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Tag Archives | Chidambaram

The day after Mumbai

India needs to arrest the narrative, break the cycle.

Familiar tragedy befell the city of Mumbai last night — three coordinated bomb blasts killed 21 innocent civilians and injured over 100.  My colleague over at Pragmatic Euphony puts across some important questions that deserve answers.  At the time of writing this blogpost, no one is yet to claim responsibility.  And while there were indications that some lessons had been learned by the government since the 26/11 attacks, the two terror incidents can hardly be equated.  The attacks of 7/13 have an unfortunately familiar signature to previous attacks in India — Bombay, 1992; Delhi, 2005; Mumbai 2006; Jaipur, 2008 and Guwahati, 2008.

Had this been a fidayeen attack or a commando-style assault resulting in a hostage situation (like 26/11), we’re not sure what the government’s response might have been. What we do know from previous incidents is that the nature of the attacks in Mumbai align with the modus operendi of two groups — the underworld, and local, but Pakistan-affiliated groups such as the Indian Mujahideen (IM).

India’s track record in bringing to book those responsible for terror attacks on its soil is troubling.  In The Hindu, Praveen Swami points out that despite multi-million dollar investments, India’s investigation into terror attacks since 26/11 have proven inconclusive.  Indeed, despite home minister P. Chidambaram’s claims that our counter-terrorism capabilities have been significantly enhanced since 26/11, we appear unable to even identify where persons on our so-called list of “most wanted” currently live.

It should be troubling to the state and to its citizens that on every occasion where innocent civilians are murdered in India, the narrative of preserving India-Pakistan peace is resurrected from slumber in the Western media. This is a narrative that India needs to arrest.  Like the need for India to talk to Pakistan ranks considerably higher than the value of the lives of innocent men, women and children who have died.  Let there be no “knee-jerk” reaction, they say.  But there’s already been a knee-jerk reaction. And several.

But beyond merely identifying those responsible for the heinous attacks on India, what is the government’s capability to deliver justice to victims?  What is to dissuade those hostile to India from carrying out further attacks in other large metropolitan cities?  If these attacks end up being traced to Pakistan, like 26/11 was, will justice ever be served?

This blog has repeatedly articulated the need for capacity to challenge terror infrastructure where it stood.  If the attack is traced to Pakistan, India has two options — pursuing the matter through political channels, which invariably leads to a cul-de-sac, or military, which appears infeasible given sufficient plausible deniability and international pressure. Now, India certainly has options available that don’t involve either the political or military to put it across to the perpetrators that their actions will not go unpunished.  The question is if India has the political will to deliver justice to victims of terror, by whatever means necessary.

Both within India and outside, those that have conspired against the state continue to act with impunity.  Until  the government can demonstrate that it can act decisively against those that wage war against it, this unfortunate cycle will continue.

India needs no new ideas.  The thinking that needs to be done has already been done.  No new whitepapers are needed.  This country needs doers.

 

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The Show Must Go On…

The Indian Premier League must be held as planned

The Indian Premier League (IPL) must be held as planned

Home Minister P. Chidambaram has urged that the second edition of the Indian Premier League (IPL) be postponed, due to conflicts with the Indian general elections in April — May, 2009.  He argues that law enforcement forces in India will be unable to provide sufficient security cover during the games due to election commitments.  This blogger feels that the Home Minister is attempting to play it safe during election season and not be drawn into a scenario that provides a damning indictment of his party’s mismanagement of India’s internal security apparatus, should something, God forbid, happen during the event.  The Lahore terror attack on the Sri Lankan team gave Mr. Chidambaram a convenient out, before a security assessment on the matter was even conducted.   Outside the Subcontinent, there appears to be an attempt to paint India and Pakistan with the same broad brush, in terms of threat potential.  Various quarters in India have also been playing up this hyphenation.

Let’s get real.  Pakistan is a smoldering pot of jihadi fanaticism where the writ of government is undermined every hour of every day as a matter of common practice.   Extremist forces in Pakistan operate with impunity both inside and outside the federal framework.  The Pakistani establishment brought this upon itself and is now overwhelmed and unable to deal with this Frankenstein.  To compare this to the state of affairs in a country that is about to hold the world’s largest exercise in universal suffrage (the 15th such installment, since independence) is laughable.

So go ahead, Mr. Home Minister, do your security assessment.  Keep in mind, however, that your inability to provide security cover will be a condemnation of the security apparatus that you and your predecessor oversaw for five long years.   B. Raman believes that only a pragmatic security assessment should dictate whether the IPL should be allowed to go ahead as planned.  He suggests:

The national debate on this question is sought to be influenced more by commercial considerations arising from the profit-making urge of the corporate entities owning the participating teams and the money-making urge of different sections of the media and the advertising community than by security considerations…

The importance of ensuring the security of the life and property of the common citizens is sought to be subordinated to catering to the money-making urge of these sections with a vested interest in seeing that the IPL tournament goes ahead as scheduled.

I have nothing but the highest regard for Raman, but my beef with this article is the notion that just because this is a commercial venture (or a “money-making urge” as Raman puts it) that it should be brushed aside. No one in their right mind would assign anything but top priority to security during national elections, but private enterprise is an integral part of urban, middle class India, and has been for some time.  It isn’t a “money making urge”, like some sly, underhand, nefarious charade, it is the engine that is driving India’s economy.

If the Home Minister is telling me that he can’t protect private enterprise in the country, our law enforcement agencies, along with the Home Minister can just pack up and move along because they are of no use whatsoever.  Our law enforcement agencies have done little else in recent memory than raid rave parties in Mumbai and Bangalore. What message is Chidambaram trying to convey to India and to the rest of the world?  That we are incapable of holding a sports tournament and national elections at the same time in India?  Pragmatic Euphony echoes similar thoughts on The Indian National Interest:

[I]t should worry the nation that the Indian state seems incapable of holding a sporting event along with the general elections. The UPA government has done little to build these capabilities during its tenure and is intent on using Mumbai or Lahore as an excuse for its failure.

[T]he greater impact is in the signalling value of the decision taken.  It impacts the international standing of the country not only for the tourists, but more importantly, for financial, commercial and business interests, as the security advisories get revised in corporate headquarters and government departments the world over.

The show must go on.  Not for “national pride”, or for corporations’ “money-making urge”, but for the Indian government to show its people and countries outside that the fallacious hyphenation of India and Pakistan is absurd, and that it is capable of maintaining law and order it the country after the aberrations of the recent past.

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