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Nine years after 26/11

Nine years after 26/11
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Nine years after an attack on India’s sovereignty by Pakistan supported terrorists on the country’s commercial capital city of Mumbai, have we learnt...

Nine years after an attack on India’s sovereignty by Pakistan supported terrorists on the country’s commercial capital city of Mumbai, have we learnt any lessons? On November 26, 2008, a sea-borne militant attack on Mumbai’s landmarks, including iconic Hotel Taj, had left 168 people dead and nearly 300 injured.

It was a siege that shook the country and exposed our weak security, poor intelligence gathering and vulnerability to subversive activities. Since then, no doubt, a lot has been done to plug loopholes in coastal security, intelligence gathering and quick response mechanism to terrorist threats.

Thanks to these measures, now, at least, there is a modicum of operational efficiency in dealing with and checking militants infiltrating our cities and holy places from across the border.

But that’s not the case on the border. Year after year, Pakistan Army or its ISI trained armed gunmen have been playing havoc with our defence establishments, testing not only the patience of people and the government but also India’s reaction to such blatant attacks aimed at inflicting death and injury to Army personnel and civilians.

Though the BJP government’s response to Pakistan’s border provocations has been measured and calculative first hugs, followed by diplomacy, surgical strikes on terrorist hideouts across the border and gradual regional and international isolation a recalcitrant Pak administration continues to foil India’s every peace bid. It has to, for its own survival. It is Pakistan’s raison d’être.

The recent release of Hafiz Saeed, the mastermind of Mumbai attacks, from house arrest just four days before the 26/11 anniversary, is a pointer to this fact. More important than his release, the Judicial Review Board of Punjab province claiming there was not enough evidence to keep him under house arrest beyond 30 days was the timing.

It was a slap in the face of India, particularly Prime Minister Modi, prompting Congress vice-president Rahul Gandhi to poke fun at his ‘hugplomacy’. What’s deplorable is, in his eagerness to score a few brownie points during his Gujarat poll campaign, Rahul has shown only his insensitivity to 26/11 events, ignoring the fact that Congress was in power at that time and its handling of one of the worst crises in post-Independent history was no credit to its government.

In any case, whichever party is in power at the Centre, politicisation of dark chapters in our history is not the answer to the country’s internal and external threats. In fact, such threats are looming large after Saeed’s release. His first statement as a free man was to resume jihad for the ‘liberation of Kashmir’ from January 1 unless he was detained again by Pak authorities under American pressure.

That is unlikely, despite Trump administration’s stern warning that serious repercussions are in store for US-Pak relations, unless Islamabad detains and charges Hafiz Saeed. Since 2008, this drama has been going on between the two and with China becoming a more reliable ally for Pakistan, it is playing the usual double game. Better, India be on its own guard rather than banking on Trump’s ‘covfefe’.

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