PATHANKOT DISASTER

ALI SUKHANVER

Ali SukhanverThe National Investigation Agency of India has issued summons to a Punjab Superintendent of Police, who was allegedly abducted by terrorists involved in the Pathankot attack. The probe agency has picked up some foot prints in the fields of a border village and the IAF base in Pathankot and sent them to central forensic lab for matching. Official sources did not rule out the possibility of subjecting the alleged Superintendent of Police to lie detector test. Involvement of an official belonging to a security agency is not only very much disappointing but also very much alarming. It is disappointing in a sense that the terrorists have become so strong in India that they succeeded in luring a high official to help them out in a terrorist activity. Certainly the government of India and the intelligence agencies of India will have to be more vigilant and more alert in keeping an eye on all officials working in security agencies of India along with the terrorists.

Terrorism in every form and in every shape is condemnable. Be it Pakistan or be it India, terrorists are nowhere loved and admired but just disliking and hatred for terrorists is not all that we need; we need a lot more. The recent terrorist attack on India’s Pathankot Air Base is certainly the worst example of terrorism and this act of terrorism has been strongly condemned by everyone including Pakistan. It is the need of time that precautionary measures must be taken to avoid repeated occurrence of such incidents in future. But at the same time it is also an important requirement to trace and analyze the facts and reasons behind such type of incidents. A very notable fact regarding the Pathankot Episode is that the Indian authorities took more than four days in getting the Air Base free from the possession of the terrorists. World renowned defense analyst Rahul Bedi has very ironically commented upon the in-efficacy and inertness of the security troops deployed there at the Pathankot Air Base. He said in a recent article, ‘It took Indian authorities four days to put down a deadly attack on the Pathankot air force base near the Pakistani border which killed seven Indian soldiers and wounded another 22. The inept handling of the security operation can only be described as a debacle.’

A prominent Indian journalist Ajai Shukla says in an article, ‘National Security Advisor Ajit Doval’s inept handling has transformed what should have been a short, intelligence-driven, counter-terrorist operation into something that increasingly seems like a debacle.’ In short the terrorists did whatever they wanted to do and on the other hand the security forces could do nothing but prolong the duration of the episode. This situation no doubt puts a very big question mark on the abilities and expertise of the security institutions of India. Unfortunately instead of taking the security institution to task, the Indian politicians, the hi-ups of the Indian government and some segments from the Indian media are wasting all their power and force in framing Pakistan behind the scene and in dragging Pakistan into the situation for nothing. The NDTV reported on 5th January 2016, ‘After 80 hours, the operations have been completed at the Pathankot Air Force Base which was attacked over the weekend by terrorists believed to be from Pakistan.’ The same day, The Hindu referred to the statement of Defense Minister Manohar Parrikar who said addressing the media, ‘The National Investigation Agency NIA has leads that some of the weapons used by the terrorists were of Pakistani-make.’ But at the same time there are analysts in India who are of the opinion that the operational blunders committed by Indian security forces during the November 2008 militant attack on Mumbai, in which 166 people died, were mindlessly repeated in Pathankot due to a lack of well defined procedures.

The working abilities of the Indian soldiers, army officers and the policemen are being strongly criticized by the Indian public for the last many years. Even the Indian media is replete with the news regarding moral bankruptcy and professional inabilities of the Indian security officials inside the country as well as in the Indian Occupied Kashmir. According to the Hindustan Times, three inebriated army men gang-raped a young girl of 14 who was traveling on the Howrah-Amritsar Express. She was a resident of Kolkata, boarded the Punjab-bound train at Howrah on Sunday 27th December but entered the coach reserved for army personnel by mistake. One of the soldiers forced her to drink alcohol and when she was completely drunk the two others raped her in the bath-room of the train. She was reported to have been rescued by the Railway Protection Force and Government Railway Police when she was found unconscious at Madhupur in Jharkhand, social workers went to her aid and she allegedly identified her attackers from CCTV footage from the train. The situation regarding moral bankruptcy of India’s security officials is very much painful. If the government of India is serious in avoiding Pathankot like incidents, it will have to upgrade the professional skills and moral standards of its police and army. A soldier with a loose moral character and with weaker professional skills is an unwanted burden on every army all over the world.

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