Terror—Global Dilemma

In one of the most audacious terror strikes on Indian soil, Mumbai has come under unprecedented night attack as terrorists used heavy machine guns, including AK-47s, and grenades to strike at the city’s most high-profile targets including high profile hotels, transport hubs and even hospitals—killing at least 101 and sending hundreds of injured to hospital. The attacks have taken a tragic toll on the city’s top police brass: The high-profile chief of the anti-terror squad Hemant Karkare was killed; Mumbai’s additional commissioner of police (east) Ashok Kamte was gunned down outside the Metro; and celebrated encounter specialist Vijay Salaskar was also killed. The nature of the operations would also suggest that it was aimed at getting international attention as the terrorists took up to 40 British nationals and other foreigners’ hostage. It is quite clear that the terrorists who carried out these attacks had a cleat objective in mind. The target of Mumbai—the commercial capital indicates a New York 9/11 kind of motive i.e. to cripple the financial hub of the world’s largest democracy.  

Beyond condemnations, what should be worrying for the Indian establishment is the ease with which such attacks are being carried out, especially over the last one year with the Intelligence, Police and the Security Agencies having failed completely in undoing the terror game plan. The Mumbai incident in fact comes in the immediate backdrop of a high level security meet of DGPs called by the Prime Minister where the latter even announced the setting up of a task force under the National Security Advisor—giving a road map within 100 days for better intelligence and policing. While the Prime Minister’s new initiative is a step in the right direction—yet it comes as too late in the day. The other proposal of the Prime Minister—a standing committee of DGPs to advise the home ministry on policing—apart from recommending more policemen to man the home ministry as bureaucrats have been unequal to the task, are all creative ways to strengthen internal security from the top. But whether the clueless and hapless Home Minister is up to the task, it is anybody’s guess. The problem with Home Minister Shivraj Patil is that he is still in denial mode and as a result he has not been able to give a befitting response to such terror attacks. With the prodding from the PM himself hopefully the Home Minister will now come up with a road map on tackling terror.  

The latest strike in Mumbai should not be seen as an isolated incident. There is a global dimension to the emerging terror networks. Wednesday’s attack conjures up images of the strike on Madrid’s train system in 2004 that killed 191 people and the London blasts on July 7, 2005. If one was to add the 9/11 New York terrorist attack in the list of similar incidents in the last seven years, it points to only one thing—the intent of international terrorists desperate to destroy the citadels of peace and democracy in these countries. What is required is a global effort to fight terrorism. The United Nations and not Washington should take the lead because under the UN, a more concerted and apolitical global effort can be put into place and doing away with years of Washington’s ill thought-out campaigns launched for the purpose of regime change and economic self interest, which only helped fuel more acrimony especially in the Muslim world. It has to be pointed out that a successful campaign against terrorism requires other non-military elements. The Mumbai incident also reiterates the need to address political problems in a fair and just manner. A world order that encourages grievances to linger will also be a world that will have many more of New York, Madrid, London and Mumbai.