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Update: After getting praise mails that I am, as a journalist encouraging war, I need to state specifically that I am NOT a journalist, and my knowledge of politics is minimal. What I am is a concerned and distraught citizen. My posts are not informed political opinions or advice about policy, but thoughts that cross my mind as I follow this crisis. I am against war and violence. I even feel pity for the poor captured terrorist for that matter. This is only a perspective and reaction about the threat of a nuclear war from Pakistan. This threat is actually explained by recent news about a hoax call that led to the Pakistani government thinking India was about to attack them. More than that, any comments like "kill the Pakistanis" will immediately be deleted, as I have no wish to encourage the circulation of such views. So, if you find that the comment you posted has been deleted, that's me in action. If hostile comments recur, I will delete this post. This post is about the Indian attitude toward the threat of nuclear war and what at that time seemed an insane attitude to me and not about hatred for Pakistan.

Current worry is that Pakistan is apparently never in the wrong, even as many Pakistanis raise questions about the ISI in their daily lives. Strange that the average Pakistani believes that their ISI can sabotage their own country but no other. Strange kind of organization to have, no? But I don't think logic has anything to do with the Pakistani response at the moment.

As for the Pakistani government not being involved, no one believes that. I doubt if the Pakistani government was ever directly involved with happenings in India. I doubt if it ever was in the loop. For that matter, the government was clueless about the Kargil conflict. Doesn't mean it didn't happen.

It is transparent that Pakistan WANTS the excuse of war with India to escape from its "coerced commitment" to the war against terror on the Afgan front. So I don't really think any actionable cooperation is ever going to come from there beyond demands of proof. Even if Zardari wants to cooperate, I doubt if he has the power to do so, when the army has another agenda. He is the sitting duck for pressure from his own country, the army, US, India, world opinion...... with no real power to do anything, because doing anything on this front will mean hurting the unofficial ISI weapon against India, which the ISI will not allow and I don't see how Zardari can make them, even if he wants to, even if he accepts that LeT are the culprits, even if he commits to getting rid of them.

A country that disowns terrorists as non-state actors (after first denying their existence) is willing to go to war over protecting them - anyone else find that incongruent?

Meanwhile, India is pissed and frustrated that its proof is dismissed and proofs are demanded. Terrorists wanted for causing harm in India are not to be given over. Pakistan speaks of strikes being seen as acts of war, and nukes are laid out on the table straight off. For someone cooperating, its a strange attitude of denials, refusals and threats.

Meanwhile, US and the rest of the world is shitting bricks at the thought of a nuclear war between India and Pakistan, and doing all it can to prevent it.

What I literally see is a world held hostage to Pakistan. No one is convinced of their innocence, but no one also wants to provoke them because they have *melodramatic shudder* nukes, you know?

Pakistan is not the only country in the world to have nukes, but it is the only country to act against the interests of the world and then threaten to use nukes if it thinks there will be retaliation.

For that matter, it does the same with its own people. The threat is not nukes, but its own extremist and army agendas of power to control that hold the common man hostage with threats of physical harm. For example, in this current scenario, what the Pakistani common man thinks is as irrelevant as what Zardari thinks. The situation hinges on the army deserting the war on terror and threatening nukes and the militants talking of defending the country they were relentlessly destroying, which incidently were both irrelevant to the talks happening between the governments.

Perhaps I'm direct, but this is how I see it.

As long as the Kashmir issue is resolved, India and Pakistan will never be truly at peace. Pakistan has nukes and doesn't even consider an option of no-first-strike as a part of its "defence", so that problem is unlikely to be over, ever. For that matter, I don't even think Pakistan really wants Kashmir resolved, because that will take away their reason for acting on their hatred of India.

From how I understand, Pakistan sees nukes as any other weapon, and one of the most powerful in its arsenal. Its not particularly bothered about the damage it will cause to India, because that is the whole idea in any case. It counts on this attitude to be a deterrent in itself, with the entire world pressurizing India to avoid war, because they sure as hell know that there will be no reasoning with Pakistan.

My approach to this is different. Much as I hate violence, and my dream of a good world includes armies dismantled because they become redundant, I hate being held hostage by bullies even worse. I am aware that I could be one of the casualties if Pakistan makes a nuclear attack, and one of the more likely ones by virtue of living in Mumbai. Yet, I do think what India and the world needs to do at this moment is a nuclear war. Pakistan needs to go to the stone age before it can become a civilization.

I thought long and deep over it, considered my abhorrence of violence, the situation with Pakistan...... a whole load of things. I know it will be terrible thing. It will harm Indian economy, lives, morale, and cause a whole load of pain.

Yet, as I consider:

  • Pakistan is never ever going to stop harming India directly or indirectly.
  • Even if the LeT is finished, the reason for its creation is still there, and it is only a matter of time before it is resurrected or something else created to fulfill that need.
  • Pakistan has nukes and will continue to have them till they are destroyed or used. 50 years from now, we will still be bearing attrocities exported from that country because it has nukes. It will still be operating without a conscience, because it believes that its irresponsible attitude toward human lives will continue to protect it from those who value them.
  • India is a strong country. It will be devastated, but it will regenerate. Hopefully, it will regenerate without the hanging sword of Pakistani nukes over its head. I may die, but the future of hundreds will be safer from threat.

It is with a heavy heart, and against my instincts that I admit that a nuclear war between India and Pakistan is what India and the world needs, provided that we are able to work together and take out their nukes completely.

Rather than cringe and tolerate endlessly that which has no intention of ever going away, we need to face it and conquer it. If we pay a price, it is the price of a future of not being held hostage and harmed.

What is needed is for Pakistan to be conquered, and reorganized under a stable country (preferrably not India) and led to prosperity. It needs to find a future in creation rather than vengeance for perceived attrocities. It needs hope and well being.

The other option is to sit and do nothing. Ignore the attack completely, strengthen internal security, hang the terrorist and leave Pakistan alone to collapse under its own weight or in the "war against terror".

Awesome, Isn't it? How much of a fool can the media make of themselves? The whole Mumbai nightmare has been faithfully punctuated by bad reporting by the media.

One terrorist killed at Taj. Seven. uh, it was two. Two! Which two? I thought four.... but that wasn't at Taj! That was at Oberoi......... If you look at my post that takes a look at how many terrorists were reported dead by the media, you wouldn't worry about rumors saying 16 terrorists, because you could account for them then and there.

Which floor of the Taj was the fire on? 8th or the 13th? Were shots fired at CST on the next day or not? To me, it looks like there was very little reporting. What was, was a day and night National Level test match between different media. In a struggle to provide the most information, all boundaries of insignificant hassles like confidentiality needs in an ongoing operation, facts, verifications of rumors were simply wished away out of existence.

If the terrorists were actually able to sift information from crap by following the media, they shouldn't be in LeT. Mensa is where they should be.

Yet, in the face of all the nonsense, there actually were completely irresponsible details broadcasted for all to hear - who all are coming to the location, how many commandos, live telecast of the helicopter dropping commandos on Nariman House..... I remember thinking that these terrorists were really incompetent. If I were a terrorist, with all the information I could get from the TV, I'd rig the terrace with bombs the minute I came to know there was a helicopter drop, and then sit happily on a lower floor watching TV to plan the exact moment to detonate it. Good it didn't occur to these guys, but no thanks to the media for it.

I found it totally insane that "rumors" of a blast at CST were broadcast the next day in between announcements not to spread rumors. With all the fancy gadgets on location, apparently no one had a phone to call up the station and find out before throwing Mumbai in a panic.

And now finally this. It really takes the cake. The media guessed at the contents of the demarche!!!???!!! What's more, the stupid government instead of throwing them into jail, played along with it, and we have spent a day arguing with Pakistan about how we want the wanted men deported and how they wouldn't, and the scenario is heating up.

By the way, no apologies for misrepresenting situations, misleading people, misinforming them, etc have been seen. So basically, as long as the TRPs rise, just talk whatever crap you can.

I'm really puzzled about what all seems to pass for journalism in Indian Media. Honestly, this seems outright criminal to me. Definitely against the interests of the country. How can the media speculate about the contents of a confidential document between countries? What the hell is going on?

The sources also clarified that contrary to media reports in India and Pakistan, the demarche which was handed over to the Pakistani side earlier this week did not contain the list of 20 most wanted terrorists that had first been given to Islamabad in 2000. Once the media started saying India was demanding the immediate handing over of the 20 fugitives, of course, the Government could hardly contradict these reports since their return has been a long-standing Indian demand, the sources added. The demarche made only a pro forma reference to the return of unnamed fugitives but was otherwise exclusively focused on the Lashkar-e-Taiba and its leader Hafiz Saeed, whom New Delhi regards as the perpetrators of the Mumbai terror strikes.

Worse, the government is covering up for the media because they mention something they want? Hello boss! At this moment, what we want most is a less volatile situation.

Really folks. GROW UP!!!

We are trying to catch some terrorists here and avoid a war. Those 20 men have been a major hostile point which was introduced between two countries because some journalist as usual didn't bother to verify what they were writing.

So of course, as a country, we pressurized another country and created anger and misunderstanding over something we hadn't even planned to ask for just yet.

Disillusioned doesn't begin to cover what I feel. I'm not even certain what's true and what's a journalists' version of how things could be in all the news on the terror attack investigations.

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?

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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.