Challenge the infrastructure where it stands
Nine dead, several injured in an IED triggered explosion in Pune last night. By Home Secretary Pillai’s account, the IED was placed in an unattended packet, which exploded when a waiter tried to open it. The attacks come just weeks after Lashar-e-Taiba chief Hafiz Saeed issued specific threats to the cities of New Delhi, Kanpur and Pune in a February 5, 2010 Yaum-e-Yakjehti Kashmir speech in Lahore. Indeed, Pune was also one of several Indian cities recceed by David Coleman Headley.
The attacks also come at a time when India and Pakistan are scheduled to begin their first round of talks at the Foreign Secretary level, starting February 25. The talks were offered by India at the prodding of Washington, which wants to be seen as being sensitive to Pakistan’s India-paranoia, as US begins its largest military operations against the Taliban since 2001 in Marja.
So what must India’s response be?
Much can be done, both as an immediate response to the attacks as well as from the standpoint of expunging the notion that India is incapable of challenging the infrastructure that supports such attacks. Pragmatic Euphony’s excellent post details how India should lay out short- medium- and long-term goals vis-a-vis Pakistan. In the here and now, India must mitigate the threat of immediate attacks in other Indian cities and soothe public apprehension and anger. It must also carry out a full investigation of the attack, identify the perpetrators and bring those under its jurisdiction to book.
Equally important, India must also ensure that talks with Pakistan continue as planned. The idea is one that many will scoff at, but consider this: despite public statements that indicate otherwise, Pakistan is not keen on talks with India. Talking to India denies Pakistan from invoking the convenient “beast on the east” schpeel that today finds more resonance in the Obama Administration than it ever did during Bush 43’s reign.
Hence the even more vocal “help Pakistan solve Kashmir and it will return the favor in Afghanistan” (or alternatively, “help Pakistan solve Kashmir so that they can dedicate more troops to the Pak-Afghan border“) jabber from the American intelligentsia. India is vested in a successful US/ISAF operation in Marja and if talking to Pakistan can help tweak perceptions, it must do so.
Moving forward, India must develop the capability to challenge the infrastructure that continues to support attacks on Indian soil. Today, those who plan, finance and otherwise support terrorism against India are as smug as they are cozy, knowing India is incapable of challenging them in their own backyard — a heavy price the country is now paying for ill-advised policy shifts made by a fractious coalition in 1997. These ill-advised policy changes need to be reversed immediately. This will only happen if Manmohan Singh’s government stops playing the perennial apologist, provides the funding, training, technology and resources necessary to impose heavy costs on terror infrastructure operating outside Indian territory.
The alternative to this is to continue to absorb ceaseless body blows and mutter away about surgical strikes and our patience not being inexhaustible. So what will it be?