Tuesday, December 2, 2008

Post Mumbai - What should India do?

After the Mumbai attacks, the groundswell of popular anger seems to have caught our Netas by surprise. Not that it'll last. When the Chief Minister of a state says that "not even a dog would have looked towards his house", when talking about a Martyr of the recent attacks, it should be pretty clear how disgustingly insolent our political 'leadership' is.

The problem here is simple - the "lip-stick wearing" cosmopolitan people of the cities don't vote, and so, the Netas don't care. The votebanks in the rural areas don't know about whats going on, and are more worried about their own lives (which is understandable). So why should the Netas care about this "little incident" when it will not affect them in elections anyway?

So the simple answer to all those people who are venting their rage, or like me, are sitting quietly and gnashing their teeth - VOTE, YOU FOOLS!!! And if you think there is no one worthy enough to vote for, STAND UP AND LEAD!!!

Coming to the government's response to this, there are 6 questions the Indian Administration should ask about Pakistan and the attackers:

1. Who is Responsible?

2. Did they have any institutional backing - Pak Govt, Army, ISI.

3. Who is in control in Pakistan?

4. Is it in their interest to stamp out this terror infrastructure?

5. If so, will they be ready to do that, taking any means necessary?

6. Based on the Answer to qn. 5, how do we respond?

The answers we're getting till now are:

1. Unclear, but a clear LeT hand.

2. Less clear is the level of ISI support. Pakistani Govt's hand is notably absent (till now at least), but given that ISI is firmly under Pak Army control, that issue isn't ruled out.

3. Certainly not the Civilian Govt, which is still tenuous. Its almost certain that the Army has the govt by the throats and Controls all political, military and security matters, given the backtrack over sending the ISI chief. The govt seems to only have the control over development issues that the Army has no interest in.

4. Obviously not in the Pak Army's interests to stop terror - they are clearly supporting the Taliban and LeT, and have an even more active support for Anti-Indian terror groups.

6. Solution - How should India respond?

No easy answer to this, but a whimpering, weak position is certainly not it, neither is a repeat of 2002, which in the end, served no purpose except waste billions of dollars and weakened the economic growth.

Instead, I think we should engage the Pakistani civilian Govt, both with Carrots and Sticks. Zardari and his govt would want to stamp out these terrorists if they had the Choice. So give it to them.

1. Restart the covert operations against the ISI and terrorists (which had been closed down by IK Gujral way back in '97). Actively destroy and destabilize the ISI's hold on Pakistani policy and the terror groups.

2. Reactivate the assassination wing of RAW, which was closed down. This is no longer the time to wait for extraditions, which Pak will not do - US does not wait, and neither does Israel. Kill the 20 leaders of the terrorist organizations, and if need be, their backers in the Pak Military and ISI. This is no longer play time - gloves should come off.

3. Strike at Terror camps in PoK, either through air strikes, or through commando operations. Collateral damage be damned.

4. And Lastly, take a more active interest in Afghanistan - if need be, inject a battalion or two of special forces troops along the Pakistan Border (although I doubt the US will allow that), so that we can strike at terror infrastructure which is aimed at India - LeT and other terror groups have camps in A'stan and the border areas, but given that they do not directly affect US operations, they are being mostly ignored. That should stop.

Charity Starts at Home:

Unfortunately, without credible steps taken in India, we won't be able to respond in Pakistan. Coming to action to be taken in India itself, unfortunately, this is even more of a pickle:


1. Strengthen the IB, RAW and other intelligence agencies - make sure that they do not fall victim to bureaucratic bean counting, and have all the funds they need. Remove them from Political control, and force cooperation between them.

2. Create a parliamentary committee to oversee the Intelligence agencies (a la US). Keeping them under only the PM's control ends up meaning that they are controlled by bureacrats in the PMO.

3. More openness from the intelligence organizations - excessive secrecy usually means that failure is being disguised.

4. Stamp out the inter-agency wranglings with an iron boot. Tough to do, but absolutely critical.

5. Open up intelligence agency recruitment to everyone, rather than the present system of deputation. Senior positions must be filled by career spooks, not policement who are deputed to them.

Security & Policing:

1. Improve the infrastructure of security agencies - it is absolutely disgraceful that the 3 Mumbai top cops were shot and killed through their sub-standard vests, while the request for a 100,000 better vests were being held up by some idiotic bean-counter who didn't know a thing about security issues

2. Give the agencies more autonomy, by removing them from bureaucratic control. Civilian control does not mean bureaucratic control.

3. Make sure that the people (bureaucrats) overseeing security issues are trained in them, and not some blundering idiot who didn't know that Marine Commandoes exist and were stationed less than a mile away from the site of the attacks.

4. Give them more leeway to procure equipment by providing with a larger fund limit.

5. Anti-terror Capabilities:

  • Form specialized anti-terror centres in each state, with wings in all the major towns and cities, equipped with the latest technology, and given enough funds and a free hand.
  • Give them the support of intelligence agencies and anti-terror forces like the NSG in terms of training, cooperation and intelligence sharing. Remove the middlemen and allow these agencies to talk directly.
  • Set up dedicated SWAT-types forces in all major towns and cities, with dedicated air-wings to ferry them with speed. Set up NSG branches in major Metros, as mooted, with their own aircraft.

Police reforms are a must :
  • Right now, the constabulary in most Indian cities is absolutely uncontrollable, being in the pockets or some politician or the other. Get them out of political control.
  • Ensure that the top brass has a free hand in disciplining, suspending and firing their men.
  • Give the policemen good infrastructure, pay, weaponry, and above all, excellent training. Lathis are not enough. They need better vests, weapons, and communication equipment.
  • Strict retraining of policement - ensure that they stay fit, and keep up with Technology, and don't lose the grip over assault tactics.
  • Training - ensure that cops are well trained, and not just the officers, but constables as well - it should not be a Raj style leader-chela force, but a professional, thinking police where all are equally knowledgeable
  • In particular, improve the possibilities for transfer from the constable to Officer level. This is provide much needed enthusiasm to learn.
Investigative reforms:
  • Improve and professionalize investigation capabilities.
  • Split investigation away from law and order duties - Let police stations keep the order, give the CoD or a body of detectives the power to investigate all major crimes, such as murder, dacoity, terrorism, etc. Not only will this ease the pressure on police officers, who are both overworked and ill-trained, but will improve success rate in catching the accused, shorten investigative time, and make the results foolproof and free from external pressures.
  • Improve forensic and investigative capabilities by pushing money into improving infrastructure, equipment and technology - we should not have only 3-4 Forensics centres in the whole country, but a lot more - at least 2 in a state.
Legislation & Strong Action:

1. Bring back a POTA like anti-terror law.

The power of anti-terror legislation isn't in their deterrent capabilities, but more so in the power it gives the authorities to carry out extra-ordinary measures to investigate, prevent and prosecute such attacks.

Police need to be given the power to tap phones, surveill suspects, hold suspects for longer periods than needed, and to use aggressive interrogation measures (BUT NOT TORTURE) against suspects to prevent attacks or to prevent the perpetrators from escaping. Time is of the essence in such cases, and that means that extra-ordinary measures are needed. Added to that is the secrecy element, where suspects being in contact with anyone can potentially blow the whole operation.

It is inexcusable that we do not have any laws to take on terror. We need one, and right now!! The common human rights nonsense be damned. However, keep an oversight and a strict eye to ensure that these laws are not misused - judicial oversight of the investigations is the best way possible.

2. Stronger action against illegal migrants:

This section is a huge national security risk, and until they are deported, terrorists will find an easy support base. Political will is needed, as is community unity from those affected - Netas need to know that not taking action on this is not winning them votes, or love.

3. The will to strike:

Without a strong leadership which is ready to defy international pressure and ineffective international laws, none of the above will work. We need to have leaders who think like those in Israel. Political consensus is needed, and in the absence of, a strong will by the leading party to ram through despite opposition from even its supporting parties (who obviously have their own motives). Else, it will all be in vain.

Two thousand years ago, a Roman citizen could travel the world without fear, for if the safety of even one of its citizens was in question, the Roman state would respond with fearsome force, sending its legendary legions to destroy those responsible, even if they had to traverse a thousand miles. That is the level of commitment we need. Unfortunately, that seems to be absent from all but the American and Israeli Governments. Our own, seems to believe that a few hundred dead out of a billion is a small thing.


Abhishek said...

Hi sniper,

I am new to ur blog and I found it very interesting! Keep up the good work.
BTW I had a query, is it possible, realistically, for India to launch a commando operation deep inside POK and/or Pakistan to destroy the so-called terror camps?? This is something which seems impossible to me without lots of our soldiers being KIA!



sniperz11 said...

Thanks a ton Abhishek.... glad u liked it.

Coming to ur query, it is certainly possible to infiltrate troops into PoK and conduct such deep penetration raids. Most of these camps are less than 40-50 kms from the LoC, as the crow flies, so that shouldn't be too difficult.

However, it may be a problem to strike immediately, simply because Pak would have put their AAA and SAM units on alert, so it is dangerous. Plus, most of these camps were emptied just after 26/11, so there isn't much use in hitting them right now.

However, as the Brass has said, we definitely can conduct such strikes. KIAs will be inevitable in such an op, but the advantages of actually inflicting lasting damage on terror infrastructure is reason enough to act, and I'm sure the armymen will be more than happy to take part.

secondly, there are other ways of hitting the camps as well - air strikes are one option. Another is to infiltrate small groups of soldiers into PoK to attack these camps, and assassinate the members and leaders. (Check out some of the scenarios on BRF about this.... gives a good idea - http://forums.bharat-rakshak.com/viewtopic.php?f=3&t=4287)

Then, there are the Smerch rocket batteries, with their 80 km range (60 km is definitely possible), which can hit hard. All this without talk of missiles.

Heliborne assaults are definitely possible, especially if the ingress and egress routes are suitably found. This will allow a massive strike to be possible. However, we will need to provide them sufficient air cover to prevent PAF jets from joining the fray.

Overall, there are a lot of options available, that just need the will to be exercised. They may lead to losses, but if we can destroy a hundred terrorists, then we can save a lot more lives, including Jawans - its simple maths.


sniperz11 said...

Heres a comment I placed on Petes Intelligence blog (http://spyingbadthings.blogspot.com - linked on Blog links to the right). I think this may answer a few of ur doubts:

"Indian Intell agencies know where the training camps are. We know where their most radical Madrassas are and where their leaders, including Dawood Ibrahim are holed up....

All we have to do is strike at Muridke, the HQ of LeT, and finish off Dawood in his lair in Karachi... we do have the capability - if nothing, its an opportunity to show off the Brahmos. our Commandos have also shown their mettle, and its not very difficult to strike at targets in PoK.

The point of this operations should be not just to destroy the infrastructure, but to create fear in their leadership - akin to Israels response after Berlin 1973. While the covert killings of Op Wrath of God were successful, it took Spring of Youth to really strike fear into the hearts of the terrorists - that is what we need to do immediately.

The more long term aim should be to completely devastate ISI's capability to influence and train these terrorists - by themselves, all that they will do is to throw themselves at the barbed wire fences of the LoC, without much success.... it is when the ISI steps in to show these guys how to do it that they become so deadly.

Unfortunately, this needs that we immediately overhaul our RAW completely, including ramping up its HUMINT capabilities inside Pakistan, and the covert operations wing. That is the need of the hour, and should be done immediately if we want to start these ops within 6 months.

Unfortunately, like in 2001, the timing is wrong for a military strike - US is in the middle of an Afghan crisis, has a new Prez, and desperately needs Pak help. India is going to call for elections within a month, and has little it can do, and attacking pakistan openly, or massing troops will only give the ISI, LeT and the Pak Army what they want.

So its a pickle, more so if the Indian Govt is looking for a solution which can also get it votes. Public anger calls for a visible action, but sense calls for waiting, preparing and striking covertly. Doing the first will help Pakistan, doing the second will seem to be a sign of weakness and inaction and will lose the UPA votes.

What they should do is call in the BJP and formulate a joint response with them - that way, it will lead to a continuity of response from the new government, give the BJP a chance to take part in formulating a response, and also gives the govt a chance to share the blame in case of failure.

However, to do that, the COngress Party will have to swallow its pride, accept that they need a unified response, and accept that they just might lose the next elections.

One just hopes that the Govt will put the national Interest above its own survival."