I remember getting a call from Rahul Jethi, a banker in Sydney, and a good friend and whose brother is in Indian army, early in the morning of 27th Nov 2008 [Sydney time which is 5.5 hours ahead of Indian time], about the terrorist attack in Mumbai. I switched the TV on and saw the reporting of the attack. It made me sad and angry at the same time. As it became clearer that LET was involved, I became more angry. I was helpless as I could not do much to help the people in Mumbai.
I watched the attack unfold and kept myself updated through the days. I kept reading the statements from leaders from all over the world. Thankfully, Kasab [the lone terrorist survivor] was arrested. I was angry that pakistan kept denying the nationalities of the terrorists even when the evidence was overwhelming. That has become the standard operating procedure for Pakistan. Shameful and outrageous!!
By now, we have details of Kasab’s interrogation/trial, and have seen the reports in various channels including ABC Australia, CNN and BBC. Only recently, Farid Zakaria covered it in CNN GPS programme. A great deal is known by now. It is all clear that 10 terrorists came from Pakistan and LET was the sponsoring terrorist organisation. These terrorists were trained in Pakistan. The whole world is asking Pakistan to bring the perpetrators [supporters/sponsors] of the Mumbai terrorist attack to justice.
Lot of things have changed since 26th Nov, 2008. I hope, things would keep moving in the right direction to prevent further terrorist attacks in India. The whole world has to work against the menace of terrorism. Either Pakistan changes its ways itself or the world forces it to change. There is no alternative option.
So many people lost their lives for no reason. This has to end.
As I see it, following come to my mind;
1. India will continue to have attacks of this nature because some elements in Pakistan are hostile to India and have an agenda to harm India. Some inside ISI and Pakistan army are madly fundamentalists and are pathologically inimical towards India.
2. India is a vast country with long borders with Pakistan and Bangladesh, from where these terrorists do cross into India and will keep crossing in future too. We have to do every thing to reduce if not prevent it. India must identify illegal Bangladeshi stayers in India and expel them without much delay. Throw them in the ocean if we have to but they can’t be allowed to stay in India. No vote bank politics please!
3. The whole world has to force Pakistan to dismantle the terrorist organisations and their infrastructure to prevent attacks from Pakistan. USA and Europe are crucial in this. India must keep working with the world powers to force Pakistan to change its ways. India needs to have the right people in the ministry of external affairs to be able to have a desired effect in this matter. Shashi Tharoor is a competent minister with the contacts and experience in these matters and may be, he should be made the cabinet minister.
4. India has to improve the intelligence gathering capability significantly.
5. India has to improve the command structure to face such attacks effectively and efficiently. There was a significant delay in getting NSG commandos to Mumbai during the attack. They had to wait for hours before a plane could be arranged to fly them to Mumbai. That is outrageous. India needs to have a proactive thinking rather than a reactive one. Even the chief minister Mr Deshmukh took more than 4 hours to return to Mumbai.
6. Indian media must be forced to follow certain rules during such attacks. Media was showing the live coverage of the attack which was used by the terrorists’ minders/handlers in Pakistan to guide the terrorists. It was not helpful. I dare say, it led to many more deaths than it would have been otherwise. Indian media needs to be told that certain things are not on. Their TRP battle is not above human lives and national interests.
7.1. India has to become ruthless in investigating and prosecuting those who are involved in terrorism and those who are supporting such elements. There should be a speedy trial. Once convicted, these terrorists should be punished severely without any delay. It is not a good idea to keep convicted criminals like Afzal Guru to stay in the jail because his mercy petition is pending with the president for this unusually long period. Why is his mercy petition pending with Indian president for years? This is outrageous! Those dreaded terrorists who were released during the Indian Airlines plane hijack, were also in the Indian prison for years without a trial. India has done a good job by establishing a national investigation agency [NIA]. NIA officials should be given freedom to work independently without any political pressure.
7.2. India must not allow any segment of its society to feel alienated. All opportunities/benefits must be truly available to every Indian irrespective of their region, religion or caste. Nation building must be taken up with redoubled vigour.
8.1. India must have a campaign to do public education to make people aware re how to keep the eyes/ears open to anything unusual and what to do when a terrorist attack is happening. We saw a big crowd of onlookers during NSG [National Security Guards] counter-attack which is not smart. Where was the crowd control?
8.2. The civil police must be trained properly. It is not a good idea for top police officials to be in one single car which was not bullet proof. This was the case even when they had access to the bullet proof vehicles. This led to costly loss of lives of the leaders of police force. We hear that Mr Karkare and others did not receive immediate help after being wounded. One wonders whether some of these great policemen would not have died if we had an efficient medical, police and rescue systems.
8.3. India and Indian public needs to do every thing to look after the near/dear ones/dependents of the brave security men/women who give their lives to protect us and the country. Gov authorities need to do many things to let people know that India has utmost respects and gratitude for such brave men/women.
9. Indian leaders were issuing the statements after statements but not much came out of that. We should learn to show results rather than just talks.
10.1. India needs to improve its military capabilities in such a way that Pakistan or its supporters do not dare look towards India. We need to revamp the capabilities of our air force, navy and artillery.
10.2.While working on the military capabilities, India needs to work with redoubled vigour to settle the outstanding issues with its neighbours.
I am keen to hear from you with your views on these matters.