The 10th anniversary of the sordid drama that unfolded in South Mumbai when 10 Lashkar-e-Taiba terrorists sailed in from Karachi and carried out coordinated attacks that left 166 people dead and over 300 people injured is a chilling reminder of the failure of our intelligence and of our surveillance mechanisms as they existed. Yet, it is also a glorious saga of courage and the indomitable spirit that exemplifies Mumbai in distress. The Mumbai spirit has indeed become a password for courage and selflessness.
The terrorists carried out bomb explosions and held innocents hostage as a fightback by security forces continued for the next 60 hours. Taj Mahal Palace hotel, Chhatrapati Shivaji Terminus railway station, and Leopold Cafe were among those targeted in the attack that made headlines across the world.
Today, what saddens one most is that the mastermind of the attacks, Hafiz Saeed, continues to mock at India sitting comfortably as a free man in Pakistan. His trial and those of others who remote-controlled the ghastly attacks has proved still-born, handled as it was by not even an iota of seriousness.
Pakistan today has the gumption to pretend to want durable peace even as it continues to train and infiltrate terrorists into India, especially Kashmir, fuelling terror and mayhem. Yet, we in India and countries across the world watch by when the least they must do is to declare that country as a terror state and impose sanctions against it.
The impotence of the world against terror strikes
A relatively small haven of terror survives alongside a formidable India on the strength of its nuclear power status as the United Nations and the lone superpower US look the other way. It shows the impotence of the world against terror strikes and is a sad commentary on, among others, the UN.
US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo on Sunday urged Pakistan to take action against those responsible for the 2008 Mumbai attacks as Washington offered a new reward of $5 million for helping secure their capture. This is, indeed, the best time for India to step up pressure on the US since US-Pakistan relations have soured greatly in recent weeks.
"It is an affront to the families of the victims that, after 10 years, those who planned the Mumbai attack have still not been convicted for their involvement," Pompeo said in a statement. But direct US action to capture the perpetrators is still not seemingly on the agenda.
Is India better prepared today?
The attack exposed fault-lines in the country’s coastal security network, intelligence gathering and laid bare the lack of coordination among various agencies. Mercifully, however, the country is deemed to be better prepared and organised today to avoid repetition of that horrendous attack.
In all fairness, the critical gaps and vulnerabilities in the country’s coastal infrastructure have been addressed, and a robust surveillance network comprising 42 radar stations linked to a control centre headquartered in Gurgaon has been organised.
This is with regard to coastal security but the next big terror attack may not come from the sea. There is indeed no room for complacency considering that China is hand-in-glove with Pakistan in sinister designs. The country has to be ever-watchful. While ‘surgical strikes’ were launched on terror camps in Pakistan-occupied Kashmir, there is no sustained campaign to prevent alternative camps from sprouting in the enemy country.
India's struggle to deter Pakistan from causing subversion continues
Pakistan continues to cock a snook at India through a plethora of border ceasefire violations. We just have not been able to deter the Pakistanis from causing subversion in the country. Kashmir continues to be a hotbed of Pakistani exported terror and the complicity of the Pakistan Army is all too clear.
The Pakistan nuclear capability should worry not only India but also the US but there is no concerted effort to gain effective control of its nuclear facilities or to inspect them on an ongoing basis. A multi-pronged Indian initiative is the need of the hour.