Saturday, December 20, 2008

Coud'nt have said it better myself , Condi

In a recent intrerview , Secretary of State for the United States of America Condi Rice said that "Only an idiot would trust North Korea". Let me amend that a little. Only an idiot with a death wish can trust Pakistan with regards to its commitments to dismantle the terror infrastructure.
Who knew, I guess I can say it better.

Thursday, December 18, 2008

The long term game plan of the Lashkar E Taiyaba

The truth often stares us in the face and yet the best and the brightest either miss is it or are unable to comprehend it. The audacious attack on Mumbai by a band of 10 terrorists was one has invoked a lot of chess beating "why do they hate us" type of analysis. The more cynical of us dismiss "it with the its all politics" feint. There are those bleeding heart liberals who actually believe their own speil about "non state actors".
So amidst this logjam of reasoning one angle that has'nt recieved sufficient attention is the angle that I intend to discuss in this piece.
In one of his speeches made in 1999 , Moammad Hafeze Sayed, the then head of the Laskar E Tayba , declared that the ultimate aim of the Laskar was to dismember India and establish Islamic rule over the sub-continent. This should not shock anyone , who hasn't lved under a rock for the past 20 years.
What he went on to add next was of a little more significance. He compared the 'Jihad' against India to that against the Soviet Union. Just as the Soviet empire had fallen when nobody saw it happening, India would go the same way. Now its not like a modern daySalluddin rode into Moscow and conquered Russia. The Soviet Union's was a collapse precipitated by economic reasons(i know thats an over simplification).
So tha leads me to believe that that is precisely the playbook that the lashkar is planing to follow against India. The attack in umbai furthered hat aim in the following ways.
It warned international investors that inbvesting in India was a dangerous proposition.
The reaction it triggered within the India establishment, is the creatio of 4 different NSG hubs.
That will require a massive investment in Infrastructure men and arms.
Coporate India will also have to start paying for a higher level of corporate security.
All this asymmetrical costswere imposed in the Indian economy for the appromiately $100,000
which is what in all likelyhood it cost to carry out the terroist attack on Mumbai.

Sunday, December 07, 2008

Rush to war

The recent terror strike in Mumbai, has quite justifiably raised the spectre of war between the two nuclear power neighbors India and Pakistan.
Very few on the Indian side have actually demanded that India go to war.
But almost as if to pre-empt that stream of thought, the peaceniks are already out in force.
Particularly appalling was an article by Kausar Ahmed a professor in some God forsaken College in Connecticut USA.
He approaches the possibility of war from the point of view of the imminently sensible question , what does India hope to achieve by going to war.
He then stumbles badly when he compares an Indian declaration of war with the American policy of pre-emption which he labels as imperialistic.
There are a couple of things I'd like to point out to Mr Ahmed and those of his ilk.
There is no element of pre-emption involved in action against Pakistan. Any action would have been made necessary by repeated aggression against India from Pakistani soil.
Secondly since when did defending the lives of those who call India home, become imperialistic?
I am neither a hawk nor a dove.
Common sense dictates that an adversary has no reason to change behavior if there are no costs involved. Pakistan and its rulers have operated under the impression that as long as a certain threshold is not crossed, India and its rulers can be relied on to act in a rational manner.
India has a lot more to lose than does Pakistan in case of open war.
So the options for India are limited. If full scale war is ruled out as an option, then India must find other means to impose costs on Pakistan when its territory is used to carry out terrorist violence against India.
To those who believe that India must rally world opinion in its favor, all I can say is wake up and smell the coffee.
World opinion is no match for world interests. By all accounts both America and the rest of the world is aware of the danger a nuclear armed Pakistan on the brink of anarchy poses to the rest of the world.
But you can trust the world will not do anything, as long as the violence originating in Islamabad stays confined to India. To summarize, if India cannot tolerate terror strikes against its citizens, either we find some leverage agaisnt Pakistan fast, or we have to consider the possibility of war and the costs it might impose on us.
I know its easier contemplating war while living in new york (like me) or inaction while living in connecticutt(like kausar ahmed).

Wednesday, December 03, 2008

A police force stretched to it seams: How it can be redeemed

Now I am descending into serious the arm-chair critic role, so bear with me while lay my ideas(nothing but common sense out).
If the carnage in Mumbai proved anything , it was that the Mumbai police was ill equipped to deal with the terrorists that held the city to ransom for 60 hrs. Call it intelligence failure or systemic failure, it was definitely a failure of massive proportions.
And since its the Police who are supposed defend the failure will be rightly assigned to them.
There is no doubt that the Police lacked the weaponry, the protective equipment , the training or for that matter the organization to deal with such a situation.
We can only hope that these issues will be studied by someone a lot wiser than myself and addressed appropriately. I am going to do my bit and lay out what I think needs to be done(being constructive as opposed to purely crictical).
The one thing that has to be noted here is that Mumbai a city of 18million people has a police force of 40,000 or so which is, 1 cop for 45o opposed to NYC whic has approximately the same numbers policing a population of 8 million or so.
Also NYC does'nt have politicians like Raj Thakeray to deal with.
A simple search for the Mumbai police on wikipedia reveals an interesting fact. Mumbai has no commando/SWAT team . The closest thing they have are the Local armed Police or the Anti-Terror Squad(which is basically an investigative unit).
This is something that has to change fast. In fact its appalling that this state of affairs was allowed to continue, with Mumbai being in the cross hairs of the terrorists for so long.
Every cop in mumbai has to be armed with a weapon and must know how to use it.
This might seem like a no brainer, but it has to be said, since the of the a 60 or so cops present at CST station a majority were equipped with batons. We do not live in British India anymore, where the biggest threat a cop might have faced was a non-violent Gandhian trying to burn british merchandise.
Off duty cops must be encouraged to keep their small arms on them. You never know, that might be the difference in a terrorist attack in the future.
If we expect cops to lay down their lives to protect their fellow citizens, we have to atlast give them the kind of protective gear that would give them a chance.
Sufficient care has to be paid to the physical fitness of the cops. An hour every day of duty time must be set aside for physical fitness. Anyone who has seen a pot bellied cop in Mumbai knows why this would be needed.
A chain of command has to be identified for any such operations to take place in the future.
The police leadership is better off directing operations from a control room, than providing target practice to terrorists in the case of attack.
Wel thats all I have , feel free to add suggestions

Open letter to the Prime Minister of India

Dear Dr Singh,
Before I launch into what no doubt will be a tirade(who ever hear of an open letter that was not), id like to point out how much, I and a majority of my countrymen admire and respect you.
If today India stands poised to take its place as a world power, it has a lot to do with what you did as Narsimha Rao's finance minister. You are rightly viewed as incorruptible and brilliant.
Now that the nicities are out of the way, let me get down to why I am really writing.
As opposed to your stint as Inida's FM, your stint as PM has been far from sucessful. There were a few things that only you could have done. I absolutely loved that you graded your ministers perfomance. So why was Shivraj Patil not booted out as Home Minister when he was consistenly scoring an F?
Why was this attack in Mumbai allowed to happen? Are you all spent out from the Rural employment Scheme, that we cannot afford to get our commandos on a plane before 5am 7hours after the terrorists first struck in Mumbai.
There is a whole littabny of things that went wrong, not all of which should be blamed on you.
But what followed?
You went on television and assured a jittery and angry nation that action would be taken.
So what happend? Not much later, you foriefn Minister says , that the military option with regards to Pakistan is rules out.
So whats the Plan Dr. Singh?
Wait for the next attack? Or are we supposed to wait till Jihadi terrorism goes out of fashion?
If those are infact ur solutions ie. do nothing, at least be honest enough to admit as much to the long suffering people of India. So atleast if a majority disagree with your approach, they can go out an elect someone else to do your job.

That did'nt take long did it.

India's foriegn minister issued a statement saying that India was not about to go to war with Pakistan over the terror attack in Mumbai. Less than 24 hours later, Pakistan's President, Asif Zadari, virtually backtracks on his earlier assertions of full co-operation with India's investigation. The demand to extradite the 20 terrorists/criminals sheltering in Pakistan was rejected. And comically, the captured terrorists Pakistani orgin is being questioned.
None of this should be the least bit surprising to anyone with mental faculties of a 11 year old.
But I am sure this has taken the collective Indian leadership by surprise.
The initial assertions of co-operation were made under the assumption, that this was the incident which would finally stir the Indian government to deal with Pakistan militarily. With the Pakistan army on its heels there could be no worse time for them to faceoff with the Indian army.
Now that the military option has been taken off the table right off the bat, Pakistan has no reason to co-operate with India. And they wont.
Now if someone had only explained this to Pranab Mukherjee, before he went off and blew India's chance to do get some real concessions out of Pakistan.

Monday, December 01, 2008

News flash:Terrorists don't usually come armed with pea shooters

The more details emerge about the Terror Attacks in Mumbai, the more embarassing it becomes for the Indian Security Apparatus in general and the Mumbai Police specifically.
Now it emerges that there were 60 or so policemen patroling CST(railway station) a site that was attacked by 2 gunmen armed with AK 56'es hand grenades and hand guns.
Given that most of these cops were armed with lathis and antiquated weapons, they still should have been able to take the terroists out, given their vast numerical superiority.
Having said that, I do not quite see the point of a cop without a gun. At the very least I expect a cop to be able to protect himself, only then can he be expected to protect the public.
Why exactly were there 60 policemen at CST? Most likely that its a transportation hub, and terrorist strikes there are not unexpected.
If you accept that argument, what exactly do you expect a terrorist to be armed with?
If yout awnser is anything like the weaponry the actual terrorists possessed, should'nt the cops (at least some of them) have been equipped to deal with that?
This points back to one of my previous posts, which wondered how the two terrorists were able to escape from CST after their rampage, which later resulted in the ambush which killed Hemant Karkare along with Ashok Kamte and Vijay Salaskar.

Caught between a rock and a hard place.

After a 60 hour fire fight that left closed to 200 people dead, the Indian security establishment declared victory against the terrorists. Essentially they are caught between a rock and a hard place. Admitting that 10 gun men could hold up the Indian commandos who probably outnumbered them 1-20( not to mention Mumbai police and the army), for close to 3 days , is probably admitting that our capabilities are not quite where we would expect them to be. On the other hand admitting there were more terrorists involved who managed to get away, would disturb to no end a highly jittery public. So for now the theory that 10-12 gun men could hold up India's finest seems more palatable.

Boy do we have our priorities straight

I did a quick google search for the "Major Terrorist Attacks India". I got the following link mostly detailing attacks from 2001-2007. So this is not counting the multiple incidents we have had this year, which include, Mumbai Jailpur, Bangalore and Ahmedabad.
All told there were approx 470 fatailities. So I am not including anything from the 90's or anything since the end of 2007, nor the profusion of violence that is common-place in the north east and in the state of J&K.
Now let me ask you how many top politicians have died in terrorist violence?
You have to go back all the way to 1991 and the Rajiv Gandhi assasination.
Ever since we have provided security , to each and every two bit politicians, so much so that terrorists don't even think of looking in their direction. Its either that, or the terrorists are content to let the guys we have as our leaders , run the country into the ground.
Just to put things in persprective, it costs 154 crores a year to provide security to the Prime Minister, prime minister's family members , former Prime Minister's families and a handful of SPG protectees. This is not counting the protection accorded to the various union ministers, state ministers and every other Tom , Dick and Harry politician.
So I am tempted to ask, what would I rather have tax payer money spent on?
Politicians or protecting the common man?
And I have a feeling I know how the common man would respond to that.
Pity we cannot have a referendum on this issue and inrporate it into law.