Skip to comments.India’s new language of killing
Posted on 05/01/2014 10:43:08 PM PDT by cold start
Narendra Modi has suggested he would authorise Indias intelligence services to stage cross-border strikes against terrorists. The stakes are seismic and must be debated with dispassion, before a choice is made in rage
Early one summer morning in 2008, an ageing Toyota car slowed down to turn at the corner next to the Indian Embassy complex in Kabul, transforming itself as it did so into a wall of searing, white light.
Fifty-eight people were killed and 141 injured, their bodies torn apart by shock waves, fires, and shards of metal and glass. Inside hours, western intelligence services listened in to Inter-Services Intelligence (ISI) officers inside Pakistan congratulating the perpetrators. Furious, then National Security Adviser M.K. Narayanan called for action. Talk-talk is better than fight-fight, he said, but it hasnt worked. I think we need to pay back in the same coin.
Mr. Narayanan, intelligence officers serving at the time recall, authorised Indias Research and Analysis Wing (RAW) to begin a quiet dialogue on doing just that with its Afghan counterparts. It found a willing partner in Amrullah Saleh, the then head of the Riyasat-e Amniyat-e Milli, or the National Directorate of Security (NDS). Following the 26/11 strike, the officials said, RAW even explored the prospect of targeting Lashkar-e-Taiba chief Hafiz Muhammad Saeed, using NDS assets inside jihadist groups hostile to the Pakistan Army.
A Modi way of war?
Indias intelligence czar, though, never got the political clearance he hoped for. Prime Minister Manmohan Singh remained committed to the dialogue process with Pakistan, believing that bomb-for-bomb strikes would increase terrorist violence. In early 2010, foreign service officer Shivshankar Menon replaced Mr. Narayanan, and the doves came to control policy-making.
Keep your hands in your pockets, a senior RAW official recalls Mr. Menon as telling Afghan desk officers in mid-2010 and that was that.
Except, that might not quite have been that. Last week, prime ministerial front runner Narendra Modi made the first-ever public suggestion by any politician that he might authorise offensive covert operations against terrorists one of the most fateful decisions facing Indias next government. Mr. Modi lashed out at Union Home Minister Sushil Kumar Shindes revelation of joint efforts by India and the United States to apprehend terrorism-linked ganglord Dawood Ibrahim Kaskar in Karachi. Do these things happen through the medium of newspapers? he asked. Did the United States issue a press note before they killed Osama bin Laden?
Its hard to say whether Mr. Modis speech was driven by election-time testosterone, or reflects considered counsel from his inner circle of advisers. This much is clear, though: inside the intelligence community, there is a growing view that India must learn a new language of killing.
Ever since the 1999 Kargil war, Indias security calculus has been derived from the assumption that the U.S. would moderate sub-conventional warfare against India. Dr. Singhs 10 years in office show that this belief was well-founded. The authoritative South Asia Terrorism Portal database shows that violence in Jammu and Kashmir declined year-on-year from 2002 to 2013 and though theres substantial evidence to suggest that the ISI backed the 26/11 attacks, international pressure has forced it to rein in jihadists since.
In the past two years, though, the wheel has turned. The Pakistan Armys war against jihadists is flailing and its control over one-time proxies among the jihadists has diminished. Political parties there have sought to appease the increasingly powerful jihadists. For their part, Pakistans Taliban has sought to wean away the ethnic-Punjabi constituency of state-backed organisations like the Lashkar-e-Taiba. Last year, Tehreek-e-Taliban leader Wali-ur-Rahman warned that the practical struggle for a sharia system that we are carrying out in Pakistan, the same way we will continue it in Kashmir, and the same way we will implement the sharia system in India too. Indian Mujahideen are training with the Taliban; violence in Kashmir is up.
Indias secret wars
Little genius is needed to see what might emerge to the west of Indias borders: a nuclear-armed state with crumbling central authority, controlled for all practical purposes by rival Islamist militias. The water, Pakistans military ruler General Muhammad Zia-ul-Haq instructed his spymaster, General Akhtar Malik, in December 1979, must boil at the right temperature. Now, the water seems dangerously close to boiling over.
Faced with not-dissimilar problems, Afghanistans NDS has made its choice. Last year, U.S. forces captured senior Pakistani Taliban commander Latif Mehsud from the custody of Afghanistans intelligence services lending weight to claims that the NDS has been backing the jihadist group, in retaliation for the ISIs support to the networks of Islamist warlord Sirajuddin Haqqani, and the Afghan Taliban. In private, NDS officials admit they have staged bomb-for-bomb actions against attacks they attribute to the ISI, including one in March on Kabuls prestigious Serena Hotel.
The question is simple: will India be able to deter Pakistani jihadists with similar tactics?
From the early 1980s, Khalistan terrorists began receiving weapons and arms from the ISI Directorate. Prime Minister Rajiv Gandhi ordered retaliation. RAW set up two covert groups, known only as Counter Intelligence Team-X and Counter Intelligence Team-J, the first targeting Pakistan in general and the second directed in particular at Khalistani groups. Each Khalistan terror attack targeting Indias cities was met with retaliatory attacks in Lahore or Karachi. The role of our covert action capability in putting an end to the ISIs interference in Punjab, the former RAW officer B. Raman wrote in 2002, by making such interference prohibitively costly is little known.
India came to covert warfare late in its history. In 1947, imperial Britain stripped the assets of Indias covert arsenal as it left. The senior-most British Indian Police officer in the Intelligence Bureau, Qurban Ali Khan left for Pakistan with what few sensitive files departing British officials had neglected to destroy. The Intelligence Bureau, Lieutenant General L.P. Singh has recorded, was reduced to a tragicomic state of helplessness, possessing nothing but empty racks and cupboards. The Military Intelligence Directorate in New Delhi didnt even have a map of Jammu and Kashmir to make sense of the first radio intercepts signalling the beginning of the war of 1947-1948.
For Pakistan, covert warfare was a tool of survival: faced with a larger and infinitely better-resourced neighbour, it knew it could not compete in conventional military terms. Mr. Khans doctrine posited that sub-conventional offensive warfare could provide it defence. From 1947, Pakistan engaged India in what Prime Minister Jawaharlal Nehru would later call an informal war.
Indias covert capabilities grew in the wake of the 1962 war. Helped by the U.S., the newly-founded RAW developed the capacities for deep-penetration espionage meant to target China. It used its new tools to target Pakistan in 1971. Establishment 22, operating under the command of Major General Surjit Singh Uban, carried out a secret war in what is now Bangladesh. Establishment 22 personnel aided Sikkims accession to the Union of India; trained Tamil terrorists; and armed rebels operating against the pro-China regime in Myanmar.
Prime Minister I.K. Gujral, though, ended RAWs offensive operations against Pakistan and his predecessor, Prime Minister P.V. Narasimha Rao, wound up its eastern operations. India continued to possess a superior conventional military, but as it became known in the late 1980s that Pakistan possessed a nuclear weapon, it became clear this sword would remain sheathed.
In 1999, soon after the Kargil war, intelligence officers attempted to persuade Prime Minister Atal Bihari Vajpayee to authorise the development of offensive covert capabilities.
He didnt say a word, one official present at the meeting told The Hindu, not yes, not no. Less than three years later, when terrorists attacked Parliament House, Mr. Vajpayee had no tools at his disposal to deter Pakistan bar an expensive, and ultimately useless, threat of war.
Mr. Vajpayees silence, like that of his predecessors, wasnt cowardice. The use of covert action inside Pakistan will, almost certainly, invite retaliation ending, thus, in more violence, at least in the short run. It can cause large-scale civilian fatalities, with damaging international consequences. It can end in the arrest of Indian assets, damaging the countrys credibility. It can succeed in its aims, as Israel, the U.S. and the United Kingdom have sometimes proved or, as those very countries have learned, just as easily fail.
There is no easy path to be taken, for each winds past the taking of human life. It is imperative, therefore, that Indias new security czars discuss their choices dispassionately, before a decision has to be made in rage.
To paraphrase Henry Ford: "If you think your way of life is worth defending, or if you think your way of life is not worth defending ... you're right."
Pakistan is one of the first big mistakes of the U.N .
India should have never partitioned . In order for there to ever be peace in the region the state of Pakistan , as we now know it , is going to have to disappear . It harbors the worst of the worst . Never forget how they protected and harbored Osama bin Laden . Never forget the utterly contemptible vile subterfuge of the ISS . They need to be completely destroyed . Pull all $$$ support to Pak . They are the enemy .
I'm curious. Does this mean the state of Pakistan is to be conquered and absorbed into India? Or perhaps that all the Pakistanis, all 180M of them, must be killed?
Because frankly I don't see how forcing those almost 200M people into India will reduce violence in the region. Seems to me the opposite is more likely.
There is also the fact that nobody has yet developed a way of conquering and destroying a nuclear-armed state without catastrophic risks. Possibly you've got some tactical suggestions.
Nailed it! Furthermore, it is long past time to rid the Whitehut of the kenyan muslim and restore the US to its historic role as a people you just don’t want to screw with.
If you look at how we prosecuted WWII and how we have behaved since, it makes me want to scream.
Ignorant bloodthirsty savages should not drive policy, the policy should be that the ignorant bloodthirsty savages are eliminated, on an industrial scale, until the survivors, hopefully few in number, crawl out of the radioactive debris and beg for peace on whatever terms we impose.
America has a constitution that is a miraculous document, I believe inspired of God. America is falling down, the muslim in the Whitehut is celebrating this daily.
Impeach that muslim marxist, put Kharzai on notice along with all the other bloody ignorant savages, that a great and good country has exhausted its patience and now the retribution begins. Massive nation and infrastructure destroying, wholesale slaughter is going to be visited on them. And, no one can stop us from visiting justice on these ingnorant bloodthirsty savages.
Or not. Let’s just fail and betray our veterans and our nation again. Been doing it since 1945.
Pakistan is a wasteland like most Muzzie lands
I assume you mean Obama.
OK, let's impeach him. Might even get the votes in the House.
Do you have something even vaguely resembling a suggestion on how we get even a majority, much less 2/3, in the Senate?
I thought not.
OK, let's assume we remove Obama from office. He is replaced by Biden. You have any reason at all to think he would be any better?
OK, let's impeach and remove Biden.
He's replaced by Boehner.
Is there any reason to think Boehner would prosecute the war in the way you would prefer?
Yes, yes, no, no, yes, yes, no. Satisfied?
I lack the ability to place faith in anyone in Congress or the Executive Branch. The Supreme Court—or any judges in the federal districts, no, they are slime.
Will we do anything about it? No, highly unlikely.
People with automatic weapons, pistols, shotguns, are basically unarmed. This is not a repeat of the American Revolution. The British had a navy, and they also had unrifled muskets. We had rifles.
We had sharpshooters, and we were not at a technological disadvantage against the detested overlords. It was an even contest, with the foe separated from us by the Atlantic Ocean.
I spent 2003-2011 in Afghanistan. I guarantee the Afghan Taliban, the ISI, the Haqqani network, Pacha Khan Zadran, Rashid Dostum, Abdullah Abdullah, Kharzai—former deputy foreign minister of the Taliban, and the existing Afghan military are babies in a barrel. We can kill them all. There is not a thing they can do about it.
We have patriots, they have the NSA, they have drones, they have ground piercing radar, they have the internet, they have our cell phones, they can look through walls, they can do warrantless searches, do I need to go on? They have everything about you that can be known. All you have to do is raise yuour head and make yourself a target. Period.
And yes, for the sake of honesty, for integrity, the muslim needs to be impeached. But, we are no match for the military of the US.
So,if we can remove this usurping POS from office or fail trying, I would at least try to do it.
I will tell you in all confidence that what I am saying is true, that every person of significance has a dossier, that has been painstakingly compiled, that only a quick review with the holders of the information, the subjects of these dossiers will fold up like a cheap suitcase. Why do you think the GOP is a fraud, that they will vote for the insane things they do?
They do not have a choice.
This is not a happy reality. But it is real.
You can question my credibilty, that’s fine. I am a retired naval intelligence officer and DIA operations directorate operator. TS/SCI with all the letters behind it.
I find no solace in this. Only despair except for one fact. God will settle this in the end.
If you agree or not, that is a fact.
Until then, yeah, I would like to see this imposter impeached, knowing fully that the Senate will not convict.
The fact that he won’t, and the that the potential to perp walk the assholes who work for him to prison will never happen, would be worth the effort to at least try.
Or not. I am not the smartest guy in the room. Are you?
Depends on the room.
When we can’t elect a majority in Congress or a President, what is the point of talking about impeachment, which the Founders intentionally and rightly made much more difficult than winning an election?
It’s like those who can’t get a law thru Congress, so their fallback position is to pass an amendment, which is at least 10x more difficult.
What is the point of such commentary? Just to vent steam? If so, I can understand that. But proposing such things as if they are serious policy proposals doesn’t make any sense. IMO.
BTW, I think Congress has been remiss, since the Founding, in exercising its actual powers under the Constitution. Leading to idiocies such as the constant talk about “Three co-equal branches of government.”
The Constitution quite obviously made the Congress supreme over the other two branches. Congress has absolute power over the judiciary and executive, they’ve just chosen not to exercise it.
Which is a failure to meet their responsibily on the part of Congress. Very sad.
I guess the Affordable Care Act got through.
I am in your camp my friend.
I do not have an answer other than try. The US military and the federal and local LEOs have no adversary they cannot crush.
The BLM drama was a sideshow. A tempest in a teapot.
The GOP? I am a conservative. The GOP is not.
Will you leap off the precipice or roll down the hill?
I vote GOP because the alternative is to jump off the precipice. The destination is the same, one’s just faster.
I have children and grandchildren. I weep for them all.
I am told by the priests of my faith to pray for everyone. Ps 110 seems to disagree. God is asked to punish a future leader, his family and his posterity.
I guess I am a PS 110 guy.
The kenyan muslim may not be removed, but I can still hope that he and his cabal will be. Something worth attempting anyway.
Or not, I am too old and jaded to really give a care what others think about me. I do care if they ask me what I think. I will tell them every time they ask.
The America I knew, well, it is dead. It died in 2009 when America elected a Saulinskyite, muslim, marxist. And it did so despite the fact that anyone with an ounce of curiosity about this abomination could have read in his own words in two manuscripts (likely—I am being kind here— written by Bill Ayers, just a guy who lived in my neighborhood)exactly what this fraud intended and where his allegiances laid.
I have to laugh actually, after four years of epic failure the American electorate were given a choice between a muslim and a mormon. I voted for the mormon. What else could I do?
Leap off the cliff or grab at tree roots and rocks as I slid to the bottm with everyone else.
I have served my country well and now I am no longer counted in the vaunted 18-54 demographic. I am ancient history I suppose. But, and this is singular, I am right. And, I will go to my grave knowing same.
Sherman& Logan eh ?