Archive for the ‘ terror ’ Category

Negotiating American Style

“If Islamabad cannot deliver against terrorists, Washington may be impelled to use any means at its disposal” President Barack Obama.

It’s poignant that Uncle Sam never learns from his mistake – Cold War, Vietnam, Iraq, Afghanistan, Cuba, Iran, North Korea, Pakistan.

I think it’s time Mr. Obama takes a history class on his country’s foreign relations especially with the country of Pakistan. Unlike his predecessor, I am delighted that he can point out Pakistan on the map. The Barack government is also aware of terror groups operating from Pakistan’s soil. Based on this fact, I am in awe of your government’s reasoning capabilities. Why does the US government pump financial aid into Pakistan in disguise of humanitarian grounds? Of course, the Taliban, the LeT and other groups are made of humans. No, I am not surprised with the US government’s ignorance. Ignorance is entrenched within the pillars of American democracy. India has repeatedly raised concerns over the US government’s financial aid policy. The financial aid might be goodwill and pocket change to please the dictatorship in Pakistan. Pocket change that ends up paying for maybe Kalashnikov’s or a new school teaching how to unleash effective and efficient terror.

Extremely curious to know about the “means” Mr. Obama is talking about. Does it refer to

– Phone call to Mr.Zardari
– Cutting or avoiding the financial aka humanitarian aid
– Repeating the age old drone attack propaganda which the world doesn’t buy anymore
– Air strikes against Pakistan which would severely damage an already dilapidated US image with the Middle East
– Embargo’s which is another eye wash propaganda
– Air strikes on Pakistan provided the US can gather support from neighboring countries to use their base or ocean

In short, there is absolutely nothing the US government can do to or in Pakistan. Michael Moore’s Fahrenheit 9/11 can easily validate the above. The hand that fed the enemy is what the enemy is fighting now.

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26/11- guilt pangs

Continued from this post

The fervor was illuminating, the desire was pure and I couldn’t wait for class. Saturdays and Sundays classes. The timings were 9am to 4/7pm. The first weekend was mind blowing. I learnt I knew jack about the system. My claim to fame seemed to be sub standard kindergarten knowledge of the polity. Day one , I was salvaging my inner monologue ranting on about what the hell I was doing.

My class was a small room packed with twenty five of us. Took down notes on rural India, government initiated rural schemes, foreign exchange, economics, geography. I haven’t used a pen to write anything but post it notes after college. It was a struggle to spell and write fast. Topics on rural India were overwhelming. As classes progressed I saw a visible distinction between my fellow civil servant aspirants and me. I scanned the class and assumed that majority of the aspirants were middle class/ lower middle class families touched by miniscule waves of urbanization. I hate labels but yes some were typical geeks. There was a world of difference between them and me. Our ideas, speech, outlook, our sensibilities. I could talk, express my views about foreign affairs of India but they knew the real problems. The problems faced by the 9th planning commission headed by abc under the guidance of xyz. I knew who the music director of Slumdog Millionaire was.

Being a slave of globalization, weekends are very precious. The second weekend I forced myself to class.The knowledge was overwhelming, my eyelids were battling sleep, I was tried, I missed Saturday and Sunday night outs. The fervor which earlier illuminated was flicker of light. There were numerous books to be read and memorized. I was unable to balance work and studying. I would stare at the books and decide to go to bed. This routine went on for few weeks. Eventually I dropped out of class as I could not manage dealing with lousy working days and memorizing the recommendations of the 8th planning commission.

I still have guilt pangs. I always wanted to make it to the Indian Foreign Service. But I did fall short of the energy and blamed it on work. On the brighter side, the restriction age is 30 and four attempts. I still have three more attempts. I quit my job two months back. Contemplating whether I should give it another shot. I can’t afford my fervor to fall short this time. Every time I hear about 26/11 I feel all I did was talk just like everyone else.

Life returned to normalcy but I still can’t make peace when Sandeep’s father’s words at the memorial service which frequent my mind and what I see in the news. I recently read a tweet from Rajdeep Sardesai which read – every shithole in the country, theres someone whose making a positive difference. May their tribe increase.

26/11- the new emotion I learnt

I was in Bangalore when the attacks happened. Was in front of the TV when the first shooting spree in Mumbai was reported as an internal gang war. Soon, the country woke up to an impending sixty hours of horrendous terror. Restless, I switched from one news channel to another. Watched every news report, analysis, press conferences and live coverage endless trying to comprehend the terror unleashed on the city.

As day one progressed, the intensity and the intended magnitude of terror sent tremors to the world. I went for work but the attacks loomed over all our minds. We discussed and contemplated all day. Feeling helpless, I made few calls to friends working for the media in Bangalore to know whether there was anything I could do. Could not find any means to contribute.

As night progressed, I saw a familiar face in the evening news. I last saw him last three to four years back. That evening’s breaking news was the death of Major. Sandeep Unnikrishnan. In the face of tragedy humans turn into numerals and statistics. Numbers tend to disassociate the emotional quotient of life.

Few days later, a memorial service was held at Frank Anthony Public School, Bangalore, for Sandeep Unnikrishnan. He studied in FAPS. It was an open event. My friends and I took off from work to attend the memorial service. Common emotions trickling through everyone’s mind was immense sadness, very unfortunate that he got shot, feeling awful for his parents. I entered the school ground and was overwhelmed by a tsunami of emotions that rushed within me. It was heart wrenchingly beautiful.

My perspective, patriotism, priority changed that day. I learnt about Sandeep’s zeal, his deep rooted, undying love and committee for his country. Friends and teachers recalled Sandeep’s antics and his student life. I tried very hard to control my flood gates. Sunglasses, looking down at the ground none of these tactics worked to hide the grief or the reality. The crowd broke down intermittently at the memorial service.

Sandeep’s father said a few words. And that’s when the flood gates rushed open for many of us. Heart wrenching to watch and hear a father recall his son. I learnt a new emotion. That of grief when combined with valor, pride and patriotism. It is amazingly powerful, dynamic and can change lives.

Next few weeks, frustration and disappointment consumed me. Terror is such that it shakes the foundation of everything you believe in. Sandeep’s father’s words and a vehemently sobbing mother frequented my mind. It never made peace with what I was seeing on the news – Ram Gopal Verma visiting the Taj, comments from the Home Minister, senseless banter from the ministers, bullet proof jacket scam, power struggles within the state which affected the NSG and much more. All we do is talk. We talk and talk and repeatedly talk.

Most of our lives returned to normalcy within weeks. Over a period resilience and patriotism covered everything that was inadequate and inefficient.

I signed up for coaching class to write the Civil Service exams. Rewinding for clarity – I thrive on news, foreign affairs was always my specialty. After the terror attacks, the moves of the external ministry left me bewildered. I decided I wanted to be in the system, join the Indian Foreign Services. The clarity I had at that moment was soul strengthening. The fervor was illuminating, the desire was pure and I couldn’t wait for class.

(to be continued….)

26/11- in the name of resilience and patriotism

Came across this link on

A short interview with Major Sandeep Unnikrishnan’s parents. Heart wrenching to see his parents. His father hit the nail – the bitter truth. At the end of the day, the parents carry the inconsolable grief of losing a son.

Sandeep’s father says his son is a victim of politics. Can’t imagine the irrepressible grief that the father and mother carry in their mind due to our laxity of the Indian government and power struggles in politics. The patriotism trump card alone cannot cover the unbearable loss.
“How you do want to remember your son”? This was the question asked by journalist interviewing the parents of Sandeep Unnikrishnan. What kind of a senseless and insensitive question is that? How can you ask any father how he wants to remember his own son? Especially under circumstances where the parents are trying so hard not to break down in front of the viewers. Sensible questions you could have asked –

  • A year after the terror strikes, do you think the government has learnt any lessons?
  • Do you think our government is soft on Pakistan?
  • Many children from Sandeep’s school, FAPS, Bangalore has been so inspired by him. They are contemplating joining the NSG. That must make you feel so proud.

I think the voices of those who lost their loved ones during the terror counter operations have to be heard. Their pain has to be felt by every citizen for change to creep into our system. Resilience and patriotism should not cover the laxity and corruption in the government. More air time should be given to voices that need to be heard than a Ritesh Deshmukh (son of ex-CM of Maharashtra Vilasrao Deshmukh) taking 30 minutes to explain why Ram Gopal Verma and himself were present when officials were surveying the damages at the Taj.

Delayed Sunday Roar – a year after 26/11

This weekend was spent down memory lane to the horrendous sixty hour terror siege in Mumbai. A weekend of digging up old graves to commemorate 26/11.

New analysis, reports, exclusive coverage, talk shows, pay your respects to the martyrs shows, bytes from people who lost loved ones, bytes from common people who were victims, back and forth mud slinging at Pakistan, finger pointing the polity, blame game, comments from police officials, from redundant officials who should be sacked, socialites repeating the same lines they used last year, ranting on twitter. This is the order of the commemoration ceremony. Infact, it’s the same order we follow for every blast that happens in India.

As the events of 26/11 broke out; I remember watching every new bulletin, every news report, news analysis, talk shows and press conferences. That’s where we got some of our basic questions of when, where, how and why answered. The news channels beamed the events unfolding in Mumbai live. Sixty hours of numbing reality flashed front of our eyes. Like millions of Indians, I too was stunned by the magnitude of terror and pain inflicted on Mumbai. As hours progressed, I saw Mumbai coming together. The city known for its resilient spirit was tied together with habitual acts of patriotism.

For sixty hours, amidst the bloodiest terror carnage India was weaved under a patriotic web. The focus was on civilians and the people who laid down their lives in the terrorist encounters. A billion prayers were said for the National Security Guard to flush the terrorist with minimum casualty.

After sixty hours, a storm of inevitable questions began to pelt the government. Many of those questions remain unanswered today. Accountability, responsibility, anger, hurt, pain, betrayal, corruption, red tapism, laxity, loss, grief and trauma filled the air for the next 3-4 months. The great Indian debate on terror carried on and on never ending.

A year later, frustration and disappointment has consumed me. Issues such as the bullet proof jacket scam, the late arrival of the NSG due to avoidable and trivial power struggles, the rot inside the RAW, lathi armed policemen, the political blame game in the state, our interaction with Pakistan, our defense budget, issues of pay and pension for armed forces, the lack of doctors in the NSG due to a government rule, no terror backup plans, weak coastal defense, corruption and so many more scandals and scams do not justify the lives laid by our own people. We honor those who laid down their lives, give them tags, labels, awards, press coverage, bravery medals but a year later their martyrdom doesn’t make sense at all.

A year later, the lone captured terrorist Ajmal Amir Kasab is smiling and laughing in court or demanding Briyani. What more should I say.