On Kasab’s death penalty

Ajmal Kasab, the lone survivor among the terrorists who unleashed mayhem upon Mumbai, has been given the death penalty. Well, to be precise, his death penalty has been upheld, rejecting his appeal against it.

Confirming the death sentence, the top court observed that the primary and foremost offence that Kasab was charged with was waging war against India and “We are left with no option, but to uphold the sentence.” It also observed that it was, “Crystal clear that the conspiracy was hatched by Pakistanis.”

I suppose this brings a sense of closure, if that is possible, in the Indian psyche as a whole and the victims’ families in particular. Mumbai 26/11 was a terrible tragedy, and it remains unforgivable, notwithstanding today’s verdict.

Other than that, what does the verdict achieve, though? Kasab was very much the ‘small fry’, paid to go in with a gun and fire randomly. The people who did the plotting and scheming and ran the operation sit in comfort—perhaps even hatching and plotting the next unforgivable mission, and selecting the next batch of Kasabs to do their bidding.

I suppose I should be glad, happy, whatever else, that the Kasab saga has drawn to a close. But I’m not. Because the mindless violence doesn’t stop with Kasab. It never began with him; the people who began it and ran it continue to have safe haven, and the violence won’t stop until they are hunted down.

Getting back to the Kasab verdict, two quotes from the news report:

Even as Kasab’s trial has continued, the cost of keeping him alive has been a huge burden on the state exchequer. While the Government has spent over Rs. 5 crores on his high security cell at Mumbai’s Arthur Road jail, his security, entrusted to the Indo Tibetan Border Police (ITBP), has cost the state over Rs. 19 crores [1 crore = 10 million].


Senior advocate Raju Ramachandran, who had been appointed amicus curiae by the Supreme Court to defend Kasab, said after the verdict, “I bow to the verdict of the court. As amicus curiae I was given full opportunity to say all that I could in his defence. Let us take pride in our judicial system which adheres to due process, whoever be the accused and whatever be the crime.”

I agree completely with Mr. Ramachandran. The millions spent on Kasab—worth every penny. His own diligence in defending him—perfect. We have a judicial system—albeit a very imperfect one—but this is the way to show that we adhere to it.

And to show that we treat our prisoners well—even the ones we know have massacred many of us.

The latest in Pakistan’s military security

This is what I had written previously about Pakistan’s internal military security. The gist being: the only way Pakistan could have been unaware of Osama Bin Laden’s presence in their country (that too in a posh, visible area of their military training city) is if their military intelligence was actually pretty bad.

Well, we all know that this has happened since then: terrorists attacked and made significant progress at the Naval Station Mehran, in Karachi. This was a terrible incident, but the most serious question is: how did the terrorists make such progress against a professional military installation, which should presumably have been on guard against—terrorist attacks?!

And now the latest:

The Pakistan Navy has moved its main battleships out of the Mehran naval base in Karachi to the Makran coast in Balochistan.

[…] The warships were sent away from their main base in Karachi to Ormara in Balochistan as a “precautionary measure”.

So, Pakistan’s military establishment is still not convinced of the security arrangements at their own naval base? Is that not—discouraging, to say the least?

Most troubling, I think, is this quote from a retired official:

Retired Vice-Admiral Javed Iqbal said there is another important benefit of the move: “Unlike many navy bases in Karachi, such as Mehran, that are in the centre of residential areas, Ormara is a far off base,” he said.

Proximity to “residential areas” would matter only if they’re afraid of more attacks, and are concerned about collateral damage, no? Hence—move things away from residential areas, so that civilians are not caught in the crossfire.

Does any of this inspire confidence at all in Pakistan’s security and intelligence establishment?

Of dumb thieves, and the CBI most wanted list fiasco

Here’s a recent post from Girish Sahane, talking about how our thieves can sometimes be dumber than our incompetent law enforcement agencies.

Well, two points. First – the story in his case involves West Bengal cops actually apprehending the stolen car:

[The thieves] were stopped in West Bengal by cops who felt they didn’t appear to have the means to be driving an SUV

So in this case the cops weren’t dumb at all, even though the thieves were.

Second: he extrapolates the hypothesis to the recent CBI fiasco where a couple of “Most Wanted” criminals, suspected of being sheltered by Pakistan, were found to be in plain sight in Mumbai and already in jail.

No doubt more of the missing terrorists will soon be found in plain sight.

Well, our thieves may be dumb, but what about their thieves – and worse?

Conflicting ideas

This article I read quite a while back. I was outraged at the idea, for a number of reasons, decided I wanted to write about it, and how it wasn’t the right thing to do, and wanted to wonder how and why someone from an IIM – that gives the person’s views some prestige, doesn’t it? – would put forward such an article.

Well, I never really got down to it, and now the work has been done for me. Well, at least the first part about the whys and hows of the idea being a bad one. Here: go read. It’s an excellent post on why India should really refrain from having military strikes in Pakistan.

More, while discussing the situation, the author appreciates the role that the PM, Dr Manmohan Singh, and the Foreign Minister, Mr Pranab Mukherjee have played. In particular, he writes about the PM:

I’m glad the current administration is low on posturing and high on procedure. That’s what you get when policy wonks are in charge rather than poets. No charisma at all, little to appeal to the media or the public at large, but in the end more effective in making India’s case to the world. I can’t bear to watch Manmohan Singh speak for more than two minutes, but there’s no man I would rather have at India’s helm during the current global financial crisis.

Contrast the above with the following, from this blog post:

It would be good if Shourie were the PM. The man is smart, courageous, ethical, and has the national interest at heart. Which is more than you can say about Shri Manmohan Singh. I wish India had good political leadership but if wishes were horses . . .

My idea has more or less been that Dr Singh has more positives than negatives as PM. Of course, there’s a lot that I don’t know, but what has Dr Singh done (or not done) to deserve the above comment?

Someone, please enlighten me.

Blind Terror? Or hidden strategy?

Some excerpts from recent newspaper reports:

From Incursion, Masood: Pak keeps flipping,

With India virtually taking the military option off the table, Pakistan on Thursday cast off the posture of reasonableness it had been forced to adopt because of the all-round pressure over the Mumbai terror attacks.

The return to defiance coincided with India ruling out the military option. In fact, the UPA government has gone out of its way to assure Pakistan that it does not intend to take military action, with Indian high commissioner Satyabrata Pal in Islamabad reassuring Awami National Party chief Afsandyar Wali Khan on Wednesday that India was not considering military action.

But even as the government was seething with resentment against Pakistan’s bellicosity, the sense that the Mumbai attacks may have turned out to be a cost-free exercise for Pakistan was on the rise.

From India may still strike at Pakistan: US report,

India may have ruled out the military option against Pakistan in the aftermath of Mumbai terror attacks but the international intelligence community continues to believe that strikes in PoK and elsewhere could still happen.

Global intelligence service Stratfor, in its latest report, said, “Indian military operations against targets in Pakistan have in fact been prepared and await the signal to go forward.”

“Sources have indicated to Stratfor that New Delhi is going through the diplomatic motions in order to give Pakistan the opportunity to take care of the militant problem itself — but the Indians know that Islamabad has neither the will nor the capability to address their concerns,” Stratfor said.

Almost every member of the international community also believes that the next attack in India would see the gloves come off.

From Terror squad may have sneaked into Bengal,

… specific intelligence inputs that an eight-man hit team, including HuJI terrorists from Pakistan and KLO militants, has sneaked into the state through the Bangladesh border.

This ties up with intelligence inputs soon after the Mumbai terror strike that HuJI-KLO teams might have entered Bengal armed with RDX. Intelligence sources have revealed that a group of over 30 HuJI and KLO members had entered Bengal through three different locations — one crossed the North Bengal border while two others entered from south Bengal.

These groups are “consistently” planning attacks in Kolkata and another location in south Bengal, and even in Siliguri and New Jalpaiguri, say sources.

Makes you wonder. Are these terror strikes done with the sole intention of, well, terror? Or is there more goings on behind the scene than meets the eye?

If the terror outfits are directly state sponsored by Pakistan, then it seems that it is more harm than good for Pakistan in multiple attacks on India. If they are indirectly sponsored (by the military, for example) what motive does this give to the Pakistan Army? They are itching for some action and want to encourage war? A war would increase their power and budgets? What?

And if they are not state-sponsored acts in any way, then once again the motives come to the fore. These groups are more or less in a safe haven in Pakistan; why would they jeopardize their own standing by encouraging military acts from India and (already) from the US? Does it serve their purpose to have war between the arch-enemy neighbours? Arms sales, perhaps? More opportunity to influence people to join their ranks? What?

It is intriguing to think that these outfits would not read the news and take account of what is happening. Isn’t it much easier to believe that they want to direct the political setting in the region for their own benefit?

Reel vs. Real

I watched the recent movie ‘A Wednesday’, on how a ‘common man’ takes up the onus of cleansing his society of crime and terror. It’s a gripping tale, and one worth watching. Yes, do go watch if you can.

But, in context of today’s Mumbai[1,2], and my post yesterday where I talked about how I am amazed by Mumbai’s resilience, a line from the movie struck me very strongly:

We are not resilient by choice; we are resilient by force.