Tuesday, August 28, 2007

An appraisal of the situation in Hyderabad

I wish to start by expressing my heartfelt grief for those who have lost near and dear ones in this tragedy. I note with pessimism that an increasingly younger India is restless for some action by its government. As the older people sit and consider the options, they grow weary of the youngsters breathing down on their necks. Perhaps the young do not yet understand the need to abjure from Roman style blood sport - but the old know what sorrow comes from getting addicted to the habit of killing.

In the hope that I have the limited attention span of the youth, I point out the following. It is physically impossible to secure the country against attacks on soft-targets. To disperse security forces in that manner would be detrimental to national security. We must, therefore, focus what little resources we can spare from existing duties to cope with this situation.

The evidence suggests that an attempt at mass casualty terrorism was carried out in Hyderabad. The trail of evidence points towards Pakistan, however given the disproportionate presence of Pak-centric groups in the illegal arms trade and drug trafficing/financial networks it is not entirely surprising that such links have emerged.

The question now is about the intentions of the people who organised these events.

From what we see, the intent does not appear to be punitive. Mass casualty attacks by groups are usually carried out as a punitive or retaliatory measure for strikes on their top leadership or for behaviour that threatens the group's survival. India does not do such things, so I venture that intent is not punitive.

As things stand today in Pakistan, the Musharraf regime is rapidly crumbling. What little control it had over the actions of Jihadi groups is failing. The Jihadis are becoming more and more assertive, as you have all seen they are murdering Pakistani armymen in broad daylight - the method of execution is identical to that used in slaying non-muslims. For all practical purposes the Pakistani Army has lost all moral authority - it is seen as little more than an army of crusaders.

It is plausible that this attack was organised by someone in the hope that it forces India's hand in the events in Pakistan.

For example, a member of the Musharraf regime may have organised these attacks in the belief that it would poison India's relationships with the Jihadi groups and create the threat of an Indian invasion. Such a threat could in theory be leveraged by the Pakistani Army to promote its grip on power - remember the Pakistan Army projects itself as the only thing keeping India at bay - any confrontation with India works to its benifit.

Another possible scenario is that someone in a Jihadi group may have become convinced that Indian intervention was necessary to remove Musharraf, and to that end a deliberate provocation was slipped our way. Such a person would hope that in our anger with Musharraf, we would force him to do something, and that something would serve as the trigger for the anti-Musharraf coup that has been boiling away under the surface.

A third possibility is that an external power seeks to know what exactly India's cards are in the upcoming turmoil in Pakistan. India as you know has assiduously maintained communication channels to all segments of the Pakistani popultion. However as is typical of most PMOs, this PMO despite all the harassment has kept its views and intentions to itself. It is anyone's guess whether we support the Pakistan Army, the Jihadis, or some other brand of Pakistani politics.
The process of investigating the blasts could in theory reveal some of GoI's intentions. Such a revelation could possibly be the intelligence coup of century.

All three scenarios would have the perpetrators relying on India's cautious reluctance on intervening in Pakistan internal affairs as a crude escalation control.

While such matters are up for debate and investigation, it is possible to say with certainity what the consequences of these terrible events are. We are witnessing a polarising effect within Indian society. Muslims are increasingly identified as perpetrators without specific proof. It is one thing for a police officer investigating a crime to identify a perpetrator - this is part of his/her job. It is completely something else for random people to start point fingers without proof or investigation. That is prejudice. Prejudice exists everywhere and it is rearing its ugly head in this case too.

Allow me to extend the line of thinking proposed by Sri. Vikram Sood in his earlier article on the threat posed by Pakistan - i.e. the ability of Pakistan to intice communal polarisation in India. What Pakistan can do others can as well.

Another completely independent line of thinking is that an external power has chose to deliberately accentuate communal divides in India in a bid to influence a critical decision. As you all know crucial debates are underway on the nuclear deal with NPT states, and a concern has been expressed by India's muslims that getting too close to the US may be detrimental for India's relationship with the Muslim world in general. There is considerable hostility towards this suggestion already as Indians of all religions are suffering under the heavy prices imposed on carbon fuels by so-called Muslim states. A situation where further communal polarisation occurs is undesirable as it adds to the difficulty associated with the aforementioned discussion.

20 Comments:

At 11:22 AM, Anonymous Apollo said...

Ok so u got the attention u were craving so much from an xyz youth :).

ur attempt to rationalise the whole situation as something about old vs young where young are hot head and the old are smart is something that is quite stupid. anyone who has seen ur rational, calm and cool old ppl throwing mikes and slippers and mouthing inanities in the parliament and state legislatures knows otherwise.

so now coming to the issue at hand. even the page 3 rag paper TOI is outraged and has interrupted its regular programming to highlight some issues of concern. like how the investigations are being scuttled by ur rational breed of old men(politicians) for political reasons.

u talk in a patronising tone abt how it is tough to secure the whole country against attacks on soft targets such as public places. perhaps u forgot to read the day's newspaper which says in black and white that India ranks second only to Iraq a blazing warzone in the number of terrorist related casualties suffered since 2004. roughly the same period of time that Iraq has been under the throes of the insurgency.

any answers to that old man?

maybe one can concede that if u try ur best an odd attack here or there might just happen. but here it is happening with such deathening regularity that we rank alongside a warzone in casualties!

and ur theories abt Jihadis out of control is laughable and deserves utmost contempt. is it possible that an xyz organisation based in Bangladesh or Pakistan can carry out such a operation spread over so many months and involves logistics to move all the explosives, the men, money, safe houses and bomb making equipment without the knowledge of their own governments! All this above equipment should atleast fill a big truck, maybe more if they plan for wastage, seizures and other losses.

 
At 8:52 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Hi M,
1) My concern is pakistan & its various jehadi groups have set an example of terrorist strikes within India which other Nations may follow suit. Tomorrow when some bomb goes somewhere, who knows which other nation on this earth may have been responsible for that act. MKN publicly acknowledged this while stating some time back that some western power may have been behind Assam blasts. The repeated acts of terror that hits us is very well enmeshed with the strategy of GOI in achieving some goal though what I may say is very controversial.

2) Maverick let us go back to the nuclear deal for a moment:- What are the chances that future American presidents may not unilaterally abrogate this deal. Of course right to reprocessing,... are presidential determinations.

3) If you look at the TOI's rag, it has suddenly discovered patriotism. Some of these rags are repeateadly highlighting how India has been hit by terrorism, and that casualties in India due to terror are second only to Iraq. I remember you having said in the disreputable forum that most of these Indian rags have made a beneath the table settlement with the jehadi groups that they will not highlight the actions of the scums until something big like bombay or hyderabad occurs. I was stunned. Now these rags have discovered patriotism. What is there motive? To prepare amongst the masses an atmosphere of further confrontation? Who is tutoring them to write like this day after day? Our media have been so highly penetrated that unlike putin we cannot go after the media groups.

 
At 9:02 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

hi m,
one more thing, you are more and more getting identified with the GOI. That is why sometimes you get so much of flak. Why don't you express your views/analyse the situation independent of GOI.
1)Public is absolutely fed up with inablility of the GOI in brining the terrorist menace to an end. Now that GOI has gone ahead and set up a terror fund on the lines of disaster relief fund for those who suffered / will suiffer from terror strikes. The message of GOI is very clear that there will be future terrorist strikes, and that the many calamities that strike us like flood,drought, every year let this pattern of terror that strikes us be treated also as such by the aam admi!!!

 
At 7:42 AM, Anonymous Nitin said...

Maverick,

Your old vs young subtext is sure to distract many of your readers. I for one am happy that the young are breathing down necks---it's better than sheer apathy.

Second, perhaps due to my own age, I find there is no reason to sit back and take a fatalistic view of terrorist attacks. No amount of economic development or geopolitical power is really worth it if does not think that the life of every single one of its citizens---threated by cholera or terrorism---is worth saving. Indeed, I'd say that unless India credibly demonstrates that it values the life of a citizen more than mere territory, it can neither achieve development nor great power status.

Now, of course, I agree that it's not possible to guarantee security of every single target in such a big country. What citizens would like to know is what is the government doing to prevent them as far as it can? Of course, intelligence successes usually remain unsung, and failures are talk of the town, but this has to be seen in the context of national mood or morale.

What is the status of investigations into previous attacks? When will legal proceedings start? When can we expect charges to be framed against the accused?

So I'm not surprised that the papers have discovered patriotism. Indeed, there's a simple explanation for TOI's leanings: it has a good sense of what the readers want and it gives them that. That's one reason why its the only newspaper making money.

It was one thing if the UPA government had shown itself as putting up an earnest fight on the home front. But why do you think that the ULFA, whose back was broken four years go; the Naxalites, whose insurgency was contained five-years ago, not to mention jihadi strikes all over the place have all taken place under the UPA rule? Why, there's even talk of the Khalistanis raising the gun again.

If there's a reasonable alternative explanation for this, I'd like to hear it.

 
At 9:17 AM, Blogger Chandra said...

Maverick, I suppose geopolitical intrigue is the other side of the coin to the human rights/poverty arguments for causes of terrorism put forward by the left wingers. While I don't see sub-Saharan Africa or the Chinese blowing up each other, I am not sure about how and what Pak establishment gain from blowing up more people minding their own business. If the pak establishment wants to find out what Manmohan would do with regards to political development in Pak - all they do is look at what he did until now with regards to other terrorists activities (and there have been plenty). He would do nothing or even provide cover for their establishment.

So meanwhile our intelligence passes on the information to local police and wait it out. And those Islamic terrorists kill Hindus with other Muslims as collateral damage. They know what they are doing. There is no geopolitical intrigue to the dead or the terrorists.

I'd rather hear about why there is such a disconnect between intelligence gathering and actual prevention of these acts (I am sure there were plenty of successes - but this game is about failures). Do we need an organization like MI5 that can act anywhere in the country instead of relying on underfunded and under trained (and politically coerced) police to gather intelligence and take preventative steps. There is huge gap somewhere and there is no action, or even talk of action, to fix it thanks to our own political establishment.

 
At 9:20 AM, Blogger Chandra said...

btw, I enjoyed your series on Lal masjid and hoped you had more to say (inside scoop) on Sri B. Raman book.

 
At 11:26 AM, Blogger ansh said...

We are looking at things in isolation. No one is aking what prompts Muslims to burn three temples after a freak accident? What propmpts Muslims to attack ploice after blasts in Malegoan or Hyderabad but not the Hindus after varanasi or Ayodhya blast. Why no one speaks against when Taslima is attacked?
Simple reason either we are heading toeards a civil war in another 50 yrs or another partition. I am really frightened by shortsightedness of people like you.

 
At 12:09 PM, Blogger maverick said...

Hello Apollo,

Sorry for the delay in replying.

I am not rationalising the situation, I am merely pruning away irrelevant information.

The investigations will turn up links to Pakistan based groups. The old men of the government will act to deflect public anger. However someone somewhere has to ask the question *why* to ensure that what action the old men sanction recieves the maximum return for the effort that is put into it.

Answers like "oh because they are Muslims" or "oh because they are Pakistanis" etc... are not very useful in this context. To find useful answers, one must first ask useful questions. And to that end, the irrelevant information must be pruned.

The art of asking useful questions is something that many of the youth have not learned yet. Most of them do not seem sensitive to the idea that the state only seeks to apply the barest minimum amount of coercive force in any context. The key to ensure the response to this bare minimum force is maximised.

For the record, in the aftermath of an event of this nature, the quantity of coercion available to the state is further reduced by its desire to keep a steady reserve to stall communal distrubances.

So you see, those smart young jackasses who stand on their virtual rooftops and blame Muslims or Hindus or anyone else for the blasts doesn't help the state one bit.

Even before an SIT has been formed even unofficially, people are jumping around screaming "Muslims did it".

An elevated level of communal tension in a hypersensitive town like Hyderabad does not help manage the situation.

That is the point I was hoping to drive in this post.

Yes, the politicians are complete bastards - that is what politics is about.

Someday you or someone young like you will sit on their seats - so might as well learn from them now.
Right now young people don't know what helps and what doesn't.

Nitin,

I confess the viscious slide against the young was a deliberate ruse on my part.

I wanted their undivided attention, and since nothing short of swear words or gyrating hips seems to catch their eye. I resorted to this cheap trick.

 
At 1:18 PM, Blogger maverick said...

Hi Anonymous,

I think Pakistan based groups (once they have fully attained independence from ISI control) could in theory advertise their ability to conduct terrorist attacks on Indian soil. Such an advertisement would allow them to market their services to foreign players who want to create a reciprocation framework vis-a-vis GoI.

For example, lets say a major multinational company wants GoI to make a certain policy but is rebuffed by the GoI. In order to avenge the apparent humiliation of its top management by Indian government officials, the company contacts a member of an terrorist group in Pakistan and suggests that if the group conducts operations in India with renewed vigour citing some pretext or the other, the group will recieve a substantial donation through a charity of their choosing. All clean and untraceable, all perfectly legitimate on paper. The group in Pakistan agrees, conducts an attack on Indian soil and gets money for the strike. The company then goes on to pay for a bunch of derogatory articles to appear in the lay press about the GoI's mishandling of national affairs.
It then uses the public distaste with GoI's apparent lack of action to speak against the GoI's handling of other issues.

This is an all too common way of doing things and it seems the young people are not sensitive to such possibilities. When a blast happens they simply want to blame the first muslim who happens to be standing near the blast.

Even when the blast occurs in a muslim area of the country, there is no sympathy for the Muslims and every attempt is made to make it look like the Muslims brought this fate on themselves.

On the Indo-US nuclear deal, there is no way to negotiate a removal of the presidential determinations. Frankly even a discussion on the ambit of these measures is purely academic, as US Presidents have long devised ways of circumventing written laws and projecting dictatorial style powers over American national affairs. Some commentators say American democracy has recently begun its slow descent into a plutocracy, but this is open to debate.

The english language press is no longer responsive to the GoI's demands. They are competing for FDI right now. It is only when the dollar collapses will these people see the error of their ways.

Hi Anonymous,

People associate all kinds of things with me, I am merely a private citizen, an older person, but these days it has become a crime to be older.

People are complaining about Iraq and India having comparable attacks. What rubbish! everything has to be normalised by the population. Per capita we are losing a vanishingly small number of people to terroist attacks, the biggest killers are communicable diseases like malaria, TB and cholera.

Where are the young people complaining about that? Why don't I see young people in India forming associations and websites to fight these diseases? or is health care irrelevant from a national security perspective?

Tomorrow there is a serious BioWMD attack on India - what is the young peoples' reaction going to be? besides panic and running like headless chickens?

 
At 1:32 PM, Blogger maverick said...

Nitin,

As you say from the perspective of younger people, the government is not doing enough to secure the homeland.

But I think it is the young who are getting it wrong here because I was young too once and I too felt that the same way they did and my parents always disagreed.

When I raised the questions about Sikh terrorists attacking cities, I was told to count my blessings because atleast the government had ensured that there were no famines.

When I raised questions about EPRLF and TELO leadership being killed in broad daylight in Madras y an LTTE hit squad, I was curtly told by visitors to my house that I should focus instead on the burgeoning problems in the treasury department instead of wasting time about Indo-Sri Lankan relations where much blood remained to be spilled.

When I asked about the manner in which the Palestineans in REC Kashmir were allowed to leave the country unharmed despite their uncouth behaviour, I was told that this was there was a oil crisis in the making that was keeping people up and that a few stupid university students were not worth the effort it took to kill.

It was a harsh learning curve for me too once upon a time, and I benifitted from having elders who were kind enough to tell me when I was wasting my time.

That is what I am aiming to do right now for the young people of today.

 
At 2:03 PM, Blogger maverick said...

Chandra,

I think you are forgetting the most important point about armed insurgency - control over the illegal arms market.

There are lots of poor people in Africa, however control over the arms market ensures that only certain groups have the arms they need to push their agendas. I can sketch the arms scene in sub-saharan africa for you but that will only belabour the point.

The same applies to China, where the PLA controls the arms market.

In our part of the world, Pakistan based groups are a disproportionate influence on the trade in arms, narcotics and illegal finance. The ISI is a centralised place for networking between these groups and to some extent it can stamp its will on these groups. One has to work within the limitations of such a model when considering our response options.

There are number of nodes - the so-called "Multi Agency Centres" within the country where terrorism related information processing is carried out with the aim to improve dissemination and enforcement quality. I am sure that the functioning of these centers is reviewed periodically by competent authorities, however it is not possible to publicly comment on any percieved gaps for reasons that are obvious. These centers are supposed to operate in an inconspicous manner and they are deliberately sealed off from the media to prevent even accidental leakages of information. The media is deliberately encouraged to independently analyse the information related to terrorism. This amplifies the political flexibility.

The IB is the equivalent of the MI5. The IB's own powers inside India exceed those of the MI5 anywhere in the world. Given the MI5's own appalling record in frustrating terrorism in the UK, especially its abysmal failure to keep track of terrorist the MI6 had itself trained, I am not sure there is anything to emulate in the MI5. I feel the IB has a much better record than the MI5.

The current setup in India in any case is disturbingly similar to the British model with its "intelligence coordinator" in the Cabinet committee etc... but for reasons known only to those who come up with such things, the GoI chose an American nomenclature.

I have said all I that I feel comfortable saying about Sri. Raman's book, if you have further questions about his book, you should ask him yourself. If you wish to join the silent service, I am sure he would be able to guide far better than I ever could. I should however remind you, the price of entry is absolute silence.

The Lal Masjid situation, well... that is another matter. I will say more about that when time permits.

Ansh,

When I was twenty five years younger I watched Sikh policemen kill an elected Prime Minister in broad daylight. I watched as the media turned against all sikhs and every sardarji was looked upon with suspiscion.

I watched a few years later as tamilians were treated with utter distrust after a Sri Lankan tamil killed another Prime Ministerial candidate.

The people that visited my house watched as entire parts of the north-east flirted with anarchy and there was a time when every Naga was considered a "dog-eater" and a potential insurgent. This is inspite of the fact that most of success in the counter-insurgency campaigns was achieved by all Naga units.

I watched as my relatives in the police were targetted by naxalites and anyone who was a telegu speaker from a certain region was automatically treated with "specially" in a police station.

My parents generation watched as brahmins in the nagpur area were treated as enemies of the country.

The list of ungrateful and insensitive behaviour by Indians towards Indians is endless.

Prejudice and the feeling that a civil war is imminent is a part of being Indian.

What can I say, Darling Yeh Hain India - get used to it or move somewhere else. It won't change - you will have to learn to accept it.

 
At 1:38 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

hi m,
"""Yes, the politicians are complete bastards - that is what politics is about"""

I am completely surprised at your description of the politicians. All these days I had refrained from criticising political setup. Once you had told me that criticising politicians meant lack of talent! What propmted you to utter choice words!!

 
At 11:13 AM, Blogger maverick said...

Anonymous,

Young people only understand strong language.

It is not a criticism, I am giving an accurate description of what it takes to survive in that line of work.

Some young people in India are developing an American style hypersensitivity and bloated ideas of the value of their own lives. They have unrealisitic expectations of their political class and a poor understanding of the fundamentals of a security response.

Most of these people don't even understand that after a crisis even t the first level of security response is force conservation and self-security. They sit and talk about bullshit like "CBI-Anti-Terrorist", "IB-CICT" and "RAW-..." As if a counter-terrorism response is some kind of fast food that they can order from the local restaurant.

When their unviable ideas are not reflected in government action - rather then look for pragmatic alternatives, they turn to heap abuse on the politicians and call them names and then entertain dreams of someday sitting on the Gaddi themselves.

I am saying - yes their worst fears are true - the politicians are exactly what names they call them - but only that kind survives and so at least they should learn something from this - even if you aspire to sit on the throne, you must consider being like a king?

That is all. No disrespect was meant towards the political classes - they have their compulsions. If these young people want to be leaders some day - they should learn that aspect of it also.

 
At 8:19 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

hi m,
"""Most of these people don't even understand that after a crisis even t the first level of security response is force conservation and self-security. """
can you elaborate more on this?

 
At 11:35 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

"Some young people in India are developing an American style hypersensitivity and bloated ideas of the value of their own lives."

This is not a bad thing for a society to develop, or is it ?
Or is it that since ours is a country of over 1 billion, lives are cheap ?

 
At 12:14 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

hi m,
all the posts(2nd,3rd,14th) beginning with "hi m"
are mine. It will be easy for you to distinguish when many are posting under the pseudoname "anonymous"
1) Those who are criticising GOI actions should take note of the blast that went in pakistan. The blast was aimed at a vehicle carrying PAEC officials!!!
2) Some foreign country is playing mischief. Its aims are not clear to the public
3) Guys go easy with Maverick. Last time when he left the disreputable forum, many of us suffered. I don't want him to wind up his blogs. Then no one will be there to bring out truth. Will all of you then rely on TOI rag?

 
At 6:58 AM, Blogger maverick said...

Hi Anonymous,

)) Am I saying life is cheap in India?

Yes.

Hi Anonymous,

After a crisis, the first phase of the crisis response - although it is never publicly acknowledged is a careful rearrangement of security reserves to account for any damage sustained and to prepare for any eventualities. The entire setup goes into force conservation mode until a clearer appraisal is obtained via other sources.

In rich countries, there are first responders who are considered disposable, usually they are the eyes and ears of the government immediately after a crisis and yes they are expected to die to get the information if need be.

In India where money is scarce, we rely on the press. Only they are stupid enough to barge into a crisis zone and collect information in the hope of improving their paper's sales or their channels ratings. Yes.. they are disposable too... even cheaper than the police or fire or ambulance drivers.

After a crisis event occurs, the government simply goes into lockdown and begins processing every scrap of information there is out there. It calls up the reserves and pulls as many security officers as it can out of harms way. This is why whenever something happens - the police and security people seem to visibly thin out. They are deliberately pulled back to regroup.

 
At 2:30 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Maverick

You can continue to spin excuses for the Govt. Fact is each time another such incident occurs, people will be out looking for blood and the nearest blood to spill are those Indian Muslims who have supported terrorism in India over their religion. So innocents will die and communal troubles will flare up. Since a population exchange is out of the question in todays PC world and the GOI has its head so severely stuck up its rectum that it will do anything for votes, including sacrificing the disparate unprotected Hindu populace, its upto the young to do something. Sure they are idiots, angry and often clueless but they arent as shameless, corrupt and utterly sold out as the GOI is and all the babus and politicians who comprise it. I and many other Indians now look to the young to take action or exert pressure of whatever kind, at least it will be something, instead of being blown to bits in the name of secularism and "the piss process must go on".
The more you explain away the utter inaction of the GOI the more ludicrous you appear.
The reason why those ethnic groups you so mention earlier were looked up with suspicion is because their coreligionists or co ethnicity folks were engaging in mayhem. After the bloodletting in Punjab and the odious comments about bhindranwale that many sikhs stated, the onus was on them to clear their name. The manner in which the LTTE chauvinists and the tamil public behaved over the issue reflected poorly upon them as well. As long as we have people like you and the GOI making excuses for political Islam which has caused so much bloodshed in the subcontinent ever since it appeared, there is no solution to the problem. Call a spade a spade and tell Indian muslims to shape up. The onus is on them to reject obscurantism and to live with non muslims in a productive and healthy manner, not play votebanks, sponsor terror against the state, and attack anything that is against Islam. As a supporter of GOI and former liberal, I now loathe the manner in which GOI operates and the callousness with which it treats its own people.

 
At 2:33 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Maverick. its easy for you to state life in India is cheap and that it doesnt matter and GOI is mai baap. u arent in india after all are u?
those of us who r in india r the ones who can see thru ur BS about GOI and want ANYONE to stop the terror which manmurkh singh and his madam are too happy with

 
At 6:41 AM, Blogger maverick said...

Anonymous,

Yes, attacks like this cause communal polarisation. Indians who wish to blame Muslims for things will use any excuse for doing so. No matter how much you try to tell people to eschew communal feelings they do not learn. The only way they learn is through violence and rioting.

That is why after a situation like the one that occured in Hyderabad, the only thing for the government to do is to conserve policing resources. Let the idiots who want to riot. As they riot they will successfully murder ten times as many as were killed in the original attack. Eventually the population at large will be sufficiently sickened by the rioters. At this point one can send the police and the army in and kill whoever is still rioting - Hindu or Muslim.

This is the optimal use of security resources. To do anything else wastes valuable policing manpower.

Anonymous,

You presume to know too much about me.

 

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