Pune and after (2)

The implications of terror-on-tap

A few remarks on yesterday’s terrorist attack on Pune (and an attempt to summarise the discussions over email, twitter & telephone).

There were two bombs. The one that went off was an improvised explosive device (IED) likely to be using ammonium-nitrate fuel oil (ANFO) with an RDX booster. The other was a bag containing 7kg of explosives found inside an auto-rickshaw. The use of these relatively simple explosives, set to explode when a victim handled them, suggest that this was an “instant noodles” type of attack.

It is likely that the attacks were carefully calibrated and deliberately dialed to a relatively limited level. It is big enough to upset India, but not big enough to get the world’s capitals too concerned. In other words, the international pressure on Pakistan would not be significant, even as the Indian government will be compelled to react.

It is clear that the military-jihadi complex has acquired the capability to mount terrorist attacks against India at several levels of escalation. That is the most disturbing aspect of the Pune attack—not only can the military-jihadi complex use terrorist attacks for political purposes, it has the ability to both pick targets and the level of violence. India does not have a matching response to Pakistan’s strategic use of terrorism.

What would a matching response look like? There are two broad directions: one, develop the ability to respond in a tit-for-tat fashion, across the levels of escalation. Two, get to the root of the problem by destroying the military-jihadi complex. There is, of course, the suffer-in-silence approach which, as much as it is likely, will be increasingly counter-productive.

German Bakery in Pune has been called a ‘soft target’. But a target is ‘soft’ merely because the ordinary people in and around it are unaware, unconcerned or incompetent. As much as there is a need for the Indian government to improve its strategic responses, there is a greater need for ordinary citizens to be alert, prepared, responsible without being spooked out. It is about a kind of balance that government, media and civil society are simply incapable of.

Related Links: On INI, Pragmatic Euphony and The Filter Coffee on how India should respond.

53 thoughts on “Pune and after (2)”

  1. Public education maybe an effective way to train the public on simple precautions to not accidentally fall prey to terrorist schemes. The pune bomb could possibly have remained unexploded if it the waiter had seen such warnings on TV and on public notices.

  2. After attacks everyone gets busy speculating who might be behind it. IM, LeT or some one else.

    I wonder what difference does that make. Even if the concerned terror outfit leaves a stamp paper signed, can India do anything about but shout, cry and beat it’s chest?

  3. “..ordinary people in and around it are unaware, unconcerned or incompetent..”

    A bit harsh there Nitin. Do you expect us to go around our daily lives as if we are in a war zone? for how long? We can be alert for a few days, weeks maybe but inevitably will slide.

    regards,
    Jai

  4. >>One, develop the ability to respond in a tit-for-tat fashion, across the levels of escalation. Two, get to the root of the problem by destroying the military-jihadi complex.

    I don’t see option #1 as a much of a choice.

    First, I don’t think Pakistan’s ruling elite cares much for loss of (Pakistani) life. Our rulers are definitely incompetent, and probably indifferent, but I’dn’t call them barbaric yet.

    Second, there’s no point in retaliatory attacks unless Pakistan recognizes where the attacks are coming from. If they do recognize, they are not going to be held back by the lack of concrete evidence linking the attacks to India; mere suspicion would be enough for their raging public to mount pressure on their government. Going ballistic against us in international fora would be Pakistan’s first reaction. Taking escalations on Indian soil to a level of gruesomeness greater than 26/11 and blaming them on “non-state actors” would be the second. Simply put, “Deniabililty” is no advantage to India as it is to Pakistan.

    In my view, India’s real handicap is not externally directed tactics or strategy, but lack of (internal) will. Do Indians really care if their compatriots die in terror attacks? The answer is neither “yes” nor “no”. It is “N.A” or “Don’t Know”. We have come to this pass because the enemy’s friend is firmly entrenched in the civil society and the media; and probably in the government as well. Currently, he is busy trying to accustom us to the routine of terror attacks; to get us to take it in our stride and get on with our lives. This plan is working for two reasons: one, we have become a media-driven society where state policy is influenced, if influenced at all, by not real public opinion but the one orchestrated on TV screens. Second: the probability that the average Indian will die a premature death in a road accident is still higher than the probability of falling victim to a terrorist attack.

    I don’t see how India can exercise any hard options against Pakistan unless its friend amongst us is dealt with first.

  5. @Jai_C
    May be He is refering to total apathy shown by Mumbai after 26/11 in polling booth. That very disturbing shows..an “each its own” mindset. Last election also shows voting public as opposed to twitterosphere/blogosphere is looking things in a day-2-day fashion. But the continued terror attack will rise the cost for India in a medium-long term by scaring away investors/industry both indigenous and foreign if we continued to put up with Paki BS.

  6. I agree with Nitin, but only if by referring to people as unaware or incompetent, he sought to voice sentiments as espoused later by Kannan.

    An effective disaster management system or post disaster response mechanism depends upon competent law enforcement agencies being able collate the relevant information and take measures accordingly.

    However, in the present case, I do not believe such a procedure will be adopted. Having lived in Pune, I can regrettably say that local population there will not see this blast as their problem and worse, will lay the blame on the activities of western foreigners (who according to them come to indulge in drug-induced nirvana) and the considerable students from north India that are enrolled in the universities there.

    Given the large number of unregulated universities in Pune (including some deemed universities; Pune also has the most deemed universities in the entire country at 7) which admit students as long as they are willing to pay their exorbitant donation fees, one should not stop considering the possibility that some sleeper cell members of cross border terrorist organisations have enrolled as students.

    However, the police is likely to target innocent non-Maharashtrian citizen/entities. Be it shopkeepers, hawkers, restaurants or students. And bodies like MNS and SS only make it worse.

  7. I believe that there is an urgent need to ‘militarise’ the mindsets of our fellow citizens .. before anyone jumps to any conclusions about the use of the word militarise, let me make it clear that it only means to be ready in mind for a military level attacks; to be alert, to anticipate and importantly to react in a manner befitting a civilian response to military emergency. So, there should be shooing away of media, its glares, its eyewitness’ hot accounts, etc. There should be blanket muteness on part of politicians in their response till we make some credible progress on investigations and there can be some concrete conclusions made… also, as for response, we will do well to follow Mossad. Why is it that we have never been able to target Mullah Omar or any of those accomplices? I believe this for all the time of my conscious living so far .. that the death of an Indian is very discountable fact for its own government. We do not care if an Indian dies due to any calamity – natural or otherwise. We at most will say our ‘condolences’ or our collective activity is lighting of candles. At best, we do our bit to the candle industry this way – hardly anything towards restoring our hurt pride and importantly our dignity. Our response should be to strike ‘un-militarily’ at the heart of military-jehadi complex wherever it might be on the face of this earth and strike so hard that we put the fear of God in their conscience before they even think about harming any Indian – civilian, city or country itself! When international community asks, we can and SHOULD feign ignorance stating the obvious – its the ‘non state actors from Pakistan which are doing this’ … but ideally we should and WE URGENTLY NEED AN INDIAN MOSSAD … the death of Indian should not be such a ‘discountable’ fact and a MAZAK that it has become now …

  8. Oldtimer wrote:

    “I don’t see how India can exercise any hard options against Pakistan unless its friend amongst us is dealt with first.”

    Oldtimer, that is an exercise that must be done cautiously as it plays into the strategy used by the islamic jihad crowd to put India in a situation where Indian citizens lose trust in the govt.

    Also, Rediff has a good article on precautions for Indians to take:

    http://tinyurl.com/yjwhk57

  9. http://tinyurl.com/yanp9kd

    Note the complete lack of any words of sympathy for the Pune victims, not even a word — this is all the “Foreign Secretary” of Pakistan Murder Incorporated has to say about the Pune Attack.

    “Chaudhry Ahmad Mukhtar, who spoke to CNN-IBN from Islamabad, said both countries must go beyond the meeting of Foreign Secretaries on February 25. “If we stop talks then victory belongs to terrorists. They would have managed to derail the whole (dialogue) process,” he said.”

    Dear Mr. Ahmad Mukhtar,

    Just saw your great interview on IBN where you did not speak a work in sympathy towards the victims in Pune, but it was my mistake to expect you and your ilk to behave anything less than the heartless vermin you lot are.

    It may interest you to know that I just saw something floating in a sewer nearby that had more humanity and decency that you and your lot in the Pakistani government and the Pakistani military. As part of the Indo-Pak peace process, please accept 10 large buckets of luke-warm spit to be delivered to you by Fed-Ex from a bunch of peace-loving Indians that have a special place for Pakistan in their hearts. Long live the Indo-Pak Peace process.

    Sincerely yours,
    Some Indians

  10. Kannan at #5:
    with “in and around a (soft) target” to qualify the “unconcern, incompetence” etc. it sure doesnt look like he is refering to election time, or even a lack of protest post-bombing.

    I read it as a draft charter for active citizenship to include something like what I imagine Israeli citizenship maybe like- kind of always wary, “where’s the next blast coming from” lookout.

    regards,
    Jai

  11. Comrade Murthy,

    >>Indian citizens lose trust in the govt.

    I do not think Indian government needs the trust of commies and the friends of jihadis. It probably already lost the trust of the law-abiding citizen. It can try and win it back

  12. Oldtimer wrote:

    “I do not think Indian government needs the trust of commies and the friends of jihadis.”

    @oldtimer, That is a self-defeating approach in my view. If the requirement is that the government take down the pakistani sleeper cells in India, given they are Pakistani sleeper cells or SIMI cadre, and by definition cannot be distinguished from a set of ordinary Indian Muslims. Perhaps you can explain how law enforcement can distinguish the two? Because without such a scheme, it would just be causing hardship to innocent citizens, and that is the kind of thing Pakistan wants to achieve.

    The Islamists use violence in a targeted manner to create fracture points that they can then use to recruit more jihadi cadre, so any strategy to take down sleeper cells requires the cooperation of the Indian Muslim community. Making them villains from the beginning achieves nothing and destroys community relations that are hard to rebuild.

    I think the choices before this govt. and the short-term pros/cons are as follows, starting from most peaceful to least peaceful choices:

    1. Peace Talks and nothing else —
    Pro: Keeps Pakistan busy in FATA
    Con: Means regular terrorist attacks in India

    2. Peace Talks and covert actions:
    Pro: Keeps Pakistan busy in FATA
    Con: No capacity to do covert ops in Pakistan (because of IK Gujral)

    3. No Peace talks:
    Pro: ??
    Con: Pakistan gets to pretend that India is getting hostile even if India is not.
    Allows Pakistan to play the nuclear blackmail card
    Gives Pakistan leverage over the USA since it has an excuse to not fight.

    4. Overt War:
    Pro: ??
    Con: Unifies all disparate groups within Pakistan
    Allows Pakistan to play the nuclear blackmail card
    Gives Pakistan leverage over both India and the USA

    If the long-term goal is to empower centrifugal forces in Pakistan, India has no options other than 1. and 2.

  13. Comrade Murthy,

    >>given they are Pakistani sleeper cells or SIMI cadre, and by definition cannot be distinguished

    How so? Because all of them grow beards?

    >>Perhaps you can explain how law enforcement can distinguish the two?

    The law enforcement generally does a decent job of distinguishing between the two. Then liberals (ie commies) and FoJs step in to protect the culprits. Batla House for example. The left-liberal-FoJ plan is to paint anti-terrorist operations as anti-Muslim, and thereby thwart them.

    Incidentally, you misunderstand me comrade. Jihadis are the last people on my mind when I refer to “friends of the enemy”.

  14. http://tinyurl.com/yhftxec

    The points in the above link maybe applicable in the Indo-Pak scenario.

    Note that the above link is advice to the USA and it is clear that they are applying one or more of these points in their interaction with the Taliban and Pakistan.

  15. >Comrade Murthy,

    I am not your Comrade, Genius. Watch your mouth. Next time I will not be polite to you. Just calling me a communist does not prove anything other than your inability to put your point across, most likely because you do not have one.

    >How so? Because all of them grow beards?

    That’s simplistic and also wrong, but I do not see a reason to correct you.

    > The left-liberal-FoJ plan is to paint anti-terrorist operations as
    >anti-Muslim, and thereby thwart them.

    That flies in the face of several anti-terrorist operations against muslim groups that has been going on this year. Please pay attention.

    >Incidentally, you misunderstand me comrade. Jihadis are the last people on
    >my mind when I refer to “friends of the enemy”.

    You have a shallow understanding of the issues at hand and an opinion to go with it. Congratulations. I have nothing more to say to you.

  16. >>Next time I will not be polite to you.

    Crudeness from a Comrade is what I expect. Feel free.

    >>That’s simplistic and also wrong, but I do not see a reason to correct you.

    The ability to reason is not something I expect from you either.

    >>That flies in the face of several anti-terrorist operations against muslim groups that has been going on this year

    Shows that the left-lib-FoJ crowd doesn’t have complete control yet.

    >>You have a shallow understanding of the issues

    It seems you very well understand the implications of the suggestion that before tackling jihadis, we have to deal with their noise-making, will-weakening friends.

  17. @Amit Bhalerao
    We need a ceaseless action (mind you not a reaction) in the form of “Operation Wrath of God” with a clear esclation matrix. But Soniaji fears for her sonny boy. Other Indians are lower caste anyway. What these commies dont realise is that if we Indians allow the Pakistanis to keep getting away with all this then they will keep esclating and then someday we may have to total the pakistanis, only the timing of which is in the zone of speculation, neither the need for it nor the willpower to do it.

  18. For people who bothered to read the link listing the 7 points of Byzantine realpolitik, the bottomline is to minimize harm to oneself in the long term, which rules out winning short-term battles and losing the long-term war. I can see a lot of similarities between the Byzantine prescriptions and the current behaviour of the Indian Govt.

  19. Shri Murthy, I read that link.
    Is it true that this “scholar” spent two decades to come up with 7 points of rubbish that have apparently gained some notoriety in Jihadi laughter clubs? – No, I don’t have proof of this but will wager a hefty bet if I’m proved wrong.
    I have to agree with OT. Its time the fifth column faced the heat they deserve.

    They are not even difficult to spot.

    Best

  20. @Ravinder: By all means… I am talking of a ceaseless action .. I used the word reaction to indicate our reaction at long last to this whole saga spanning two decades now .. not mere posturing … a start of ceaseless and covert war … because we must at least now accept that India is at war! A war that is thrust on her … there is no use being defensive-defensive … the best form of defense in this has to be offensive-defensive … and in recognition of the type of conflict, it has to be a covert offensive … doesn’t matter if the agents we are dealing with as an opponent are state actors or non-state .. our covert offensive should be so hard and lethal that it should cripple the military-jehadi complex with incessant strikes and one single minded goal of physically incapacitating the entire structure … and cut its various serpentine heads as and when they raise from the hydra!

  21. Remember what happened to the Pak Top Brass seeking Commission from the French or what allegedly, happened to Mushaf Ali Mir, Prince Ahmed bin Salman, Prince Sultan bin Faisal, Prince Fahd.
    Every citizen killed here should be answered by a bigger JMC target there.
    If only the GoI was strong enough to stitch in time.

  22. @Palahalli, The Byzantium Empire wrote those rules as explicitly stated in the article, not the author of the article, so you and your non-communist “nationalist” friends need to get informed and stop spouting BS.

    “They are not even difficult to spot”

    Go on then. Don’t be shy and leave us all hanging with enticements of wisdom.

  23. And I not only doubt it, unfortunately i know in my heart that nothing .. and absolutely nothing is going to rouse this sleeping giant/elephant/behemoth .. because its on some drug that induces sleep .. such sleep that our hands and legs are being cut and yet, we are not awake to the trouble we are facing … alas …
    Also, when will we even start stepping aside to make way for newer and fresher leaders? Till octogenarians rule, and strive actively to keep 30 and 40 year olds and real active people out of it, this will always be the case that we will never ever respond (forget appropriately!) .. there will be no dignity afforded to the citizens of this great nation … taking our greatness to the grave .. (sic).

  24. @ Mr. Murthy,

    I appreciate what you are saying about your options 1 and 2 being available for India .. that is obvious .. but just option 2 will do India any good .. If India doesn’t have capacity for the covert war, then we ought to redevelop it … its not too late .. otherwise sooner rather than later, the bigger question of our own survival will loom large!

  25. @Amit,

    ” If India doesn’t have capacity for the covert war, then we ought to redevelop it … its not too late ”

    Couldn’t agree more.

  26. Sorry again Shri Murthy.

    This “scholar” recommended these 7 points to the US govt.
    He is, as you seem to be, convinced that they are panacea.

    I’m merely making the point that the Jihadis are laughing uncontrollably 🙂

  27. Our dear HM seems to have berated the “intellectuals” who support (by other means)killers in this country.

    He must have names, correct?

    That would make a good initial list in the fifth column.

  28. @Palahalli, The Byzantium Empire did not exist for 8 centuries out of sheer luck. Perhaps you and your buddies should try wrapping your heads around that thought before pretend to know better. They outlasted the Roman Empire for a reason. You are welcome to your prejudices and their associated
    idiocy though — don’t really intend to inform you.

  29. The Byzantium Empire was the Eastern Roman Empire.

    Today, we know that the very nature of war and victory has changed. Best summed up by Col. Muammar Gaddafi – We don’t need guns and bombs to defeat you. We will overwhelm you with our numbers.

    The closest the current contestants got to a “Byzantian” scenario was when the Muslim world was in penury and under various sorts of Western occupation. (Post WW1 and with the ousting of the Khalifa).

    That was also when the West (We are not talking about the East (Hindusthan) now) was mostly homogenous, psychologically strong and without *liberal induced* guilt.

    Then, they stood a chance to finish the long war of attrition. They missed it.

    Its very different today. That much should be evident, yes?

    The enemy is no longer at the door – he is in our rooms.

    The 7 points of this “scholar” puts to shame reality but certainly offers great amusement for the enemy camp.

    Thank you.

  30. “You are entitled to your worthless opinion.” – Please don’t worry. I intend to exercise my right to the fullest extent.

  31. @Palahalli, would expect you to do nothing less than say what you want to say, but that does not mean what you say makes any sense.

    “That was also when the West (We are not talking about the East (Hindusthan) now) was mostly homogenous, psychologically strong and without *liberal induced* guilt.”

    A couple of things: The Byzantine empire was surrounded by enemies and treachery within its own ranks, and they deviced methods to work under such circumstances — India’s position is a whole lot bettern than what the Byzantines faced, and nothing you have said negates this.

    Secondly, if you have problems with the strategy of Byzantines, you need to be dismissive of chanakya and his arthashastra as well because the arguments you make against the Byantine strategy’s applicability to today’s India can be repeated for the Arthashastra too.

    Then, they stood a chance to finish the long war of attrition. They missed it. “

  32. @palahalli: “Then, they stood a chance to finish the long war of attrition. They missed it. “

    Forgot to address this bit.

    So you agree that a long war of attrition but you want the long war to be shorter? If it is a long war of attrition, then why are you complaining that it is too long? Not enough patience for the world to rotate on its axis a few more times?

  33. Shri Murthy, there are a couple good comments from readers in that very link you shared. They go to back up my points i’m trying hard to get across.

  34. “Today, we know that the very nature of war and victory has changed. Best summed up by Col. Muammar Gaddafi – We don’t need guns and bombs to defeat you. We will overwhelm you with our numbers.”

    Unless pregnant women belonging to some specific group of people are taking under a week to deliver a child nowadays, I am afraid I do not see your point.

    If I were to guess, I believe you do not want to state what you really want to say: “certain groups” of people have too many children and will eventually wipe out your children’s children. Okay, two obsdervations: (1) Perhaps you should try to raise smarter kids who can outwit their kids in a legitimate way (2) Referring to Indian Muslims in the same terms as Pakistanis is exactly what the Pakistanis themselves do all the time, much to the chagrin of Indians.

    “The closest the current contestants got to a “Byzantian” scenario was when the Muslim world was in penury and under various sorts of Western occupation. (Post WW1 and with the ousting of the Khalifa). ”

    So basically you are comparing a world today that you clearly do not understand to any clear extent as to how it truly works, with another world many centuries ago that you have never encountered, and you believe they are very different….”tell me something I don’t know”, but you are missing the point.

    War strategy involves two groups of people, and people act in their self-interests, and large groups of people (for example, people belonging to a country) tend to behave similarly, at least when it comes to abstractly defining their “self-interest”. The seven points mentioned in the article are sufficiently abstract to apply to any two groups of human beings.

    The addition of nuclear weapons in the game only seems to have forced the US and USSR to play by Byzantine rules because Nuclear Wars were not considered an option during the cold war. The American Empire and Russian Empire did have the additional option of fighting wars on other people’s territory, which was not available to the Byzantium Empire, which is a very important difference.

    However, that does not apply between India and Pakistan — neither country has sufficient power to project outside of their respective borders.

  35. Now, the problem with Pakistan is that their definition of “Pakistani self-interest” is “Destruction of India”, as Zaid Hamid and most Pakistanis in their erstwhile “civil society” never fail to repeat on a regular basis.

    That is why Pakistan itself needs to cease to exist in the long term — anything less would truly harm the children’s children of all Indians today.

  36. Shri Murthy – Let’s keep this simple.

    1. Are you saying the demographic invasion of the West is a myth? Do you think a person like Geert Wilders is a mad man?

    Frankly since you do not even seem to consider the point; I would say an immigrant woman can have her 9 months instead of a week – and still win the war for numbers.

    Btw, when the mind gives in, numbers are just stats.

    2. The Muslims in Hindusthan are obviously not immigrants. But they are allies in our war against Pakistan’s killers?

    3. “War strategy involves two groups of people” et al – I think you have distilled the nature of our conflict with Pakistan and its fifth column to the extent of your understanding or comfort. I believe it’s the latter.

    Thank you

  37. “That is why Pakistan itself needs to cease to exist in the long term — anything less would truly harm the children’s children of all Indians today.”

    – This is very interesting and something I agree with.

    If this were a mind-game I would think about what-after-Pakistan disintegrates?

    Pakistan’s state would be gone but how will we ensure that something like it never rises again in it’s stead?

    Something to think about.

  38. ” Pakistan’s state would be gone but how will we ensure that something like it never rises again in it’s stead?

    Something to think about.”

    @palahalli, The solution is contained in te 7 byzantine rules, which you would know if you actually read and understood what they said, instead of wasting all your time pretending that you know why they are all incorrect (Hint: point IV).

    Pity that a lot of educated adults in India cannot comprehend what is written in plain english without letting their prejudices take over and writing reams and reams of unadulterated scholastic-sounding BS.

  39. Amazing! Let’s see now –

    IV. Replace the battle of attrition and occupation of countries with maneuver warfare — lightning strikes and offensive raids to disrupt enemies, followed by rapid withdrawals. The object is not to destroy your enemies, because they can become tomorrow’s allies. A multiplicity of enemies can be less of a threat than just one, so long as they can be persuaded to attack one another.

    – So this is what you would propose wrt a floating (post dissolution) 172 million people??

    I suppose you still haven’t read the comment on that link – Please read GREGMITROVICH

    Mind-numbing stupidity did you say?

  40. ” A multiplicity of enemies can be less of a threat than just one, so long as they can be persuaded to attack one another.”

    Can’t you read what’s written, genius? Now, shoo, go away.

  41. No, I won’t be reading Greg Mitrovitch just because you are too stupid to have an original thought in your head and say what you want to say. If you cannot spell something out yourself, you have understood nothing. Period.

  42. Let me dispense with the honorific because you don’t seem to deserve it.

    Now, Murthy, do not speak of originality to me when you have been the one holding fast to some idiot “scholar’s” 7 point nothing, come what may.

    On the other hand I have tried to show you why his 7 points are not worth the word.doc they’ve been typed on. You are dazzled by what?

    Mind-numbing stupidity?

    I’m done.

  43. Honorifics are worthless because they are meant to distract from the point at hand with unnecessary politeness meant to be revoked when the BS starts to get exposed, exactly as this worthy Palahalli is doing. I would rather read posts that said something smart, even if impolite, than something polite and completely stupid.

  44. While war seems like a fine thing for boys who like bright shiny toys that explode — the costs of war include all that was lost during the war, which can be extremely significant.

    One war is all it takes to roll back years of economic progress by India, and that will end up putting India at a disadvantage with enemies that are far more powerful and smarter than the Pakistanis, like the Chinese, for example.

    However, the byzantine rules seem very intuitive because they are aimed to extract the best results for the least cost to oneself — all tactics and strategies are employed by reading reality correctly via spies, intel, and allies, and then responding minimally. This is smart because there will ALWAYS be hostile countries, as long as there are resources to fight over, so the state needs to wisely pick which battles to fight which ones to avoid.

    Note that keeping the Armed forces well-equipped and with high morale and ready to fight a war at any time is also considered of prime importance — the emphasis is on keeping one’s power dry and at the same time try to find less expensive means other than war to push the state’s goals.

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