India is a nuclear weapon state. We boast of having the fourth largest standing army in the world, a navy that takes pride in its blue water capabilities, an air force which boasts of gigantic Sukhoi 30 aircraft capable of carrying an amazing 10 tons of weapons, Phalcon - eye in the sky, mid air refuelers..BSF,CRPF, state police forces....Yet around religious festivals and national days there is fear in the air. Fear of a terror strike...fear of mindless blasts that not only leave a large number of people dead but scar lives forever.
FEAR OF A `SWARM ATTACK'
Mumbai was a swarm attack. Multiple targets hit by a large group of terrorists. RDX plus commando style engagement of the security forces over a sustained period of time. Pakistan based terror groups have changed their tactics and standard operating procedures based on the training and instructions of the Pakistan army.
According to intelligence sources, they are now trained to engage the security forces. The terror commanders undergo training along with the regular soldiers of the Pakistan army and then in turn train terror's foot soldiers. No longer is this training limited to just 15 days or one month before being launched. Terrorists are given multiple weapon training for upto a year for such missions. Despite international pressure post 26/11, intelligence sources say training continues; only now it is more discreet.
THINK LIKE THE DEVIL
What will Pakistan do post 26/11. It will be naive to assume Pakistan has had a change of heart...If Pakistan indeed was committed to cracking down on terror aimed at India - the terror masterminds would have been jailed and training camps shut down...but when terrorists are a strategic ally of a nation then prevention is the best cure.
Engage Pakistan but prepare for the worst. Think like the Devil...what will the ISI do next ? Something that is far more spectacular that 26/11 terror attacks. Think....think....
And then prepare for a multiple swarm attack. Prepare for simultaneous attacks on Mumbai, Delhi, Kolkata, Bangalore, Chennai....nuclear installations, schools, hospitals, embassies, technology hubs.
How do you prepare - carry out sand model exercises, then put in place standard operating procedures and decentralise decision making in such an eventuality.
Tell schools and colleges, hospitals and offices what they need to do in case of a terror strike.
STANDARD OPERATING PROCEDURES
Learn from standard operating procedures world over. When I was covering the 7/7 and 21/7 London attacks in 2005, I noticed how the city came to a stand still in the wake of the terror attacks. All public transport...buses, metros, taxis came to a stand still. The government went on air asking people to stay where they were....clear the roads only for movement of emergency vehicles....hospitals were on stand by and so was the army.
Contrast that with what happened in Mumbai. The entire city was on the streets watching the `tamasha' the next morning...there were traffic jams and emergency vehicles stuck on the roads.
That should never happen again. This war on terror is a battle the nation needs to fight together. Everyone has a role and should be aware of his or her role. But for that to happen the government needs to put systems in place.
KNOW YOUR ENEMY
China has turned down India's request to declare Masood Azhar, the chief of Pakistan based Jaish-e-Mohammad an international terrorist. This means the United Nations Security Council cannot impose sanctions.This means the National Security Advisor MK Narayan failed to convince China in their recent talks about the importance of imposing sanctions on Masood Azhar.
India thought after the trouble in Xinjiang, China would be more proactive in the war on terror but China appears to be cutting its nose to spite its face.
India made the mistake of believing the `Hindi-Chini bhai bhai' slogan in the 1950s. In 1962 China gave us a bloody nose. Why ? because we had lost of the battle in our minds even before we fought it on ground.
There is no doubt China is more than a generation ahead of India in infrastructure development (our politicians and bureaucrats need to wake up), militarily they may be much ahead in the bean count - an army, navy and air force numerically far superior than us - but this time they will get a bloody nose themselves...We need to remember that and then begin arming ourselves.
PREPARE FOR CHINA
In India we continue fighting our last war. Kargil is history...no point spending our entire military budget in Siachenization of Kargil - we need to build up to face China - and Pakistan will be taken care of automatically. China uses Pakistan to keep our army and policy makers engaged in low intensity conflict operations in J&K. We are therefore not arming ourselves to take on China. Let's prepare for that. Have a counter terror force for Pakistan but the armed forces should focus on China. When we have sufficient aircraft, ships, submarines and tanks to take on China - Pakistan automatically will not dare to strike us.
INDIA UNDER ATTACK
We as a nation need to come up with a response. 62 years after Independence we need to ponder why are we so unsafe and appear so unprepared to take on the threats.
Why are we always engaged in fire fighting...and do not learn the bigger lessons. The nation needs a policy - the executive, legislature and judiciary need to be one on this.
1. There have to be laws - foreign terrorists who wage war on India will not get a long trial - death by summary court martial.
2. Those found guilty of supporting them - irrespective of caste, creed, sex, religion or motive will be hanged.
3. The trial of those accused of acts of ommission and commission will not last beyond 6 months. They will either be let off or punished with life imprisonment.
4. There will be accountability at every stage. From Kargil to Mumbai we have seen officers who should have been sacked and jailed for dereliction of duty being rewarded or promoted. There has to be accountability at every level.
Our leaders need to enact laws and ensure its implementation. Parliament was attacked once. It could happen again. Politicians and bureaucrats (including those in uniform) need to wake up and prepare to safeguard India against all threats - external and internal.
Only then will India be truly Independent.