Pathankot Attack – Some Troubling Questions

Pathankot Attack – Some Troubling Questions

Even as I write this, the operation to neutralize Pakistani terrorists and to sanitize Pathankot Airbase is still on, although ironically the Home Minister had announced its “success” over 12 hours back. His singing the all-too-familiar paeans to the “brave jawans” and promising a “muh tor jawab,” were not-so-subtle, self-laudatory signals to the Nation that a catastrophe had been averted under his watch, since both the PM and RM were away. In distant Bengaluru, the PM too briefly acknowledged their valour and then resumed extolling the virtues of Yoga.  However, the RM was silent, perhaps self-effacingly, despite most forces involved being his responsibility.

Do I sound cynical and angry? You bet; I am. To any soldier, serving or retired loss of lives cuts too close. It is personal. Why? Because all of us have seen at very close quarters what it really means for the grieving family and to the unit. Perfunctory lip-service by Netas on such occasions actually infuriates, rather than provide solace. Because, by now we all know how little the soldiers’ sacrifices and hardships mean to the Netas and Babus alike. Haven’t we all seen how the DESW actually torments the NOK and ESM, rather than work for their welfare? Is there a more glaring spectacle for the Nation’s conscience to behold, than the Govt ignoring the ESM’s protest at Jantar Mantar for the past 200 days? (Continued…..  For the complete post, click the link below to my Blog).   

Except for raising some glaring inconsistencies, I will not cover any operational aspects for obvious reasons. Those would certainly be examined and analyzed in depth by the units and formations concerned once the dust settles down. Nonetheless, the following points will seem odd even to any casual observer:

  •    If indeed there was an intelligence alert, how did heavily armed terrorists sneak in through the same route of ingress as in the recent Dina Nagar attack?
  •         How did they manage to sneak in, when this sector is supposed to be closely monitored, given that it is a known route of drug smugglers?
  •         To what extent the politician-police-drug smuggler nexus leave this sector vulnerable to their ingress?
  •        How was the SSP travelling in an expensive SUV reportedly with a jeweller, without his usual escort paraphernalia, in a remote area in the dead of night?
  •        The terrorists reportedly homed on to the drain, which was a known vulnerable point, to enter the Airbase. Why was it not under greater surveillance, given that there was already an intelligence alert?

I want to focus more upon the apparent ad-hocism in the Govt’s policy towards Pakistan and the terrorism that emanates from it. This on-now and off-now policy is quite perplexing, especially to the soldiers at the fore-front of this fight. Politicians on both sides of the political divide are squarely to blame. Their rhetoric, whether as the Ruling party or Opposition, is utterly irresponsible.

So, if Sushma Swaraj whilst in Opposition taunts that Jawans should bring 10 heads for every soldier decapitated, as the EAM she has to sing a different tune when the PM decides to launch his charm offensive.  Likewise, Sharm-el-Sheik was an inexcusable blunder by Manmohan Singh, but PM Modi’s sudden detour to Lahore and that too within just weeks of thundering that “terrorism and talks can’t go together” is supposed to be an “innovative out-of-the-box” diplomatic coup.

Politicians’ pre-election rhetoric is even more irresponsible. Whether it were the Lok Sabha polls or the recent elections in Bihar, there were outrageous statements by Netas, which were very polarizing and inflammatory and caused immense harm to our social fabric. The biggest problem with rhetoric is that while it is easy to scale up, it is very difficult to tone it down, and it invariably leaves permanent scars.

Most strategic experts and even the general populace agree that problems between India and Pakistan cannot be resolved through war and ultimately those have to be resolved through talks. It is also well appreciated that elements in Pakistan would go all out to sabotage any reconciliation, and that contingency has to be factored into the talks process. But, any astute strategist would also assert that talks should not be from a position of weakness. Furthermore, any terrorist strike should not bring the talks process back to Square One, and that there should be a Plan B. But, does the NDA Govt have a Plan B? Its track record of flip-flops and alternately blowing hot and cold does not indicate so.  

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About me The ‘Time and Space’ continuum of my odyssey spans almost seven decades, in two countries on the opposite ends of the globe – the first fifty years in India and since 1998 in the United States. I served in the Indian Army for 31 years, and took early retirement in the rank of Brigadier General in December 1997. During my military career, I have held a variety of command, staff, and teaching appointments. I fought in the India-Pakistan War of 1971 with my regiment in the Western Sector in the rank of Captain. I commanded an artillery regiment in a high-altitude sector on the India-China border, and an artillery brigade on the border with Pakistan. While serving in the Army I earned the Master of Science degree from University of Madras, the Master of Management Sciences degree from Osmania University, and a Post-graduate Diploma in Management from Indira Gandhi National Open University. I have served as the Editor of The Artillery Journal, deemed to be among the most prestigious professional journals of the Indian Army. While posted as an Instructor in Army War College, I scripted, anchored, and produced a motivational film for the Army, ‘Pause to Ponder: Ethics Values and the Soldier’ for which I interviewed Bharat Ratna JRD Tata and Mr Nani Palkhivala among other eminent persons. In the academia now... I joined the doctoral program at the University of Texas at Dallas in January 1998 and earned my PhD in Strategy, International Management, and Organizational Studies from there in July 2001. Since 2001, I have been a professor at the University of Texas at Dallas, Oakland University in Michigan, and Old Dominion University in Norfolk. I conduct academic research on the cusp of Strategy and International Management. My current research interest is the geopolitical dimension, and how it influences International Business strategy and trends. My research has been published in top academic journals such as the Journal of International Business Studies, International Business Review, Journal of International Management, European Business Review, and Asia Pacific Journal of Management. I often write articles and short commentaries on geopolitical and International Business issues, focusing especially upon India, China, and the USA. My memoir “He Opens another Door” was published by Author-House in July 2013. My book, “Operation Jantar Mantar” was published in September 2015.

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