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Exclusives
Defeat devilish designs
09-02-2016

By Samuel Mathai

“Resist the devil, and he will flee from you.” The repeated terrorist attacks on India, the largest democracy in the world, which has the third largest defence force having 13.25 lakh personnel and spends an annual budget of over 40 billion US dollar on this account, puts a big question mark on the credibility and ability of the country to deal with such embarrassing situation, like the attack on the high-security airbase of the Indian Air Force in Pathankot.

The question arises in the mind of people in the country is that “how these trans-border ultras could reach thus far and entered the high-security airbase, without conspiring with some internal elements?” The security agency has found huge cache of grenades from where the Pathankot attackers’ body were recovered. It clearly shows that there were some elements who were providing all the support to the militants. On the ground of suspicion, the probe agency has been interrogating the ‘hijacked’ SP Salwinder Singh, to know his ‘connections’ with the perpetrators of the attack. And, it’s a matter of concern for all that “what if the fence itself eat the crop”.

India has a number of intelligence agencies such as the Research and Analysis Wing (RAW), India’s external intelligence agency and the Intelligence Bureau, the domestic intelligence agency. Are these terrorist attacks on and off on the country not bespeaks of the failure of the intelligence system in the country?

It seems that the government in our country, knowingly or unknowingly is following the principle of “Ahimsa Paramodharma”. Terrorists, with the tacit approval of the neighbouring countries, successfully execute their devilish designs of disturbing peace and tranquillity in India time and again.  After inflicting grievous injuries on the country, these devils keep silence for some time and we, after suffering much loss, go for peaceful dialogue with our neighbours and the issue subsides then and there.

It could clearly be seen from the statement made by Union Home Minister Rajnath Singh, soon after the Pathankot attack that, "Pakistan is our neighbouring country. We want good relations with not just Pakistan but with all our neighbours. We also want peace, but if there is any terror attack on India, we will give a befitting reply." It gives an impression in the mind of common man that the decision-makers and politicians of the country are not at all concerned about the security of the country and its citizens, but filling their own belly.

‘Ahimsa’ or non-violence is part of ‘Dharma’. The Bible teaches to “love your enemies and love your neighbour as yourself”, but at the same time it also advises to “resist the devil, and he will flee from you”. If the enemy is a human being having human intentions, one can win him with love and peaceful dialogues, but if he is a human being with devilish intentions, he should never be considered a ‘friend’ or ‘brother’ and should be resisted with whole might. Annihilation of enemies is ‘Rajdharma’. The government and its political leaders at the helm should understand that they are here not to do ‘Dharma’ but ‘Rajdharma’.

The Pathankot attack indicates that our enemies are so clever that they can intrude into anywhere the country and inflict injuries on it anytime.

Though India has a number of evidences that the attackers were from the soil of Pakistan, our government is still going soft and hesitates to take tough action against the perpetrators.

The Indian intelligence reports also suggested that groups and people in Pakistan planned and executed the Pathankot attack. India has provided "specific and actionable information in this regard" to Pakistan. The evidence is said to include some voice recordings and the cellular phone numbers of the attackers' handlers which were traced to Pakistan. However, after conducting preliminary investigations the Pak authorities dismissed India's evidences, saying that the numbers provided by India were not registered in Pakistan.

The intelligence reports have said that the terrorists received clandestine support from Pakistan but across the border, the media has been prominently carrying reports of the ground situation.

Prime Minister Narendra Modi

Following the attack, Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi, who had a surprise stopover in Pakistan on December 25 last to meet his counterpart in that country, Nawaz Sharif, has asked Sharif to deliver on his promise of "prompt and decisive'' action against those responsible for the daring attack on the Pathankot air base.

"It is clear that Pakistan's soil was used by terrorists who were all Pakistanis to attack us. This is unacceptable. You have to deliver on your promise and you have to deliver soon," a source quoted Modi as telling Sharif in Hindi when the latter called him from Sri Lanka.

The visit coincided with the Pakistani prime minister's birthday. The spontaneous and personal nature of the visit took many by surprise. Many see Modi's visit as a solid step in the warming of relations between the nuclear rivals but there's a long way to go before that is translated to actual peace in both the countries. There's of course criticism on both sides about this gesture. The opposition Congress in India called it ridiculous. In Pakistan, many took to Twitter to say that Modi was not welcome. The question here is, will such “Bhaichara” gestures in anyway benefit India, which has been continuously incurring losses of its precious lives in incidents like Pathankot.

It seems that Modi visited the neighbouring country in his bid to gain statesmanship the world over. Even he didn’t know that his visit will bring him in a soup.

The two countries have fought three wars since independence, two of them over Kashmir. A ceasefire agreed in 2003 remains in place, but the neighbours often accuse each other of violating it.

Defence Minister Manohar Parrikar

Meanwhile, nine days after the terrorists attacked on the air force base at Pathankot, Defence Minister Manohar Parrikar, in one of the strongest statements,  said “pain must be inflicted on those who hurt India.” The minister said the time, manner and place of the response will be decided by India. He, however, refrained from naming Pakistan, and referred to "individuals and organisations" that hurt India. Addressing a seminar in New Delhi the minister said "Unless pain can be transmitted to them, they will always end up giving pain to us. I am pained when my soldier dies."

World leaders condemn

World leaders from many countries including the United States, the United Kingdom, Afghanistan, Bangladesh, Brazil, Canada, China, France, Germany, Italy, Japan, Maldives, Nepal, South Africa, South Korea, Sri Lanka, vehemently condemned the dastardly act of the terrorists.

President Pranab Mukherjee also condemned the attack and sent condolences to the families of soldiers who lost their lives.

Pakistan Media

Meanwhile, the Pakistan media speak highly of Pakistan government's quick gesture in condemning the attack on the air base. Dawn says "Firstly, the Pakistani government has done the right thing in quickly and unequivocally condemning the terror attack and offering its cooperation to India." Another editorial speaks of a 'muted' response from India in directly blaming Pakistan for the attacks, but makes it a point to mention that Pakistan ought to act if it’s proven that the terrorists got help from its soil.

Pathankot terrorist attack

On January 2, 2016, a heavily armed group attacked the Pathankot Air Force Station, part of the Western Air Command of the Indian Air Force with AK-47, Grenades and IED. Six attackers and three security forces personnel were killed in the initial battle. The gun battle and the subsequent combing operation lasted about 17 hours on January 2. The attackers, who were wearing Indian Army fatigues, were suspected to belong to Jaish-e-Mohammed, an Islamist militant group designated a terrorist organisation by India, the US, the UK and the UN.

Three more soldiers who were admitted to hospital with grievous injuries died, raising the death toll to six soldiers. On January 3, another security officer was killed by an IED explosion. The operation continued on January 4, and a fifth attacker was confirmed killed. The United Jihad Council claimed responsibility for the attack on January 4.

The hijack theory

On the night of December 31, 2015, four men hijacked a multi-utility vehicle belonging to Salwinder Singh, a superintendent of the Punjab Police, in Dinanagar. In the process, they slit the throat of jeweller Rajesh Kumar, who was later admitted to a hospital. The vehicle was found abandoned about 500 metres away from the airbase. The attackers are also suspected to have murdered Ikagar Singh, a civilian taxi driver, before the hijacking.

However, the Punjab Police refused to believe the abduction report provided by SP Salwinder Singh after he was released by the attackers. A handheld walkie talkie, was left behind by the attackers in the hijacked vehicle. This loss of the walkie talkie is speculated to have led to loss of coordination: and delayed the attack by twenty four hours.

Reports claimed that the people who carried out the attack in Pathankot were in regular touch with their Pakistani handlers. Maulana Masood Azhar, chief of Jaish-e-Mohammad, and his brother Abdul Rauf Asghar, mastermind of IC-814 hijack case, are among four persons identified by Indian intelligence agencies as "handlers" behind the attack. The agencies found evidence that the conspiracy was hatched near Lahore.

Lack of coordination among security forces

Questions were raised about the lack of clear command structure within the security forces, the long duration of the attack, high casualties, lack of co-ordination between various units and premature statements claiming the end of the attack in spite of receiving accurate intelligence about the attack. Vikram Sood, the former head of India's foreign intelligence agency Research and Analysis Wing (RAW), wrote an article on Rediff.com citing examples of how terrorist attacks occurred in India soon after peace talks took place between India and Pakistan. Firstpost published an article on similar lines highlighting past attacks and how they adversely affected India–Pakistan relations.

 

In box.....

Pak claim on action against Masood Azhar

Following the world-wide condemnation of the Pathankot attack and the tough talk made by the Indian leadership, the Pakistan government has claimed to have taken the Jaish-e-Mohammad chief Maulana Masood Azhar, the alleged master-mind of the Pathankot terror attack, his brother Mufti Abdur Rauf and his brother-in-law Ashfaq Ahmed, into protective custody. “He has been placed in preventive detention amid a probe into allegations of his involvement in the Pathankot attack,” a source was quoted as saying by Geo News channel. However, there was no official word on the development. India too said it had no official confirmation about the detention of Azhar.

 

In Box ...

Pakistan safe haven for terrorists: Obama

US President Barak Obama in his 2016 State of the Union Address recently said that instability would continue for decades in many parts of the world — in the Middle East, in Afghanistan and Pakistan, in parts of Central America, Africa and Asia. Some of these places may become safe havens for new terrorist networks; others will fall victim to ethnic conflict, or famine, feeding the next wave of refugees. The world will look to us to help solve these problems, and our answer needs to be more than tough talk or calls to carpet bomb civilians.

 

In Box.....

Such attacks will continue: Musharraf

While India and Pakistan are making efforts for a dialogue to settle issues, including terrorism, plaguing both the countries former Pakistan president and Kargil plotter Pervez Musharraf has been spewing venom on India. In an interview to a channel AAJ TV, Musharraf not only said that “India is over-reacting on Pathankot attack case” but also added that “such kind of attacks will continue to happen in future.” Accusing New Delhi of creating pressure on Islamabad when it came to terror attacks, the former President alleged that terrorism and extremism was quite prevalent in India as well.