As India continues to target higher economic growth, it cannot ignore the threats to its security. And it is the disruptive actions by non-state actors that now dominate India’s security narrative. Most importantly, the cocktail of jehadi groups within Pakistan and the threat they continue to pose, requires India must keep its guard up, despite the desire of Nawaz Sharief, for better ties. And the Pakistan army, despite waging a campaign against the Taliban in Waziristan – to establish Pakistan’s politico-military writ there – is more likely to the use terror groups, as Pakistan’s strategic assets, to keep India unsettled.
Pakistan’s strategy, ‘to bleed India by a thousand cuts’ was initiated by General Zia is Kashmir, which has witnessed 25 years insurgency now, but even then New Delhi is unable to address the political issues of concern for the Kashmiris, leaving the security forces to battle attacks from cross border terror groups, that are supported by local militants. Most worrisome are the Pakistan army’s links with the terror group Lashkar-e-Taiba (LeT), and its wanted leader Hafiz Saeed. Initially used as their front in Kashmir – from the mid-1990s – they are now keen to take up Al-Qaeda’s legacy, with their dramatic attacks on Mumbai in 2008 and most recently on the Indian consulate in Herat, that put Pakistan in an embarrassing spot, despite their denials.
The LeT has now gone beyond Kashmir, with sleeper cells across India, operating with its proxy, the Indian Mujahideen. The question is, how much more could India take before it considers a military response, in the event of a Mumbai –II type attack ? Equally important is the question: “is India adequately ‘prepared’ to ‘pre-empt’ such attacks, so that it can ‘prevent’ the damage that follows a major terror attack?” Since the shield as yet is only manpower intensive, clearly there is a dire need for technology to be coupled with training of not just India’s vast array of police forces – special groups, para-military, and state police – numbering over a million, but still ill equipped and poorly led.
To counter the threat from the shadows that terror groups operate within, they need to be adequately equipped to fight them, in urban centres. The police needs radars and surveillance systems, tele and radio communication monitors, explosive and bomb detection tools, image identifiers, from helicopters to hispeed vehicles for tracking and intercepting terror groups. These apart, India needs to improve for Aviation Security, CBRNe Security, Data and Cyber Security, Telecommunications, Infrastructure and Mass Transport and Transit System Security and coastal cum Maritime Security. And add to that, the expertise in setting up command and control centres in large business districts, the opportunities for homeland (internal) security related business in India has yet to be exploited to its fullest. The list is quite frankly, endless.
Urban threats apart, the absence of a cohesive approach to the Maoist insurgency – that has spread steadily across central India – has allowed it to grow relatively unchecked. Training apart, the equipment required to battle insurgencies ranges from armoured vehicles, to aerial platforms, communication systems along with the demand for Bullet Proof jackets, Mine Protection Vehicles, GPS Systems, UAVs, CQB Assault Rifles, Cargo Tracking Systems, Riot Shields, Thermal Imaging Systems, and the entire gamut of infantrymen’s tools – to counter IEDs and suicide bombers, night vision devices and border surveillance system. Add to that the reluctance of police officers to put their feet on the ground and to absorb the years of expertise from the much experienced Indian army – as they guard their turfs of influence – has led to the attacks and ambushes on policemen, by the Maoists, embarrassingly at the same place. Clearly the key to battling insurgencies will remain first rate leadership on ground with superbly trained soldiers.
Maroof Raza is a strategic affairs commentaror. Visit: www.maroofraza.com