Thursday, March 11, 2010

FICCI : Task Force Report on National Security and Terrorism

The Federation of Indian Chambers of Commerce and Industry (FICCI) issued a report in November 2009, from which the following recommendations are quoted:

It is not only terrorist organizations in Pakistan that challenge the very concept of India. There are many in the political establishment and the Pakistan military that also share the belief and are therefore the source of moral strength and material support for the terrorists. For these terrorist organizations and their mentors in Pakistan the very idea of democracy and the strength of the Indian political system symbolised by regular elections and transition of power from one party to another are a challenge to their medieval philosophy and their very existence.

India needs to be 'Sanitized' from influece from or affliction by radical elements of Pak/Afghan origins that have their focus on destabilising India. We, therefore, need a coherent policy to deal with cross border terrorism and a strategy to make sponsorship of terrorism prohibitive for our neighbours. India must have a basket of options, which it could use against Pakistan. These options include: economic, trade, media and publicity, foreign relations, military and covert measures.

* So far India's response has been reactive and defensive. India must make Pakistan realise that continued use of terrorism against her will hurt itself more than India. Untenable arguments that the state of Pakistan has very little control over non-state actors should be rejected. It is also important that some of the people within the establishment, the media and civil society rid themselves of this belief. Non-state actors such as the Tehrik-e-Taliban Pakistan, which are active in the tribal areas near the Afghan border, maybe outside the control of the Pakistani army and intelligence agencies, but the anti-India terrorist organisations indulging in cross border terrorism in Indian territory are the surrogates of the Pakistani military and intelligence agencies.

* It is equally fallacious to believe that the so-called soft attitude and double standards of the West on Pakistan will change. We have been paying a heavy price for it. They will not and it must be factored in India's response. Indian expectations of a hardline by the Obama administration against Pakistan have also been belied. After assuming office, President Barack Obama has been following the traditional US policy of closing its eyes to Pakistani use of terrorism against India as long as it co-operates with the US against al-Qaeda and the Taliban, which pose a threat to American lives and interests. Pakistan has always taken advantage of such double standards in the US counter-terrorism policy.

* Countries like USA, Saudi Arabia and China will not cut off economic and military aid to Pakistan. Most recently, the Kerry-Lugar bill, which triples US aid to Islamabad, seems to have ignored New Delhi's concern about use of Pakistani soil for terror attacks in India, as it requires presidential certification that the Pakistan Army is making "concerted efforts" against Taliban. By doing so, the bill, which is supported by the Obama Administration, indicates that its focus is on Afghanistan and appears to be mute on the terrorist attacks carried out by terrorists [sic] groups like Lashkar-e-Taiba and Jaish-e-Mohammad in various parts of India, which the United States is very well aware of.

* India should not bluff itself into believing that linkages with J&K and Afghanistan will disappear, we will have to work through that disadvantage. India has reasons to be concerned over renewed attempts in the US and the UK to rationalise Pakistan's inaction against the LeT and other anti-India terrorist groups by linking it to the so-called Kashmir issue and the Indian presence in Afghanistan for assisting in the economic and educational development of Afghanistan. Such attempted linkages, however, must be strongly rejected.

Sizing Response Options —
The Hard Options

* Inflict Economic Pain: India has several economic tools at its disposal, including stopping all imports from Pakistan, banning overflight by Pakistani airlines, and significantly restricting travel between the two countries. No doubt, Pakistan will retaliate but the pain will be asymmetrically more for Pakistan.

* Covert Retaliation: Immediate reprisal strike should always be an option. India must revive its covert capabilities and be abel to take deniable covert actions inside Pakistan. India should be prepared for such action.

* Surgical Strikes: One option is to conduct "surgical" strikes in Pakistan, particularly in PoK (Pakistan occupied Kashmir) terror camps. This can be done. India seems to know with reasonable certainty where these camps are. Such strikes are feasible and even legitimate under the terms of the UN Charter when the country is attacked or under imminent threat. We should not be led into believing that the international community will support India in case we respond with strikes across the border, to a Mumbai-type attack even in the future. But respond we must. And if we respond with surgical strikes, we should prepare mechanisms to deal with international disapproval when it comes and more importantly, be prepared for escalation of war with Pakistan. For this, operational preparedness in terms of equipment and ammunition would be critical. This however is not a subject for open discussion.

* All Out Assault: Should a Mumbai-style attack happen again, India can— and should— launch a limited but intense attack on the PoK. Of course, such an assault should have clear geographical objected and be ceased unilaterally to avoid escalation.

* Leveraging Water Issue: Indus Valley Treaty is highly tilted in favour of Pakistan. India is sparing water even beyond its treaty obligations. Water is a very serious issue for Pakistan and India channelising water for irrigation and power can seriously pressurise Pakistan.

* In cases where tangible evidence exists of terrorists using Pakistan territory for training, shelter, movement, financing, weaponising of terrorists (with or without state support) action must be initiated for international actions against Pakistan under UN Security Council resolution no 1373 etc.

The Soft Options

* Sharing Intelligence: Prime Ministers Manmohan Singh and Yusuf Raza Gilani during the NAM Summit in July agreed that India and Pakistan "will share real-time credible and actionable information on any future terrorist threats". Both the countries have a long history of attempting intelligence cooperation - but it has seen little success. There is a view, that sharing of intelligence is a bad trap India should not fall into. If Pakistan is provided with correct and specific intelligence, they will cover their tracks, locate their points of leakage and in due course see to it that all good intelligence sources dry up. If Pakistan is provided generic intelligence, it will claim that India is falsely implicating them with political motivations and will try to bring down India's international credibility. Acceptance of the exchange is also by implication conceding the position that Pakistan state is innocent and only few rogue groups are responsible.

* Joint Military Interaction: The two militaries have not even been able to agree on allowing senior military officers to speak at each others' training institutions like the Staff Colleges and National Defence Colleage, a proposal that formed part of 'Military Confidence Building Measures', due to reservations from both the sides. Lt. Gen Satish Nambiar (FICCI Task Force member) is the only Indian military officer (serving or retired) to have addressed the Pakistani National Defence College in March 2007 on the subject of peacekeeping. Given the fact that the two countries are major contributors to UN peacekeeping, this is an arena that can be exploited as an option.

* Economic Free trade Zone: President Zardari has interest in opening of the country's markets to free trade with India. Such a plan has long been under discussion and can be explored.

* Cultural Contacts: Enhance people to people contact through carefully planned and executed program that could include - education institutions, arts and crafts, forum of intelligentsia, business institutions, parliaments, government institutions, etc.

The report goes on to say:

* The Mumbai attacks is the first of a new kind of terrorism.
- It shows the rise of a strategic terrorist culture - the terrorists intended the attack to serve multiple objectives.
- The terrorist groups have improved capabilities that recognise gaps in counter-terrorism and internal security measures.
- The terrorists used modern technology in their operations for planning, command, control and communications.

The report has recommendations to handle the emerging situation:

* Use the help of friendly countries to have more effective counter-terrorism measures.

* Develop the capability for both covert and overt preemptive strikes in Pakistan.

* Deploy better surveillance, identification and monitoring technology.

* Have a unified investigative cell for the whole of India to avoid bureaucratic and political fragmentation of efforts.

* Improve first responder preparedness.

* Carry out terrorism prevention and incident management drills in each metro city.

* Make very clear the lines of authority and responsibility for decision making.

* Take tactical steps while the overall strategy matures.

* Undertake a vulnerability assessment and use whatever resources are currently available to fill the gaps.

The report says given Pakistan's political and military set-up, it is very unlikely that Pakistan will change absent coercion - "unbearable costs". Therefore India must also direct effort to:

* Isolate the jihadis ideologically and create fissure within the jihadi groups.
* Destroy jihadi recruiting infrastructure and training camps
* Compel Pakistan to supplant madrasas with modern institutions
* Neutralise fundamentalist and terrorist leadership
* Disallow Pakistan to gain foothold in Afghanistan as this will ultimately consume Central Asia in jihadi fervor

Since none of the options currently available to India are adequate to the purpose, India must build up new capabilities.