Air Marshal Ashok Goel (Retd.)
PVSM AVSM VM
11, Silver State, Pilibhit Byepass Road,
Bareilly-243005 (U.P.) INDIA
Mob: 9411900090, 09999722636
TERRORISM AND OUR RESPONSE
2008 the year of terror. Major incidents where Indian cities were on line of fire (Jaipur 13 May 2008, Bangalore 25 July, Ahemdabad 26 July, Surat 29 July Delhi 13 Sep, Delhi 27 Sep, Malegaon 29 Sep, Guwhati and other places in Assam 30 Oct and finally Mumbai 26-29 Nov)
The terrorist attack in Mumbai (26/11) through a new medium (Sea route) and Fidayean attack has added a new dimension. This resulted in 183 dead (including 28 foreign nationals) and nearly 300 injured. This catastrophe is being compared with 9/11 of the US and sent the electronic media, the diplomats, security and defence analysts into a frenzy. Hundreds or even thousands of articles and essays have appeared all over in magazines and National dailies. To day nearly forty days have lapsed since 26/11 but even now this frenzy continues. Not only that state CM (Chief Minister) and “Home Minister” had to go home. Even the Union Home Minister was packed off. India’s top leadership have spared no effort in shouting on top of their voices that Pakistan is the “Perpetrator of all this Terror Attacks”. Pakistan being the perpetrator in nothing new. Pakistan would like to see India bleed and bleed continuously and as long as they can.
Pakistan was built on hatred for India, US has been a collaborator since the time Pakistan came into being, member of SEATO & CENTO in the early years. Pak & US came much closer after the Soviets entered Afghanistan and installed a pro Soviet Govt. Americans saw this as a design of “Soviet Expansionism” to the east. American had to halt this expansion of the Soviets. They could not find a better ally and partner than Pakistan, not only that this could please the Chinese as well indirectly. The US along with CIA & ISI of Pakistan worked on a strategy to prop up groups with in Afghanistan who were opposed to the Soviet occupation. CIA & ISI created Taliban, hard-core fundamentalist group to over throw the Soviet forces from Afghanistan. The Taliban ably trained and motivated succeeded in their mission and over threw the soviet Forces. This creation and success of Taliban in throwing out a mighty power (of that time) legitimized “Global Terrorism”.
India faced the terror situation first in Punjab in early eighties. The same was handled firmly and differently and contained. J&K was brewing up with the calls of separatists and dissents from time to time. How we have fared in last twenty years in reacting to threats and demands of the terrorist needs a recall and analysis, to appreciate how we have allowed these elements to be on the upper edge.
One cannot forget the first of such an act on 8 Dec 1989. That was the day when Rubaiya Sayed (daughter of Mofti Mohammed Syed, who was then the home Minister of V P Singh Govt at the Center) was kidnapped by the militants in Srinagar. The Kidnappers demanded the release of militants who were in jail. The Govt succumbed within no time, and five hard core militants were released on 13 Dec 1989. This very soft approach changed the security scenario in the valley. Within no time chaos had commenced, Pandits, academicians, defence personnel were targeted at open and public places. And the valley was now gripped with terror.
The second such incident can be recalled of the year 1995. It was on 5 Jul 1995 six foreign nationals were taken hostage by a terrorist group “Al Faran” consisting of fourteen militants. American hostage escaped and was luckily saved by an Army Chopper. A Norwegian was beheaded and his body was thrown on the streets of Anantnag. As a follow up of these ghastly acts a task force was created. The task force assembled at Srinager (15 corps Hq). The task force had the elements of the Army, NSG and the Air Force. (Author was the Air borne force Cdr.) Not going into many details suffice to say by 9 Sep 1995 the task force had full knowledge of the hide out of the militant group, Al Faran. Then COAS had flown in to Awantipur and a presentation was made on 14 Sep 1995, that the force is really to strike. (Force had done night drills at similar heights at Gulmarg on 11/12 night Sept). Than COAS went quite satisfied, On 18 Sep 1995 a message was received, that the CMG would like to know if the task force could give guarantee on the safety of the hostages in this operation. Which fool could give such a guarantee? On 21 Sep 1994 the task force was asked to disperse and told, if required they would be recalled. More than 13 years have lapsed and that day never came. CMG (Crisis Management Group consisted of cabinet secretary, home secretary, defence secretary, foreign secretary and the ambassadors of those countries whose nationals were taken hostages). Later it was also learnt that the then Governor of J&K (whose was a former Army Chief) had also opposed the operation for the reasons best known to him.
The third security failure and internationally known hijacking of IC-814 on 24 Dec 1999 was the most shameful and regrettable event of this decade. Hijacked aircraft had landed at Amritsar and was on ground for more than an hour was allowed to take off for Lahore (just with 15 minutes fuel), we should hang our heads in shame.
There were half a dozen ways to incapacitate the aircraft while landing, or when parked. One hundred and fifty commandos of the Punjab Police had surrounded the aircraft with in no time though NSG and all other relevant actions were initialed. What happened ultimately that is release of three terrorists held in our jails for last 5 years, they were Omar Shiekh, Maulana Massod Azhar and a Kashmiri separatist Lat ram. There three terrorist were picked up in a Gulf Stream duly escorted by them RAW chief from Srinagar & Jammu. These three terrorist were put on an Indian Air lines plane. They were duly escorted by Jaswant Singh who was a Cabinet Minister in the NDA Govt in power at that time. Three hard core terrorist planners and thinkers were duly exchanged for the passenger’s on board the flight IC – 814.
In all three incidents (Rubiaya Sayed 8 Dec 89, Foreigners Hostage crisis-Aug, Sep- 1995, Hijacking of IC – 814) we did not respond in an aggressive and firm manner. We reflected indecisiveness and politically weakness for hard decisions.
Whenever we talk about “terrorism” we should remember Kargil as well. That was the longest and most well planned terrorist act by Pakis. It was planned directly by the top most military leadership of Pakistan. Though it happened prior to hijacking of IC-814, but its reasons and fall out are important “Indian Political Leadership” was over whelmed with the forthcoming “Bus Yatra” in Feb 1999. PMO had advised to go slow on Pak on intelligence gathering activities. This seems to have percolated down in military establishment as well. And we faced the biggest military challenge of our security lapse along J&K. We lost nearly 600 men and young officer. Due to folly of our “Political Masters” and “Top Military Leadership”.
26/11 and thereafter has sent the whole nation into frenzy . This was a unique attack of a kind. A group of well trained and highly motivated group of ten Fidayeen’s (Suicide attackers) sailed through Indian waters and struck some “Elite Destination” in the economic capital of India, Mumbai, leaving nearly 180 dead and more than 300 injured.
The writings, of commentates have said a lot. US secretary of state and British Prime Minster were in India within first week of the massacre. The reasons our simple, the region in now termed as the most “Volatile and Dangerous zone”
Pakistan is a deeply wounded state from India the reason are.
· Partition 1947.
· Annexation of majority states (Muslim) into Indian union, acquiring a minority status.
· Defeat of Pakistani raiders in 47-48.
· India’s Pokhran – 1 – 1974.
· Dismemberment of Pakistan, 1971 war, creation of Bangladesh.
· Surrender of Pakistan Army with 93000 Pow’s on 16 Dec 1971.
· Surrender of Bhutto - Simla agreement 1972.
· Kargil war -1999, unconditional withdrawal of Pakistani “Terrorists”.
· 2004-2008 Growing Indo US relations.
· Indo/US Nuclear Deal.
· Pak in Turmoil due US/Pakistan alliance on “War on Terror”.
Pak would like to see India bleed the jihadis logic in employing soft state India as their laboratory has been that if they can bleed the world’s largest democracy through novel technique for application against the tougher free societies in the west.
We reflect more of an emotive approach than realistic & practical. We have the intelligence, we have the security personnel well trained and motivated. But we fail. We have always responded in a manner to gain political advantage rather than react in larger national interest. We are arguing “Actionable information’s’ or not, NSG was delayed, these are week statements as we always try to save the organization and their masters.
We would blame every existing mechanism, and would not squarely and directly put the blameworthiness. And we land up creating new agencies or proliferate the assets. NIA has already been created. We are looking for additional Coastal command, NSG should have their own aircraft like etc (though there was no delay on the despatch of NSG from Delhi by ARC Aircraft) Rather punishing those who were guilty of ignoring the early signals, we all are moving ahead of doing every thing, rather than looking at failure & remedies.
Not only that proliferation of “Gallantry Awards” were not spared. One organization recommended even award of “Ashok Chakra” (Nation’s highest peace time gallantry award) to all 12 police officer’s killed. Don’t be emotive we should be more realistic with this yardstick all-military personnel killed during Kargil should have been decorated with the “Nation Highest Gallantry Award”.
So much has been written about state sponsored terror. Public has been sounded on military action, hot pursuit, limited military action, to dismantle terrorists camps in POK. These may not find a favourable response and the same has been adequately reflected in the print media. We had this option of “limited offensive in POK” only during Kargil conflict but our political leadership displayed lack of foresight and proactive aggressive approach.
We have been quite aggressive in our diplomatic offensive this time. A “Diplomatic Offensive” not only now but this should become a state policy. Global terrorism has acquired a greater menace then even nuclear-armed open & clandestine states, responsible or irresponsible states. United Nations should create an international mechanism where, all states should be subject to inspection of terrorist related activities.” International mechanism should be set up to extradite the terrorist from the state and law fully tried, or should be tried through “International Court of Justice”.
India has to launch an aggressive diplomatic offensive to woo China & Saudia Arabia two great supporters of Pak in their defence and economic built up.
We have to look total indigenous solution to mange or contain terror. Diplomatic offensive a “National Political Consensus” do not politicize “terror” to grain some votes, First and foremost political leadership is to show maturity, firmness, statesmanship. To conclude finally the words of a well-known strategic analysist are awakening “while Pakistan is guilty of sponsoring terror and making the country an easy prey. Make no mistake if Pakistan is to dismantle its state reared terror complex, India’s leaders will have to first dismantle their terror “Emboldening Outlook”