TERRORIST ATTACKS IN MUMBAI
Several top police officers have been killed in the operation. One of them, Hemant Karkare, was the head of Mumbai's Anti-Terrorism Unit. I cannot for the life of me figure why Karkare put his life on the line at such a crucial moment. While I feel deeply about his sense of sacrifice, I found it highly disconcerting to see photos of Karkare dressed in a simple shirt and trousers supplemented by a bulletproof vest and helmet just before he went in. Wouldn't it have been much more useful for Karkare to direct the operation when his crucial guidance was needed? Sacrificing one's life for the country may be a noble endeavor, but it's unfortunately not always necessarily the most effective one. Karkare was also involved in investigating the Malegaon blasts and his expert advice will now be sorely lacking in that investigation.
It's interesting that some officials from the US State Department are calling this a "game changer". I am thinking they are saying this because of many reports, not entirely substantiated, saying that the terrorists targeted people with US and British passports. Perhaps an unintended beneficial side-effect of this tragic incident may be increased cooperation and coordination between US and Indian intelligence agencies, if only to protect US citizens in India. India certainly might benefit from such cooperation in its own fight against terrorism. India is in dire need of surveillance and sound intelligence to track and stall terrorist movements. I am usually not paranoid about terrorist attacks, but with all the talk about terrorists detonating a dirty or conventional nuclear weapon in the US (itself predicted by many analysts to be an impending event), I am much more worried that they will find it easier to do this in India.
I personally also wondered what, if any, could be the relation between these attacks and the upcoming election. I sometimes get the feeling that such attacks could be a possibly sound way of undermining confidence in Congress when it comes to national security. People's confidence in the government has already been eroded by the rather weak and ineffective response by the government after the July 2006 Mumbai train bombings, as well as its servile pandering to minority groups. Increasing the frequency and intensity of such attacks could achieve two goals for the terrorists; get rid of the current government, and possibly help to bring in a more Hindu fundamentalist faction which may make it easier for them to garner support, generate propaganda and recruit new supporters.
Finally, I would like to hear an explicit statement from our honorable Mr. Singh, something to the effect of "I don't care whether the people behind this are Hindus, Muslims, Christians or Sikhs. I want all of them brought to justice by any and every means possible". Then of course we will expect him to act on these words; comprehensively and objectively beef up security and prosecute those responsible without thinking about political correctness. But for now, it would be quite a revelation to hear him express something other than the usual trite boilerplate bleating.
Update: What's up with CNN? Those in the US would have noticed the remarkably uninterrupted coverage on the new channel that has been going on for more than 24 hrs. I don't every remember CNN covering an Indian terrorist crisis so extensively and continuously. Maybe this time Americans and tourists were involved. But I think that such coverage could also possibly reflect the increasing importance that CNN thinks India plays on the US foreign policy stage. One of the most far reaching effects of this crisis could be for the US to join India in putting intense pressure on Pakistan. Clearly a destabilized Pakistan supporting terrorist activity in India is going to increasingly a headache for the US.