August 29, 2007Foreign AffairsSecurity

No redemption in the reaction

Diminishing returns for softness on terrorism

This is an archived blog post from The Acorn.

Ajit Doval, a former chief of the Intelligence Bureau writes that the Hyderabad blasts were allowed to happen as a result of deliberate diversion’. The editors at the Indian Express have titled the column the need for a war on error”. They seem to like the term they coined earlier this year. But it’s not at all about error. As Doval’s sub-title and the rest of the article makes clear—this is more about deliberate diversion. [See what Offstumped has dug up]

What is happening to India on the terrorist front is bad, but what is worse is the way we are reacting to it.

The worst reaction of a governmentto underplay it, divert the discourse from core issues to the peripherals. Asserting that all is well and nothing needs to be changed, emphasising maintenance of social harmony as the core concern, complimenting people for bravely suffering losses and returning to normal lives, talking about human rights and protection of minorities — these are all laudable objectives. No one disputes them, but they do not address the core issues.

In the face of a threat as serious as this, the national focus should be on: how serious is the threat; its long and short-term implications; our capacities to counter the threat, both in policy formulation and policy execution; and how to address the deficiencies…The right discourse should also centre on our policy options vis-à-vis countries and groups involved in terrorist incidents in India. This is not happening, and that’s the tragedy.

It is not happening because a basic requirement is missing: a political culture that can subordinate electoral and other political considerations to the nation’s supreme sovereign interests.

It is a myth that terrorists strike anywhere, any time and against any target. Had that been so, they would have caused havoc not just in India. Terrorists strike where their intentions and capabilities meet the opportunities. The success of counter-terrorism lies in degrading their capabilities, forcing them to change their intentions and denying them opportunities to strike. We appear to be failing on all three counts. [IE]The march of terrorism in Indian cities, along with the government’s inability to prevent them, is on the verge of crossing the chasm and (rightly) becoming a electoral issue. The parties that fail to see it are quite likely to pay a price.

Related Link: Rediff’s Sheela Bhatt interviews Ajit Doval (2006)



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