The dastardly attack on one of the buses of a convoy of 78 vehicles deploying 2,500 CRPF (Central Reserve Police Force) personnel at Pulwama on the Srinagar-Jammu highway on February 14, which has resulted in the murder of 44 jawans by a Jaish-e-Mohammed (JeM) suicide bomber — the Pakistan-based JeM has acknowledged responsibility — confirms one’s worst fears that India’s intelligence agencies — RAW, IB, CBI — are sleeping on the job. Several deeply disturbing questions arise and need to be debated frankly.
First, how come neither the Central nor J&K state intelligence agencies were aware that a huge quantity of 400 kg of deadly explosives was being freely transported within the state? All these agencies — particularly RAW (Research & Analysis Wing) and IB (Intelligence Bureau) which are India’s external and internal espionage organisations — are very well-funded and have hundreds of field agents and informers on their pay rolls. How come none of them delivered the vitally important information that a huge cache of explosives had been smuggled into J&K and was doing the rounds? Some heads must roll.
Equally disappointing is the response of the establishment — government ministers, opposition party leaders, and media pundits. The most foolish recommend direct military action against Pakistan by way of punitive ‘surgical strikes’ against specific targets in that country, for its transgression of harbouring Maulana Masood Azhar, leader of JeM. These hotheads don’t seem to be aware that Pakistan is armed with nuclear weapons and is a viper’s nest of religious fanatics at highest levels of the military-dominated establishment who won’t mind blowing up the sub-continent in the cause of misinterpreted Islam.
In the circumstances, the obvious solution is for the intelligence and covert operations units within the defence services to collaborate and discharge their duty to take out Masood Azhar and the key JeM leadership. This is what America’s CIA and the Navy Seals did in May 2011 to liquidate Osama bin Laden who was holed up in Abbottabad after masterminding the 9/11, 2001 terrorist strike in New York. Moreover, striking at war criminals and terrorists themselves rather than risking international wars, is the standard operating procedure of Mossad, Israel’s dreaded intelligence agency.
The assumption of the dim-witted Indian establishment that all Pakistanis support JeM and ISI-instigated cross-border terrorism against India is unfounded. There are millions of decent, law-abiding people in Pakistan fed up with hate-crazed anarchists such as Maulana Masood and his ilk. They can be incentivised to provide covert information about their hideouts and whereabouts. Even within JeM, there is certain to be dissidence and disaffection. It’s the duty of RAW and IB to gather intelligence and also recruit and run agents in hostile nations and neutralise individuals who plot, plan and execute terror strikes in Indian territory. It’s important to understand that India’s public enemy #1 is not Pakistan but Masood Azhar and the JeM leadership.