( Valedictory address delivered on September 2,2009, at an international seminar at Mumbai on "Countering Terrorism in India---Challengeof the 21st Century" organised jointly by the SIES College of Arts, Science & Commerce and the American Centre, Mumbai )
For terrorists and counter-terrorism experts, September is an important month. The eighth anniversary of the 9/11 terrorist strikes in the US Homeland, the seventh anniversary of the attack on the Aksherdam Temple in Ahmedabad on September 24,2002, and the first anniversaryof the terrorist strikes in New Delhi by the Indian Mujahideen (IM) on September 13 and 27,2008, all fall this month. It may be recalled that Amir Kasab, the Pakistani terrorist of the Lashkar-e-Toiba (LET), now facing trial for his involvement in the 26/11 terrorist attack on Mumbai,had reportedly told the police that the LET had planned to carry out the strike on September 26, but postponed it. He could not say why. A suspected reason is that the Indian intelligence had come to know of a possible terrorist attack in September and the police and the security establishments of the hotels had gone on high alert during September.It also so happens that the Muslims' holy fasting period also falls in September this year. Jihadi terrorists often, though not always, try to proclaim their continued presence and enduring capability through high-profile strikes during the fasting period----particularly on the Fridays of the fasting period.One would recall that the Mumbai blasts of March,1993,which constituted the first Pakistan-sponsored jihadi terrorist strike in the Indian territory outside Jammu & Kashmir(J&K), took place on a Friday of the fasting period.
2. It should not, therefore, be a matter of surprise that our leaders, including the Prime Minister, and security agencies have recently alerted the public and the State police forces about the dangers of more terrorist strikes emanating from Pakistan. The 12-month lull in the activities of indigenous jihadi terrorists and the nine-month lull in the activities of Pakistani terrorists is continuing, but this lull should not make us complacent.
3. Such periods of lull after every series of spectacular strikes are a normal feature of jihadi terrorism--- whether of the indigenous or Pakistani kind. The surviving terrorists and their choreographers lie low in the weeks immediately following the strikes and resume their activities again when they feel that the pressure from the security agencies and their vigilance have lessened. They use such periods of lull for drawing lessons from their previous strikes, modifying the training where called for and drawing up plans for a new wave of strikes.
4. Since 2000, there have been 26 attacks of jihadi terrorism in the Indian territory outside Jammu & Kashmir (J&K) involving 900 fatalities.These attacks took place in two waves. In the first wave lasting four years from the beginning of 2000 to the end of 2003, there were eight strikes involving 129 fatalities. Then there was a long lull between January 2004 and July 2005. A second wave started in July 2005 and continued till November 2008. During this period, there were 18 terrorist attacks involving 780 fatalities.
5.Since the Mumbai attack of November last year, there has again been a period of lull. A careful study of the wave of strikes and the periods of lull would indicate that the lulls start whenever the State of Pakistan is under pressure from India and the international community to end its sponsorsip of terrorism in Indian territory and the terrorist attacks resume again when the pressure on the state of Pakistan eases. The lull between January 2004 and July 2005, followed the meeting of Atal Behari Vajpayee, the then Prime Minister, with Pervez Musharraf, the then Pakistani President. During this meeting, Musharraf gave a solemn commitment that he would not allowPakistani or Pakistan-controlled territory to be used for acts of terrorism in Indian territory.
6. Pakistan kept up this commitment till July 2005. That month, sensing that pressure on it has eased, it resumed the terrorist attacks once again.Similarly, due to Indian and international pressure, it has again been observing a lull since the Mumbai attack of November,2008. This lull is being observed not only by Pakistani organisations such as the Lashkar-e-Toiba (LET), but also by the Indian jihadi organisations such as the Indian Mujahideen and the Students' Islamic Movement of India (SIMI). This is a clear indication that both the Pakistani and the indigenous organisations function under a common command and control located in Pakistan.
7. Recently, there is an unfortunate perception in Pakistan that as a result of the strong action taken by it against the terrorists in the Pashtun belt who pose a threat to Western lives and property in Afghanistan and elsewhere, the pressure for action against the LET and other anti-India terrorist groups has eased. This perception has led to the re-activation of the anti-India training camps in Pakistani territory and the hatching of fresh conspiracies for a new and third wave of terrorist strikes in Indian territory outside J&K. Hence, in my view, thePrime Minister's recent warning, which was timely and justified.
8.The LET attack in Mumbai from November 26 to 29, 2008, saw a mix of a commando style operation typical of Army special forces and terrorism directly targeting innocent civilians typical of the LET and other Pakistani jihadi organisations.The Mumbai attack has caused concern right across the international counter-terrorism community not because the terrorists used a new MO, which they had not used inthe past, but because they used an old MO with destruction multiplier effect provided by modern communications equipment and lessons drawn from the commando courses of regular armed forces.
9.There were 166 fatalities in the sea-borne commando-style attack. Only five of them were caused by explosives. The remaining 161 were caused by hand-held weapons (assault rifles and hand-grenades). There had been commando-style attacks with hand-held weapons by terrorists in the Indian territory even in the past, but most of those attacks were against static security guards outside important buildings such as the Parliament House in New Delhi, the US Consulate in Kolkata, a temple in Ahmedabad etc.
10.The Mumbai attack was the first act of mass casualty terrorism by the jihadi terrorists against innocent civilians using hand-heldweapons. The previous two acts of mass casualty terrorism with fatalities of more than 150 were carried out with timed improvised explosive devices (IEDs) ----- in March 1993 and in July 2006, both in Mumbai.
11.The increasing use of IEDs by the terrorists since 9/11 had led to strict anti-explosive checks even by private establishments. The killing with IEDs tends to be indiscriminate with no way of pre-determining who should be killed. Moreover, the publicity earned from IED attacks tends to be of short duration. As was seen during the attack on the Parliament House in December, 2001, the visual impact of TV-transmitted images of attacks with hand-held weapons as they are taking place tends to be more dramatic. In an attack with hand-heldweapons, the terrorists can pre-determine whom they want to kill.
12.In Mumbai, the attacks in the public places by two terrorists on the move lasted hardly a few hours, but caused more fatalities. The static armed confrontations in the hotels and the Nariman House lasted about 60 hours, but caused less fatalities. The static armed confrontations got the terrorists more publicity than the attacks by the two terrorists on the move in public places. By the time TV, radio and other media crew came to know what was happening in the public places and rushed there, the attacks were already over. In the hotels and the Nariman House, the media crew were able to provide a live coverage of almost the entire confrontation. Mrs.Margaret Thatcher, the former British Prime Minister, had once described undue publicity as the oxygen of terrorists. The terrorists in Mumbai had 60 hours of uninterrupted oxygen supply.
13.To deal with the jihadi terrorists from Pakistan, who are growing smarter and smarter, we need counter-terrorism agencies and police which can out-smart them.Smart counter-terrorism has four components----- prevention through timely and precise intelligence, prevention through effective physical security, crisis or consequence management to limit the damage if prevention fails and a capability for deniable retaliation if the terrorists operate from the territory of another State. In Mumbai, intelligence was available, but considered inadequate by the police and the Navy/Coast Guard, physical security by the police and the security establishments of the targeted places was deficient,coastal surveillance by the police and the Coast Guard was weak, the consequence management by the National Security Guards (NSG) and others was criticized as tardy and lacking in co-ordination and deniable retaliatory capability was not available. In their testimonies before the US Senate Committee on Homeland Security, non-Governmental US security experts said that the success of the terrorists in Mumbai demonstrated the weak state of India’s preventive capability and the non-existence of a retaliatory capability. Unless immediate action is taken to remove the deficiencies, more terrorist attacks of a serious nature cannot be avoided.
14.Before 1967, counter-terrorism was seen largely as the responsibility of the Police and the civilian intelligence agencies. After the terrorist organisations took to aviation terrorism involving aircraft hijackings and blowing up aircraft in mid-air as one of their modus operandi, the need for special intervention forces trained by the army was felt. After a surge in acts of terrorism against Israeli nationals and interests in Israel and outside after the Arab-Israeli war of 1967, counter-terrorism in Israel acquired an increasingly military dimension with the role of the police subordinated to that of the armed forces.
15.This trend towards the increasing militarization of counter-terrorism acquired a further momentum after vehicle-borne suicide bombers,suspected to be from the Hezbollah, blew themselves up outside the barracks of the US Marines and the French paratroopers then deployed as part of an international peace-keeping force in Beirut killing 241 US servicemen and 58 French Paratroopers on October23,1983. It was after this incident that the US started talking of a strategy to combat terrorism instead of a strategy to wage a campaign against terrorism. Al Qaeda’s attack against the US naval ship USS Cole in Aden in October, 2000, and the subsequent discovery of the plans of Al Qaeda to indulge in acts of maritime terrorism in ports and in choke points such as the Strait of Gibraltar and the Malacca Strait to disrupt international trade and the flow of energy supplies and to damage the global economy gave a naval dimension to counter-terrorism.
16.Even long before 9/11, counter-terrorism had acquired a scientific and technological dimension due to the increasing use by terrorists of improvised explosive devices (IEDs), but this dimension was restricted to detecting the presence of IEDs and neutralizing them. This S&Tdimension has since grown in importance due to the attempts of Al Qaeda to acquire weapons of mass destruction (WMD) material and its proclaimed readiness to use them, if necessary, to protect Islam. This dimension has further expanded due to apprehended threats to critical information infrastructure that could arise from terrorists or hackers helping terrorists, who are adept in the use of information technology for destructive purposes.
17.Before 1967, terrorism was largely a uni-dimensional threat to individual lives and property. It has since evolved into a multi-dimensional threat to the lives of large numbers of people, to the economy and to the critical information infrastructure. It is no longer viewed as a purely police responsibility. It is the responsibility of the police, the armed forces, the scientific and technological community and the experts in consequence management such as psychologists, fire brigade and medical personnel and experts in disaster relief and rehabilitation. How to ensure co-ordinated and well-synchronised action by the different elements of the counter-terrorism community and what kind ofcounter-terrorism architecture is required is the question constantly engaging the attention of national security managers of countries affected by terrorism.
18.Combating terrorism military-style evolved into a war against terrorism after the 9/11 terrorist strikes in the US Homeland. This had three implications. Firstly, a no-forces barred approach in combating terrorism----- whether it be the Army, the Air Force, the Navy, the Police or the Special Forces; secondly, an enhanced leadership role for the armed forces in the war against terrorism; and thirdly, a new criminal justice system to deal with terrorists that not only provided for special laws and special courts, but also enabled the armed forces to deal with foreign terrorists operating against US nationals and interests as war criminals liable to be detained in special military camps such as the one in the Guantanamo Bay and to be tried by military tribunals and not by civil courts. President Barack Obama has been trying to reverse some of these practices and has initiated action to close the Guantanamo Bay detention centre within a year and to transfer theresponsibility for trial to normal courts from military tribunals.
19.Keeping pace with this evolution of a new strategy to combat terrorism, there has been a simultaneous evolution of the counter-terrorism architecture with the addition of many new elements to this architecture. The two most important elements in the US are the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) and the National Counter-Terrorism Centre. The DHS acts as the nodal point for co-ordinating all physical security measures against terrorism and all crisis management measures to deal with situations arising from successful acts of terrorism in US territory or on its borders as well as with natural disasters. While the Department of Defence created in 1947 is responsible for all policy-making and co-ordination relating to US military operations abroad, whether against a State or a non-State adversary, the DHS is responsible for all policy-making and inter-departmental co-ordination relating to internal security and natural disasters. A Homeland Security Council in the White House performs an advisory and policy-making role in respect of internal security and natural disasters.
20.The Homeland Security Council is structurally similar to the National Security Council, with a Secretariat of its own, which is headed by an official, who is designated as the Adviser to the President for Homeland Security and Counter-Terrorism. Its meetings are chaired by the President and attended by various Cabinet members having responsibilities relating to internal security.
21.In August 2004,then President George Bush established the National Counter-Terrorism Center (NCTC) to serve as the primary organization for integrating and analyzing all intelligence pertaining to terrorism and counter-terrorism (CT) and to conduct strategic operational planning by integrating all instruments of national power. In December 2004, the Congress incorporated the NCTC in the Intelligence Reform and Terrorism Prevention Act (IRTPA) and placed the NCTC under the supervision of the Director of National Intelligence, a newly-created post to co-ordinate and supervise the functioning of all intelligence agencies of the US.
22.The disproportionate use of force against the terrorists in the name of waging a war against them and the consequent increase in civilian fatalities led to a hardening of the motivation of the terrorists, an increase in community support for them and a surge in the flow of new recruits to terrorist organisations . This has brought about a re-thinking and the results of this re-thinking are already reflected in the counter-terrorism doctrine of the administration of President Barack Obama, which is talking less and less of a war against terrorism and more and more of a campaign against terrorism as counter-terrorism experts used to do before 1983. The Obama Administration continues to use military force against Al Qaeda, the Taliban and other terrorist groups, but it now underlines that the use of military force alone would not be adequate without addressing the causes which lead to a surge in the flow of recruits to terrorist organisations. The new Af-Pak policyof the Obama Administration is a mix of the military and non-military approaches to terrorism and insurgency. It has sought to correct what it feels was an over-focus on the military approach under George Bush.
23. India, which has been the victim of insurgencies and terrorism of various hues since it became independent in 1947, has always had a more nuanced approach to terrorism.Even though we do not have a formally declared counter-terrorism doctrine, our counter-terrorism policies were based on two principles, to which all Governments have adhered. Firstly, while the Army has to have the leadership role in dealing with cross-border terrorism emanating from Pakistan, Bangladesh or Myanmar, the Police has to be the weapon of first resort in other areas away from the international borders and the Army's help should be sought only when the Police is overwhelmed. Secondly, while the "hearts and minds" approach or "addressing the root causes" approach has no validity for the terrorists coming from Pakistan orBangladesh, these approaches will have an important role to play in dealing with purely indigenous groups with no external links orsponsorship.
24. These two principles led to a parallel evolution of two different counter-terrorism policies in India.The first is a counter-terrorist policy,which sees terrorists as a threat to national security and seeks to eradicate them whatever be the causes for their terrorism. This approach is applied to Pakistani, Pakistani-sponsored and Pakistani-aided terrorists. The second policy is the counter-terrorism policy, which is applied only to indigenous terrorists, whether jihadi or ethnic or separatist or left extremist. This views terrorism as a phenomenon with political, economic, social and other causes, which have to be addressed simultaneously with a campaign to neutralise the terrorists.
25. Unfortunately, in recent months, as a result of the increase in the activities of the Naxalites or Maoists and the spread of their areas of operation and control across the tribal belt in central India, this nuanced policy towards our own citizens who have taken to terrorism is showing signs of dilution. There is an undesirable trend towards the militarisation of counter-terrorism in the Maoist-affected areas and a growing lack of sensitivity to the grievances of the poor tribals, who are joining polically-motivated Maoist leaders in waging a violent struggle against the State.
26.India’s record in dealing with terrorism and insurgency is not as negative as it is often projected to be. We have had a successful record in Punjab, Nagaland (partial), Mizoram, Tripura and in Tamil Nadu in dealing with terrorism of Al Umma. Even in Jammu & Kashmir, the ground situation is showing signs of improvement.
27.However, there are two kinds of terrorism/insurgency where our record has been poor till now---- the jihadi kind, which is essentially an urban phenomenon outside J&K, and the Maoist (Naxalite) kind, which is essentially a rural phenomenon. We have succeeded where the terrorism or insurgency was a regional phenomenon and was confined to a narrow area. We have not succeeded where the threat was pan-Indian in nature with the network extending its presence to many States in the North and the South.
28.A pan-Indian threat requires a co-ordinated pan-Indian response at the political and professional levels. Unfortunately, the multiplicity of political parties, the era of coalition and the tendency in our country to over-politicise terrorism come in the way of a pan-Indian political response. The tendency of the intelligence agencies and the police of different States to keep each other in the dark about what they know and not to admit to each other as to what they do not know comes in the way of a pan-Indian professional response. There has been a plethora of reports and recommendations on the need for better sharing and co-ordination, but without any effect on our agencies and the police.
29.While the agencies and the Police are largely responsible for the absence of a co-ordinated professional response, the political leadership at the Centre and in different States cannot escape their share of responsibility. A determined political leader, who has the national interests in mind, can use a whip and make the agencies and the police co-operate. A political leader whose policies and actions are motivated by partisan and not national interests will come in the way of professional co-operation.
30.Any cure to the problem of jihadi and Maoist terrorism has to start at the political level. A political leader has to play a dual role. He has to help the professionals in taking firm action against the terrorists---whatever be their community and ideology. He has to give them whatever tools they need. At the same time, he has to identify the circumstances and perceptions which drive young Muslims to take to jihadi terrorism and young tribals to take to Maoist terrorism. Anger is one of the common root causes of all terrorism. Unless this anger is addressed, professional handling of the threat alone, however effective, cannot bring about an enduring end to this threat.
31.An effective political handling has to start with a detailed analysis of the causes of anger and action to deal with them. Our young Muslims, who are taking to jihadi terrorism, are not bothered by issues such as lack of education and unemployment, reservation for Muslims etc. They are angry at what they consider to be the unfairness to the Muslims, which, according to them, is widely prevalent in India. Unsatisfactory political handling of the Muslim youth by all political parties is an aggravating cause of the threat from jihadi terrorism.
32.Similarly, it is the absence of meaningful land reforms and perceptions of suppression of the tribals by the non-tribals and the administration, which are an important cause of the tribal anger in Central India. It is the responsibility of the political class and the society as a whole to address this. They do not do so and keep nursing an illusion that more and more money, men and equipment for the agencies and the police will end this problem. It won't.
33. The terrorism of the left extremist kind has been with us almost since we became independent, but we still do not have a workable strategy to deal with it. Before working out such a strategy, one has to understand the basic differences between Maoist insurgency/terrorism and jihadi terrorism. Firstly, the Maoist terrorism is an almost totally rural phenomenon,whereas jihadi terrorism is a largely urban phenomenon. Secondly, Maoist terrorism is a totally indigenous phenomenon motivated by domestic grievances and a domestic political agenda. Jihadi terrorism is externally sponsored or aided by the intelligence agencies of Pakistan and Bangladesh and is motivated by their strategic agenda. Jihadi terrorism is a cross border threat to national security. Maoist terrorism is not.
34.While the leaders of the Maoists are motivated largely by their desire to seek political power through a Maoist style People's War similar to the war waged by their counterparts in Nepal, their cadres and foot soldiers fighting for them are largely motivated by genuine grievances arising from the political, economic and social hardships faced by them. It is our long neglect to develop the tribal areas which has created large pockets of alienation against the Government and these pockets have become the spawning ground of Maoist terrorism.
35.We cannot have the same strategy for dealing with Maoist activities as we have for dealing with jihadi terrorism.We have to take note of the genuine grievances of the tribals and deal with them in a sympathetic manner. We should not dismiss summarily their allegations of police excesses. There has to be a machinery for a prompt enquiry into these allegations. Maoist terrorism cannot be effectively countered without modernising and strengthening our rural policing and the rural presence of the intelligence agencies. The tribal areas, which have not yet been affected by the Maoist virus, have to be developed on a crash basis in order to prevent the spread of the virus to them. The capabilities of the security agencies deployed for countering the Maoist activities have to be different from those of the urban counter-terrorism agencies. The emphasis has to be on greater mobility in the rural areas with very little road infrastructure at present and greater protection from landmines used extensively by the Maoists. Our failure to develop the road infrastructure in the rural areas has facilitated the spread of Maoist terrorism by taking advantage of the lack of mobility of the security forces.
36. The jihadis increasingly attack soft targets. The Maoists don't. They mainly attack police stations, police lines, camps and arms storage depots of para-military forces in order to demoralise the security forces and capture their arms and ammunition. The repeated successes of the Maoists in mounting large-scale surprise attacks on such hard targets speaks of the poor state of rural policing and intelligence set-up and the equally poor state of physical security.
37. Unfortunately, instead of working out an appropriate strategy which will address these operational deficiencies and at the same time pay equal attention to the political handling of the problem, there is an unwise tendency to militarise the counter-Maoist insurgency management by adopting methods similar to those followed by the British in dealing with the Communist insurgency in Malaya after the Second World War. This will prove counter-productive.
38. The jihadi terrorists, as compared to the Maoists, have a greater flow of funds from Pakistan's Inter-Services Intelligence (ISI) and the so-called charity organisations in the Gulf. They have a greater access to modern weapons, explosives and communications equipment largely given by the ISI. They have the advantage of better training by Pakistan's military-intelligence establishment. They have access to sanctuaries in Pakistan and Bangladesh to escape capture by the Indian police. They are better trained and more adept in the use ofmodern technical innovations such as the Internet, the GPS sets, satellite phones and mobile telephones as facilitators of terrorism and as destruction multipliers. They understand better the power of the media and know how to manipulate the media as an unwitting aid to terrorism.
39.I do not agree with the Prime Minister that the Maoists pose a greater threat to our internal security than the jihadi terrorists.In the medium and long-term, jihadi terrorism will be a greater threat to our internal security than Maoist terrorism or insurgency. While there is considerable discussion in public as to how to deal with Maoist terrorism since it has no electoral impact, there is a reluctance to discuss in public our approaches to jihadi terrorism lest it has an adverse impact on Muslim votes.
40.Strategic threat analysis has undergone a significant change since 9/11. Before 9/11, analysis and assessment of threat perceptions were based on actual intelligence or information available with the intelligence and security agencies. 9/11 has brought home to policy-makers the difficulties faced by intelligence agencies, however well-endowed they might be, in penetrating terrorist organisations to find out details of their thinking and planning. This realisation has underlined the importance of analysts serving policy-makers constantly identifying national security vulnerabilities, which might attract the attention of terrorists, and suggesting options and actions to deny opportunities for attacks to the terrorists. Vulnerability analysis has become as important as threat analysis.
41.Strategic analysts can no longer confine themselves to an analysis and assessment of strategic developments of a conventional nature arising from State actors, but should pay equal attention to the strategic impact of non-State actors, such as international or trans-national terrorists, crime mafia groups and nuclear proliferators on global security in general and our own national security in particular..
42.Flow of human intelligence about jihadi terrorism is weak because of the post-9/11 phenomenon of global Islamic solidarity and the adversarial relationship between the agencies and the police on the one side and the Muslim community on the other. Feelings of Islamic solidarity prevent even law-abiding Muslims from volunteering to the agencies and the police information about their co-religionists, who have taken to terrorism and from assisting the police in their investigation. The adversarial relationship has resulted in mutual demonisation. How to come out of this syndrome is a matter for serious consideration not only by the police and the agencies, but also by the political class and the civil society, including the media.
43.Once we allow terrorism and insurgencies of different kinds to make their appearance in our society it takes a long time to deal with them. We took 19 years to deal with the Naga insurgency, another 19 years to deal with the Mizo insurgency, 14 years to deal with Khalistani terrorism and about 10 years to deal with Al Umma. The French took 19 years to deal with the terrorism of Carlos and his group.Even after 41 years of vigorous implementation of a no-holds-barred counter-terrorism strategy, Israel is still grappling with the terrorism of the Palestinians and the Hezbollah. The British took over 20 years to bring the Irish Republican Army under control.
44.The attitude of our political class to terrorism is ambivalent. On the one hand, it is worried---rightly---over this growing threat. On the other, it continues to view this as a vote-catcher. Every political party has been firm in demanding action against terrorism when it is out of power. It becomes soft when it comes to power. That is the bane of our counter-terrorism. Only voter pressure can force the political class to stop exploiting terrorism as an electoral weapon and to start dealing with it as a major threat to national security, which should unite thepolitical class and the civil society.
45.The jihadi terrorism in our territory has been able to thrive because of the support from the intelligence agencies of Pakistan and Bangladesh. Our anxiety for improved relations with them has been coming in the way of any deterrence to their continued use of terrorism against India. The deterrence has to be in the form of an effective covert action capability, which we should be prepared to use against the terrorist infrastructure in Pakistani and Bangladeshi territories, if left with no other option. The covert action capability, which was reportedly wound up in 1997 out of a misplaced sense of generosity to Pakistan, has to be revived.
46. For many years, there has been an endless debate in the community of security analysts about the linkage between security and development in any counter-terrorism or counter-insurgency strategy. Without effective security, there cannot be satisfactory development.Without satisfactory development, there cannot be effective security. Hardline security analysts----who believe in the security first approach--- even argue that if large funds are sanctioned for development in the terrorism or insurgency affected areas much of the money might leak into the coffers of the terrorists or insurgents.
47. This is an unwise approach, which would be counter-productive. Fortunately, our political leaders have rejected the arguments of such hardline security experts. They have been trying to give simultaneous attention to requirements of security and development even at the risk of some of the funds allotted for development leaking to the terrorists or insurgents.
48. At the same time, the priorities tend to be misplaced. For example, in the Naxalism affected areas we tend to focus more on development packages for the affected areas. It is important to pay equal, if not more, attention to the development of the tribal areas not affected by Naxalism in order to demonstrate to people the dividends of observing law and order and keeping away from terrorists and insurgents.
49. In the North-East, there has been peace in Nagaland and Mizoram. Arunachal Pradesh has remained unaffected by insurgency. In Tripura, there has been a decrease in insurgency. We should have undertaken a crash programme for the economic development of these areas to provide a demonstration of a peace dividend for areas which have given up insurgency or for areas, which have remained away from insurgency. But the importance of this has not been realised by our policy-makers.
50.There is no copybook on counter-terrorism, which can apply to all situations and to all kinds of terrorism. Our strategies should be tailor-made to suit different situations and to deal with different kinds of terrorism. There should be a fair balance between the requirements of security and economic development and social justice in strategies dealing with indigenous terrorism.
51.Finally, some words about our intelligence and counter-terrorism agencies and the police . They are not as bad as they are projected or believed to be, but they are not as good as they project themselves to be. Despite 62 years of insurgency and terrorism by some organisation or the other in some part of the country or the other, our country has remained politically stable and economically vibrant and galloping. This is as much a tribute to our intelligence and security agencies as it is to our political class and civil society. One of the main aims of the terrorists is to intimidate. They have not been able to intimidate us as a people, as a Government, as a civil society.This is a quality which we share with the people of Israel. Israel is a thriving country despite 42 years of anti-Jewish terrorism of the most brutal kind,because the people of Israel have refused to be intimidated by the terrorists.
52.At the same time, the fact that there have been 26 terrorist attacks---some of them of a very serious nature--- since 2000 would show that there were 26 instances of intelligence failure or physical security failure or both. Why do we fail again and again? Various reasons have been cited--- lack of co-ordination, lack of joint action, lack of accountability etc. I would add one more reason. Our reluctance to admit deficiencies and to correct them. We saw this in Mumbai this year when the Government of Maharashtra covered up the report of the two-member enquiry committee set up by it to go into the Mumbai attack because it did not want the public to know the sins of commission and omission, which made the terrorist strike possible. The terrorists know our defiencies, but the public has no right to know. The relatives of the victims of the attacks should not accept this attempted cover-up.
53.Our Police, the National Security Guards and other agencies have been criticised for their deficiencies which contributed to the situation resulting from the terrorist attack.148 civilians were killed by the terrorist attack, but about 1,000 others were saved. By all means criticise them for not saving these 148 people, but to be fair to them, let us also praise and thank them for saving 1000 others at the cost of 18 security forces personnel killed.
54. How to deal with the media----particularly the electronic media---in a situation like this? In a democratic country like ours, we cannot ban the media from covering situations such as this. At the same time, the media has to admit that in the cut-throat competition for viewership they never kept in view the importance of protecting precious lives by not covering the deployments of the security forces, their actions etc.There is a need for a sincere interaction between the media and the counter-terrorism agencies on the role of the media in counter-terrorism. (2-9.09)
(The writer is Additional Secretary (retd), Cabinet Secretariat, Govt.of India, New Delhi, and, presently, Director, Institute For Topical Studies,Chennai, E-mail: email@example.com )