The political rhetoric and drama that followed the recent episode of a Pakistani boat that was chased inside India waters, intercepted, chased and blew itself up would have put any country to shame. While there were stalwarts who professed their expertise on the colour of the flames of the burning boat, the Opposition, in particular the Congress, went overboard in trying to portray the whole incident was either fabricated or the boat was only undertaking smuggling activity. This could have perhaps been digested if Pakistan was just about beginning her terrorist activities and not waging proxy war against India for over past three decades. But then was the fact that the Coast Guard briefing had categorically brought out in a press that the four occupants of the boat were dressed in T-shirts and shorts and did not look like fishermen.
Besides, intelligence agencies had reportedly intercepted radio conversation between the boat’s occupants with Pakistani army and with Thailand. The insinuation by opposition parties, mainly Congress in India that the whole incident was rigged up was not only in poor taste it showcased to the world disunity in India’s political fabric to face terror.
Pakistan gleefully rejected that the boat had anything to do with it; foreign office spokesman Tasnim Aslam told media that no boat from Karachi had gone to the open seas on the night that the India Coast Guard had intercepted the explosive laden vessel. Given the propensity with which Pakistani authorities lie, this was but expected. But this time their media mocked as to why should Pakistan be accused in the first place when some of India’s own political parties were insinuating that the incident was fabricated.
The fact is that battered and bruised in national and provincial elections, Congress has been looking for creating any opportunity to attract public attention without any thought they are ridiculing national security in the process. Even one so called spokesman who was the chief actor in a porn clip shot by his own driver came out from the dungeons. One Congress spokesperson in a live debate even conveyed that that unless the government makes available a full report to his party, they will continue to shout from the rooftops. It is a different issue that under the previous government the Congress had facilitated the move of Hurriyat separatist hardliners to Pakistan to meet Hafiz Saeed and had no explanation to any opposition political party, leave aside the public.
It is well known by now that on New Year’s Eve, intelligence agencies reportedly had inputs that a boat had sailed from near Karachi to carry out what sources described as “an illicit transaction” in the Arabian Sea, about 365 kms south west of Porbandar in Gujarat.
A midnight operation was launched using ships and a Dornier aircraft to locate the fishing boat. After a three-hour search, the unlit boat was located, and a Coast Guard ship that was patrolling the area was diverted. The Coast Guard ship warned the fishing boat to stop for further investigation of the crew and cargo; however, the boat increased speed and tried to escape away from the Indian side of maritime boundary. The hot pursuit continued for nearly one hour and the Coast Guard ship managed to stop the boat after firing warning shots.
The boat did not have a name. Four persons were seen on the boat who disregarded all warnings by the Coast Guard ship to stop and cooperate with investigation. Soon thereafter, the crew hid themselves in below deck compartment and set the boat on fire, which resulted in explosion and major fire on the boat. Due to darkness, bad weather and strong winds, the boat and persons on board could not be saved or recovered. The boat burnt and sank in the same position, in early hours of 1st January. Coast Guard ships and aircraft continued operations in area to search for any possible survivor but nothing was found.
It may be recalled that in 26/11, a Pakistani boat sailed into Mumbai with 10 terrorists on board who then split into pairs and struck the city’s landmarks; 166 people were killed in India’s worst-ever terror attack. What we need to remember is that: in the heydays of the LTTE, Al Qaeda had sent their cadres to train with LTTE’s Sea Tigers, one of the fallout of which was the terror attack on USS Cole; intelligence have been warning of seaborne terror attacks in South India by Pakistani terrorists off the coast of northern Sri Lanka; ISI is linked with some 12 major terrorist groups including Al Qaeda, Haqqanis and official patronage of organizations like the LeT and Lej; Pakistan’s ‘Karachi Project’, launch pad for 26/11has not been shut down; Pakistan’s radical mascots like Musharraf and Hafiz Saeed have been openly alleging India orchestrated the Peshawar massacre on 16 December last year, warning of terror attacks; Pakistan would like to divert attention from the Peshawar massacre which was actually an invitation to Taliban to do so since Pakistani military has been killing hundreds of civilians including women and children through indiscriminate aerial bombings of civilian areas; despite Prime Minister Modi’s extended hand of friendship, Pakistan has shown it will keep upping the ante, as indicated through continuous border violations, and; would the ISI not like to undertake some spectacular terror attack before President Obama visits India later this month? It is equally important to understand that in upping her proxy war, Pakistan has and will continue to synergize all activities that can contribute to terrorize India, to include narcotics.
If the Pakistani boat was only carrying narcotics, which is reportedly routine affair, where was the need to blow up themselves? They could have got rid of the narcotics in the water and feigned they were fishermen who had lost their way. So, the boat could have been on any mission like: ramming an Indian vessel, as was the case with USS Cole; target an oil refinery, petroleum installation; dump explosives at an agreed location on the Indian coast; smuggle in weapon (s) or equipment for terror attacks; infiltrate a special emissary / terrorist leader for an important mission etc.
What is relevant for India is that while the Pakistani society may want peace, what matters in Pakistan is not civil society, but the army and the ISI and their band of so called ‘good’ terrorists. Besides, the landlord politicians in the ruling class including Nawaz Shariff and his brother (Governor of Punjab) need to remain on the right side of the army and the radicals. Nawaz Shariff neither has the power to order his army to stop cross border violations nor stop the radical mullah Hafiz Saeed running amok on Pakistani army posts along the Samba border.
Brigadier Amar Cheema writes in his recent book ‘The Crimson Chinar’, “Since Zia’s ultimate aim was to ‘disintegrate’ India, the campaign (proxy war) was not confined to Kashmir, but terrorists were tasked to attack high profile targets and place the country under siege to generate a fear psychosis. It was because of this that Muslim youth from across India were recruited for this ‘all out’ proxy war anfd were picked up from Assam, Bihar, UP, Andhra Pradesh, Rajasthan, and Kerala and taken to Pakistan for training. This was the only aim and means which differed from that of Op Gibraltar, as Zia, the master of psychological warfare, realized that by targeting the length and breadth of India under the garb of an ‘all embracing Islamic Jihad’, he would be able to generate greater exposure for the Kashmir struggle as their motives could always be attributed to Kashmir. In addition, the ‘pan India’ war, waged by Islamic warriors from within India would also highlight the angst among the minority Muslims spread across India and demonstrate their bitterness towards the Indian ‘occupation’ of Muslim majority Kashmir. Zia also counted on a backlash from Hindu fundamentalists, and by countering Pakistani terror in a ‘militant manner’ they added oil to the fire”.
Zia was President of Pakistan from September 1978 to August 1988 but the seeds of his proxy war against India were sown by none other than Chou-en-Lai when he visited Pakistan in early 1960s. Pakistani scholar FS Aijazuddin wrote in his book ‘From a Head, through a Head, to Head – the secret channel between US and China through Pakistan’, “Chou-en-Lai suggested to Ayub Khan that Pakistan should prepare for prolonged conflict with India instead of short – term wars. He advised Pakistan to raise a militia force to act behind enemy (India) lines”. Pakistan raised that militia force in the form of jihadis of today, described by Brigadier Amar Cheema.
In addition to the above, MK Dhar, former Joint Director IB in his book ‘Open Secrets – India’s Intelligence Unveiled’ had already penned, “Way back in 1992-93 ….the process of ‘transplanting armed modules’ in the heartland of India had started taking cognizable shape. Some of these cells were identified in Assam, West Bengal, Bihar, Uttar Pradesh, Delhi, Kota/Ajmer region of Rajasthan, Gujarat, Maharashtra, Andhra Pradesh, and Kerala. SIMI had already started deputing ‘volunteers’ to Pakistan for training along with the Mujahideen, Taliban and Al Qaeda cadres.
They established firm linkages with Islamic Chhatra Shibir, Al Qaeda affiliated HUJI, Al Badr, Al Jihad and other organizations in Bangladesh ……. were trained in facilities located inside Bangladesh and under the very noses of DGFI and BDR”. The sub title of FS Aijazzuddin’s book ‘the secret cannel between US and China through Pakistan’ highlights the intimate links between the CIA and the ISI which continue to-date with the ISI making her proxies available to the CIA and US showing a Nelson’s eye to Pakistan waging proxy war against India and Pakistan. So, why be surprised about John Kerry patting Pakistan on the back for counter terrorism and US largesse of $532 million.
It is common knowledge that the previous government was bending backwards to appease Pakistan in face of grave provocations. Facilitating meeting between Hurriyat hardliners and Hafiz Saeed in Pakistan is just one example. AK Anthony, then Defence Minister tried his best to shield involvement of Pakistani regulars in a cross border raid but had to eat his words. It is another issue that he lied in Parliament that not an inch of territory has been lost to China in Ladakh whereas the Chinese have nibbled away hundreds of square kms in that area. Salman Khursheed, then Foreign Minister was conspicuous in breaking protocol in rushing to host a meal for the then Prime Minister of Pakistan on a private visit to Rajasthan – the galling part being that he did so immediately after the gravest provocation involving beheading of Indian soldiers in a cross-border Pakistani raid.
Sushil Shinde, then Home Minister referred to Hafiz Saeed as “Shri Saeed” in Parliament even as the rabid mullah was holding anti-India rallies backed by the Pakistani government.
Not that Shinde had any spunk against China. Remember his croaking “we have no jurisdiction in the area” as a Chinese patrol sat 19 kms deep inside Indian Territory in the Depsang Plains of Ladakh. But how is it that some political leaders are prepared to look askance at national security? The explanation is actually pretty simple. Many so called political leaders in India have used / are using havala for illegal transactions of incredible amounts of money and havala is operated exclusively by Dawood Ibrahim’s ‘D Company’, Dawood himself being a franchisee of the ISI. So, all these transaction details are available to the ISI for blackmailing these fellows. What India needs to think about is dealing with such traitors also, not focus on Dawood alone. As to dealing with the sub conventional threat, what India needs is constant vigil and more importantly, credible deterrence to Pakistan’s proxy war. This is all the more important because Pakistan has trained some 20 Mujahid battalions since past year plus to operate as / in conjunction terrorists for upping the ante against Afghanistan and India. So we should be prepared for more radical rabble flowing our way.