Friday, July 15, 2011

MUMBAI ONCE MORE

Mumbai has been hit once more. Will be hit many times over. Given the trajectory that our leaders and policy makers have put this nation on, it not a question of whether but when another terror strike will take place.

Notwithstanding Rahul Gandhi’s baseless claim that 99% terror attacks have been prevented, it is true that the frequency of attacks has reduced since 26/11. But this is not because of the few half-measures taken by the government to bolster internal security but because a) Pakistan’s hands have got a bit tied after they were completely exposed for the first time ever in that attack b) Sonia Gandhi has gone into a maniacal mode to consolidate her Muslim and minority vote bank guided by her personal predilections and her campaign team consisting of the NAC and dubious NGOs and hate-mongering activists, prompting terrorists and their masters across the Radcliffe Line to pull their foot off the terror-attack pedal till she delivers, so that reaction from the majority community is muted, and c) focus of the intelligence agencies has been diluted and diverted to create a big media tamasha of the clear, present and growing danger of a virtually non-existent Hindu terror which was the creation a handful of people involved in four attacks, the last of which was in 2007, giving them time and space to consolidate and build.

The net result is that the people of India are today more vulnerable than they were earlier to terror; sitting ducks, as a leading daily headlined their plight after the Mumbai serial blasts on July 13, 2011.

What does it take to fight terror? First, a country has to put in place internal measures, including a robust real-time intelligent network, to make it extremely difficult for terrorists to get funding, local support and freedom to move around with little fear of getting caught before they launch an attack. After an attack, not only should getaway be made very difficult but there should be swift and stringent punishment, mainly as a deterrent for those who might be contemplating joining such outfits. Second, the external factors responsible for propagating and exporting terror should be made to feel the cost of their misadventure to the degree that they are compelled to put a stop to their activities. Unless the second part is conclusively addressed, the first will yield only limited results, and lower the morale of the people and the nation as a whole.

But, be it in the corridors of power or in post-attack discussions and columns, despite the sound and fury, despite the very detailed knowledge some analysts have about the mother-terror architecture in Pakistan, in the end, the refrain remains the same: we can do no more than talk to Pakistan, and we must improve police and intelligence set up at home.

The first part, the easy, meaningless one really -- except for analysts and commentators -- continues to be pursued, while the second remains as neglected as it always was.

In fact, given Sonia Gandhi’s seemingly obsessive compulsion to woo the minorities, central agencies are increasingly looking the other way as the Indian Mujahideen consolidates and spreads it wings, and as Pakistan deploys more and more local sleeper cells to be activated at a time of its choosing. Home Minister Chidambaram, who initially promised much, seems to have been effectively been done in by Sonia’s team that is more focused on emasculating the majority and splitting the society communally to deliver an electoral victory to Sonia in 2014, than on allowing the government to fulfill its constitutional obligation of protecting the lives of its citizens and securing the nation from the menace of terror of which it has been a victim for almost a quarter century.

Talking to Pakistan is not going to yield anything for India. Pakistan is getting India to the negotiating table at the point of gun not to give but to extract, to extort. Our leaders and babus have made their mouths and minds the weapons of choice to deflect and defeat the aggressive, never-say-die, hate-filled minds ready to wage – and doing so – a thousand year war. They think little about the helpless and innocent Indians who are getting killed again and again, because they and their kith and kin are safe and secure. They believe that giving some concessions will get the Pakistanis off their back, and they spend their energies solely on trying to give only that much as will not raise a furore in the country.

The Pakistanis, who smelled the coward in them long back, on the other hand, keep shifting the goal posts and outsmarting them at every turn, so as to wear them down till finally they --India -- submit. It does not seem to have struck our guys that the more we give, the more the demands will increase, after suitable pauses. May be they know it; but if that be so, it means that their ignorance of and abhorrence for the employment of force to counter and defeat force overrides their commonsense, live and effective examples of other nations notwithstanding.

The US is a democracy like us, but after just one major attack on mainland US, they went for the perpetrators of the attack even though they were non-state actors in a sovereign country. And, though it took them ten years, they hunted down and killed Osama bin Laden. They knew that unless they struck terror back in the hearts of the terrorists, attacks on the US would not only continue but would increase in intensity and frequency. Though they that also put in place very stringent measures to almost eliminate the chances of further major strikes, they were never under any illusion that mere defense would defeat fanatic warriors who were not fighting a conventional war and who thought nothing about losing foot soldiers fed to fight and die for virgins in paradise.

That is why there have been no attacks on America till now, while here the sense of despair is becoming alarming. Make no mistake: if there are more such attacks, that country will not hesitate at all to introduce even harsher measures, at greater cost to individual freedom temporarily. Liberty comes at a price and can be enjoyed unfettered only in a secure nation not facing a serious threat. Many terror attacks and decades later, we refuse to learn even basic lessons.

Is this the response expected from a huge nation of 1.2 billion to such a grave threat? Every time a terrorist attack takes place, our politicians almost proudly and openly announce that a neighboring country, Pakistan, is behind it. It is almost as if they are telling the nation that they have done their job by blaming Pakistan, which is all they can do, and that the nation has no choice but to meekly continue accepting this evil. Having identified the source two decades back, why has no effective response been formulated yet? Why do we continue to wail like a helpless, defenceless woman who is being repeatedly raped by a small boy 1/6th her size?

Just imagine a scenario in which Pakistan was six times our size rather than the 1/6th it is. What would it have done by now? Do I need to spell out? We probably would have long been splintered and devoured as a nation by that country, and run over by Talibani extremists. And what have we done? For six decades, we have aimlessly and apathetically allowed a tiny Pakistan to fearlessly keep trying to do precisely that, and have not yet formulated a terminal response that can put an end to this cancer that is going larger and that will, inevitably, afflict our own Muslims in the long run, just as is being planned.

We seem to know well only how to rush quickly to the high moral ground of fatal weakness that our first Prime Minister taught us, and camouflage the overriding concern for electoral victory that his Italian grand daughter-in-law is pursuing with deathly determination.

Till this debilitating paradigm remains in place, the ordinary people of Mumbai, indeed the whole of India, will continue to live with the fear that they may not return home in the evening, that their blood soaked bodies will be dumped like garbage at the back of trucks.
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