese Paper Dragon

The Chinese success is similar story. Much like USSR’s break-up, the Chinese monolith is more fragile than apparent. Apart from the usual suspects of democracy, economic disparities, social upheavals, etc, there are 3 factors, which most Chinese analysts miss.

One, the Tibetan’s are held together by force – and no one imagines that this holding them together by force, can be in perpetuity. The Muslim provinces of Xinjiang (another one-third of China) is usually ignored. These issues are usually minimized by the current strength with which China holds these provinces together.

But possibly, the biggest issue is the share of revenues of the Chinese central governments.

Secondly, the Chinese Central Government commands less than 25% of the total tax revenues – and the 75% goes to provinces. This, possibly is why the Chinese Government cannot reduce cigarette usage in China. Most expenditures on health, education, pension, unemployment, housing etc. are borne by the local government – and hence there is patchwork of systems which run across China. Most of executions and imprisonments of bureaucrats (including the Mao’s Cultural Revolution) is to demonstrate central authority. The PLA is the only factor that keeps China together. A Chinese Lech Walesa or a Nelson Mandela could unwind China very quickly.

Significantly, and thirdly, the Chinese diaspora and Western MNCs are biggest investors in China – and also the main beneficiaries. This currently keeps resentments of the local Chinese under control – as the neighbour is not getting much richer. But at one stage the domestic Chinese will want to greater say and control over the Chinese economy. He may not be happy with just a well paying job and abundant, low quality goods.

India vs China

On these three counts India scores significantly better than China. India’s problems with Kashmir are a British legacy, an external creation – as is the North East problem, to a degree. India’s significant issue (probably temporary) is the Naxalite problem. India’s central Government has greater control and share over total revenues – than the Chinese. India’s recent economic and political successes are entirely home bred – with the exception of remittances from the expat workers in the Middle East.

2ndlook blog proposes a different way out of this India-China stalemate.

The Detritus

As various colonial powers were forced out of various colonies, left behind was the garbage of colonialism. This post-colonial debris has become the ballast, that is dragging down many newly de-colonized countries. And it is the stereotypes and images of each other that seem to be determining the relationships between the two countries.

India

Vietnam suffered from a prolonged war (1956-1976) – and finally peace had a chance after 20 years of war. Korea remains divided. The Cyprus problem between Turkey, Greece and the Cypriots has been simmering for nearly 100 years. The role of the Anglo Saxon Bloc, in Indonesia, the overthrow of Sukarno, installation of Suharto and finally the secession of East Timor is another excellent example. The Israeli-Palestinian conflict (1935 onwards) will soon enter its 75th year. The entire Arab-Israeli-Palestinian conflict is a creation of the Anglo-French-American axis. The many other issues in the West Asia and Africa are living testimony of the Western gift to the modern world.

Closer home is the Kashmir problem. After 60 years of negotiations, India-Pakistan relations have remained hostage to the Kashmir issue. Similarly, between China and India, the border issues remain 60 years after the eviction of Britain from India.

We Hereby Resolve

Let us (India and China) decide that for the next 60 years, these legacy border issues will remain in cold storage! There are far more pressing issues that need our attention. Let us focus on those issues. We have a lot of catching up to do.

Indo Pak Relations – What Will It Take

Posted in Business, Current Affairs, European History, History, Indo Pak Relations, Media, Uncategorized by Anuraag Sanghi on August 17, 2008

The Detritus

As Britain (and the West) was forced out of various colonies, left behind was the garbage of colonialism. This post-colonial debris has become the ballast, that is dragging down many newly de-colonized countries. The Cyprus problem between Turkey, Greece and the Cypriots has been simmering for nearly 100 years. The role of the Anglo Saxon Bloc, in Indonesia, the overthrow of Sukarno, installation of Suharto and finally the secession of East Timor is another excellent example. The many issues in the West Asia and Africa are living testimony to the British gift to the modern world. The entire Arab-Israeli-Palestinian conflict is a creation of the Anglo-French-American axis.

Closer home is the Kashmir problem. After 60 years of negotiations, India-Pakistan relations have remained hostage to the Kashmir issue.

Jagmohan Dalmiya

Jagmohan Dalmiya

A Precedent

Till the 1983, world cricket was run by the UK and Australia. These countries, of course, had veto power, had the funding, to control the game. In 1983, however, Britain and Australia hit a financial roadblock – the 1987 World Cup sponsorship. They did not have a sponsor in place for the 1987 World Cup. And then India stepped in. India roped in Dhirubhai Ambani for the sponsorship. India roped in Pakistan to put in a joint bid for the 1987 World Cup.

What was Special

This was, simply, without a precedent. For three reasons.

Imran Khan

Imran Khan

First, this was a unique case, where rich and developed countries could not find a sponsor for a sporting event, which they dominated. And a poor country could.

India, in 1987, still had a waiting period for Bajaj Scooters. Maruti cars had just been introduced. Colour TV sets were rare and colour TV transmission had started a few years old – and a luxury. Competitive bidding for TV rights was not possible – and could be sold only to a public sector TV transmission monopoly. Computers in India were rare and far in between. Private sector as we knew it was non-existent. Licenses were required for everything. Foreign exchange situation was precarious. Hence, for a poor country to bid for a World Cup was unprecedented.

Sunil Gavaskar

Sunil Gavaskar

The second major challenge was the organization. Indian bureaucracy was then (much more than now) a minefield. Myriad laws made any kind of complicated organization a nightmare. Private sector was seen with suspicion. Indian films still portrayed businessmen as villains. Indian software industry was nowhere in sight. India did not have even one (private sector) company in the Fortune 500 list. To say the least, it was audacious, at a time when India dominated by stereotypes (more then than now).

But the third element that has remained unrecognized was the working of the India Pakistan partnership. The World Cup bid was a joint bid (1985) by India and Pakistan. No one would have bet that India Pakistan could have worked together. But together they did. And successfully. This Indo-Pak relationship has now survived for more than 20 years.

What Changed

India and Pakistan, went ahead and moved cricketing headquarters from UK to Dubai. Unlike Bro.Manmohan Singh at the high table, BCCI and Pakistan just took away the veto powers of UK and Australia over cricketing matters. In spite of best efforts of ‘divide-and-rule’ by the ECB (UK’s cricketing authority) and Cricket Australia. UK, in a case of sour grapes, went ahead and stopped its players from participating in the Indian Premier League. Australia broke ranks, and participated. South Africa started with its first official post-apartheid series in India – the post-apartheid ‘coming out’ party.

In the UK and Australia, this loss of power rankles.

Shahriyar Khan

Shahriyar Khan

Use The Experts

This India Pakistan Cricketing relationship is very healthy – and has been managed by four people. Of course, there has been no case study, or a book or even a news report on this partnership. So some of this is my perception based on media interaction.

The four people in this complex relationship have been Jagmohan Dalmiya and Shahriyar Khan at the administration level. Between these two, they have managed a consensus between the Asian cricketing countries and South Africa. Jagmohan Dalmiya has a business background – and a career in cricket administration. Shahriyar Khan is a career diplomat and also a cricket administrator.

The other two are Sunil Gavaskar and Imran Khan – two well known and respected players in each of the countries. Between, these four, they have managed this complex cricketing relationship. Some of it is visible – but mostly, below the line. Especially, significant is the management of agreements. Recently, Asif Ali Zardari dismissed written agreements with his coalition partners, PML (N) headed by Nawaz Sharf, claiming agreements were not “holy like the holy Koran.”

The Learning

Now, if these four can overcome the complex political situation and the minefield of history, is there a learning for others? Especially, for those who manage the India-Pakistan political relationship.

Hidden in this cricketing relationship, is the solution to the sub-continental peace.

Post Script

This lesson seems to be dawning. Seven months after this post, a leading Indian newspaper carried an article on how Asian cricket needs to continue on the India Pakistan axis, which has been so successful in the last two decades. It points out how when cricket Indian administrators like

“I S Bindra … suggested that India is capable of hosting the 2011 World Cup on its own … (they) have sacrificed the much-used paradigm of subcontinental unity, which has seen India and its neighbours dominate international cricket politics for almost a decade.” It furthers links how ” it is inevitable that the West, rocked by the Stanford disaster recently, will try and regain composure and mount a counter-attack. Statements like English players may not be released for the IPL by the English Cricket Board and Tim May’s urging that a thorough security assessment is necessary to convince international cricketers to consider playing in IPL are evidence that such an offensive has already begun.”(ellipsis and bold text mine).

It is time that the Indian Foreign Service establishment took this learning – and start running.

Come June 2009, Shahriyar Khan (mentioned and pictured above) alongwith Shashi Tharoor came out with a book on Sub-continental cricket. Indian media, since it was not led by the nose, have this book cursory coverage.

Shashi Tharoor and Shahryar Khan in Shadows Across the Playing Field tries to provide answers by analysing 60 years of this intense cricketing rivalry, one, which has, on occasions superseded the intensity of the Ashes. (via something to hope for, and look forward to).

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