May 2003 News

A Security Blindspot

30 May 2003
The Indian Express

New Delhi: Recent media reports, including one in this newspaper, indicate that an intelligence failure of Himalayan proportions has taken place in the Surankote areas of the sub-Pir Panjal region in J&K. If these reports are correct, the failure to know that jihadi terrorists had infiltrated into a vast area more than 30-km deep behind the Line of Control over the past few years amounts to a gross dereliction of duty by the people concerned. The agencies responsible to a large extent are obviously the State Police intelligence, the Intelligence Bureau (IB) and the Research & Analysis Wing (RAW). The army's intelligence services have no role in internal intelligence although their signals intelligence assets were either inadequate or inefficient in locating terrorist operations launched from this area. It is true that everywhere in the world it is intelligence failure that comes into spotlight far more than intelligence successes. But that makes it all the more important to reduce the potential errors and blindspots. Regrettably, intelligence failure had led to the Pakistan army's aggression across the LoC at Kargil going unnoticed for months and the need to vacate that aggression had cost hundreds of young lives. The Kargil Review Committee had clearly highlighted this aspect, and came under extensive criticism for its efforts. A task force had been set up to look into the changes needed in our intelligence system. This, in turn, had led to a range of recommendations of the Group of Ministers to improve the management of national security. The Union government had adopted the recommendations more than two years ago. These reports, understandably, were not made public, but the common citizen has the right to expect an improvement in the system after Kargil. The recent revelations clearly belie those expectations. What is perhaps equally worrisome is that our policy makers seem to have ignored the true dimensions of the nature of the war through terrorism that we have been facing for two decades. For years, Pakistan, its intelligence agencies and jihadi groups have used terror as a conscious strategy. Of late, Islamabad has come under severe pressure to curtail infiltration across the frontiers. The inevitable direction of policy by the jihadis then would be to shift their command and control infrastructure inside India, especially in J&K. Such a move provides Islamabad the basis for denying any role in the violence perpetrated in the state. The government must immediately institute a high-level inquiry into the latest evidence of the failure of its intelligence and arrive at an assessment of Pakistani strategy. You just cannot hope to fight terrorism without good intelligence.


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