If India is famous for anything in the current set-up of the world, it is for the famous for the IT industry. The legacy starts from a relatively unknown V.A. Shiva Ayyadurai who allegedly invented the first e-mail and Sabeer Bhatia of hotmail.com and reached crescendo with the annointing of Sundar Pichaiah and Satya Nadella as CEOs of Google and Microsoft. In the ancient days, there was Sanjaya who gave a live commentary of the war at Kurukshetra including the only recorded discourse by the God in the form of Gita.
And it took about two years to Mr Ajit Doval, to prove the world how the government of India always was at odds with the developments happening in private sector. The latest proof is the Uri attack in which seventeen soldiers were martyred and a dozen more were critically injured.
It is known in military terms that the trained ones don’t waste bullets, for they know what they were shooting. On the other hand, terrorists know their countdown to death starts from the first bullet is fired or the first grenade is thrown. That is the reason usually one see terrorists come firing in all directions to maximise their chances of hit. By the time he is grounded if one terrorist could take one or more life, his mission is fulfilled. But, for the police or military, even one life lost is a loss, for the loss represents the failure of the state in the wake of challenge issued by terrorists questioning its authority. That is the reason, why advanced countries spend a fortune on gathering intelligence, perhaps in equal proportions to the money spent on armament.
Intelligence here is of three levels – at intellectual level, field level and technological level. We shall assume the equipment available to our forces (including intelligence agencies) is of top grade. Even if it is not of top grade, considering the technological capability of Pakistan, whatever we may be having should be sufficient. Alternately, even having HiTec equipment may not help in tackling the problem at LoC. The problem that India faces currently is not a low technology problem, but a problem that was the direct result of intelligence failure at intellectual level and field level.
Well, that is talking about two ends of same thread. And, it seems the current establishment under Ajit Doval is not sufficient to tackle the intelligence needs of India, for security doesn’t mean only firing on the attackers. It is to pre-empt any attack before it happens.
First, intelligence at intellectual level never depends on a single person, but a group of persons who analyse every move and its counter moves. It is a political game of chess. They shall estimate various responses of opponents, for every move of us and prepare a list of counter moves that we should be performing. It needs a dedicated mind analysing about the local political dynamics of opponents, knowing each and every state and non-state actor intimately, having an insight of how those people would respond to various situations. Of course, there were some brilliant moves planned by Indian establishment, either directly by PM or by advise; like inviting heads of all SAARC nations to the swearing in ceremony of current government and dropping into Sharif’s home on the eve of his birthday.
But then, the game of chess means there is a middle game, in which converting the advantage gained during opening is realised. Here, one needs to guess what the other player would be playing. Forcing others to move in a pattern is the exhibition of superior gamesmanship. It is here Ajit Doval and Co failed miserably. If the initial bonhomie created during the swearing in of Modi had waned in an year with increased attacks across the border in the winter of 2014-15, India was given a high voltage jolt in the form of Pathankot attack, spoiling India’s celebrations Sharif’s birthday party,
It seems the brilliant opening games by political authorities or bureaucrats are not properly supported by follow-up estimates. It is a known thing that in Pakistan, it is not the elected government but the Army that controls the policy and its implementation, including state and non-state actors. The Indian Government dealt with Pakistan’s democratic set-up to undermine the authority of Army. This was indeed a good step, for it would de-legitimise the authority of Army in a democratic nation, that Pakistan claims it is.
How an average army captain responds if cornered from all sides? He fires indiscriminately into the opponents. And this was what Pakistan’s Army did. The schemers from Indian establishment failed to gauge the counter measures from the opponent side. And their failure was compensated by many a lives of our soldiers in the last two years.
It was not more than two months ago Indian Prime Minister raised the issue of freedom to Balochistan, it appears that the intelligence establishment didn’t notice his comments. For, this was for the first time an Indian Prime Minister spoke about a providence of other nation asking for freedom, and from the top of Red Fort, as part of India’s independence celebrations. If Indian intelligence establishment expected no significant reciprocation from Pakistan, it is time for them to work in the Tehsildar’s office clearing land records and collect bribes. Ever since Modi spoke about Balochistan, military actions have increased in the province with so many lives lost. Yet, if our NSA and his officers thought LoC is not on the radar, especially while the valley is simmering, I’ve no comments to offer for I’d be wasting my time.
Coming to the intelligence at field level, it is the old scouting and developing informer network. There was not a single part of the world where police or army failed to develop a good network of informers, unless they don’t want to solve the case or win the fight. As explained by Sherlock Holmes, there is no substitute to footwork in detection.
Considering the resources available at their disposal, Army’s intelligence wings should have forehand information on meetings being scheduled to plan attacks. The use of NSA personnel in handling Pathankot that increased number of lost lives of Indian soldiers, instead of using army that handles such situations in the valley had come for a lot of criticism. In the valley it is a regular practice that dying terrorists keep bomb ready to detonate under their bodies and in Pathankot the dead body of terrorist was turned from close detonating the bomb that killed the person turned the body. No names are mentioned only to respect the martyred soldier. Whether the establishment had learned its lessons from the Pathankot incident is anybody’s guess.
Uri attack, this is my old HQ.Warned the Cdr specifically on 8 Sep. Happened in 10 days. Done to remove pressure from hinterland army move
— Syed Ata Hasnain (@atahasnain53) September 18, 2016
In the case of Uri attack, it may not even be totally a failure of gathering information, but taking precautions and preventing it. Or even to minimise damages during the attack. The movement of people across LoC, is a tough task and despite all precautions, one may perhaps fail to prevent any incursions. Huh!
Syed Ata Hasnain, retired LG of Indian Army, who formerly worked in the Uri sector had tweeted that there was information and he warned the commander on 8th September. And the attack happens after ten days. Hasnain feels the attack is to remove pressure on hinterland Army move. Hasanain sahib however, gives benefit of doubt to the commander saying few fellows determined to attack could always pass through the LoC.
I do not question the capability of terrorists, for they are motivated by the prospect of meeting 72 virgins. All our soldiers get post their death is only two days fame and exploitation of their widows by the society. Yet they were motivated enough to lay down their lives. But, was this sacrifice needed? Should there be not a ratio of one soldier to ten terrorists, if at all lives would be lost?
What actions the commander had taken to neutralise the purported attack of which he had forehand information? Was this the only time that the officers were let off by saying the attacks are not stoppable or preventable? I do not question the motive or even remotely question his intentions. All I could suggest is when we start considering the lives of Indians valuable?
I know it is a national syndrome of not valuing one’s life. In a nation where daily loss of lives in road accidents are recorded in hundreds, losing few lives of soldiers may not appear much. But, it is how we value our lives that would define us as a nation. And the lives of soldiers, who spend their lives in those harsh conditions are far more worthy.
Enough is enough. It is time to have an inquiry commission to analyse into the attacks happened in the last three decades and decipher the intelligence received versus successful preventions. Every failure shall be attributed to an individual and remedial actions shall happen. There perhaps, may be some system of sorts. Though, it appears the system is not effectively functioning and could do with some major interventions.
Ajit Doval may note that only attacking others is called in plain terms – bullying. Yes, strong actions are needed and offence is the better form of defence. Then, you should first establish systems in place to prevent and safeguard the lives of Indian soldiers, for Indians appreciate saving more Indian lives than counting how many Pakistani terrorists died.
It is time to advise perhaps, even the Prime Minister. It would do good if your plans and actions are supported by plan and actions by the establishment functioning under you. And, before making a statement in public, you shall discuss this with your team and let them prepare themselves for any repercussions. Of course, this is needed, as it is proved that our systems are not foolproof in case of any surprise reciprocation from the opponent side.