Monday, December 8, 2008

DECLARE WAR ON TERROR/ Essay/India Today, December 15, 2008

Betrayed & savaged

Indian citizens are condemned to be the permanent victims of jihad and a political class which has no sense of the nation

Forget that platitudinous naiveté: terrorism has no religion. And remember that simple truth: when you are within the firing range of the killer, religion offers little protection. Of the 59 dead in Mumbai’s Chhatrapati Shivaji station, 19 were Muslims. In death at least, there was no communal divide.

The killers were firing straight into the already scarred soul of India. They—10 jihadis from across the border and armed with AK-56s, bombs, RDX and 2,000 rounds of ammunition— came crossing the sea with one deadly agenda: a spectacular, prolonged assault on India, a rising power but known for its weakened resistance to forces that challenge its very existence. Mumbai, the emblematic city of India’s soaring ambition, was an obvious target. When the nation, scalded and poorer, regained consciousness after 60 hours of unsolicited hell, we expected a morethan-obvious rejoinder from those who are in charge of our national security. We were hit by a barrage of bunkum.

A nation abandoned by its ruling political class has become the most favoured target for the enemies of civilisationThis one from P. Chidambaram, the newly anointed home minister and the Government’s hit man for all seasons: “This is a threat to the very idea of India, the very soul of India, we know, that we love—secular, plural, tolerant and open society. I have no doubt that ultimately the idea of India will triumph.” How perceptive. The minister has at last acknowledged that “there is a threat”. Thank you, but mouthing those seminarfriendly Indian qualities once more are of little use because blatant political expediency at the cost of national interest has already made those lofty sentiments empty banalities.

Is being tolerant, secular, plural and democratic an excuse for being a passive power where lives are cheaper? India is fast emerging as the safest country for the warriors of radical Islam, and it’s no longer an exaggeration when Mumbai or any other Indian city is considered safer than Kabul—or maybe as safe as Baghdad. Chidambaram has only tired rhetoric to offer. No answers.
Our politicians never get the message. The fury of a nation betrayed by its political class knows no bounds. Our discredited politicians are protected with the most sophisticated arms when the ordinary cops have only antiquated guns to save the citizens. Soon, the netas may have to be protected against their own people. When India erupted in rage, predictably, Prime Minister Manmohan Singh, instead of facing the people as a war-time ruler, took refuge in tokenism.
The exit of Shivraj Patil, whose entire term as Union home minister was
a prolonged dress rehearsal, could have only satisfied the most gullible, for he, no matter how effete, was the softest target. Really, how could you reduce the enormity of the Mumbai tragedy to the size of a Shivraj Patil? And his sacking was followed by the resignation of a political lightweight, Maharashtra deputy chief minister R.R. Patil, and then, after much dithering, chief minister Vilasrao Deshmukh.

There should have been more. Why were the powerful National Security Adviser M.K. Narayanan and his intelligence cabal consisting of the IB chief, the R&AW boss and the home secretary spared? Maybe their duties were more ‘political’ than ‘national’. Why were the top navy brass and the state’s senior bureaucrats and police officers let go unpunished? Because this Government is only interested in finding dispensable scapegoats.
This nauseating display of hogwash doesn’t mean that the predecessor was any better. Following the attack on Parliament, the NDA government made a lot of noise about teaching Pakistan a lesson but Washington’s word of caution prevailed. India asked for the repatriation of 20 dreaded criminals including Dawood Ibrahim but it did not even get one.

Seven years on, we haven’t come a long way. The moment the badly mauled UPA Government hinted at the possibility of an attack on terrorist camps in Pakistan, President George Bush, who is more concerned about America’s war on terror in which Islamabad is still an ally, sent his Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice to the flashpoint on a peace mission.

Lesson: we are alone in our existential war; there won’t be an international coalition and Pakistan is not going to be India’s Afghanistan. That too despite the fact that Mumbai is not just another city; it’s one of the throbbing nerve points of the so-called flat world. The “twin towers” of the Taj and the Oberoi were—and will continue to be—global landmarks. Among the victims included 14 nationalities. The world was called Mumbai during those darkest hours. For Mumbai, though, there won’t be a global war on terror.

We are not politically prepared to wage our own war—and to defend the nation, which, in certain quarters, continues to be a bad word. And that is why Mumbai will not be India’s 9/11. On that September morning seven years ago, there was no red America and there was no blue America but there was only a nation united by grief, rage and patriotism. In the India after Mumbai, there is a frightening gap between national sentiment and political attitude.

A politically divided India cannot redeem the nation—or defend its people. We are condemned to be the permanent victims of jihad as well as a political class which has no sense of the nation. The popular consensus on asserting the national will is not matched by any political urgency in defeating the enemy. A nation abandoned by its ruling political class has become the most favoured target for the enemies of civilisation.


Sanjay said...

Pakistan knows only too well that US is not going to allow Pakistan to wiggle out of its involvement in Afghan border and let Taliban have a free run in Afghanistan which would tantamount to USs defeat in its war in Afghanistan, even if that takes asking India to resolve all its issues with Pakistan via negotiations rather than militarily. There may be a minute possibility of that happening provided India retaliates, but Pakistan knows it too well that it is not going to happen.
some also advocate that western world be persuaded to take retaliatory action action against Pakistan.
India has already lost its leverage on US against Pakistan on this issue by not taking part in the US declared war against terrorism after 9/11 whereas Pakistan has been forced to play a key role in the war against Taliban and Al Qaida, so we can't expect US to take retaliatory action against Pakistan at this point, and no country is going to take any sort of retaliatory action against Pakistan independent of the US.
By carrying out the Mumbai terror attacks the immediate aim if Pakistan Army is to remove the negative spotlight from itself which it finds itself in following the failure to prevent the spate of terror attacks on its own soil especially after Marriott bombings in addition to the forced removal of Gen. Musharraf and peaceful Kashmir elections and be able to say that see we are no worse than Indians. In the long run Pakistan Army wants to regain its lost 'izzat' in the eyes of the section of the Pakistan public obsessed with Kashmir by getting India to the negotiating table, or getting US to persuade India to do so on the Kashmir issue, as this kind of high profile attack can only enhance its perceived 'izzat' which is presently at its lowest ebb ever.
How can India counter this design of the Pakistan Army?
Firstly, India can not target innocent civilians in retaliation to what they have done, its just not there in our ethos.
Since military action is not going to be accepted even as an option the only alternative is to make our defenses against terrorism so strong that terrorists just don't succeed. Our security apparatus has to get inside the mind of the perpetrators of terrorism and foil their design in the bud itself. It’s not going to be easy, it will require a certain level of assurance against terror attacks not just for the handful of VIPs but also for every citizen on the street. India can't afford to lose.

Vinoy Kumar said...

Yes, I broadly agree with the sentiments expressed in the article.What is the idea of India? Secular,Plural,Tolerant,Open? In other words a nation ready to be sacrificed at the altar of secularism,pluralism,tolerance and openness.When the Mullahas propogate the thesis that terrorism is contrary to the teachings of Islam and that Islam is a religion which is based on the principles of love,peace,friendship and universal brotherhood, and the government of the day, the politicians of every hue and the Indian media(print and electronic) echo these sentiments(in other words fall a victim to this oft-repeated lie) I can not but only say that we as a nation are a foolish stuff who are utterly oblivious of the danger which faces India and the world.How many of these non-muslim politicians and media men who day in and day out repeat the lie that terrorists have no religion studied Islam?Obviously none of them.The muslims have no choice but to propogate and sell this thesis that terrorism is contrary to the teachings of Islam because they are leaving in a predominantly non-muslim world and have been facing the threat of annihilation at the hands of America-the front runner in the war against Islamic terrorism. They, therefore, have no choice. But what is the compulsio before the media to succumb to this lie?
Secondly,I would like to say that whether it was the NDA or the present UPA- both have been guilty of being soft on terrorism.All this hullabaloo that India will attack the terrorist camps in Pakistan is going to die down soon.These politicians are pathetically incapable of doing that.What we have at the centre (and in most states) is a caricature of government.We have a Prime Minister who loses his sleep when a certain Hanif is put in jail by the Australian government on charge of terrorism, but can have a sound sleep when poor Biharis are beaten up and murdered by a gang of internal terrorists led by a certain Raj Thackrey!In a cabinet meeting he is reported to have said-"what can I do?".Then what for is he the Prime Minister of the country? Only to carry out the orders of the Gandhi family?Then we have Laloos, Mulayams, Paswans, Amars et al who never miss an opportunity to eulogise the oufits like SIMI and condemn what they call Hindu terror groups!
Yes, exit of a handful of politicians and entry of new ones in the govt. is not going to solve the problem.These politicians are thoroughly an incompetent,corrupt lot who can only play power politics.Fighting terrorism is beyond their capability.Would you believe, the Jharkhand Chief Minister Shibu Soren is protected by full one hundred securitymen?
Same is the case with politicians elsewhere.Is a politician's life more precious than that of a common man?What will the country lose if a few hundred politicians are killed?
Yes, we are alone in our existential war.Americans are not going to fight on our behalf.Their policy is guided(and rightly so) by their own national interests.We have to fight the war on our own.But in the light of the facts mentioned above, are we capable enough to fight terrorism and ensure that there won't be any more Mumbai again?I doubt it.

satish said...

The commandos and the soldiers who lose life in terror attacks and borders should be given fredom fighter status as this is nothing short of trying to get independence from terrosit networks which are becoming stronger and more intelligent by the day.

Make securityy checks mandatory in every shopping mall and dont give permissions or liscence if they dont do it