Lessons from Mumbai
As India picks up
the pieces of the Mumbai carnage there is bound to be much soul
searching and recrimination on what went wrong by the
Already the blame game is on and security loopholes are being
put under the microscope by analysts and commentators. Heads are
also poised to roll.
The Home Affairs Minister and the national security advisor
have opted to resign.
As Sri Lankans who felt the shock and pangs of the tragedy
more closely than most we can only wish that our friendly
neighbour recover from the ashes and emerge stronger and
sturdier by its harrowing experience to be well equipped and
prepared to face challenges of the evil forces.
What it needs now at this crucial hour is not only the morale
support of its well wishers but also a collective effort to
stamp out the scourge of terrorism in more concrete terms.
In this context the proposal mooted by Government Defence
Spokesman Keheliya Rambukwella calling for a SAARC initiative to
combat the terrorist menace more forcefully is a matter worthy
Speaking to our weekend paper the Sunday Observer in the
aftermath of the Mumbai tragedy Minister Rambukwella said there
is a need for greater cooperation among South Asian countries to
combat terrorism more forcefully than in the past, noting that
it is the SAARC nations which had suffered most by the scourge.
Like the Minister said the topic of terrorism has been high
on the agenda at all SAARC summits and leaders redouble their
commitment to fight the menace at every succeeding parley. We
need to think regionally if we are to get over the problem of
terrorism that seems to be on the rise given the recent spate of
attacks carried out both in India and in Pakistan.
Cross border terrorism has done much damage to destabilise
countries and also efforts at mending fences. The Mumbai attack
has already caused tension in the tenuous Indo-Pakistan
relations which were on the mend in recent times, following
allegations that the Mumbai attackers had been trained in
Cross border terrorism, now more than a mere subject of
internal security, has the potential to aggravate already sour
relations between nations and even precipitate war.
It is hoped that the current tensions between India and
Pakistan springing from the Mumbai episode would ease and that
diplomacy would triumph over the current war of words.
What is now needed is a firm resolve to deal with terrorism
by the SAARC family going beyond the rhetoric. Perhaps an urgent
summit of SAARC leaders to map out more effective counter terror
strategies is called for.
For instance attention should be focused to block all
potential entry points for terrorists in the wake of the
revelation that the Mumbai attackers had arrived by boats laden
Joint patrolling of the maritime lanes should be intensified
and the coastguard strengthened with view to indict terrorist
movements. Sri Lanka too has always been vulnerable on this
front with terrorists having a free run of the seas prior to
effective sealing of the sea routes by the Lankan Navy.
Still we cannot afford to take chances since terror outfits
have grown in sophistication and could pull a surprise. Both
India and Sri Lanka have also taken very seriously the threat
posed by the LTTE’s air wing and it could be a matter of time
before other terror groups in the region literally take wing.
The Mumbai attack is bound to provoke a sea change in the
India’s attitude and force it to take up a hardline stance on
stamping out terrorism. The coming days would witness India
declaring an all out war against terrorism.
Whatever indulgences the Indian Government may have adopted
due to domestic compulsions would undergo a rethink particularly
given the anguish of the Indian public.
There is bound to be an outcry by the Indian public on the
need to deal with terrorism in the strongest possible manner.
This no doubt would have an impact on elements in Tamil Nadu who
pander to the LTTE.
The Indian Government cannot be seen to be sympathetic to any
cause where there is a terrorist element. In this context there
is a need for updating intelligence. According to commentators
the Indian security establishment had been caught napping due to
poor intelligence. One of the terrorists it was revealed had
been working as a cook at the Taj Hotel which bore the brunt of
More stress being laid on intelligence across the borders
would also prove a boon to Sri Lanka which is trying to unravel
the LTTE nexus with South Indian states.
India would now need to tackle terrorism from a regional
perspective and need the support and assistance of its
neighbours more than ever.
This coming together of nations as a single unit to deal with
the problem may prove to the be most effective solution to deal
a death blow to phantom of terrorism stalking the region.