Re­spect­ing na­tional se­cu­rity

We are a free democ­racy but the gov­ern­ment needs to in­still a sense of na­tional se­cu­rity in our media with mea­sures in place to deal with de­fault­ers


As per media re­ports, the re­cent visit by the Na­tional Se­cu­rity Ad­vi­sor (NSA) to Myan­mar to tie up joint Indo-Myan­mar oper­a­tions against the Naga and other in­sur­gents lodged in­side Myan­mar ter­ri­tory did not get the ex­pected re­sponse from the Myan­mar Gov­ern­ment. Myan­mar author­i­ties re­port­edly told the NSA that while NSCN was con­fined to bor­der ar­eas, the hot pur­suit by the In­dian Army forced them to move fur­ther in­side the coun­try, which af­fected Myan­mar se­cu­rity.

This re­sponse is de­spite the NSA hav­ing held com­pre­hen­sive talks with Myan­mar Pres­i­dent U Thein Sein and top de­fence brass on se­cu­rity co­op­er­a­tion in Myan­mar dur­ing his visit to the coun­try. The NSA’s visit was post-June 9 raid by In­dian Spe­cial Forces in­side Myan­mar pur­suant to the am­bush of an army con­voy in Ma­nipur that re­sulted in the loss of 18 per­son­nel. In­dia’s June 9 raid was with Myan­mar con­cur­rence, hence, Myan­mar de­clin­ing joint oper­a­tions was not ex­pected es­pe­cially when joint oper­a­tions of the two mil­i­taries have been con­ducted in the past. But, Myan­mar has been in the throes of civil un­rest be­cause of many rad­i­cal out­fits with a na­tional rec­on­cil­i­a­tion re­main­ing elu­sive. It is also ob­vi­ous that China with her de­fence and eco­nomic ties with Myan­mar must be ex­ert­ing enor­mous pres­sure on Myan­mar to de­cline joint oper­a­tions with In­dia, es­pe­cially with Chi­nese in­tel­li­gence hav­ing cre­ated the United Lib­er­a­tion Front of WSEA only in April and hav­ing in­sti­gated the NSCN(K) to ab­ro­gate its 14-year-old ceasefire; all to desta­bilise In­dia’s North East. Be­sides, China holds her proxy the UWSA (United Wa State Army) over the Myan­mar Army. How­ever, Myan­mar is a sov­er­eign coun­try and is ex­pected to take its own de­ci­sions.

What could have been be­hind the Myan­mar’s no to joint oper­a­tions with In­dia could well be the public opin­ion, more prom­i­nent be­cause of the ap­proach­ing elec­tions. Wit­ness that when de­tails of the June 9 raid first emerged, Myan­mar de­clined it had given the per­mis­sion to un­der­take raids in its ter­ri­tory. This is a nor­mal re­ac­tion by any coun­try in­clud­ing In­dia if the hot pur­suit was by Myan­mar into In­dian ter­ri­tory with In­dia’s con­cur­rence. It is ob­vi­ous that post the Ma­nipur am­bush, the army had to strike hard, which it did. But the of­fi­cial army state­ment post the raid though was in only out­line, it could have left out the ref­er­ence to Myan­mar, which is a friendly coun­try un­like Pak­istan spon­sor­ing ter­ror­ism in In­dia. Gov­ern­ment of In­dia’s pol­icy mak­ers need to take a call on why was it nec­es­sary to em­bar­rass Myan­mar. But if this was not enough, our media went to­tally over­board in spec­u­la­tion and giv­ing out each and ev­ery de­tail of the raids. Where was the need to blow the is­sue out of pro­por­tion and put Myan­mar Gov­ern­ment in an awk­ward po­si­tion? What is most rel­e­vant here is that a covert op­er­a­tion has been laid bare open.

As a na­tion, where is our sense of na­tional se­cu­rity. Ob­vi­ously, the hi­er­ar­chy is bliss­fully un­aware that de­tailed ex­po­sures like this would ad­versely af­fect sim­i­lar fu­ture oper­a­tions. It is not the first time that we have con­ducted cross-bor­der raids but never has been such open chest thump­ing. It would not be out of con­text that China would have prob­a­bly jailed if not ex­e­cuted her jour­nal­ists for sim­i­lar de­fault. It is no se­cret that we lack strate­gic cul­ture mainly be­cause the mil­i­tary is kept out of pol­icy de­ci­sions on na­tional se­cu­rity and mat­ters mil­i­tary but our media is sans any sense of na­tional se­cu­rity. And this is not the first time it has hap­pened. It is well doc­u­mented that dur­ing the 26/11 Mum­bai ter­ror­ist strike, the sense­less run­ning com­men­tary by our media proved a boon to the ter­ror­ists and their han­dlers. Dur­ing the 9/11 terror strike on twin tow­ers in New York City the media was not per­mit­ted any­where close to ground zero for days. In our case, post the at­tack on Par­lia­ment, de­tailed de­scrip­tions with sketches and pho­to­graphs giv­ing which min­is­ter and par­lia­men­tar­i­ans oc­cupy which rooms in Par­lia­ment kept on fill­ing our news­pa­pers and mag­a­zines. Post the pe­ri­odic Strike Corps ex­er­cises, you find pin­cers be­ing drawn where and how deep they will go – lit­tle won­der fid­gety Mushar­raf keeps rat­tling his nuke toys.

In China, ev­ery jour­nal­ist must be a mem­ber of the All-China Jour­nal­ists As­so­ci­a­tion. Pe­ri­odic train­ing cap­sules for them are con­ducted in batches for them; rang­ing from one day to week-long cap­sules. We are a free democ­racy but the gov­ern­ment needs to in­still a sense of na­tional se­cu­rity in our media with mea­sures in place to deal with de­fault­ers. This should be one of the ma­jor re­spon­si­bil­i­ties of the Gov­ern­ment of In­dia’s Prin­ci­pal In­for­ma­tion Of­fi­cer as­sisted by the HRD Min­istry. Would the Modi Gov­ern­ment take note?

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