Saturday, December 6, 2008

Can we still trust Pakistan?

It is said that when a nation loses sight of its history, it loses its memory and sense of direction, the result is aimless firing. This is a classic case of systematic failure of our foreign policy towards Pakistan. Pakistan’s foreign policy appears to be anchored on a ‘hate India-destroy India’ syndrome and annexing Kashmir is a part of its national agenda. The moot question is whether we can trust Pakistan with its current ‘peace’ initiative. Historically, Pakistan has not proved to be a trustworthy neighbour.

Within eight weeks of the creation of Pakistan, they pushed in hordes of tribesmen in the state of J & K in October 1947. This was the first terror attack in the world history engineered by Pakistan. The tribesmen were fully supported by Pakistan Army regulars with full fire power and logistic support.

This invasion brought misery, rape, death, arson and looting. Hindus and Sikhs were selectively butchered and this agony is difficult to forget and dangerous to remember. In spite of ground realities of Pakistan’s involvement the Pakistan government denied. This was a clear case of a blatant lie by Pakistan’s government. Not only this, the ruler of J & K state had entered into a ‘stand still’ agreement with the Government of Pakistan, Pakistan betrayed and did not honour this agreement. How can Pakistan be trusted at all?

During 1965, Pakistan launched Operation Gibraltar and infiltrated thousands of its regular army troops in guise of tribesmen and started destruction in the state of J & K. Pakistan as usual denied its role. This was another lie as documentary proof of the PoWs confirmed full involvement of the Government of Pakistan. Lal Bahadur Shastri gave a stern warning to Pakistan to stop aggression. Pakistan ignored this warning and Indian forces launched their counter attack along the cease fire line as also the International border which turned the scales in India’s favour.

In Kargil, till date, Pakistan has ashamedly denied its involvement. They have violated the Simla agreement. Incidentally the relevant clause of the Simla agreement reads as under:
“In Jammu and Kashmir, the Line of Control resulting from the cease fire line of December 17, 1971 shall be respected by both sides without prejudice to the recognized position of either side. Neither side shall seek to alter it unilaterally, irrespective of mutual differences and legal interpretations. Both sides further undertake to refrain from the threat or use of force in violation of this line”.

How can India trust such a neighbour? We lost 527 finest officers and men and Rs 6000 crores (Rs 60 billion) to evict the Pakistan army from Kargil who had crossed the line of control in utter disregard to an international agreement.

Terrorism is an industry in Pakistan and it earns maximum foreign exchange to bail out Pakistan’s economy. Billions of dollars worth loans have been waived for Pakistan. They earned billions by establishing terrorism organizations (such as Taliban) and also earned billions in dismantling/ diverting terror organizations (as happened in Afghanistan). But Pakistan denies its involvement in terrorism. Can India forget the terrorist attacks on the Indian Parliament, Red Fort (symbol of our independence), massacres of Amarnath yatris, attack on religious shrines- Akshardham, Raghunath temple and now Mumbai. How can one trust such a country?

It may not be out of place to re- narrate an anecdote when Mr Radhakrishnan as ambassador to Soviet Union met Mr Stalin and spoke a lot about non- violence and the need to live in peace with one’s neighbours. Stalin gave him a patient hearing and replied, “Mr. Ambassador, the Russian peasant is very wise. When he sees a wolf in his backyard, he kills it, he does not try to make friends with him.”

The Indian government can draw its own conclusion about its options in dealing with Pakistan. India must act and demonstrate its power and join hands with USA and Israel against terrorism in general and Pakistan in particular.

Col Indar Pal (Retd)
War Veteran

Tribute to Major Sandeep Unnikrishnan- A Hero

DG, NSG, Jyothi Krishnan Dutt, alongwith colleagues pay their respects to NSG men Sandeep Unnikrishnan and Gajendra Singh who laid their lives fighting terrorists in Mumbai.(PTI Photo)

We salute you and your parents Dear Major Sandeep. These last few days I have learnt that India needs more people like you. There are no hopes from any political party as everybody is greedy, busy canvassing for votes. Their tears are also crocodile tears. It's We common Indian who have to save our lives. I have a son of two years old. I was thinking that I will not send my child to any army forces. But now I have changed. If we all think like this then who will protect the Nation. I thank you and many other brave soldiers for that. Now if my son wants to join the Military I will proudly say YES to him. Jai Hind, Vande Matram.

M Babu (Civilian)
Echoing Veterans' Voice

Operation Black Tornado
On the night of 26 Nov 2008, several iconic buildings in South Mumbai were attacked by terrorists. One of the buildings where the terrorists held people hostage was the 100 year old Taj Mahal Palace Hotel. Major Unnikrishnan was the commander of 51 SAG deployed in the operation at the Taj Mahal Hotel. He led his team from the front and engaged the terrorists in a fierce gunfight. When one of the NSG commandos was injured in the exchange of fire, he arranged for his evacuation and regardless of personal safety chased the terrorists who, meanwhile, escaped to another floor of the hotel, and while doing so Major Sandeep continuously engaged them. In the encounter that followed, he was shot from the back, seriously injured and succumbed to injuries.

Mumbai Massacre Time for Action

I start by humbly bowing my head to the martyrs of my old outfit, the NSG and those of the Mumbai police. NSG has never failed the nation and may that never happen. I have been a commando for a major part of my long service. Apart from being an instructor and later Commander at the Commando Wing of the Army's Infantry School, I have been the founding Chief Instructor of NSG. Today like any other Indian my chest swells with pride at their performance.

It is hard to imagine that the terrorists conducted this kind of operation in Mumbai, without a massive institutional backing. It was not just a terrorist act; it was a sea-borne commando raid the professionalism of which could be the envy of many an army in the world. The sophistication of planning, provisioning, training, intelligence gathering, coordinating and conducting such a raid is far higher than a uni-dimensional operation like 9/11. Such an operation is beyond the capability of any non-State actor in the world today, be that LeT, JeM or Al Qaeda. While the details are still to be known, one thing seems clear - this operation could not have been mounted without the serious involvement of Special Services Group of the Pakistan Army, either directly or through its officers on deputation with ISI.

Further, knowing how military hierarchy functions, there is also no doubt that it had to be with the blessings of the Chiefs of its Army and Navy. Zardari and his ministers may not have known it in advance, but that question is irrelevant. Civilian leaders in Pakistan have been traditionally nothing more than figure heads. The only difference with the return of democracy would be the Army ruling from behind a civilian façade. The man wielding the gun has always been the final arbiter.

What could be the Pakistani gain from such an operation? There could be many answers to this but the common thread running inexorably through all these is their irrationally extreme ENVY of India's booming economic prosperity. The Pakistani determination is, not to let India get ahead of her seems, which is their very raison d'etre. They became US allies and now tagging with Chinese, in pursuit of their single goal. They spend their resources on Army and ISI to a point of bankruptcy. Their sports matches against India are like a war. Their media spends more than half its space on news about India, all negative and most of it trivial. Their education curriculum has deteriorated to just one subject- JIHAD.

That obsession is under challenge again. The two countries are moving fast in opposite directions. Pakistan is heading towards bankruptcy, chaos and failure. India is moving towards modernization, prosperity and a place of respect in the comity of nations. For a fevered Pakistani mind, that outcome is unthinkable. If it cannot turn its own destiny around, it can at least mire India's. For such a mind this operation makes perfect sense. It was aimed to frighten away foreign investors, MNCs and tourists and terrorize and demoralize the Indian population.

There could be another reason too. A military tension with India can be a handy pretext to move its troops from the unpopular war on terror on its Western borders to its eastern border with India. This would avoid a conflict with its old protégé, the Taliban. She would need Taliban again to control Afghanistan, whenever the Western forces get tired of fighting and withdraw. This thinking, however, is based on a risky assumption that the Indian response would remain limited to empty noises.

Dr Manmohan Singh is a very genuine, sincere and soft spoken leader. Those are great qualities in any human being. But as Prime Minister he also bears responsibility for over a thousand people who have lost lives to terrorism under his watch. His address to the nation after the terrorists struck did contain words of reassurance, which are unusually tough for a person like him. All the actions that he has proposed are sensible and should have been implemented long ago. But they all begged the real question. How will the more stringent application of our laws and the Federal Investigative Agency prevent another attack being planned and mounted from Pakistan soil?

Unless Pakistan is made to pay the price for this attack, there would be more to come, and fiercer. The next step may be many simultaneous attacks on different cities which might last even longer; forcing NSG to disperse its resources and might even require a conventional Army assault and could result in considerably higher loss of innocent lives. How long we as a nation can tolerate such onslaughts?

The idea of making a neighbour however despicable in its conduct, pay the price does not appeal to us Indians. It is against our ethos and a big departure from our historical behavior. More so when we are being counted for something in the world, perhaps for the first time ever. But do we have a choice? Pakistan will never change its spots, no matter how many promises of good behavior we extract from its leaders. Rajiv got that assurance from Benazir but Pakistan's support for terrorism in Punjab increased not decreased. Gujral tried it. Vajpayee's efforts were rewarded in Kargil. He got another promise from Musharraf that Pakistan's soil would not be used for violence against India; a promise a seasoned politician like him would have known was insincere even when made. With all genuineness Manmohan declared in Cuba that both Pakistan and we are victims of terrorism, thus putting on the same moral pedestal the proverbial wolf and a lamb. Yes, we are both victims of terrorism; they because they created the monster and have still not abandoned feeding it and us because we are their neighbours.

The public are getting restive and no longer has faith in mere verbal assurances. It is time for action. Unlike Pakistan what we do must be straight forward and transparent. We should go all out to hurt them diplomatically, politically and economically. We should work with the international community and with our friends and use our economic clout fully. We should inform and educate the whole world through diplomatic means and use the international media that we had used very effectively during Kargil. The people to people contact has been misused to sneak in terrorists into India and must stop. We need to rethink continuation of our rail and road links. We should consider going to the Security Council and demand that it recognize our right to defend our population by every possible means including military. Should all these measures not succeed, we should use our overwhelming naval superiority and consider blockading the Karachi harbor. Let them get their oil and other supplies from Iran in trucks till they surrender the planners and inspirators of this Mumbai massacre that get named in our inquiry. Pakistan has no money to fight any war, a war that they know they cannot but lose. Their nuclear threat is nothing more than empty bluster. There is less risk even in a military option than in doing nothing meaningful against them, and not doing it soon. One must act while the barrels are still smoking.

Lt Gen Raj Kadyan (Retd)
Former Deputy Chief of Army Staff

Responses to "Shameful Naval Gazers"

Dear Friends,

Letter to Hindustan Times in response to an Article “Shameful Naval Gazers” (December 04) is enclosed. You all may also write your responses.
With Kind Regards,
Yours Sincerely,
Maj Gen Satbir Singh, SM (Retd)
Response to: Shameful Naval Gazers by Vir Sanghvi

Dear Editor,

1. Vir Sanghvi’s Article “Shameful Naval Gazers” (December 04) calling the Naval Chief, who also happens to be Chairman Chief of Staff Committee and ipso facto the senior most appointment of three services foolish and lacking in leadership qualities smacks of total bias and unpardonable yellow journalism displayed by a senior editor of the prominent News Paper like yours. The Naval Chief has rendered four decades of unblemished, meritorious and dedicated service to the nation and his professional acumen and high leadership qualities are well known and duly acknowledged by the Govt through various awards and decorations. That a person of Vir Sanghvi’s stature is ignorant of this does not speak highly of your esteem paper in general and Vir Singhvi’s in particular.

2. The press has been denigrating the defence forces of late and it appears that this piece written by Mr Sanghvi appears to be part of the overall campaign orchestrated by the bureaucracy. Such irresponsible articles/ editorials will definitely have demoralizing and demotivating affect on the Armed Forces.

3. My advice to Vir Sanghvi is to confine himself to writing about “Rude Food” and giving tips on dining and wining to his readers and spare the Defence Services of whom he has little knowledge.

(The author is a Former Senior Fellow and Security Analyst of Institute of Defence Studies and Analysis (IDSA), has been examiner PhD thesis in Defence & Security Studies, Ex Commandant Services Selection Centre & President SSB, besides being Instructor at four premier institutions of the Army. Presently he is a Vice Chairman Indian Ex Servicemen Movement.)
With Kind Regards,
Yours Sincerely,

Maj Gen Satbir Singh, SM (Retd)

Vir Sanghvi's report shameful naval-gazers (HT December 4) is most regrettable. His comments on Navy and Chief of Naval Staff have hurt the entire Naval fraternity and service personnel. The Naval Chief is a prodigious figure for his men and is highest honoured person He could have clarified the matter from the Naval headquarters rather than making such disparaging personal remarks This was not his field perhaps he should restrict his writings on eateries only.

Cdr JK Sharma (Retd)

The following letter to the editor of The Hindustan Times was sent by me on the day following publication of Vir Singhvi's article. Of course the paper never published it.
Brig Chaitanya Prakash (Retd)

The Editor
The Hindustan Times,

Just because Vir Singhvi has a pen and unrestricted column space, doesn’t mean he can question the Chief of Naval Staff, Admiral Mehta’s professional integrity and berate and abuse him unquestioningly. He is better off making his living commenting on the ten star gourmet food and life in the worlds most expensive real estate. Leave the soldiers alone Mr Singhvi, if you cannot fight for them stop berating them. Why are you being so defensive for fellow journalists? Why are the fourth state so combative when it comes to their own creed? Are you guys some holy cows who are beyond criticism and wrong doing?

Brig C Prakash (Retd

War on Terror: Intelligence agencies at war

3 Dec 2008, 0329 hrs IST, TNN
NEW DELHI: A no-holds barred "leak" war has broken out between intelligence agencies which has engulfed PMO as well with India's security bosses— scrambling for cover after the Mumbai attacks, engaging in a fierce blame game and settling departmental scores.

The issue at hand is whether the external intelligence agency Research and Analysis Wing generated specific inputs which were not acted on by Navy, Coast Guard and IB. The inter- agency sniping has placed National Security Advisor M K Narayanan in the line of fire for not taking the "tip offs" seriously enough.

With allegations flying thick and fast, Navy chief Sureesh Mehta on Tuesday took the extraordinary step of publicly stating that his force had received no "actionable" intelligence while admitting to a "system failure". "What is important is that we should have intelligence which is actionable and specific," he said.

The leaks were initially sourced to RAW which has been steadily generating bad news for factionalism and poor leadership. Its chief Ashok Chaturvedi has been criticised for globe- trotting at official expense and the 26/11 Mumbai attacks have put his agency under adverse scrutiny. The embellishment of the "attacks foretold" story is seen as a shrewd move to deflect the heat.

Even though RAW did flash a warning on November 19, it is pointed out that the agency which claims to have decent assets in Karachi with the city's Mohajir population, was not aware that the team of 10 terrorists had trained there for a full month before setting off.

The "intelligence ignored" story has generated political heat with defence minister A K Antony even offering to quit at Saturday's meeting of the CWC if the Navy was found to be at fault. It has also provided fodder to the NSA'sdetractors whose jurisdiction is envied by MEA and a section of PMO and who has annoyed many, most recently on the Batla House encounter when he argued against a judicial probe into the shootout.

Within days of Manmohan Singh's promise to overhaul India's anti- terror response, turf wars have become more heated with calculated leaks about RAW pointing to both a sea- borne attack and targeting of hotels in Mumbai.

Well- placed sources said that while an input was indeed generated, it was not as specific as is being claimed by some quarters. It was after the Mumbai attacks that some dots were now being joined and a larger picture was falling in place. It would be incorrect to say that an alert had been issued about a marine jihadi attack on hotels in November.

It is being pointed out that RAW did not link the September 18 warning about hotels to the November 19 signal on a LeT trawler with dangerous cargo heading for India. There was undoubtedly a lapse in intercepting the trawler and dingies carrying the Lashkar-e-Taiba team, but it was not as if the plan to spread mayhem and death was known before hand.

The November 19 intercept is also being evaluated in light of interrogation reports of the captured terrorist Ajmal who has indicated the LeT team could have left as late as November 23. Also two MV Kubers have now been indentified. While affixing responsibility, it was important to clarify how urgent RAW considered its input and whether an effort was made to alert top levels in government. Was the intercept and analysis placed before the joint intelligence committee?

On his part, Narayanan has spoken forthrightly over the jihadi threat and continues to enjoy the PM's confidence. Authoritive sources said the NSA was not under pressure to quit even as political circles debated whether his standing with the Congress leadership had been hit. But the point is also being made that he has concentrated on managing postings and short-term objectives while not addressing the systemic deficiencies of IB and RAW.

On being asked whether the NSA was being retained, Congress spokesperson Abhishek Singhvi provided a hint of what the party was thinking when he said on Tuesday that it was "unlikely" that a specific warning had been ignored.
Intelligence agencies at war

Comment: The Naval Forces and Coast Guard need to be given more executive powers to contain Smuggling and Terrorists activities in all the coastal regions East, West and South.

Article 49-O of our Constitution. Does it exist?

Image from: Churumuri, swalpa sihi, swalpa spicey

By now, most of readers of this blog must have received a chain mail stating that there is a right provided to every citizen under Article (sic) 49-O of the Constitution of India wherein voters can refrain from voting and if such voters exceed the number of votes of the winning candidate, then the winning candidate’s candidature gets cancelled and re-poll has to be ordered.

Well, the above is untrue and the email is a fake.

For starters, there is no Article 49-O in our Constitution. The said rumour emanates from Rule 49-O of the Conduct of Election Rules, the said Rule 49-O reads as below:

49-O. Elector deciding not to vote.- If an elector, after his electoral roll number has been duly entered in the register of voters in Form 17A and has put his signature or thumb impression thereon as required under sub-rule (1) of rule 49L, decided not to record his vote, a remark to this effect shall be made against the said entry in Form 17A by the presiding officer and the signature or thumb impression of the elector shall be obtained against such remark.

Hence this rule deals with persons who decide not to vote. But the Conduct of Election Rules, 1961, nowhere provide any cancellation of candidature or negative declaration of result on the basis of this rule. There is no cancellation on the basis of Rule 49-O and there is no re-poll. Readers are advised and encouraged to read the complete rules to satisfy themselves.

Negative voting if introduced may be a debatable concept since just as voters may get swayed by unethical electoral tactics in regular voting, the same can also happen in negative voting resulting in a sway of voters towards negative votes through unethical enticement.

So people, do not get enthused by fake emails, the right to vote is the most potent tool in your hand, exercise it, and exercise it with due diligence.
But Vote you must.

Posted by Navdeep/ Maj Navdeep Singh (TA)
(Major Navdeep Singh, Serving TA officer, Practising Law in Chandigarh HC)
Indian Military: Service Benefits and Issues

Comment: We thank Maj Navdeep for enlighting us on the false email doing the rounds. It is the duty and responsibility of all ESM organisations to educate their members to vote which is a sacred duty of every citizen. ESM newsletters, brochures, and thrust must be proactive advocating genuine interest in the welfare of Jawans and the Nation at large, rather than conceiving dubious means of garnering more and more funds to enrich the bank accounts without matching contribution to the welfare of its members.

Wages down the ages: A comparative analysis of Army and Indian Forest Service

A lot has been said on this blog at Wages down the ages, comparative analysis and elsewhere on the Indian Police Service and the Army. As remarked here earlier by a retired flag officer of the Indian Navy, the 6th CPC has been less than honest while visiting history. The historical tables on Page 73 have faced much flak here and elsewhere. Other than IPS, another service having close links with the military has been the Indian Forest Service (IFS) which forms the triumvirate of ‘All India Services’ alongwith the IAS and IPS. Military and Forest Service Officers have enjoyed close and cordial ties through the ages, maybe it has something to do with the close proximity of the IMA and FRI, I don’t know :-). But here is how the salaries and pensions have compared through the Pay Coms with reference to the rank of Lt Col :

Selection Grade of IFS: Rs 1650- 1800
Lt Col: Rs 1750– 1950
Selection Grade of IFS: Rs 825
Lt Col: Rs 875

Selection Grade of IFS: Rs 4100- 5300
Lt Col: Rs 4700-5900
Selection Grade of IFS: Rs 2050
Lt Col : Rs 2350

Selection Grade of IFS: Rs 14300-18300
Lt Col: Rs 15100-18700
Selection Grade of IFS: Rs 7150
Lt Col: Rs 7550

Selection Grade of IFS: Rs 37400- 67000 + Grade Pay Rs 8700
Lt Col : Rs 15600-39100 + Grade Pay Rs 7600
Selection Grade of IFS: Rs 23050
Lt Col: Rs 17063
(Note IFS is Indian Forest Service not Indian foreign Service)

Guess these were the tables that were required to be placed in the 6th CPC for a better idea of history! Now these tables will be recorded for prosterity making it a record of sorts.

Posted by Navdeep/ Maj Navdeep Singh (TA)

Comment: Thanks to maj Navdeep to bring out the sordid state of Pay Parity. What is the AHQ Pay Cell doing? Pushing files- no brains!.....Is the Pay cell bugged? We need to disband this cell and reduce the defence budget.

Friday, December 5, 2008

Helicopters for Army: Crashed Contract

The Army plans to replace obsolete Cheetah helicopters

MoD has left it to the army to conduct an internal enquiry into the conduct of officials involved in the clearing trials. Officials say there is plenty of evidence to nail the guilty. Eurocopter, which released a long statement explaining that the deal was above board, did not comment after the cancellation. With fresh tenders to be sent out shortly, the US and European firms will once again battle it out, but it is for the army to nab its black sheep.
Full article at: Crashed contract

In lighter vein: Army's black sheep are led by the white shepherd in guise of Bureaucrats in the MOD! Hope both the white shepherd and the black sheep are herded and nabbed together.

Responses to Naval Chief's Remarks

Shameful naval-gazers: Hindustan Times
Navy chief’s latest: I don’t talk to fools- Indian Express

The Editor-in-Chief
Hindustan Times
New Delhi

The Editor-in-Chief
Indian Express
New Delhi

1. Kindly refer to the news articles on Page 13 of the Hindustan Times and on Page 2 of the Indian Express, both New Delhi editions, dated Friday, 05 Dec 08.(click links shown above)

2. The Chief of the Naval Staff has personally confirmed that he did not speak to any member of the media, on the sidelines of the Homage Ceremony at Amar Jawan Jyoti on the occasion of Navy Day on 04 Dec 08. The personal attack on the CNS, reporting that he said “I do not talk to fools” was absolutely unwarranted, mischievous and perhaps, motivated. This is further substantiated by the fact that the reporters did not have the courage to associate their names with the articles. The alleged utterance is very strongly denied. Such journalism is unbecoming of reputed media houses such as yours.

3. I am sure that CNS’ interaction, if it was indeed true, would have been captured on camera. If you are able to prove that he did say such a thing, the CNS would be happy to apologise in writing and in person to your paper and to the concerned individual.

4. Please note that this letter is being released to the media.

Copy to: -
The Chief Executive Officer, PTI New Delhi

The Three Service Chiefs paying homage at Amar Jawan Jyoti, India Gate on the occasion of Naval Day, in New Delhi on December 04, 2008: Courtesy Press Information Bureau

Response to Singhvi's "Shameful Naval Gazers"

Response to: Shameful Naval Gazers by Vir Sanghvi

Sent: Thursday, December 04, 2008 10:54 AM
Subject: Naval-Gazers!

Dear Sir,
I read the article by Mr. Vir Sanghvi in today's edition of HT with dismay & patience. I hope the HT will read my comments with equal patience.

Firstly, Chiefs of Armed Forces taking salutes today were not laterally inducted. They were junior officers once & went through the rigors & risks of Armed Forces just like those of the present generation. A remark like that, at best, is disrespectful towards the Officer's service in the Nation's cause. Where does this remark place the thousands of ex-servicemen, who took part in numerous operations, won gallantry awards & also took salutes towards the end of their time in the Armed Forces?

As regards coastal defence, I would recommend Mr.Sanghvi to check out the existing responsibilities assigned to various authorities, notwithstanding his own story earlier. Perhaps an article in TOI dated 4th.December captioned "Time right for a single-window marine security agency" would be a good point to start with.
Marcos. Yes, the press conference need not have taken place. Yes, Marcos are not media savy. They are not trained for it & they are also not as trained for hostage situations as the NSG are. But they did not just "prowl around". They filled the vacuum admirably till the NSG arrived. They rescued hostages & suffered their own casualties. Should one be so dismissive of them?

The SAG of NSG, who did such a good job during the whole episode, comprised of Army personnel. Adverse comparison of Naval commandos vis-a-vis their Army counterparts is counter-productive. It may give rise to unnecessary friction between components of the Armed Forces fraternity in times of tension & external hostility.
Finally, it seems that Admiral Mehta has been picked on for speaking the truth. Perhaps reference to the Kargil rumours could have been avoided. But the rest? Or is it that truth be damned-just don't criticise the media?

Yours truly,
MB Ghosh
Vice Admiral PVSM,AVSM,NM I.N.(Retd.)

War on Terror: Lessons to be learnt

SECURITY FORCES involved in the November 26 to 29 terror strike should take a bow: their major strike element, the NSG, moved from Delhi to take out terrorists involved the carnage after a 60- hour operation under global scrutiny. In doing so, they went through 1,407 five-star hotel rooms as well as Nariman House, taking care to minimise collateral and personal loss. The Russian/ Israeli tactics used were refreshingly proactive and mandated. The murderous terror strike at Mumbai was carried out by Blackberry -enabled, "twitter" savvy, 4th Generation Warriors (4GW).

America took a call on combating terror after 9/11 and enacted the Department of Homeland Defence (DHS) legislation in 2002, which, notwithstanding its warts, has delivered. 4th Generation Warfare is characterised by a blurring of lines between war and politics, soldier and civilian, peace and conflict. In this war, one of the major participants is not a state but rather a violent ideological network. 4GW uses the strategy of "scorched earth", which was amply demonstrated at Mumbai. While the uniformed fraternity makes do with arcane tools of warfare and the NSG does not have finances to provide snipers with proper spotter scopes. Fourth Generation warfare terrorists are flush with modern war fighting means. There is much that went wrong in our approach and build-up for the terror strike at Mumbai till the NSG arrived.

The review of the operation will also throw up fresh lessons. What is certain is that there was abysmal lack of coordination, security lapses in following-up on intelligence leads and Perpetual blame game between the Centre and state over law and order culpability. Is there a way out of this intractable morass? Some positive snap shots have emerged. When asked for his fuelings post the NSG operation, a soldier answered: "I did my duty." When the DG, NSG, J.K. Dutt was asked whether the deceased brave heart, Major Sandeep Unnikrishnan, was from the Army, he pointedly said, "No, he was from the NSG." Dutt is to be commended for placing the NSG above the Armed Forces. individual service identity, as also the Army though it provides 100 per cent of one of the fighting key components of the NSG- the elite Special Action Group (SAG), which actually combats terror, and the other component being the Special Rangers Group(SRG), which is staffed only by paramilitary/ police forces- it has allowed the NSG to take full credit. Even as we await detailed reports on the terror strike, we need to be proactive:

  • raise a dedicated Anti-Terror Ministry, removing it from the charter of the Home Ministry and ensure that legislation is enacted soonest.
  • we should ensure that our Intelligence agencies and the NSG shift to the new ministry; ensure that the NSG is provided all the equipment,expansion in strength and satellite bases, including dedicated aircraft it needs to combat 4G terrorism.
  • we should place the Coast Guard and protection of India's 12 major and 180 minor ports as also its 8,OOO kilometre coastline under the Navy.
  • the Supreme Court judgment of September 22, 2006 instructing the Centre and state so achieve functional autonomy for the police and enhanced police accountability must be executed.
  • we need to educate Indians across the board; citizens, students, corporates, establishments on the dynamics of terror and how they can minimise personal and collateral loss. The public is willing and united. All that is needed is a mandate, using serving, retired servicemen as teachers.
  • there is need to position security as a social and industry obligation; make it constitutionally binding to have a minimum, accountable standard of security infrastructure and quality. This will include the need for hotels to have "hardened, terror strike proof rooms" that guests and staff can be herded into; national id cards; Blackberry communications (these cannot be intercepted) in designated security zones, security rehearsals, registration of all sea craft with the Harbour Police instead of just the Port Authority; using "spotters" and networking with global security agencies.
  • with the Anti- Terror Ministry in place, there should be no need for states to create "Black Cat" equivalents.
  • the Government must not only come out with a White paper on the terror strike but also honour the soldier by enhancing his emoluments with grace, generosity and promptitude.

    Maj Gen Raj Mehta (Retd)
    The writer is a military and security analyst
  • Heroes At The Taj: A chilling account

    Michael Pollack 12.01.08, 7:40 PM ET

    My story begins innocuously, with a dinner reservation in a world-class hotel. It ends 12 hours later after the Indian army freed us. My point is not to sensationalize events. It is to express my gratitude and pay tribute to the staff of the Taj Mahal Hotel in Mumbai, who sacrificed their lives so that we could survive. They, along with the Indian army, are the true heroes that emerged from this tragedy.

    My wife, Anjali, and I were married in the Taj's Crystal Ballroom. Her parents were married there, too, and so were Shiv and Reshma, the couple with whom we had dinner plans. In fact, my wife and Reshma, both Bombay girls, grew up hanging out and partying the night away there and at the Oberoi Hotel, another terrorist target.

    The four of us arrived at the Taj around 9:30 p.m. for dinner at the Golden Dragon, one of the better Chinese restaurants in Mumbai. We were a little early, and our table wasn't ready. So we walked next door to the Harbor Bar and had barely begun to enjoy our beers when the host told us our table was ready. We decided to stay and finish our drinks.

    Thirty seconds later, we heard what sounded like a heavy tray smashing to the ground. This was followed by 20 or 30 similar sounds and then absolute silence. We crouched behind a table just feet away from what we now knew were gunmen. Terrorists had stormed the lobby and were firing indiscriminately.

    We tried to break the glass window in front of us with a chair, but it wouldn't budge. The Harbour Bar's hostess, who had remained at her post, motioned to us that it was safe to make a run for the stairwell. She mentioned, in passing, that there was a dead body right outside in the corridor. We believe this courageous woman was murdered after we ran away.
    (We later learned that minutes after we climbed the stairs, terrorists came into the Harbour Bar, shot everyone who was there and executed those next door at the Golden Dragon. The staff there was equally brave, locking their patrons into a basement wine cellar to protect them. But the terrorists managed to break through and lob in grenades that killed everyone in the basement.)

    We took refuge in the small office of the kitchen of another restaurant, Wasabi, on the second floor. Its chef and staff served the four of us food and drink and even apologized for the inconvenience we were suffering.

    Through text messaging, e-mail on BlackBerrys and a small TV in the office, we realized the full extent of the terrorist attack on Mumbai. We figured we were in a secure place for the moment. There was also no way out.

    At around 11:30 p.m., the kitchen went silent. We took a massive wooden table and pushed it up against the door, turned off all the lights and hid. All of the kitchen workers remained outside; not one staff member had run.

    The terrorists repeatedly slammed against our door. We heard them ask the chef in Hindi if anyone was inside the office. He responded calmly: "No one is in there. It's empty." That is the second time the Taj staff saved our lives.

    After about 20 minutes, other staff members escorted us down a corridor to an area called The Chambers, a members-only area of the hotel. There were about 250 people in six rooms. Inside, the staff was serving sandwiches and alcohol. People were nervous, but cautiously optimistic. We were told The Chambers was the safest place we could be because the army was now guarding its two entrances and the streets were still dangerous.. There had been attacks at a major railway station and a hospital.

    But then, a member of parliament phoned into a live newscast and let the world know that hundreds of people--including CEOs, foreigners and members of parliament--were "secure and safe in The Chambers together." Adding to the escalating tension and chaos was the fact that, via text and cellphone, we knew that the dome of the Taj was on fire and that it could move downward.

    At around 2 a.m., the staff attempted an evacuation. We all lined up to head down a dark fire escape exit. But after five minutes, grenade blasts and automatic weapon fire pierced the air. A mad stampede ensued to get out of the stairwell and take cover back inside The Chambers.

    After that near-miss, my wife and I decided we should hide in different rooms. While we hoped to be together at the end, our primary obligation was to our children. We wanted to keep one parent alive. Because I am American and my wife is Indian, and news reports said the terrorists were targeting U.S. and U.K. nationals, I believed I would further endanger her life if we were together in a hostage situation.
    So when we ran back to The Chambers I hid in a toilet stall with a floor-to-ceiling door and my wife stayed with our friends, who fled to a large room across the hall.

    For the next seven hours, I lay in the fetal position, keeping in touch with Anjali via BlackBerry. I was joined in the stall by Joe, a Nigerian national with a U.S. green card. I managed to get in touch with the FBI, and several agents gave me status updates throughout the night.

    I cannot even begin to explain the level of adrenaline running through my system at this point. It was this hyper-aware state where every sound, every smell, every piece of information was ultra-acute, analyzed and processed so that we could make the best decisions and maximize the odds of survival.

    Was the fire above us life-threatening? What floor was it on? Were the commandos near us, or were they terrorists? Why is it so quiet? Did the commandos survive? If the terrorists come into the bathroom and to the door, when they fire in, how can I make my body as small as possible? If Joe gets killed before me in this situation, how can I throw his body on mine to barricade the door? If the Indian commandos liberate the rest in the other room, how will they know where I am? Do the terrorists have suicide vests? Will the roof stand? How can I make sure the FBI knows where Anjali and I are? When is it safe to stand up and attempt to urinate?

    Meanwhile, Anjali and the others were across the corridor in a mass of people lying on the floor and clinging to each other. People barely moved for seven hours, and for the last three hours they felt it was too unsafe to even text. While I was tucked behind a couple walls of marble and granite in my toilet stall, she was feet from bullets flying back and forth. After our failed evacuation, most of the people in the fire escape stairwell and many staff members who attempted to protect the guests were shot and killed.

    The 10 minutes around 2:30 a.m. were the most frightening. Rather than the back-and-forth of gunfire, we just heard single, punctuated shots. We later learned that the terrorists went along a different corridor of The Chambers, room by room, and systematically executed everyone: women, elderly, Muslims, Hindus, foreigners. A group huddled next to Anjali was devout Bori Muslims who would have been slaughtered just like everyone else, had the terrorists gone into their room. Everyone was in deep prayer and most, Anjali included, had accepted that their lives were likely over.. It was terrorism in its purest form. No one was spared.

    The next five hours were filled with the sounds of an intense grenade/gun battle between the Indian commandos and the terrorists. It was fought in darkness; each side was trying to outflank the other. By the time dawn broke, the commandos had successfully secured our corridor. A young commando led out the people packed into Anjali's room. When one woman asked whether it was safe to leave, the commando replied: "Don't worry, you have nothing to fear. The first bullets have to go through me."

    The corridor was laced with broken glass and bullet casings. Every table was turned over or destroyed. The ceilings and walls were littered with hundreds of bullet holes. Blood stains were everywhere, though, fortunately, there were no dead bodies to be seen.

    A few minutes after Anjali had vacated, Joe and I peeked out of our stall. We saw multiple commandos and smiled widely. I had lost my right shoe while sprinting to the toilet so I grabbed a sheet from the floor, wrapped it around my foot and proceeded to walk over the debris to the hotel lobby.

    Anjali and I embraced for the first time in seven hours in the Taj's ground floor entrance. I didn't know whether she was dead or injured because we hadn't been able to text for the past three hours. I wanted to take a picture of us on my BlackBerry, but Anjali wanted us to get out of there before doing anything. She was right--our ordeal wasn't completely over. A large bus pulled up in front of the Taj to collect us and, just about as it was fully loaded, gunfire erupted again.

    The terrorists were still alive and firing automatic weapons at the bus. Anjali was the last to get on the bus, and she eventually escaped in our friend's car. I ducked under some concrete barriers for cover and wound up the subject of photos that were later splashed across the media. Shortly thereafter, an ambulance came and drove a few of us to safety. An hour later, Anjali and I were again reunited at her parents' home. Our Thanksgiving had just gained a lot more meaning.

    Some may say our survival was due to random luck, others might credit divine intervention. But 72 hours removed from these events, I can assure you only one thing: Far fewer people would have survived if it weren't for the extreme selflessness shown by the Taj staff, who organized us, catered to us and then, in the end, literally died for us. They complemented the extreme bravery and courage of the Indian commandos, who, in a pitch-black setting and unfamiliar, tightly packed terrain, valiantly held the terrorists at bay.

    It is also amazing that, out of our entire group, not one person screamed or panicked. There was an eerie but quiet calm that pervaded--one more thing that got us all out alive. Even people in adjacent rooms, who were being executed, kept silent.

    It is much easier to destroy than to build, yet somehow humanity has managed to build far more than it has ever destroyed. Likewise, in a period of crisis, it is much easier to find faults and failings rather than to celebrate the good deeds. It is now time to commemorate our heroes.

    Michael Pollack is a general partner of Glenhill Capital, a firm he co-founded in 2001.
    Heroes At The Taj

    Thursday, December 4, 2008

    Live Video Coverage: War on Terror

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    War on Terror
    To win a war against an efficient invisible enemy, we do not need rhetoric on television, but a balanced evaluation and response. The media also reaches the terrorist bases, we therefore, must have control to only show what we need to, and deny them information and subsequent reaction.

    I am certain that their control rooms, would have been delighted to see the carnage, and fore warning of our military operations. The imbalance in reporting, can culminate into a situation of exact information, and confusion. The enemy thrives on such coverage. We should actually use it to our advantage and misinformation, to confuse the enemy.

    What is being publicised is Mr Karkare's heroism! God bless his soul, but I think for a senior officer to be running around inappropriately equipped and protected may well be excessive zeal and not really supreme bravery. I sincerely hope our Government would actually equip our Police and Army better. Not a single Australian soldier/ policeman has been killed wearing Hellweg body armour. Aramid helmets replaced steel ones ten years ago. So an emerging super power, equipped worse than the worst. Mr Karkare died simply because he was not wearing an appropriate Bullet proof Vest. Very sad indeed!!

    Mr Karkare went to the hospital on an impulse not knowing any thing of the threat. He did not fire a single shot & he and his colleagues were absolutely vulnerable targets for the terrorists. No doubt , a very honest & efficient officer he became an easy prey. Unfortunately his vehicle was then used by the terrorists for further mayhem. He would have been of immense value sitting in the control room and directing the operation with his wide knowledge and experience. India needed him ,and all others who died in that ordeal, to live.

    We have this tendency to give such deaths a halo of Martyrdom. The same thing happened in Kabul, when our Embassy was attacked. The IFS officer & Brig Mehta got highest awards for bravery. Was it really bravery or simply , unfortunate deaths, as their car was blown up. I think it was again an intelligence failure, capitalised by the media, and awarded by our Government.

    Innocent people sitting in trains also die when there is a bomb blast. Hundreds died inside the Taj and Trident Hotels. They never get gallantry awards. The Staff at the Taj and Trident-Oberoi hotels we are told did an exemplary job, protecting and guiding their guests, and many even laid down their lives. Their sagas of courage remain largely unsung.

    While these officers gave the supreme sacrifice, on duty, it is not really raw gallantry, but yes, they died in harness ,and must be duly recognised, and their kith and kin looked after.

    The government and especially the media, needs to draw a line some where & recognise the difference of raw courage beyond the call of duty in the face of the enemy, and death on duty.

    It is on this account ,that the real valour & grit of Maj Unnikrishnan, and Hav Rajbir etc will be eclipsed. They actually gave their lives in the face of active fire and a visible enemy.

    The time has come for India to awaken. Let us savour our 61 years of Independence. The time has come, to remind ourselves that we have been invaded and ruled for 800 years earlier. Is that the ugly reason why we are resilient. I think this has been misconstrued to our average reaction which is knee jerk. This does not mean that if we get a jerk we go on our knees. We are a fiercely proud nation and people. Let us all rise from our self created islands/silos of being Mumbaikars or Chennaikars or whatever. Let us be Indians.

    Lets us all salute the Brave Unknown Indian, and rise, to deliver, an exemplary and befitting reply to the perpetrators and supporters of these heinous crimes against civilised society. May they never be able to attack my motherland again.

    "No bastard ever won a war by dying for his country.
    He won it by making the other poor dumb bastard die for his country." - Attributed to General George Patton Jr, from "A Genius for War" by Carlo d'Este.
    My random thoughts in anguish...

    Major Moshe Kohli (Retd)

    VIP security: At the cost of common man

    The country's national security guards have never been more in the limelight than now, after the Mumbai terror attacks. But, apart from coming in when the country's citizens need them, like in the hostage situation in Mumbai, one of their primary tasks is to guard politicians or VIPs.

    Very Important People, a VIP tag means that an inordinate amount of our national security priorities are focused on people whose threat perception does not justify it.

    Over 250 politicians are categorised as Very Very Important People (VVIPS). Samajwadi Party leaders figure in the list, and they are protected by the National security Guard (NSG) black cats. With a budget of Rs 158 crores, the Special Protection Group that protects the Prime Minister and 14 others gets Rs 180 crores.

    But for every 100000 people, there are 122 policemen. While 1 per cent of the forces do intelligence duty, 33 per cent again, guard the politicians.

    After former prime minister Rajiv Gandhi's assassination, no government takes chances with leaders who face genuine threat. However, the argument is not that our top politicians should not get protection, but what is the criteria for it? Do the cash rich millionaire Politicians deserve state protection?
    Full article at: VIP security: At the cost of common man

    Mumbai Attack & India’s vulnerable maritime flanks

    Our response to the asymmetric war has remained disjointed, fragmented and disorganized for three reasons.

    Firstly the netas have has emasculated the police forces and made the intelligence agencies ineffective by interference and politicization, so that they are unable to discharge their core functions.

    Secondly, the national security establishment has encouraged turf distribution and creation of fiefdoms, and thereby deprived itself of the benefits of holistic thinking and synchronized action.

    And lastly, in a system that must be unique world-wide, the Armed Forces are kept on the margins of national security management by a powerful bureaucracy, and rarely consulted or heard by politicians; even on issues in which they have exclusive expertise.

    For years, the IN has been pleading with the GoI that there is a dire need to constitute a central Maritime Commission for regulation, coordination and oversight of maritime security. That this eminently sensible proposal is languishing due to bureaucratic obduracy is proof of our political myopia and lack of resolve. Let us look at how other nations handle similar situations.

    New York was struck by terrorists on 11thSeptember 2001. By 1st October, a Homeland Defence Command had been established and placed under a 4-star military officer. The US Secretary of the Army stated: “…homeland security is the No. 1 job for the US military and we will act accordingly.” On 26th October, Public Law 107-56 was enacted by the US Congress without debate. The contrived acronym USA PATRIOT (standing for: Uniting and Strengthening America by Providing Appropriate Tools Required to Intercept and Obstruct Terrorism) explains the purport of the Act. With the sweeping powers available, the Homeland Defence Command has ensured that the USA has remained free of terrorism since 2001. Need one say more?

    France, perceiving many serious threats from seawards, revived an old Napoleonic institution: the Prefet Maritime(Maritime Prefect) to implement security in a coherent and holistic manner. This functionary is the “…servant of the French State who exercises authority over the sea in a Prefecture. He reports to the Prime Minister for civil functions and to the Chief of Defence Staff for military operations.” A 3-star Admiral each has been placed in charge of the Mediterranean, Atlantic and Channel coasts of France, and is empowered to coordinate the efficient functioning of agencies like the navy, coast guard, marine police, customs, immigration, pollution control, search & rescue etc. No bickering like we have in Mumbai; France can afford to sleep in peace.

    India’s coastal, maritime and national security too, would be tremendously enhanced if the Commanders-in- Chief of the Western and Eastern Naval Commands were to be similarly empowered. But for that we will not only need to reach a higher level of security consciousness but also learn to repose faith, confidence and responsibility in the only national institution which continues to function with dedication, efficiency and intense patriotism: the Indian Armed Forces.

    Every newspaper and TV channel is, today, reflecting how drastically the stock of the politician has fallen with the common man. If India’s polity wants to redeem itself in the public eye, there is only one thing for them to do: convene an emergency session of both Houses of Parliament, and, sinking their petty differences, show the people that they have the nation’s vital interests at heart by enacting (or starting the process for) legislation for:

  • A Homeland Defence Organization, be it a civil ministry, a military command or a combination of the two.
  • Empowerment of the this organization with wide-ranging authority to, inter alia, gain access to telephones, e-mails, bank accounts of individuals suspected of posing a threat to our homeland, and to monitor their movements, search and detain them if necessary.

    Adm Arun Prakash (Retd)
    Read the full article: Mumbai attacks India's vulnerable maritime flanks
  • Declare War on Terror


    Click on link to take the pledge Online: Declare war on terror

    Mumbai Attack a glaring intelligence failure

    During March 2008 an American technology company promoting CATE (Computer-Assisted Threat Evaluation) technology had organised a presentation in Mumbai for the Indian Navy, the Coast Guard, etc, as to how a terrorist group could mount an attack on Mumbai taking the sea route. This technology, when deployed, would provide surveillance of the coast line and warn the Coast Guard and the Navy of the approach of an unknown and unidentified sea vessels/boats. In the instant case, an attack similar to the one in Mumbai had been envisaged and depicted in the presentation. The case for acquisition of this equipment got wrapped in red tape and found a final resting place in some cupboard in Delhi.

    The Mumbai attack is not the last of such terrorist acts that we will face. There is need for India to put its act together, so that it can, in future, deal with such situations in a more orderly and meaningful manner and with a degree of professionalism and efficiency. Some of the following points need to be looked into: One, improve the quality of intelligence by inculcating professionalism and accountability. Two, each state from within its resources should form a small group of personnel, trained in anti-terrorist tasks and be available to deal with hostage situations. This would obviate the need to call NSG personnel from Delhi. The strength of the NSG would in this case require to be scaled down.

    We should have a plan to put in place a command and control structure (wherever required) immediately when such a situation arises. The command and control group(s) should coordinate the actions of various types of forces deployed, including fire brigade resources and control of crowds. Some prior training and coordination between various forces likely to be committed should be undertaken.

    In the case of a hostage situation, expert(s) in this field should take charge and start dialogue with terrorists without delay. Strict control must be exercised over fire from own troops to avoid casualties among the hostages. Suitably deploy snipers to take out the terrorist(s) without any harm to the hostages. There is need to provide regular, consistent and clear information to the media and local residents to prevent the spread of misinformation/confusion.

    We have now been combating terrorism for over two decades and yet do not have a viable and dependable intelligence system. A sound and reliable method of engaging terrorists and handling hostage situations is yet to be worked out. An acceptable and workable command and control set-up for a situation where a multitude of forces are deployed continues to be missing.

    Lt Gen Harwant Singh (Retd)
    Read complete article: Glaring intelligence failure Mumbai attack shows meticulous planning
    More reading: End blame-game: Needed better intelligence-security coordination

    Wednesday, December 3, 2008

    Mumbai Mayhem: We Will Come out Stronger!

    Terrorists attack on Mumbai has indeed shaken the whole country. The magnitude and the variety of the attacks that we witnessed on our screens would have long term impact on everyone's mind. My daughter who is 13 yrs old asked me, who are these terrorists, where have they come from, what do they want, why are they killing the innocent people, how come they are not scared of dying??? I could not answer her all questions satisfactorily. We were just watching the pictures on the TV screen with deep anguish and feeling of helplessness.

    This is where the Politicians of the Country have brought us. We stand for these idiots on the roads to let them pass, his horn blaring, Black Cats all around him/ her. High time we brought them down to mother earth. Now is the time to select good leaders. We should immediately take the following actions.

    Firstly, do not let any Politician who is more than 60 years to stand for elections. This would eliminate lot of old creaking furniture and we would be able to inject fresh blood in the system.

    Secondly,remove all these XYZ categories of Security given to these Politicians. Only the President, Vice president, PM, should be given the security.

    Thirdly,throw out all the Politicians who are having Charge Sheets pending against them as also those who had criminal record in the past.

    Fourthly, make the three service Chiefs who have just retired as the Defence Minister, National Security Advisor and Home Minister in rotation. This would allow continuity and they would not be from any Political Party. They would have fixed tenure of Three Years.

    Fifthly, remove all restricting Articles of Constitution that give dual powers to the States like J&K,North East States, Himachal Pradesh etc. If necessary immediately pass a constitutional amendment to this effect.

    Sixthly,remove all the classes that are separating us from each other i.e OBC,SC,ST,Creamy ST/SC/OBC. It is really abhoring to see how the Government has raised the income upto 4.5 Lakhs per annum in order to fill the quotas. This disparity is killing our vitals and making our system weak from within. VP Singh has done massive damage to Indian polity and the masses and would effect us for long time to come. This aspect should be addressed immediately.

    Seventhly,treat law and order as Union subject and have the Police reforms done in such a way, that there is mixed Police for the wholecountry. Initially, the BSF was manned by the officers from the Army and it had great impact. Now, parallel absorption is not there and they have become kingdoms in their own way and enjoy the Home Ministry perks.

    Eighthly, have unified intelligence gathering machine under one HEAD.This could again be retired Chief and under him would be separate heads for Internal Security and External Security.

    Ninethly, bring parity in the ranks of Bureacrats and the Armed Forces. It is noted with concern that they send their representative to our Staff Courses at various levels, however, they do not allow the reciprocal representation. This is a deliberate step taken by them and this is self defeating.

    Tenthly, let us train our Police effectively. Let them be manned by Defence service Officers at various levels and this would increase the cooperation between them as also would facillitate quick action in times of emergency and the training would automatically improve too.

    These are the measures that should be taken by us immediately and also send a stern warning to our neighbours to desist from supporting the terrorist activities from their soil. This was a good opportunity to sort out Pakistan and the present conditions would have supported our actions. The resignation of Mr Shiv Raj Patil is indeed not a remedy and by appointing Mr Chidambram as Home Minister we have further complicated the issue. He is a mathematical and commerce man, it would have been very apt in case the Government had appointed somebody from the Defence background. The coming days are very crucial and whole World is watching us. We will come out more stronger with this massive hit that we have taken. we will show the world, yes we can too!!!

    SPS Malhotra

    Reduce corruption to reduce terror attacks

    Government officers complain that they cannot help prevent corruption because the public is forcing it on them, doctors complain that they cannot help prescribing coslty medicines because only then their patients believe that they are being treated well. No doubt these are genuine complaints. There are a handful of people in this society who really want corruption to exist and doctors to prescribe costly medicines because they can afford it. But the important thing for us to take cognisance of the fact that the majority who bribe are those who cannot afford it and are forced to it by the majority of bribe takers. At the end of the day let us accept that it has become an accepted evil like dowry. But that doesn't still mean that the majority would not like to see it being wiped out. And it doesn't need any magical wand to do it.

    It only needs our police and courts (including the quasi judicial bodies) to be made efficient and accountable. Unfortunately these have been rated the most corrupt and the second most corupt organisations in India today. And the law-makers are not even talking of making them accountable. In the case of the judiciary even a bill for including the executive in the process for appointing judges to high courts and supreme court is hanging fire for so many years now. And appointing judges is no deal when compared to the onus of making them deliver justice. I shall just quote two examples to prove how wayward out judiciary is.

    1. In Jancy Joseph Vs Union of India (1999 (1) KLT 422), the question of applicability of Section 56 of the Civil Procedure Code while ordering arrests under the provisions of Section 27 of the Consumer Protection Act was considered by the Kerala High Court. Under Section 56 of the CPC,'the court shall not order arrest or detention in the civil prison of a woman in execution of a decree for payment of money; regarding recovery of money from others, arrest can be ordered if it is found that the person concerned have means to pay'.

    The judge had ruled that 'I quash Ext P5 in so far as it holds that woman can be arrested for recovery of money under Sec 27 of the (Consumer Protection) Act and that means of judgement debtor need not be considered when the power under S 27 is exercised for recovery of money'. (Note: here the supposedly learned judge is NOT applying an exisitng law, he is making ONE!)

    2. Subsequently, in Mary Chacko vs Jancy Joseph (2005 (3) KLT 925), a division bench headed by the then CJ of Kerala considered the issue of the applicability of the same Sec 56 of CPC while enforcing the orders under Recovery of Debts Due to Banks and Financial Institutions Act 1993 and ordered that women CAN be arrested because 'there is a clear basis for treating the public dues different from the purely private'. Now this raises a genuine doubt whether the Constitution of India, by which all these luminaries swear by, mention anywhere that justice should be denied to individual citizens? As I see it, or as any man in his senses would see it, it is a big NO! Doesn't it suggest that these people read the Preamble to the Constitution every time they opened a case file? As well as the Gandhi Talisman for added effect?

    It was recently reported in the press that a division bench of the apex court had ruled against judges making laws instead of just interpreting them. Also, in a recent case filed in the District Court here by the wife of an advocate against her husband, the advocate literally argued that it would be shame for him to appear before that court and he got an advocate commission appointed to hear the case! And it was also reported in the media that the High Court of Kerala had said that it had refrained from directing the Chief Secretary of the State to appear in person because it did not want to insult him! And that in nutshell sums up the state of our justice delivery system. Can we hope to do anything unless this system is overhauled?

    The Right to Information Act had actually opened a window of opportunity to set the system right, But the lawmakers dug the first nail on the coffin of the Act by appointing only those persons whom it could identify as potential murders of the Act as information commissioners- the watch dog for implementation of the Act. And between the information commissions and the judiciary, they are vying with each other to dig the last nail in! Today the information commissions are in the same state where the judicary has landed in 60 years. Dr Abdul Kalam when he was the President asked: why is it that all the undertrials in our prisons are from the marginalised sections of the society? (And all the scams that are being reported in the media involve the politician-bureaucrat nexus!). Today we may ask in the context of RTI Act: why is it that only PIOs of lowest level public authorities have been fined while the law provides for fining the PIOs of all the public authorities if they fail to give satisfactory reply within 30 days of the application?

    There are moves a foot to amend the RTI Act. The publicised reasons are of course to make it more user friendly. But going by the history of the Consumer Protection Act we can rest assured that the last nail on the coffin of the Act will be dug by these amendments.

    Maj PM Ravindran (Retd)

    Citizens appeal to the Politicians

    To: Indian MPs and Leaders of National Political Parties
    Dear Members of Parliament and Leaders of National Political Parties

    As concerned citizens, we urge you to restore the country’s faith in our highest democratic institutions by removing the taints of crime and cash from the election process.

    We urge you to take immediate steps to ensure that only clean and capable candidates are nominated for the forthcoming Lok Sabha elections as well as for the Assembly Elections in October- November in Rajasthan, MP, Chhattisgarh, Delhi and Mizoram.

    The process of nominating criminals and spending exorbitantly on election campaigns should stop immediately.

    It is ironic that an ordinary citizen cannot get a Government Class IV job with even a small criminal record, but one can become a Chief Minister or Cabinet Minister, with a murder charge against him. The current Lok Sabha has 22.1 \% (120 out of 543) elected MPs with criminal records against them. The number of cases of serious criminal charges against Lok Sabha MPs is 333, with several MPs having multiple cases.

    Corruption in society begins with the huge spending in elections. The Chief Election Commissioner wrote publicly that “If a candidate is willing to spend ten times more than the prescribed ceiling, it is not out of philanthropy, but in the secure knowledge that he can earn ten times what he spends once he gets to the seat of power.” Therefore, exorbitant expenditure in the elections, including distributing cash, liqour, clothes, and other in-kind inducements to voters to influence their votes should be completely stopped.

    We reiterate that you actively work to persuading your party leaders to nominate only clean and capable candidates for the elections.

    This is a petition sponsored by National Election Watch - a non partisan, non political campaign led by citizens comprising of a nationwide network of 1200 civil society organizations, people’s movements, NGOs, eminent citizens and leaders. The National Election Watch campaign is supported by the Association for Democratic Reforms ( and now has over 25,000 records of all candidates, including all the Lok Sabha MP and candidates from 2004. The findings are widely distributed by the print and electronic media which has supported these election watches and campaigns.

    The Undersigned
    Click here for petition online

    Organisations for counter terrorism

    Is raising new NSG- like units the solution?

    The ineffectiveness of the police will soon help them to gain more high rank appointments for the IPS. The plan to raise more NSG type units to place them at four metros would relieve the state police of all responsibility.

    Though Mumbai Police has an ATS we are told this is only for investigation after strikes. Yet we are told there are many encounter specialists in the org. For what? When the terrorists struck where were these encounter specialists, other than those killed in an ambush? Not even one came forward to battle the terrorists. There was not a single casualty of the ATS in any encounter or battle. Great!! Must be due to tricks picked up from Bollywood! Only catch is that they did not neutralise even a single terrorist and just waited for help.

    Next we have the Marcos. Sad to say but their performance was no better than the Police. And if they are not trained for such jobs why did they deploy? To exhibit their ineffectiveness? Not being familiar with the Taj is no excuse. Were the NSG cdos familiar with Taj or Nariman House?

    It is time introspect critically and increase the level of training and professionalism once we have decided to raise a force.

    It must be realised that NSG or any other Cdo force can only react. The ideal organisation is where the Intelligence and Ops are integrated under one cdr. Since only four metros are not going to be threatened (See history of terrorist strikes) what will be the arrangement for the remaining country? Terrorist strike planners take time to identify weaknesses and strike only when they realise the protective measures are cosmetic and the reactions likely to be lethargic. There is no record of terrorist strikes on alert troops, in India, so far. In this I do not include strikes for assassination of specific targets. In the West, of course, there have been suicide attacks but again they were confident of getting through the protective perimeter to drive their explosive loaded trucks to the desired point. While it is true that determined terrorists can strike any target, the fact is why should they strike alert targets when there are plenty of unprotected ones? In India every other place is vulnerable barring a few VIPs.

    Also it is important to note that presence of NSG cannot prevent terrorist attacks. Delhi has been hit any number of times with the complete NSG nearby. What is important is Intelligence and prevention. Had the NSG reached in, say two hrs what would have been the number of casualties? In all attacks maximum casualties take place in the first half hour.

    Terrorists always strike the undefended, weakest targets killing unarmed innocent, civilians whereas the Insurgents strike the strength of the state such as police stations, Army posts, convoys etc and protect the unarmed civilians. We must understand the difference. The terrorists would never have opened fire on the ATS car in Mumbai if there was the slightest chance of retaliation.

    What is the answer?

    States must remain responsible to deal with terrorism. What is the difficulty in training existing police offrs and men to form (NSG like) units in their states? The Police have their Intelligence. In addition each district, each Police station must be responsible to gain its own Intelligence in its area of responsibility. If need be another police offr can be posted to each district, under the SSP for this task. The existing Intelligence setups may continue to please the political masters, as hither to fore.

    The high level training needs to be given to only about a company worth of commandos in each state to be increased, if required. But it can be called a commando unit of the police. Though 200 NSG personnel came to Mumbai, we saw that very few were actually used. Even with 500% reserve we don't need too many commandos. These must be the elite not used for protection of VIPs. Black colour uniformed personnel must never be used for VIP protection. They must only be used to deal with terrorists.

    The Army can help in imparting training. We also have enough reserves of personnel who have served in NSG and returned to units. Some can be absorbed in state police forces, if the Army agrees to release them.

    I do wish, in the interest of our countrymen, that the authorities analyse the problem before taking the usual Home Ministry action of raising a new force after every crisis. Unfortunately their advisors are the DGs of CPOs who have no experience of handling any crisis. If any of you can do something about it, do it.

    Lt Gen KK Khanna
    Former Commandant IMA

    Terror in Mumbai

    Analysis and Lessons Learnt

    The smoke has cleared and the dust settled in South Mumbai. The authorities have announced that Mumbai is safe. For the sake of Mumbaiwasis we hope and wish they are right.

    As long as nothing happens we are safe. Aren't we? Forget about the terrorists who have got away! As long as they just hide they are no threat!

    There can be no doubt that Mumbai would have plenty of them and many supporters even today. Being human I am sure they will give time to the police to recover before striking again (just to be fair). Strike they will; and not only in Mumbai. When and where? No worry because such decisions are taken outside the Country, in any case.

    Will the Govt hold the Heads of Intelligence agencies accountable for their failures? No! Because they are doing a good job collecting intelligence of politicians. And, of course, the Maharashtra Police will be felicitated for keeping the civilians out of range of the terrorists weapons during the battle. What else is the Police supposed to do? When the top officers have been killed in an ambush, there won't be any difficult questions. The DGP is too close to the CM. Don't bother about his responsibility!

    Will anyone remember that the NSG was called as soon as the strike occurred? The Home Minister announced it to one and all! Giving even the number being sent! Why did the ATS not deal with terrorists initially till they felt it was beyond their control? The same question for the naval commandos. No one would dream of doubting the courage of the Naval Commandos or the Mumbai Police. But there has been no casualty of Police or the Naval commandos in actual encounter. When the chips are down why do all the agencies with fancy names back out and the Army is called in whether donning NSG uniforms or their own? Will their reaction not be noted by our enemies?

    I hope authorities and the civilians will differentiate between the two brave army men killed in action and the policemen who died as a result of terrorist action. It will be an insult to our brave Army men to equate them.

    I wonder how many personnel of the NSG deployed were from the Army. How is it that there are no casualties of the other agencies? If the police don't even attempt to take on the terrorists when the encounters start how do they conduct so many encounters on their own? And related question how safe is Mumbai in their hands? There is no need to comment. Facts reveal it all. The need for greater professionalism has never been higher. Is there a need for them to bother when the Army is always there at their beck and call?

    Now we hear of an NSG like organisation for Maharashtra! Why can't present organisations be more professional? Organisations are effective because of the professionalism of their leaders and the men, their traditions established over long periods; not only with sophisticated equipment. What prevents the ATS of Mumbai to be more professional?

    Surprisingly the people who feel that Mumbai belongs to them have been mum during the crisis. But their attitude can be understood because these terrorists were neither from Bihar, North or the South. Foreign terrorists are not on their hit lists. These parochial organisations have good organisations but to expect to exploit the organisations to collect intelligence of foreign terrorists would be optimistic. There is no threat to the Marathas and while gaining intelligence against them maybe in National interest, but will not help them politically. So what decision do you expect? Neighbouring politicians have enough tax payers money to donate to derive full political mileage. If they don't do this they won't be politicians. If this money was used within the State sensibly a lot would be gained even to just gain intelligence of terrorists.

    As far as the Army is concerned, we remain proud of our colleagues and so are the people of India, no matter how much our status is lowered by petty politicians (mistake to call them leaders). Let us just do our duty to retain the respect in the heart of the common man, which no politician or bureaucrat can lower!

    Jai Hind
    Lt Gen KK Khanna
    Former Commandant IMA

    Tuesday, December 2, 2008

    Picture Shooters in contrast

    Olympic shooter wins Gold Medal & Government awards Rs 300,00,000. A NSG Commando shoots the terrorist and lays down his life defending Mumbai and his award is Rs 5,00,000. What is the worth of a Jawan defending the Nation? Think about it!

    Time to listen to people, Mr PM

    * The first piece of advice for you would be to revisit the sixth pay commission recommendations for the armed forces. This encompasses all associated issues, such as reduction in status as well as disparity in pay scales with civilian counterparts. True, there is some merit in the argument that, as a democracy, India needs to maintain its fine civilian-military balance. It's our strength and that should be preserved. But, that same divide is now becoming a deep rift and could pose unspeakable dangers.

    At a time when the country’s security apparatus is crumbling under the weight of political and bureaucratic incompetence, the armed forces have emerged as the only reliable form of intervention, including providing expert help in pulling children out of wells and enforcing law and order in riot-torn areas. It is also true that the police force needs reforms badly, but till that happens, the military is our only source of hope, as the recent Mumbai attacks have shown.

    Therefore, it’s probably time to set right some of the wrongs perpetrated by an entrenched bureaucracy interested in consolidating its hold. And, what better way to do it than providing the soldiers with some dignity and honour through better pay and improved standing. Listen to your defence minister; he seems to understand the issues.
    1 Dec 2008, 0048 hrs IST, Rajrishi Singhal, ET Bureau
    Read the full article at Time to listen to people, Mr PM

    Rescue Mother India: Press Note

    1. National Security should be the Central Theme. The Development should be woven around it.
    2. Politicians and bureaucrats have failed the country.
    3. No Nation can become great unless its Armed Forces, Para Military Forces and Police are strong, well motivated and well equipped.
    4. It is a matter of pride for any one to belong to the Armed Forces. The country must uphold this pride.
    5. Chief Minister of Kerala has no moral right to remain in the chair after having uttered such outrageous and shocking remarks against the Martyr's Family.
    6. Chief Minister of Kerala must himself resign or the people should ensure his exit.
    7. No one can deny that it is primarily due to the role played by the Armed Forces that integrity of the Nation is intact.
    8. Whereas all other institutions have failed the country quite often, the Armed Forces have been the saving grace.
    9. Armed Forces for their contributions for the sustenance of the Nation MUST get due respect just and fair deal.
    10. Population influence of Defence Forces both serving and retired of approx 15 Crores must be taken note of.
    11. Constitute unified command headed by Army for Internal Security.
    12. Unified command headed by Army only answer to terrorism.
    13. Respect soldiers both serving and retired they are the saviours of the Nation.
    14. Defence Forces are the last bastion, keep up their morale and motivation.
    15. Any country which cannot look after its security is doomed to fail.
    16. Remove Injustice to Defence Personnel of 6th CPC.
    17. Attract the best and most suitable youth to Defence Forces; offer the best package.
    18. NSG must be commanded by Army and not by Police.
    19. Carry out Police Reforms on War footing. Remove Political interference from Police System.
    20. Home and Defence Minister must have Defence background.
    21. All Central Services personnel must do three years service in Defence Forces before joining their respective services.

    Jai Hind
    With Kind Regards,
    Yours Sincerely,
    Maj Gen Satbir Singh, SM
    Vice Chairman Indian ESM Movement (IESM)

    Operational Metamorphosis: Mumbai, ISI, LeT and al-Qaeda

    To understand how the Mumbai attack seems to have been an original small-scale ISI plan for Kashmir which was then ‘hijacked’ by al-Qaeda and turned into a three-day display of urban terrorism, read Syed Saleem Shahzad today in the Asia Times. After a superbly concise (and essential) background history of the al-Qaeda-India-Lashkar-e-Taiba (LeT) dynamic, Shahzad cuts to the chase.

    India has never been a direct al-Qaeda target. This has been due in part to Delhi’s traditionally impartial policy of strategic non-alignment and in part to al-Qaeda using India as a safe route from the Arabian Sea into Gujrat and then on to Mumbai and then either by air or overland to the United Arab Emirates. Al-Qaeda did not want to disrupt this arrangement by stirring up attacks in India.

    Nevertheless, growing voices from the North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO) and from within India for the country to be a strategic partner of NATO and the US in Afghanistan compelled al-Qaeda, a year ago, to consider a plan to utilize Islamic militancy structures should this occur.

    Several low-profile attacks were carried out in various parts of India as a rehearsal and Indian security agencies still have no idea who was behind them. Nevertheless, al-Qaeda was not yet prepared for any bigger moves, like the Mumbai attacks.

    Under directives from Pakistan’s army chief, General Ashfaq Kiani, who was then director general (DG) of the ISI, a low-profile plan was prepared to support Kashmiri militancy. That was normal, even in light of the peace process with India. Although Pakistan had closed down its major operations, it still provided some support to the militants so that the Kashmiri movement would not die down completely.

    After Kiani was promoted to chief of army staff, Lieutenant General Nadeem Taj was placed as DG of the ISI. The external section under him routinely executed the plan of Kiani and trained a few dozen LET militants near Mangla Dam (near the capital Islamabad). They were sent by sea to Gujrat, from where they had to travel to Kashmir to carry out operations.

    Meanwhile, a major reshuffle in the ISI two months ago officially shelved this low-key plan as the country’s whole focus had shifted towards Pakistan’s tribal areas. The director of the external wing was also changed, placing the “game” in the hands of a low-level ISI forward section head (a major) and the LET’s commander-in-chief, Zakiur Rahman.

    Zakiur was in Karachi for two months to personally oversee the plan. However, the militant networks in India and Bangladesh comprising the Harkat, which were now in al-Qaeda’s hands, tailored some changes. Instead of Kashmir, they planned to attack Mumbai, using their existent local networks, with Westerners and the Jewish community center as targets.

    Zakiur and the ISI’s forward section in Karachi, completely disconnected from the top brass, approved the plan under which more than 10 men took Mumbai hostage for nearly three days and successfully established a reign of terror.

    The attack, started from ISI headquarters and fined-tuned by al-Qaeda, has obviously caused outrage across India. The next issue is whether it has the potential to change the course of India’s regional strategy and deter it from participating in NATO plans in Afghanistan.

    He goes on to explain what few have well: That the fighting in Karachi since the Mumbai attacks that has left 35 killed and over 200 injured is between the MQM (Muttahida Qaumi Movement), “comprising people who migrated to Pakistan after the partition of British India in 1947,” and the Pashtun sub-nationalist ANP (Awami National Party). This ethnic dynamic is critical to understanding the conflict in Karachi, and another indication of just how much a tinderbox Pakistan is.

    A couple points on what Shahzad has written. If accurate (and Shahzad in normally uncannily so), then:

    1. ISI fingerprints are on the genesis of the attack plan.
    2. Upper echelons of ISI delegated seemingly unsupervised to a junior officer, who signed off on the LeT/al-Qaeda alterations from small Kashmir assault to large scale Mumbai killing spree.
    3. Upper echelons of ISI & military perhaps unaware of alterations, but not with clean hands. Kashmir or Mumbai, they planned terror attacks.
    4. That “major reshuffle in the ISI two months ago,” recall, was when Lt General Nadeem Taj, a relative of Musharraf, was forced out as Director General of the ISI. It was a Pakistani intelligence shake-up largely by American insistence.
    5. While the US had hoped the ‘double dealing’ of Taj would have left with him, it has to be understood that General Kiyani - head of Pakistan’s military and thus effectively its military intelligence (ISI) - while admirably stalwart against al-Qaeda and the Taliban in the North West and tribal areas, has always been equally stalwart regarding the Pakistani conflict with India over disputed Kashmir.
    General Kiyani may have intended a minor operation for Kashmir and was almost certainly in the dark about the metamorphosis of the operation into a Mumbai massacre, but the law of unintended consequences holds little acquittal when leaders play with the fire of terrorism.

    Even while the ISI political wing was disbanded just days before the Mumbai attack, the shakeup atop the ISI is irrelevant without a trickle-down impact. And so long as ‘mid-level’ men such as Major Zakiur Rahman man posts and sign off on al-Qaeda affiliates’ massacres, there is little hope for Pakistan’s emergence from the tinderbox of terrorism without itself being consumed by the very fires it tolerates.

    Westerners call it a ‘come to Jesus’ moment. Whatever the South Asian equivalent, Pakistan has yet to have its own. When it does, the fighting inside Pakistan, among Pakistanis (and assorted imported radical travelers) will be fierce and bloody. May the jihadiyun not be the only ones armed and willing to fight.
    Operational Metamorphosis: Mumbai, ISI, LeT and al-Qaeda

    Mumbai Standoff Never Again

    Indian Express Posted: Dec 02, 2008 at 0229 hrs IST

    This terrorist attack was the worst the country has faced. The worst in terms of locations targeted; of the audacity of the terrorists; the highly coordinated nature of the terrorist operation; the sophistication of the weapons used; the number of casualties; the destruction caused; and of the time taken for resolving the issue. We have learnt little after being targets of terrorist actions over relentless decades. There was a major attack in Delhi just this September; another soon after in Guwahati; and yet, we have again been found napping. Why is it that we seem so helpless? The reason is that we have been unable to get our act together and continue to deal with this major menace in a fractured and uncoordinated manner.

    Unfortunately, all that our leadership — not just the political leadership but also the emergency core group of officials — have to offer are platitudes and exhortations to maintain communal harmony and remain calm. These are, of course, vital; but they are not a comprehensive plan that could work to counter such activities. Till date, there is apparently no attempt at planning, although we are, today, the biggest victims of terrorism.

    After 9/11, the US administration took many measures to ensure that such attacks did not recur. They set up a structured organisation in the form of the department of homeland security, which served as the nodal agency for command and control, with other agencies reporting to it. The proof of the pudding is in the eating: not one terrorist incident has taken place in mainland America after instituting these measures.

    Compare that to India, which has no terrorism strategy. All we have is crisis management, which is indeed the very antithesis of strategy, and thus meaningless. There are too many sources of this strategic confusion: our agencies, clueless as ever; various police forces, activated only when an incident occurs; Centre and states blaming each other, as security is a state subject; a political leadership focussed unwaveringly on the next elections; core officials easily reverting to their earlier dispensations and routine.

    As someone who spent a life in the military, the most striking thing about the Mumbai standoff was the chaos visible outside all the venues. No one was apparently in command or co-ordinating the various operations. No communication arrangements were visible: everyone seemed to be communicating only by their mobiles! This is a major threat, akin to war: it is unthinkable that we can expect to succeed in our objective if we proceed in such a lackadaisical manner.

    Lt Gen Vijay Oberoi (Retd)
    Never Again


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