The par­a­digm shift in the strat­egy adopted by Pak­istan against In­dia calls for a new and a higher level of syn­ergy be­tween the armed and the po­lice forces in In­dia.

Pre­cisely six years ago, on Novem­ber 26, 2008, a band of ten heav­ily armed Pak­istani ter­ror­ists owing al­le­giance to the Lashkar-e-Toiba (LeT) sailed across the Ara­bian Sea and sur­rep­ti­tiously gained en­try into Mumbai the com­mer­cial cap­i­tal of In­dia. They wreaked havoc on the city tak­ing by com­plete sur­prise not only its peo­ple but also its se­cu­rity es­tab­lish­ment. This op­er­a­tion ap­pears to have been planned, sup­ported and con­trolled re­motely by the In­ter-Ser­vices In­tel­li­gence (ISI), the premier in­tel­li­gence agency of Pak­istan.

Us­ing two in­flat­able rub­ber boats, the ter­ror­ists dis­em­barked at two lo­ca­tions in Co­laba and com­menc­ing early part of the night, let loose a reign of ter­ror at the Ch­ha­tra­p­ati Shivaji Ter­mi­nus (CST), the pres­ti­gious ho­tels Taj and Oberoi Tri­dent, the Leopold Café, Na­ri­man House and even Cama Hos­pi­tal. In the may­hem that lasted about 60 hours and en­gulfed mul­ti­ple lo­ca­tions, the ter­ror­ists gunned down a to­tal of 166 in­no­cent souls which in­cluded 26 for­eign na­tion­als and in­jured over 400. Nine of the group of ten in­trud­ers were gunned down by se­cu­rity forces. Aj­mal Kasab, who was taken alive, was ul­ti­mately sentenced to death and hanged four years later.

The pri­mary les­son emerg­ing from this sor­did episode is that this is sym­bolic of the change in the na­ture of war that our western neigh­bour is ca­pa­ble of wag­ing. Pak­istan has, for some time, been un­der­tak­ing such op­er­a­tions in var­i­ous sen­si­tive lo­ca­tions in the coun­try. How­ever, th­ese have gen­er­ally been re­garded as a prob­lem re­lated to in­ter­nal se­cu­rity. It is time now to ap­pre­ci­ate the fact that the al­ready thin line be­tween ex­ter­nal and in­ter­nal threats to na­tional se­cu­rity has been con­sid­er­ably blurred.

The par­a­digm shift in the strat­egy adopted by Pak­istan against In­dia calls for a new and a higher level of syn­ergy be­tween the armed and the po­lice forces in In­dia. This would call for the for­mu­la­tion of the con­cept of “joint op­er­a­tions” be­tween the In­dian armed Forces and the po­lice forces both at the cen­tral and state lev­els. It will be nec­es­sary to draw up pro­to­cols for all forces, i.e. the mil­i­tary, para­mil­i­tary and po­lice forces to come to­gether and re­spond to an emer­gency in a col­lec­tive and co­or­di­nated man­ner.

Given the fact that the three ser­vices un­der the Min­istry of De­fence en­counter se­ri­ous dif­fi­cul­ties in their ef­forts to achieve to­tal “joint­ness” in op­er­a­tions, this is cer­tainly not go­ing to be an easy task. Joint­man­ship be­tween or­gan­i­sa­tions con­trolled by two dif­fer­ent min­istries of the Gov­ern­ment of In­dia will be con­sid­er­ably more dif­fi­cult. It is ironic that for some strange rea­son, the In­fantry bat­tal­ion of the In­dian Army lo­cated in Mumbai was not req­ui­si­tioned by the civil au­thor­ity when the ter­ror­ists struck. In­ci­den­tally, all In­fantry units of the In­dian Army are put through a ten­ure in the Kashmir Val­ley and hence, are trained and ex­pe­ri­enced in an­titer­ror­ist op­er­a­tions. As such, the In­fantry bat­tal­ion avail­able at hand in Mumbai would have been of im­mense help in sub­du­ing the ter­ror­ists.

How­ever, be­fore any move is ini­ti­ated to achieve syn­ergy be­tween the po­lice and the In­dian armed forces, there is a need to put in place an ef­fi­cient and ef­fec­tive op­er­a­tional co­or­di­na­tion amongst the dif­fer­ent agen­cies re­spon­si­ble for deal­ing with in­ter­nal se­cu­rity threats.

The sec­ond im­por­tant les­son that has emerged from this ex­pe­ri­ence is that the se­cu­rity es­tab­lish­ment of the na­tion needs to ac­quire the where­withal and to de­velop the ca­pa­bil­ity to pre­vent or foil such ad­ven­ture by hos­tile el­e­ments and not limit its ca­pa­bil­ity merely to be re­ac­tive. This calls for seal­ing of all pos­si­ble en­try points along both land and mar­itime bor­ders. It is un­der­stood that there has been some progress in seal­ing the mar­itime bound­ary. A chain of 74 Au­to­matic Iden­ti­fi­ca­tion Sys­tems (AIS) re­ceivers to pro­vide seam­less cov­er­age of the en­tire coast­line has been put in place apart from 46 coastal radars on the main­land and the is­land ter­ri­to­ries. There are plans to in­stall ad­di­tional coastal radars to pro­vide gap-free cov­er­age. To en­hance aware­ness of ac­tiv­i­ties in the mar­itime do­main, a Na­tional Com­mand Con­trol Com­mu­ni­ca­tion and In­tel­li­gence Net­work (NC3I) has re­cently been in­au­gu­rated by the Min­is­ter of De­fence Manohar Par­rikar.

A ma­jor weak­ness that needs to be ad­dressed is the lack of trust and co­or­di­na­tion be­tween the Cen­tral and State Gov­ern­ments es­pe­cially if they are ad­min­is­tered by dif­fer­ent po­lit­i­cal par­ties. The re­cent con­flict be­tween the Cen­tral and State Gov­ern­ments over ter­ror­ist ac­tiv­i­ties in Bur­d­wan in West Ben­gal is a glar­ing ex­am­ple of the di­chotomy. There is a cry­ing need to have all lev­els of au­thor­ity on the same fre­quency with re­gard to mat­ters con­cern­ing in­ter­nal se­cu­rity and not al­low do­mes­tic pol­i­tics to mil­i­tate against na­tional se­cu­rity in­ter­ests—a malaise that ap­pears to be a per­ma­nent af­flic­tion with the In­dian po­lit­i­cal sys­tem.

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