Pathankot siege: Responsibility must be fixed at highest level


Apoorv Pathak


Punjab has been struck by terror once again. In an unprecedented targeting of our defence establishment, seven of our bravehearts have been martyred. Words cannot even begin to describe the bravery, selflessness and immense sacrifice of those who laid down their life so that the nation can sleep in peace.

They may have died fighting for the country but those of us who live due to their sacrifice have a responsibility to ask on their behalf for the lapses that lead to their death. The nation must ask tough questions. The time for sweet talk is behind us and now is the time for action. Responsibility must be fixed and heads must roll. This is the least we owe to those who are not with us.

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Below we analyse the critical failures that allow the enemy of the nation to successfully mount attacks against our country.

Political protection and promotion of Drugs

Punjab government owes a major share of responsibility for the loss of our defense personnels. It has been accused of promoting a crime syndicate which smuggles drug from across the border. At worst it is complicit and at best it is inactive. This has led to a rapid proliferation of these syndicates with political patronage(many Akali ,BJP leaders have been caught as accused in Drug trade).

The prevalence of this crime syndicate provides an easy access option to Punjab for terrorists. Crime and terror are close cousins. You can’t promote one and expect the other to not go up.

Punjab government under Badals has also heavily politicised its police and squandered police’s capability in protecting high and mighty and targetting political opponent. This has obviously reduced ability of state police to do its job of being on the guard against such terror threats, especially as Punjab’s vulnerability to terror (being a border state) is well known.

These sins of omission and commission of Punjab government are inexplicable and unpardonable. Punjab government has long evaded scrutiny, we can’t let them go scot free anymore. Tough questions are owed to Punjab government so that at least now corrective measure are taken and state’s law and order machinery restored to tackle the rising menace of terrorism.

Lack of Coordination and intelligence failure

Despite availability of some intelligence input regarding possibility of attack, the intelligence machinery failed to convert it into more concrete actionable information. There was visible lack of coordination between the enforcement and intelligence agency. Even after a shocking incident of abduction of the highest ranking police official in the district, the security apparatus didn’t wake up or get on alert.

This is the same story that we see in each such terror attack. After the attacks take place, an exercise of cover-up follows with intelligence claiming they did provide intelligence and enforcement agency proclaiming such intelligence are routine and not of actionable nature. This blame game between the agencies should not be allowed to cover-up for the lapses that lead to loss of valued lives.

Responsibility must be fixed at the very top. For example, what did Ajit Doval do to prevent this from happening, given that he is projected as an intelligence wizard.

Also, the SP in question,whose colourful past is also coming to light, must be suspended with immediate effect. Until we start questioning these failures and fix responsibility for these failure, things will never be any different or better. A comprehensive analyses of the failure with a public explanation by the very highest echelons of power must follow. If advanced countries like US take such lapses seriously and scalps of top people are obtained, there’s no reason why the blood of our soldiers should be valued less.

Incoherent management of information and post attack response

To add to the ignominy of abject failure in the pre-crisis stage, the response after the attack has been very disturbing. Their has been no effort to convey information in an intelligent and unified way.

Instead we had the spectacle of different agencies speaking in different voices. A nation which needs reassurance has only found itself more worried due to such failure of communication. In developed world the initiative to assure the nation is often taken by the heads of state placed in similar state of emergency.

Obama for example immediately addresses the nation and try to sooth it. Cameron is known to do the same other than urgently calling the Cobra (Cabinet Office Briefings Room) meeting. Their has been no such thing from our leaders.

Modi has continued with his normal programme (even talking about yoga) and in an extreme case of insensitivity he used such stressful times to score political points. (In its official tweet, PMO takes a dig at those who are not on the same sides with saints and seers).

Also the support system to those fighting against the attack was not what it should be. An injured NSG commando was carried in an SUV rather than an ambulance. All this has created an impression that the government is more busy hiding the truth to cover-up its failure than actually tackling the attack.

The nation is yet again under cease. Yet again we find that lessons from the past failures have not been learnt. This shoddy state of affairs must be challenged. The powers that be must be held accountable or else yet more of our valiant soldiers’ blood would have flown in vain. Also for those who died Shakespeare’s lines ring true-“Cowards die many times before their deaths; the valiant never taste of death but once.” May they rest in peace!


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