5

As I look around at my beloved city ravaged for some obscure purpose, my blood boils. I read around on the net, drawn to the news reports like a horrific accident that I can't bear or ignore. I see reports of devastated lives and responses from protest marches to non-cooperation.

On the other hand, I read about this sole surviving terrorist, the one hateful guy, and a part of me actually feels compassion for someone who leads such a wretched life that it seems worthwhile to throw it away for an adopted cause. For someone who probably has a family he's worried about the consequences to. For someone who acted and now sees the ghastly consequences of his own actions. I wonder if it is not remorse (though he doesn't claim any) that leads him to give so much of helpful information - a way to set things right. Because, while he could have been bluffing, much of his information checked out too.

Not that I'm asking for pardon for him or anything.... just..... pity. Perhaps gratefulness for the information that's leading us to the source. Though I wish he hadn't come to India in the first place.

Then I read of Pakistani refusal to deport the men on the wanted list. Demands for evidence as though everything coming up is a joke. Dismissive snubs like the list not containing anything new and not deserving a response..... and my blood boils. While they may be right and enforcing their own policy regarding people in their country, I'm not happy to sit and listen to the wording it is expressed in and no addressal of everything they can't deny like terrorist captured red handed and his confession leading to finding of abandoned Indian boat (besides other things) with the dead body of the skipper; phones and wallets of terrorists with numbers of LeT members; he identified Muzammil's voice when he was made to listen to intercepts; Pakistani made stuff like matchboxes, toothpaste, medical kits and clothes from Pakistan; intercepts of phone conversations to numbers in Pakistan; terror email being traced to Lahore address; etc - endless reports all over the net.

If initial reports were contradictory, they cleared up over time as investigation progressed. Not having set up the scene (like some conspiracy theories), the whole country was discovering stuff as the investigations progressed. Sure, the reporting was bad and tinged with panic, confusion and anxiety - you think that's unnatural under the circumstances?

After all the (unused, or not used enough) intelligence warnings from the CIA, RAW, etc about an LeT attack planned..... You think people putting two and two together and calling it an LeT operation quickly is unrealistic? <---Not even bothering with links here. They are so abundant, if you missed them you need an internet connection.

BTW, so much for calling it impossible because security was not able to prevent it.

Hint: Read up on cognitive dissonance

Warnings to the US of not being able to support the war on terror in case of a strike by India happened at a time when no such thing had been talked about by India and constant references to Pakistan's nuclear capability as the deterrent to a strike by India abounded - so much for the much claimed sympathy. My blood not just boils, its sick of reacting and wants to ACT.

I wonder how the US feels to actually be blackmailed to prevent a strike when its own policy is to follow the terrorists into their homes and its citizens are victims. I honestly doubt if the US is going to be manipulated as easily this time.

And what does Pakistan mean by "non-state actors"? They don't belong to Pakistan? In that case, I'm sure they will not mind if we blow them off the face of the earth - after all, they ARE stateless - no country will retaliate.

Imagining myself in the position of our leaders, I wonder what are the things I can do. To begin with, why is it that a smaller country with a smaller nuclear arsenal is a deterrent to us even when we are protecting ourselves? It may not say it, but I bet it shits bricks to think of a retaliation from India and is only not worried because its not fool enough to invite it.

The other thing that pisses me off is that India is expected to be concerned about the stability of Pakistan more than Pakistan itself. Reminds me of a kid with a tantrum who needs someone else to change the diaper. As far as I am concerned, I'm willing to be irresponsible for a bit and let the responsibility for stability fall on US and Pakistan while I hunt for the terrorists I want.

And it need not be that way. Victims from this terror strike were from a variety of countries including US, UK, Israel, Australia... I bet a joint strike targetted toward the locations of the culprits could easily be managed by freezing Pakistan politically with the combined pressure of all these countries. The findings from the investigations are already not hidden from them.

So why in the world does India have to keep absorbing terror attacks only to stop at border lines and nuclear potentials? After all, isn't passive acceptance a form of encouragement?

The way I look at it, allowing crime is as good as committing it. We have a passive and peaceful image. No one seems to want to shake it, to the extent of victimizing ourselves.

Adopt a handicap and call yourself a cripple. Stop thinking of yourself as a non-violent country when called for, and you empower yourself to stop being defensive and act assertively.

I'm not calling for an all out war, but for whatever it takes ranging from international pressure, to strikes, covert missions to hell, why not, planned disruption of their society to keep the LeT guys busy in their own area - actual terrorist strikes against the terrorist organization, not the country. Send terrorists to blow up their camps, disrupt their training, expose them in their own country, spoil the support they get by making them an embarrassment, trigger conflicts with other terror organizations...... proper state sponsored stuff that we should admit with pride when done. We are a creative country, surely we should be able to come up with options.

If Pakistan wants to trigger a war over damage done to "non-state actors" they can first adopt them and then pay the bill and then we can talk.

The whole point is, we need to act not defend.

More than that, we need to settle this whole issue of who can create the bigger mess - just because we don't doesn't mean we can't.

Update:
Added links to the post to reference the proofs and found something interesting. Great minds think alike apparently or maybe they read my post 😀 - US sets stage for strikes if Pak does not act

As I read up on all the different reports from the warnings that had been there, I am more and more certain that this was not an intelligence failure so much as a failure to design intelligent responses.

What more intelligence is needed? You have warnings about an attack from the sea by captured terrorists, America, reported suspicious movements by fishermen....... Coastal Guard looking out for possible infiltrations..... the intelligence was in place. What intelligence was needed? The exact time and place for the attack? Even that was provided when calls from help at the attack sites came in, but action happened much later.

The terrorists slipped under the radar by hijacking a vessel that would not be conspicuous.

What caused the tragedy was lack of use of reports. With so much warning about an attack from sea, how is it that the police response was still so clueless? From the overall speed of the response, there seemed to be no impression that the police expected any situation to arise. All the information gathering in the world is no use if it is not taken seriously.

What we need is dedicated follow ups, investigations, confirmations and readiness to act to back up all that intelligence.

I don't deny that there was great bravery shown on all fronts against the terrorists. Yet, as we move on from the tragedy, the urgency is blurring. At this time, I want to take a moment to look at things that could have been better.

Equipment and training: I put these together, since it would be even more embarrassing to have an armed hawaldar disarmed by a criminal and his weapon used to create further harm. I think it is not enough to just arm our cops, but to instill in them certain standards of professionalism and pride in their roles. This needs to be backed up with adequate training. Not a small task, but necessary. Cops waving lathis chasing terrorists armed with AK47s is an image that doesn't instill respect, no matter how brave they are. And it isn't only about terrorism. In a world where every self respecting criminal has fancy arms, its about the cops feeling empowered enough to be a difference.

Emergency responses:
Our emergency response needs designing. Note that I'm not speaking of updating or overhauling. If it takes over half an hour for the local cops to respond, its not a design worth keeping. Scrap it, work from scratch, and come up with something that allows the police response to be as near to the travelling time from the nearest presence as possible. This basically means that cops being trained to respond ASAP and their routines planned to accommodate at least one quick response team at any given time from any station.

Media: This has two sides. One is the media - there needs to be a plan about covering emergencies like this. This plan needs to include boundaries of what is not to be broadcast to the public. It wouldn't even harm to continue with regular programmes with regular updates instead of creating a live test match out of a sensitive situation and compounding it with unconfirmed, contradictory information, rumours and speculation, which perhaps was a blessing if the terrorists were indeed following it. The other side of this is PR people for the cops/armed forces if their representatives can't resist giving out information. Obviously the people of the country want information, but how much information is necessary to give immediately and what can wait till the end of the operation? What kind of information will help the country more in the situation? I imagine that I'd have preferred a blank screen rather than live telecast of commandoes rappelling to the top of the Nariman house for example. A simple statement like the army has been involved would be far better than details of which commandos, how many, and shots where their equipment is clearly seen. Go ahead, shoot it, and edit it into a breathtaking special after its all over, but not at a time when the criminals can get tactical information directly. There was a hue and cry over twitter which is full of rumours and tough to decipher with over 80 messages a second, yet clear shots of the commandos and their weapons continued, including direct statements like "bodies being carried out of the back entrance of the Taj". No one is going to blame an official for refusing to share potentially sensitive information in the middle of a situation and no one is going to blame the media person who refuses to air it till safe.

Intelligence: We need to figure out a system for wading through all the information we get and working with it. Too much information was wasted that turns up now likehints of this plot coming up from terrorist captures in Lucknow, Kashmir, fishermen..... Nothing seems to have been done out of it. Ignoring intelligence defeats the entire purpose of gathering it in the first place.

Citizens: We have a concerned community alive to the dangers of terrorism. Is there a way that we can harness the helpless frustration of those camping out on twitter (for example). Can we engage volunteers to find out information, report things, sift through reports to remove the random chatter from the potential information, spread awareness, work on social integration objectives......?

Politics: Is there a way that we can bring parties together quickly in an emergency and work in collaboration to reassure, organize and manage the country by working with their audiences that support them?

There is so much potential for efficiency without even creating new structures. Can we try and ensure that things work as they should?

1

Maybe I'm in a mood where I can't see any good in politicans, but this is another thing about them that pisses me off. When the mess gets bad, quit and leave it for the person following to clean up the crap.

One big change I think the Indian Govt needs is permanent tenures for some posts at least, where people can't simply walk away from the consequences of their actions when the going gets bad or at the end of five years, the last part of which is obviously spent in farewell mode. That's too much time wasted and too little ownership. A good business wouldn't run like that. Why a country?

My opinion is that ok, he has screwed up. So what can he do to make it better, how can we support him, and how can we use this remorse for something better than admitting failure?

Is it possible that all this strong sentiment of not having lived up to the mark can now be the driving force for getting things up to the mark?

That would help the country more. It would also help the self-image of the poor guy. It is immensely satisfying to set things to rights, certainly more so than walking away defeated amid criticism.

In his place, I'd start moving toward changes for the better and NOT leave until kicked out. Even then I'd probably be willing to beg for a chance. My ego is not as important as well being and good old hardwork toward it.

So yes, in a way, I'm supporting the poor guy, saying that mistakes happen however horrific, and rather than admit that a mistake is the best we can do, perhaps we can show our capacity to learn from them. The next guy to walk in will be as complacent as the others, unless they live through the consequences of their complacency and stay in there and fight on when things go wrong.

2

I have posted enough for today and I really need to get back to work. No amount of writing is going to repair this devastation in my heart. Yet, as I read this article about Raj Thackeray's response to the Mumbai terror crisis, I can't help but write. He would probably understand this as a fiery response. After all flaming emotions seem to be his forte.

I get the impression that Karkare saved Mumbai from the seige. Not to get me wrong, I applaud his deidcation and bravery, but hey, he died as the curtains rose on this show. No comment on the NSG? Or are they disposable since they are not Maharashtrians?

I wasn't too bothered about all the sarcasm about his being MIA in the time of his beloved Mumbai's crisis - after all, what could he do? His strength is not in fighting, and while its possible he could have talked the terrorists to death, I doubt if Mumbai was willing to risk time on it.

In a time when the country is shattered with this unexpected and unbelievable massacre, Raj actually seems to be a step ahead of the other politicians in making selfish and inane comments. "The officers of the calibre of Karkare and his colleagues Salaskar and
Kamte who led from the front in combating terrorists had done
Maharashtra proud with their supreme sacrifice."Not just Maharashtra, idiot! The country, the world, every humane person on this planet.

What put me into this flaming gear is "What needs to be condemned is the politics played by the ruling coalition in directing ATS to go after Hindu organisations and in the process ignoring the real danger of 'Islamic terrorism' that held Mumbai hostage." To be fair, its a common ailment of all politicians. ATS is not your (or anyone's) maid servant or pet dog. You can't 'direct' them to 'go after' anything (or at least shouldn't be able to - though I guess vandalizing a few places will make them cautious out of concern for this country).

For all these politicians, I'd like you to understand politics is politics and investigations are investigations. If you can't respect those boundaries, if you can't resist manipulating where you shouldn't, stop pretending that you are interested in the welfare of the country. You wouldn't like cops telling you how to run the country. Stop telling them how to keep it safe.

More than that, quit using the country's pain to peddle your political interests.

If you really respect the sacrifice of Karkare, read this and understand how politics hinder the process of keeping this country safe. "I don't know why this case has become so political," was one of Karkare's first comments. "The pressure is tremendous and I am wondering how to extricate it from all the politics."

Where is your humaneness? Where is your shock, sorrow, concern, uncertainty, caring....?

So we now have a woman president. That's nice. Honestly, I don't care less if the president is a man or a woman, as long as they take the country into better days. I'm not really into preferring either male or female in most situations.

However, considering the long drive for women's empowerment in India, I guess this can be seen as a shining star in its cap. Like my neighbour hastened to point out - "Not even the US has ever had a woman president - we are even more modern that them in some ways". While I don't understand the immediate need to compare happenings in India with the US, she does have a point.

Women in positions of power was not really a very big problem in India, its the everyday life of the common woman where the fight is. We have always had loads of them from warrior rulers and politicians, to social reformers, activists and educators and all other influential areas too. The percentage of women isn't the same as men, but I can say with all honesty and pride that they are plenty and well respected too.

What I find remarkable in having a woman president, is that a president in India is the top. So its a pretty symbolic and powerful position for a woman in a society that is serious for women's empowerment. Its a statement of trust and belief in capability. Symbolic matriarchy. I like that.

I think this is not really a statement in terms of "woman-president" but actions speaking louder than words in the field of women empowerment. We have a person capable of leading the country well. That person becomes president. It happens to be female. So what? It's that "so what", so easily typical of India, when it has accepted an idea that's the beauty of it.

With due credit to our neighbour, Mrs M, she has an important point as well. I did promise her that I would mention it in my writing. I don't think she understands how ordinary a blog is - she thinks I'm writing important stuff that will stay on record for all time. In a way she's right, but well.... its still ordinary in these times.

She wants to point out (rather triumphantly) that it is America speaking of womens rights and empowerment and all that, but have they trusted their country into a woman's hands? Indian women are meek and mild, so they are easy to bully in some cases, but in other cases, they are just quiet and that is not a bad thing. When the time is right, see what is happening. An Indian woman is president, and the country is very happy about it.

I think this is pretty much the gist of what she is saying. While I don't necessary with the "meek and mild and naturally quiet" parts of it, I guess she's saying it like she sees it. I think she's just not seeing all the bold ones out here, including me. For her, the typical Indian woman is still the one who's quietly efficient, modest, and designed to drive me nuts through sheer lack of open communication.

Whatever, we have a new president, and I have duly celebrated the fact that she's female. Now let's watch and wait to see where our journey of development as a country leads.