We’ve always known that India is a soft state. We have never attacked or invaded another country and as the former Deputy National Security Adviser Satish Chandra says “India’s problem is that we have never imposed a price on any nation for action taken against us. We keep silent and accept whatever comes our way.” While our restraint and deliberate response to events are mostly praiseworthy, every so often I feel our country is letting its people down by being too soft.
A lot has already been written about David Headley, formerly known as Daood Gilani who was primarily responsible for scouting the locations and providing intelligence to the 26/11 Mumbai attackers. He has accepted his role in the attacks and is currently in a Chicago prison as part of a plea deal that the US struck with him that guarantees that he will never be extradited to India. The deal itself was shocking to most Indians. Here was a country waging a global “war against terror” striking a bargain with someone responsible for killing almost 200 people in Mumbai.
If you dig in to the saga of David Headley, you realize there is a distinct possibility that this guy was a CIA double agent. To give you a little background, Daood Gilani as he was called then, was arrested for smuggling heroin into the US in 1997. He was sentenced to 15 months jail and 5 years of supervised release. But 2 months after 9/11, the US attorney’s office applied to have him discharged! He then made several trips to Pakistan supposedly to assist the DEA (Drug Enforcement Administration), changed his name to David Headley and started travelling to India. This constant travel between the US, Pakistan and India by someone who has prior drug ties apparently did not raise any suspicions. Also, lets not forget that the US had warned India specifically of imminent attacks via the sea and attacks on 5-star hotels and other locations. Since the warnings were part of a series of other warnings, this one was not given adequate attention. Skeptical? Then just think about this – why give him a plea deal when there is so much evidence against him that any jury would have found him guilty?
Which brings me to another question - would such a plea deal ever be offered to the people currently being investigated as part of the attempted Times Square bombing in New York (where no one actually died)? In fact, the US has put so much pressure on Pakistan that they have made arrests (including the arrest of a Major in the Pakistani Army) within a few days! Compare that to Haafiz Saeed (the chief architect of the Mumbai attacks against whom the evidence is unquestionable) who is scot free despite repeated “requests” from India to hand him over. Of course, no one is taking India seriously because of our past record. Our plane was hijacked and we negotiated, our parliament was attacked and we sat quiet, bombs keep going off on our streets, in our trains and we just sit there and do nothing! In fact, we’ve all become so accustomed to being screened and frisked every time we go to the movies, the mall, hotels etc., that being constantly scared of an attack seems like a natural state to us.
Compare this to Israel’s response and attitude. If you followed the news recently, you’d have heard of the James Bond style assassination carried out by a Mossad team of hitmen of a Palestinian terror suspect in Dubai. It sent a clear message – DON’T MESS WITH US OR WE’LL COME AND GET YOU! It was similar to their deadly retaliation against the group that killed Israeli athletes in Munich (the movie Munich goes into the details of this retaliation). They called it Operation Wrath of God! Isn’t it time that the Indian state sends this message to our enemies? Isn’t it time for us to flex our muscles?