Pathankot terror attack: Three lessons that India needs to learn

After the Pathankot incursion India has to realise three things

The Pakistan terror monster has broken its shackles and roams free. It is beyond the control of army and the government.

Now let’s examine the statement.

Surely, the authorities have a fair idea of where the camps are and how they are funded. It is difficult to believe that the underground is so well concealed and isolated there are no informants. By that token why are these camps still functioning? While one accepts that acts of terror occur in Pakistan too and that is the evidence they show as being victims and not perpetrators there has to be a quantitative and qualitative difference between the two...attacks on India are acts of war, not internal strife.

The point then hovers over the grey aspect of how much of terror activity is planned in Pakistan with tacit permission, how much through the convenient ‘blind eye’ and how much without so much as a by your leave. Has the monster become hydra-headed or is it still on a leash, albeit a long one?

SWAT team during an encounter between security forces and terrorists at the Indian Air Force base in Pathankot on Saturday. PTI

SWAT team during an encounter between security forces and terrorists at the Indian Air Force base in Pathankot on Saturday. PTI

Let us take the seven terrorists who came across what is still largely a porous border and were killed. They must have had support and infrastructure to make the crossing. On both sides at that. For a few days they would have needed a safe house and food and drink where they would have lain low. Somebody got them that vehicle. And the weapons. And the will to die. There must have been communications occurring over a period of time. And those records should be available. The fact that Intelligence got a heads up in time to contain the damage indicates there is a system of information which flows in different directions at the border. Somebody thankfully talked or was an embedded agent. This makes sense because the seven did not take this assignment to stop at just two deaths. Their aim must have been much higher. To that extent we have to be thankful that Indian vigilance is working and can only hope it dismantles as many any semi-sleeper rings that operate in this region. The more information we glean the stronger we become.

The need now would be to create a cordon sanitaire at the border and upscale surveillance even more.
Unfortunately all seven terrorists died (a captured one is worth ten kills) so it is only a surmise that they were all the number that crossed the border many more have filtered into other towns? An alert till the conduit is closed makes sense. There should be no letting up on finding those who aided and abetted the enemy. A message has to be sent out loud and clear that they don’t mess with India without consequences.


This will not stop. India knows that. It is not a surprise that whenever there is a move towards peace, whether scheduled or spontaneous there is this aggressive distraction to sabotage it. It invariably gives the hawks grounds for going back to square one and sanctifies suspicion and distrust. That it occurs so soon after Prime Minister Modi’s visit to Lahore will give fodder to those who want create a link. Don’t. It serves no purpose.

All too often perceptions are as relevant as facts and while India’s agencies may well be putting pressure on the other side and taking actions we are not privy to, the general feeling is that India’s ‘befitting replies’ are anaemic at best. You get the impression that the Pakistani military believes India will froth a bit at the mouth, spray rhetoric and then things will be ‘normal’ again. Rather like the kid in the school who keeps warning the bully ‘you hit me again, you see, you hit me again, you watch it,’ Indian governments far too often let such attacks pass into history. We might like to rework our priorities and put a timeline on our wish list and give it to Pakistan to measure its intent in this war on terrorism. This is something we do not do, thereby leaving our demands open ended. Islamabad does not take New Delhi seriously.


Strong defence is a great offence. We need to put our armed forces might on the cutting edge of 21st military armament. You want drones, get them. You want gunships buy them. You need to upgrade your fighters and go back to full strength (seven squadrons short) well then, move on it and stop moaning about the MiGs. There are 9 fourth generation fighters up there for sale. Our tanks need upgrading. If the T14 Armata is the replacement from Russia let’s go for it. We never truly replaced the Bofors ‘shoot and scoot’ 155 mm howitzer, more interested in the political skulduggery that accompanied it than the worthiness of the gun itself. Look at the brouhaha over the purchase of the two decade old Rafale. We cannot even work out how many we should buy.

We are short on ammo. Our naval fleet needs more punch. Our subs catch fire. Our procurement is predicated to the priorities of the parties in power not long term planning. One could rabbit on endlessly. By now with our in-house hi tech savvy we should have begun manufacture of a range of missiles instead of importing them at prodigious cost.

At this moment none of our forces are battle inoculated. We do not like to recognise these flaws and we scream in shrill rage at those who say, hey, we have to arm our forces and have them fighting fit and maintain their morale.

In a nation where the IAS is given precedence and the chiefs of the services come low on the pecking order what price that morale.

It is not enough to say we are proud they are ready to die for their country.

At least arm them well so they have a fighting chance.

Updated Date: Jan 03, 2016 19:02 PM

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