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26/11: A decade after

ORF examines the causes and consequences of the 26/11 attacks in this volume of articles (click thumbnail above) that focus on the multiple dimensions of this crisis and its aftermath: strategic, operational and tactical.


Attribution: Harsh V. Pant and Maya Mirchandani, Eds., "26/11: A Decade After", ORF Special Report No. 77,  December 2018, Observer Research Foundation. 


Harsh V. Pant

A decade has passed since Pakistan-based militants struck the Indian financial capital of Mumbai, killing 165 people (not counting the nine terrorists that were killed by Indian security personnel) and creating panic among the city’s populace. The attacks drew comparisons  with the September 11, 2001 tragedy in the United States. Yet, the Mumbai  attacks (or “26/11”, for the day that they happened, 26 November 2008) not  only provoked public outrage but also gave birth to expectations that the  government would finally begin to address the deep-seated, systemic  shortcomings in the country’s security apparatus. A decade seems like long  enough, and while there have been some changes, a lot remains unachieved.  ORF examines the causes and consequences of the 26/11 attacks in this  volume of articles that focus on the multiple dimensions of this crisis and its  aftermath: strategic, operational and tactical. 

We begin with Kriti M. Shah’s piece underlining key policy objectives behind  the Pakistani state’s sanctioning of the 26/11 attacks and analysing whether  or not Pakistan succeeded in those aims. Deepak Sinha’s essay then looks at  the reasons why Mumbai was an attractive target for the attacks and how  equipped the city is today in meeting similar challenges. This is followed by a  piece by Abhijit Singh that places the attacks as a failure of coastal security,  outlining the challenges and the current state-of-play in this arena. Khalid  Shah, in his contribution, takes up the issue of Kashmir and its linkages to  the wider terror attacks on the Indian mainland, and explores the question  of whether the Kashmir issue still drives Pakistani thinking behind such  attacks. In the subsequent piece, Pushan Das analyses the counter-terror  response of India to 26/11 and underlines the changes in the country’s  counter-terror response mechanism since. In the penultimate piece, Maya  Mirchandani examines the debate on the role of media in national security  crises. She underscores the challenges media faces in covering crises like  26/11, given the need for balancing national security imperatives with the  task of disseminating relevant information to the public. Sushant Sareen  closes the series by gazing at the future: will 26/11-like crises continue to  shape the trajectory of India-Pakistan relations and what are the possible  Indian responses? 

The sheer scale and audacity of the Mumbai attacks clearly set them apart  from earlier terrorist incidents in India. It would be a mistake, however, to  suggest that those attacks were “India’s 9/11". To do so would mean ignoring  issues that have allowed such horrific attacks to take place, to begin with.  After all, the Indian Parliament, symbol of India’s sovereignty, was attacked  in 2001, and India’s response was as ineffective then as it was after 26/11. 

India, in many ways, faces a unique set of challenges in dealing with  terrorism. First, its very location in one of the world’s most dangerous  neighbourhoods — South Asia, now the epicentre of Islamist radicalism –  gives it an undeniable structural problem. The vast tribal areas in Pakistan,  which have never been under the effective control of any Pakistani  government since independence, have become a breeding ground for  Islamist radicals. Driven out of Afghanistan after the US invasion and the  overthrow of Taliban, the Islamist extremists have found a new haven in the  Pakistani tribal belt. It is from there that they wreak havoc in Afghanistan  and beyond, and their radical Islamist ideology is penetrating far and wide.  India cannot expect to remain immune from such influences. Though the  Indian government is keen to harp on the fact that very few Indian Muslims  have become radicalised, most of the terror attacks in India in the last few  years have involved homegrown radicals. In this series of essays, most of the  contributions highlight this structural factor as the central challenge facing  India. Pakistan’s military-intelligence complex continues to view proxy war vis-à-vis India as a legitimate tool of state policy and an integral part of their  grand strategy. This is unlikely to change in the near future, and India must  brace itself for attacks on the mainland. 

India’s problems on this front are compounded by its lack of effective  institutional capacity to first, prevent, and then manage the consequences  of 26/11-style attacks. As these essays seek to highlight, while some  progress has been made since 26/11 in enhancing the Indian state’s  institutional capacity, the overall situation is far from satisfactory and the  reforms have not gone far. The appalling state of India’s internal security  apparatus became evident in how Indian agencies confronted the Mumbai  massacre. As terrorists wreaked havoc over three days, Indian security  forces struggled to even get a handle on the situation, and moreso to  respond effectively. To be sure, there were efforts at mending certain aspects  of existing institutional and legal frameworks. However, the Indian  government has not made any attempt towards a systemic overhaul. Major initiatives like the National Counter Terrorism Centre (NCTC) and the  National Intelligence Grid are struggling to get off the ground primarily due  to political bickering. This brings to fore the third and perhaps most  significant challenge to India: the politicisation of the terrorism debate in  the country. Indian politics has made it difficult for the country to nurture a  coherent response to terrorism. There is no political consensus across the  political spectrum on how best to fight terrorism and extremism. Partisan  politics has created an environment in which political and religious  polarisation has been so complete and embedded that an effective action  against terrorism becomes virtually impossible to accomplish. 

As long as India’s response to terrorism is characterised by a shameless  appeal along religious lines — with political parties trying to consolidate  their vote banks instead of coming together to fight the menace — India will  continue to be viewed as a soft target by its adversaries and the people will  continue to fight terrorists in their streets. And while no government can  make India immune from terror attacks, what it can and should do is better  prepare the country to handle 26/11-like crises more effectively. A decade  after 26/11, the Indian people must demand nothing less from our  policymakers. 

Pakistan’s Use of Terror as a Tool

Kriti M. Shah 

The Mumbai attacks of 26/11 2008 was a clear demonstration by Pakistan’s jihadist organisations’ and its military-intelligence establishment’s strategic culture of causing hurt and harm to India.  

Pakistan uses jihad, conducted by subnational groups (with state support) as an instrument that allows it to punch above its geopolitical weight. Part of  the country’s strategic thinking is believing in the false idea that the only  way to preserve its own security is by ensuring that India is weak, defeated or  kept in a constant state of chaos. Pakistan believes it can achieve this  imperative by supporting militant actors, thereby ensuring the Pakistani  State has plausible deniability when the militant group strikes.  

Pakistan’s strategy of “bleeding India by a thousand cuts” has been  implemented by exploiting religious sentiments and whipping up passions  on communal and sectarian lines. Before launching its proxy warin Kashmir  in 1989, Pakistan exploited the tribal areas in northeast India, and too the  discontented youth in Punjab, to fight for the creation of Khalistan, a new  Sikh nation-state. By supporting the Sikh militancy in Punjab, Pakistan  hoped to tie down Indian security forces and divert them from the defence of  Kashmir. When India crushed the Khalistani separatist movement,  Pakistan turned its attention once again to Kashmir, fomenting instability  in the state to check India’s power.  

With the Soviet Union’s invasion of Afghanistan in 1979, the Inter-Services  Intelligence agency or ISI, backed by logistical and financial support from the  CIA and Saudi Arabia, fostered and supported Islamic militants in  Afghanistan and the bordering Pakistani tribal regions to fight jihad against  the Soviets. At the time, not only did over a million Afghan refugees flee the  fighting and cross the Durand line into neighbouring Pakistan, but  thousands of mujahideen warriors found themselves—albeit temporarily—without a cause or enemy after their victory over the Soviets.  The war economy of narcotics and weapons had become valuable currency in  this region and the tribal area refugee camps served as an easy recruitment ground. Empowered by their victory over a Great Power’s massive, regular army, the idea that militant campaigns could defeat a strong nation gained force.  

Pakistan has applied the same strategic thinking when it comes to India and  Afghanistan. While on the one hand it has fuelled Afghanistan’s instability  by providing weapons, intelligence and protection to the Afghan Taliban and  the Haqqani Network, on the other, it has used militant proxies to weaken India. Terror groups such as Lashkar e-Taiba (LeT) and Jaish-e-Mohammed  (JeM) have been the Pakistani establishment’s preferred tools towards  fighting India in Kashmir. LeT’s agenda of wresting Kashmir from Indian  control and joining it with Pakistan is compatible with the state’s own  strategic interests and it has provided extensive financial, logistical and  4 military support to the group over the years. For much of the 1990s, LeT  operations were limited to Kashmir. It was only after 2000 that LeT began  conducting operations in other parts of the country. Fedayeen attacks, involving heavily armed militants launching large-scale attacks, such as the  ones on the Indian Parliament in 2001 and in Mumbai in 2008, are the  group’s signature tactic. Militants continue to fight in what is primarily a  suicide mission, killing mercilessly and maximising damage, until they are  taken down by state forces.  

The primary objective of the Mumbai attacks was to exacerbate tensions  between India and Pakistan. While outright war would not have been the  best-case scenario for Lashkar, the intended casualty was the ongoing India-Pakistan peace process. Pakistan Foreign Minister Shah Mahmood Qureshi  was visiting Delhi the night the attacks began, in what was seen as a sign of  improving ties. When news of the attack broke, Qureshi was asked to  immediately leave the country. A key feature of the coordinated attacks was their targeting of popular places frequented by foreigners. The choice of  Nariman House and the Taj and Oberoi hotels suggests that one of the  objectives of the attacks was to increase the group’s stature in the jihadi community by conducting targeted killings of Westerners and Jews. The  militants hoped that by targeting a large number of foreigners, India’s image  in the “eyes of the west” would fall, with people seeing it as an unsafe country.  

LeT—which sees India as part of the “Crusader-Zionist-Hindu” alliance, as  enemies—has on numerous occasions declared that its objective is not  limited to liberating ‘Muslim’ Kashmir from a ‘Hindu’ India but breaking up India completely. Through the attacks, the group hoped to aggravate  tensions between India’s Hindu and Muslim communities, and provoke a  Hindu reprisal that would help divide the country and facilitate greater recruitment by Islamist extremists. 

An argument can be made that the militants did “succeed” in causing large scale death and destruction, hurting Indian security forces and civilians,  humiliating India, and garnering global media attention. The attacks  strengthened hardliners in both India and Pakistan, as the militants had  expected and hoped for. Keeping India and Pakistan at loggerheads is the  only way LeT can justify its existence and “usefulness” to the ISI. Attempts at  dialogue between Delhi and Islamabad often fall victim to terrorist violence,  perpetrated with the blessings of Pakistan’s military-intelligence structure,  forcing the political leadership into a corner, and provoking mutual distrust.  The policy keeps jihadist groups like the Lashkar relevant. Should peace  prevail, the group would fade into irrelevance. 

Realising the risks that Indian retaliation would bring, the United States  emphasised the importance of restraint, and offered intelligence assistance  in investigating the attacks. While the Indian government had a number of  military and non-military options to choose from, the decision was made to  not attack Pakistan, but find other legal methods to bring the perpetrators  of the attack to justice. This united the international community, and worked to ensure that Pakistan faced consequences for its actions. While  Pakistan made half-hearted attempts to arrest members of the LeT, and  conducted a crackdown on small militant training camps, their idea seems to  have been to get by and escape both international censure and a full-blown  military response from India, with just the bare minimum. While India did  not want to risk an open-ended war at the time, there was an understanding  that should the LeT or any other Pakistan group conduct an attack at a  similar scale on civilians, India’s cost-benefit calculus could change. Perhaps  that is why, since 26/11, Pakistan-backed terrorist groups have trained their  weapons on the Indian military, attacking a number of army and air force  bases in Kashmir and Punjab. 


Kriti M. Shahis Junior Fellow at Observer Research Foundation.


Pakistan’s Use of Terror as a Tool

1. Ashely Tellis et all, “The Lessons of Mumbai”, RAND Corporation, OP 249, 2009  < RAND_OP249.pdf> (accessed on 18 October, 2018)  

2. TV Paul, “The Warrior State: Pakistan in the Contemporary World”, Random House (2014), pp 58 

3. Vanda Felbab-Brown, “Why Pakistan supports terrorist groups, and why the US finds it  so hard to induce change”, Brookings, January 5, 2018 <  blog/order-from-chaos/2018/01/05/why-pakistan-supports-terrorist-groups-and why-the-us-finds-it-so-hard-to-induce-change/> (accessed on 17 October, 2018) 

4. S. Paul Kapur, “Jihad as Grand Strategy: Islamist Militancy, National Security and the  Pakistani State” Oxford University Press(2017) pp 90 

5. Daniel Byman, “The Foreign Policy Essay: C. Christine Fair on ‘Lashkar-e-Taiba:  Pakistan’s Domesticated Terrorists”, Lawfare Blog, December 29, 2013 < pakistans-domesticated-terrorists> (accessed on 20 October, 2018) 

6. Stephen Tankel, “Lashkar-e-Taiba: From 9/11 to Mumbai”, International Centre for the  Study of Radicalisation and Political Violence, April/May 2009 <  fileadmin/site_files/filer_statskundskab/subsites/cir/pdf-filer/Tankel_01.pdf> pp 23  (accessed on 19 October, 2018) 

7. DK Singh, “26/11 attacks: India asked Pak foreign minister to leave, reveals Pranab  book”, The Hindustan Times, October 14, 2017 <  india-news/26-11-mumbai-attacks-india-asked-pak-foreign-minister-to-leave reveals-pranab-in-his-book/story-yVFnoaQPLisCtuvmb2iwqI.html> (accessed on 17  October, 2018) 

8. Op. cit. Stephen Tankel, “Lashkar-e-Taiba: From 9/11 to Mumbai”, pp 24 

9. Op. cit.Ashely Tellis et all, “The Lessons of Mumbai” 

10. Shivshankar Menon, “Why India didn’t attack Pakistan after 26/11 Mumbai attacks”,  Livemint, November 22, 2016 < AloqUf2uJOHM/Why-India-didnt-attack-Pakistan-after-2611-Mumbai-attacks.html>  (accessed on 19 October, 2018) 

Targeting Mumbai: Future Imperfect

Deepak Sinha 

Bruce Riedel, South Asia and Counter Terrorism expert at the Brookings Institute, compares the Paris terror attack of 2015 to the horrific, coordinated attacks on Mumbai on 26 November 2008. He suggests that “Mumbai has been studied by both terrorists and counter terrorists because it set a gold standard for how a small group of suicidal  fanatics can paralyze a major city, attract global attention, and terrorize a  continent” . He concludes his analysis by observing that the “Lashkar-e Taiba (LeT) paid no penalty for its attack, nor did its Pakistani patrons. The  group’s senior leadership operates freely in Pakistan and enjoys the support  and protection of the Pakistani Army.” One may recall the three days of mayhem, before the ten LeT terrorists were neutralised (nine of them, killed  by Indian security forces) but not before 165 innocent people, including 25  foreigners, were killed and more than 300 were injured. Ten years on, two  questions remain: Why Mumbai? And more importantly, can it happen again, and if so, is Mumbai prepared? 

While focusing on the reasons for Mumbai being targeted, it would be  worthwhile to look at the broader context and understand the motivation  that drives Pakistan-based and -supported Islamist radical groups to attack  targets outside Jammu and Kashmir. While completely unacceptable, one  can still understand the logic followed by the Pakistani establishment to  justify not only its interference in Jammu and Kashmir, but also its use of  proxy warto attack the Indian security establishment, given the nature and  history of the dispute between India and Pakistan. However, attacks  beyond the state have invariably increased tensions between the two  countries, threatened conflict and hindered dialogue. All of this has  impacted economic development in the region, more so Pakistan’s, whose  seemingly feeble attempts to distance itself from the groups behind the  attacks have also exposed it to the international community as a state  sponsor of terrorism. 

The motivation for jihadi elements in this respect has been clearly  enunciated by Hafiz Sayeed, the founder of the LeT. He has often proclaimed: “There cannot be any peace while India remains intact. Cut  them, cut them so much that they kneel before you and ask for mercy, and  India has shown us this path. We would like to give India a tit-for-tat  response and reciprocate in the same way by killing the Hindus, just like it is killing the Muslims in Kashmir.” 

The Pakistani establishment’s motivations are more complex and can be  viewed through the prism of the Pakistan Army’s domination over its  political and civilian space. The military’s centrality in Pakistan’s body  politic is wholly dependent on India continuing to be seen as an existential  threat—a perception that is universally accepted and is unlikely to change for the better as long as the Kashmir dispute remains unresolved. That  apart, they continue to hunger for retribution and revenge against what  they see as Indian interference that led to the formation of Bangladesh and  forced a humiliating defeat upon their military in 1971. Finally, they believe  that they will be able to achieve victory in Jammu and Kashmir if they are  able to destroy India’s secular foundation and turn the majority population  against its Muslim minority. They hope to take advantage of the  polarisation that has already happened due to the Babri Masjid demolition  and its subsequent fallout leading to events such as the riots in Mumbai in  1992-93 and the Gujarat pogrom of 2002. 

To be clear, Mumbai has now been under siege for over three decades. 26/11  was not the last time the city would be targeted, though certainly not on the  same scale. It was targeted again by multiple bomb blasts just three years  later, on 13 July 2011, in which 26 people died and another 121 were  injured. Lax security and intelligence lapses have continued to dog Mumbai,  despite repeated attacks. According to the South Asia Terrorism portal, Mumbai faced 14 terror strikes between 1993 and 2011 in which 719 people  died, and another 2,393 were injured. What truly sets the 26/11 attacks  apart from previous ones was not the fact that the attackers came by  sea—they have done that before when the consignment used in the 1993  terror attack was landed on the Shekhadi and Srivardhan coasts. Nor that  Pakistan’s Inter-Services Intelligence was underwriting the operation; it had  been doing so for decades in Punjab, Jammu and Kashmir and elsewhere. It  was also not the number of casualties—both the 1993 and 2006 multiple  bomb attacks resulted in substantially more deaths. The importance of  26/11 lay in the sheer audacity, scale, scope, and complexity of the attacks.  That it took three days to subdue and neutralise the terrorists clearly showed the ineptness and lack of cohesion of India’s counterterror policies,  infrastructure and capabilities as nothing else could have. It is an  observation that the Maharashtra Government’s High-Level Enquiry  Committee (HLEC) on 26/11 led by Mr. Ram Pradhan has clearly brought  out. 

The failed attack on Parliament in 2001 resulted in the launch of Operation Parakram that nearly led to another war between the two nuclear armed  neighbours. While Operation Parakram, conducted over 10 months, may not  have produced the results that the government had hoped for, it made clear  to Pakistan that the response to such “Fedayeen attacks” would be robust.  Simultaneously, action was initiated to strengthen the security and  intelligence infrastructure in the National Capital Region, which made  launching of a “commando assault” kind of attack similar to 26/11, an  extremely difficult proposition in Delhi. In effect this left Mumbai, the  financial and cultural capital of the country, as the most viable choice as  target for any high-profile acts of terror being planned, if, as all terror  attacks aim to—the intention was to capture international attention and  paralyse the state. 

Moreover, Mumbai’s massive population, densely packed localities and  creaking infrastructure, as well as its proximity to the sea and its large and  vulnerable coastline made it easier to wreak maximum havoc. Finally, there  was the Dawood Ibrahim-controlled criminal network that had spread its  tentacles wide, controlled all criminal activity in the area and was known to  be influential among the city’s political, bureaucratic and police establishments. Dawood was himself under the protection of the ISI and had  already been directly implicated in the terror attacks of 1993. His criminal  network was ideally placed to provide logistics support for terror groups  planning to target Mumbai, which is why the Pradhan Committee raised the question of local networks of support for the terrorists. In such  circumstances, the selection of Mumbai by the LeT was indeed logical.  

While Mumbai has continued to grow and thrive in the intervening years  since the attacks with minimal changes in its socio-economic and political  environment, it is no longer as vulnerable and as soft a target as it was in  2008. This is because of the quantum enhancement of the coastal  surveillance infrastructure and better integration and demarcation of  responsibilities that have been undertaken in the Navy, Coast Guard and Marine Police, thereby minimising the ability of criminals and terrorists to  avoid detection in the seas off the city. Secondly, the establishment of the  integrated NSG hub in Mumbai and the enhancement of the capabilities and  training of Force ‘Alpha’ of the Mumbai Police, its Special Weapons and  Tactics (SWAT) team, will certainly impact response timings and prevent  terrorists from getting the time, space or flexibility to conduct open-ended  operations witnessed earlier. There have also been attempts to upgrade the  technical capabilities, communication and training of the police as well as to  put in place access control measures in vulnerable areas such as railway  stations and hotels. According to reports, however, serious weaknesses  remain.  

Unfortunately, the two among the three major Central Government  initiatives that would have greatly enhanced the country’s counterterrorism  capabilities have not been followed through. These pertain to the  establishment of the National Counter Terrorism Center (NCTC) and its  intelligence data exchange architecture (NATGRID). These have not  fructified due to differences among various political parties that see it as a  threat to the country’s federal structure. However, there is little doubt that  this initiative, if pushed through as visualised, would have been of immense  utility in ensuring that the counterterror establishment was able to prevent  and respond to terror threats in a timely and effective manner. Their  necessity has become critical in view of the manner in which Pan-Islamic  terror has evolved over the past decade, with the advent of ISIS and its  effective use of social media to draw recruits and plan and conduct attacks worldwide.  

Finally, it must be kept in mind that however much the effort and resources  are pushed into improving and enhancing the intelligence and counterterror  architecture, the ability of terror groups to hit India in the hinterland will  depend largely on whether Pakistan perceives the country as a hard or soft  state. If the Pakistani establishment is convinced of serious repercussions in  the event of perpetrating such an attack via its proxies, they might deprive  terror groups of the resources and training that they require to be able to  launch such complex strikes. Unfortunately, as Bruce Riedel argues, there is  no reason for the Pakistan establishment to see India as anything but a soft  state. India’s political leadership has time and again shown that it lacks the  resolve to follow through and is extremely reluctant to respond in an  appropriate, adequate and timely manner against grave provocations and attempts to undermine its core interests. While the surgical strikes after the  Uri incident in 2017 reflected a perceptible shift in political attitudes, it has  not been sufficient to break the Pakistan Army-terror group nexus.  However, what has prevented another Mumbai-type attack for the past  decade is undoubtedly the growing realisation in Pakistan that public  pressure in India will force any government—no matter its ideological  leanings—to respond with force against a terror strike, irrespective of the  consequences. 


Brigadier Deepak Sinha (Retd.) is Consultant at Observer Research Foundation. 


1. Bruce Riedel, “Modeled on Mumbai? Why the 2008 India attack is the best way to  understand Paris”, Markaz, November 14, 2015, <  blog/markaz/2015/11/14/modeled-on-mumbai-why-the-2008-india-attack-is-the best-way-to-understand-paris/> (accessed on 6 Sep 2018) 

2. Ibid. 

3. Arundhati Roy, “The Monster in the Mirror”, The Guardian, December 13, 2008  <> (accessed on 2 Oct 2018) 

4. Wilson John and Vishwas Kumar, “Investigating the Mumbai Conspiracy”, Pentagon  Press, New Delhi(2009) pp 7 

5. Rajesh Basrur, Timothy Hoyt, Rifaat Hussain, Sujoyini Mandal, “The 2008 Mumbai  Terrorist Attacks: Strategic Fallout”, S Rajaratnam School of International Studies:  Monograph No. 17 (Nov 2009) pp12  

6. “Pradhan Committee Finds Serious Lapses on Gafoor’s Part”, The Hindu, December 21,  2009 < finds-serious-lapses-on-Gafoorrsquos-part/ article16854533.ece> (accessed on 2 Oct  2018) 

7. “A mole in Mumbai helped 26/11 attackers”, The Hindu, November 27, 2013  < attackers/article5394510.ece> (accessed on 4 Oct 2018) 

8. Sarita Azad and Arvind Gupta, “A Quantitative Assessment on 26/11 Mumbai Attack  using Social Network Analysis”, CSTPV Journal of Terrorism Research: Volume 2, Issue 2  (Nov 2011) < 2008/11/SNA-applied-to Mumbai.pdf> (accessed on 10 Sept 2018) 


India’s Coastal Security: An Assessment

Abhijit Singh 

The tenth anniversary of 26/11 is an apt occasion to review the state of India’s coastal security preparedness. In the aftermath of the attacks on Mumbai, the government made concerted efforts to improve coastal security infrastructure and law enforcement. In a radical  overhaul of the coastal defence apparatus, a three-tier security grid was  installed with the Indian Navy, the Coast Guard, and the marine police  jointly patrolling India’s near-seas. An existing Coastal Security Scheme  (originally instituted in 2005) was accelerated, with greater fund allocations  for coastal infrastructure, including police stations and radar stations along  India’s coastline. The enterprise included measures to improve ‘surveillance  and domain awareness’, through the installation of radar stations and  identification systems), and the enhancement of coordination through Joint operation centres (JOCs). 

A decade later, coastal preparedness is better than before, but the overall  picture remains less than satisfactory. While the state of inter-agency  coordination has improved, state governments continue to be indifferent to  needs of coastal security, and the state-police still reluctant to shoulder responsibility. The real problem, observers point out, are systemic flaws in  the policing apparatus. From low numbers of marine police stations, to the  underutilisation of patrol boats for coastal tasks, the absence of shore-based  infrastructure, through to manpower shortages and unspent funds, coastal managers are yet to resolve many structural issues plaguing the system. 

Regrettably, the proposal to set up an apex coastal authority remains frozen.  India’s policymakers recognise the need for a full-time manager to  coordinate the large number of agencies (over 15) in the coastal security  space. Officials say that the National Committee for Strengthening Maritime  and Coastal Security, which presently coordinates joint activities, is at best an ad hoc arrangement. Yet, parliament has not been able to clear the coastal security bill that would establish a National Maritime Authority (NMA). 

Worryingly, there has been a surge in illicit activity in the littorals. Narcotics  trafficking incidents have witnessed an uptick, the most prominent incident being the seizure of the MV Henry in August 2017. Beyond using the  country’s porous coastline for narcotics smuggling, drug traffickers are  turning old harbours like Tuticorin into a hub of contraband and illicit  trade. The government has responded by enhancing coastal security allocations to the states, and by seeking to extend the jurisdiction of coastal  police stations up to 200 nautical miles (even if it overlaps uncomfortably with the Coast Guard’s area of responsibility). 

By some accounts, Indian security agencies have tended to focus on the  terrorism threat, placing less emphasis on non-traditional challenges such  as human trafficking, IUU fishing, climate-induced crises and maritime  pollution. Even so, the Navy and Coast Guard have developed significant  capability to deal with irregular challenges and the multiagency exercises such as Sagar Kavach have helped improve coordination. The most  heartening development has been the strengthening of the Coast Guard  that has built substantial strength in recent years, and even recently  revealed plans to become a 190-ship, 100-aircraft force by 2023. 

Yet critical gaps persist, particularly at Indian ports, where authorities are  yet to install fool-proof security measures. According to an Intelligence  Bureau audit in 2016, out of 227 minor ports in India, 187 had little or no  security at all. More than six years after the home ministry cleared the  setting up of radiation detection equipment in 16 of the major ports in 2011, two of these ports have yet to receive the equipment. 

Figure 1: Details of implementation of the coastal security scheme 

Operational assets along the coastline (until 2016) 

S.No State Coastal Police Boats/ Station Vessels 

1 Gujarat 22 30 

2 Maharashtra 19 28 

3 Goa 7 9 

4 Karnataka 9 15 

5 Kerala 8 24 

6 Tamil Nadu 32 24 

7 Andhra Pradesh 21 18

8 Odisha 18 15

9 West Bengal 14 18

10 Daman& Diu 2 4 

11 Puducherry 4 3 12 Lakshadweep 7 6 13 Andaman &Nicobar Islands 20 10 

Total 1183 204 

The security of oil infrastructure poses a peculiar problem. While most of  India’s crude oil imports are routed through certain identified ports and  Single Point Moorings (SPMs), there is no integrated strategy for their  protection. Chapter III of the Coast Guard Act 1978 places the responsibility  for protection of artificial islands and offshore terminals within the ICG’s functional ambit, but CG officers say the task of protecting SPMs 15 nautical  miles from the shoreline must be performed by the CISF. The latter claims  they lack the required assets and trained personnel to discharge the function. 

Meanwhile, a proposal for a Central Border Police Force, proposed by  Maharashtra is still under consideration. The central government wants the  new agency to be modelled after the Central Reserve Police Force (CRPF) —  raised, funded, and administered from New Delhi. But many security experts  believe the plan is unviable. With no authority to register offences or carry out investigations, the new agency, they fear, could end up being toothless. 

Even as Indian agencies grapple with the security threats in the near-seas, it  would be fair to say that security planners have a better sense than earlier of  the complexities involved in the coastal project. Indian agencies have begun  an active collaboration in the near-littorals and are seeking to align visions  and pursue operations with unity of purpose. 


(a) Surveillance and Interagency Coordination.- For better domain  awareness, India needs better surveillance coverage. Beyond expediting the installation of coastal radar chains and AIS stations and  ensuring broad access to information, the authorities must ensure the  mandatory fitment of AIS on power-driven vessels with a length more  than 10m. The central government must address the problems of  coordination arising out of the interactions of multiple agencies (with  overlapping jurisdictions) and delayed responses.  

(b) Stronger Involvement of Coastal Police-Instead of setting up a  coastal border security force with no legal powers, the authorities must  move to strengthen and better integrate the coastal police into the  littoral security architecture.  

(c) A Legislative Framework-Comprehensive legislations must be  enacted to place systems and processes for the protection of India’s  maritime infrastructure, covering both the shipping and port sectors.  Statutory duties of government departments, Port Trusts, State  Maritime Boards, non-major ports and private terminal operators and  other stakeholders need to be clearly outlined, as well as minimum  standards of port security requiring statutory compliance.  

(d) Strengthening of the Coast Guard-The CG must be strengthened to  play a leadership role in coastal security. Ambiguities from the Coast  Guard Act need to be removed to ensure all security agencies are clear  about the roles and responsibilities they are expected to perform.  

(e) National Commercial Maritime Security Policy Document- The  government must promulgate a National Commercial Maritime  Security Policy Document, to articulate its strategic vision for  maritime security. It must also promulgate a national strategy for  Commercial Maritime Security for efficient, coordinated, and effective  14 action for protection of the port and shipping infrastructure. 

(f) Reinforce Coastal Regulation Zone Regulations- There is apprehension among environmentalists that CRZ laws are being  diluted in favour of tourism, shrimp farming and industry lobby  groups, without taking into consideration the views of experts or the  public. The draft coastal regulation zone notification 2018 (CRZ 2018) was twice amended in 2018 by the Union ministry of  environment, forests and climate change (MoEFCC) in the “public  interest” but without consulting the fish-working community—  15 India’s largest, non-consumptive coastal stakeholder. 


Abhijit Singhis Head of the Maritime Policy Initiative at Observer Research Foundation. 


1. “Initi a ti v e s t o S tr eng then Co a s t a l S e c u rit y ”, T h e I n d i a n Na v y <> (accessed on 10 Oct 2018) 

2. “PAC Highlights Slow Pace Of Upgradation of Coastal Security”, India Today, April 14,  2017 < of-coastal-security/1/929420.html> (accessed on 11 Oct 2018) 

3. Report of the Comptroller and Auditor General of India General (CAG) and Social Sector for  the year ended March 2015, Government of Odisha, Report Number 3 of 2016, pp 68-75 ;  “Draft CAG report on coastal security finds Odisha’s marine police stations  floundering”, The Indian Express, October 20, 2015 <  article/india/india-news-india/draft-cag-report-on-coastal-security-finds-odishas 

marine-police-stations-foundering/> (accessed on 8 Oct 2018) 

4. “Reviewing India’s Coastal Security Architecture”, Takshashila Blue Paper, September  26, 2016 < Takshashila-Blue Paper-on-Indian-Coastal-Security-Architecture.pdf> (accessed on 7 Oct 2018) 

5. Kalyan Ray, “Coastal Security Bill Caught in Red Tape”, The Deccan Herald, May 25, 2015  < red.html> (accessed on 5 Oct 2018) 

6. Vijaita Singh, “Gujarat drug haul may be tip of the iceberg”, The Hindu, August 5, 2017  < tip-of-the-iceberg/article19436603.ece> (accessed on 8 Oct 2018) 

7. “Tuticorin’s old harbour turns hub to ferry drugs”, Times of India, August 17, 2016  < hub-to-ferry-drugs/articleshow/53732679.cms> (accessed on 9 Oct 2018) 

8. Yatsih Yadav, “Securing India’s maritime border: Government contemplating giving  greater powers to states”, FirstPost, August 10, 2018 <  india/securing-indias-maritime-border-government-contemplating-giving-greater powers-to-states-4933931.html> (accessed on 7 Oct 2018) 

9. Ibid. 

10. Shaswati Das, “India’s Port and Coastal Security Still has Gaping Holes”, Livemint, July  21, 2017 < 5ukwu5nmksSIjdP/Indias port-and-coastal-security-still-has-gaping-holes.html> (accessed on 6 Oct 2018) 

11. S. Anandan, “Coast Guard may be asked to protect single point moorings”, The Hindu,  May 10, 2015 < asked-to-protect-single-point-moorings/article7189887.ece> (accessed on 8 Oct  2018) 

12. The Indian Coast Guard Act, 1978 < WriteReadData/userfiles/ file/CG%20Act%20as%20per%20gazette.pdf> (accessed on  9 Oct 2018) 

During interviews with some Coast Guard and BSF officials, there were claims that the  issues with the CISF over security of SPMs have been resolved. There are, however, still  no official reports in the public domain that might confirm such assertions. 

13. Pushpita Das, “Why a Central Marine Police Force is Not Required for Coastal Security”,  Institute of Defence Studies and Analyses: Commentary, June 21, 2016 <> (accessed on 7 Oct 2018)  

14. The suggested architecture must include all agencies involved in coastal security,  including the Ministry of Shipping, Director General Shipping, Ministry of Home  Affairs, Ministry of Fisheries, Intelligence Bureau, Ministry of Defence, Indian Navy,  Indian Coast Guard, State Police, port authorities and civilian agencies. 

15. Siddharth Chakravarty, “Saving the Coastal Rights Act”, Livemint, August 12, 2018  < Chakravarty-dreams-of-a-Coastal-Rights-Act.html> (accessed on 10 Oct 2018) 

Kashmir as Cause

Khalid Shah

The deep state in Pakistan has orchestrated, sponsored and pushed jihadist groups against India for decades. While many security experts in India call this an “asymmetrical warfare” strategy, at the heart of it lies the doctrine of Jihad. Among the many jihadist outfits  running from Pakistan, the Lashkar-e-Taiba (LeT), Jaish-e-Mohammad  (JeM) and Harkat ul Jihad Islami (HUJI) are the main groups that have  successfully conducted terror strikes across India, beyond the borders of the  Indian state of Jammu and Kashmir. 

While these jihadist groups have often espoused fighting for the “cause of  Kashmir” as their raison d’être, Kashmir is used as chimera to disguise their  real agenda. Using Kashmir an excuse and a digression has been a recurrent  feature of many misadventures of terror groups, and an unstated policy of  Pakistan. A glaring example of this policy is the Kargil misadventure of the  Pakistan Army, exposing its tactics of deception in the summer of 1999. 

At the height of the Kargil War the official position of the Pakistan Army was  to deny any direct or indirect involvement in the operation and credit the  operation to the “Mujahideen” (militants fighting for ‘freedom’) of Kashmir.  In fact, the same line was sold by the Pakistan Army to the country’s civilian  leaders of that time — such was the audacity of the group of military officers  who planned the operation. 

According to accounts that have since appeared in Pakistani media, Nawaz  Sharif, the then Prime Minister of Pakistan, was kept out of the loop on the  strategy to invade Kargil. Gen. Pervez Musharraf (who would later assume  power following a coup d’etat in October 1999, four months after the Kargil  War) planned the operation, but his team told Nawaz Sharif that Kargil was  taken over by Kashmiri militants. This conversation continued till May  1999 shortly before full-scale military conflict erupted. Pakistani commentator Najam Sethi says the Generals assured Sharif there was  plausible deniability in case of a strong reaction from India and potential  international outrage. For the Indian government, however, Kargil was decisive proof of how Pakistan and its proxies use Kashmir to create false narratives and justify aggression against India. 

An analysis of various large-scale terror strikes in India shows that most of  them have been attributed to or claimed by terror groups Lashkar e Taiba,  Jaish e Mohammad and HUJI. The 26/11 Mumbai attacks finally showed  the world what India had been saying all along. It put the LeT on the radar of  western powers, by then already engaged in the war on terror. Further, given  the specific targeting of foreigners in Mumbai, the international media,  academia and experts began to see the LeT and its capacity to conduct  spectacular attacks on Indian soil as a potent global threat. 

An important aspect of groups like LeT, JeM and HUJI is that most of their  activities, attacks and operations are geographically limited to the state of  Jammu and Kashmir. A tiny fraction of their cadres consist of ethnic  Kashmiris. In a study of 900 biographies of LeT members, a group of  scholars at Combating Terrorism Center at West Point Academy in the  United States, found that the majority of the LeT cadre (89 percent) are  recruited from the Punjab province of Pakistan. Less than two percent have come from Jammu and Kashmir. 

In multiple speeches, Hafeez Saeed, the patron and ideologue of LeT has  espoused the “Kashmir cause” as the primary motivation for his jihad against  India. This is a false narrative, however, aimed to give terrorists the guise of  freedom fighters. If the LeT is fighting for the cause of Kashmir, then why  does it attract a negligible number of recruits from Kashmir? And what  business or role do Punjabi men and boys have in the “liberation of Kashmir”? 

The activities of LeT, JeM and other such groups are not limited to Kashmir;  the same groups are also involved in various terror attacks in mainland  India. The Lashkar, for example, was behind the Red Fort attack of 2000,  bombings in Delhi’s major markets in 2005, the Gurdaspur attack of 2015,  and perhaps most importantly the Mumbai attacks of 2008. The  Masood Azhar-led Jaish-e-Mohammad was behind the December 2001 attack on Parliament. Each of these attacks showed that the cadre of the LeT  and JeM are not only involved and active in Kashmir, but are capable of  conducting big terror strikes both inside and outside the state. However,  both the attackers and their handlers have attempted to create different  narratives.

Ajmal Kasab, the only terrorist captured alive in the Mumbai attacks had  told the interrogators he was on “mission Kashmir”. Like other Punjabi boys  recruited by the LeT, Kasab was recruited in the name of the “Kashmir  cause”. In fact, all the other terrorists involved in the Mumbai attacks were  recruited and trained for Kashmir, but at the last moment, were directed to  Mumbai. While these facts came out through Kasab’s exhaustive interrogation, his handlers manufactured a different narrative for the consumption of global and Indian audience. 

Intercepted conversations between the terrorists who attacked Mumbai,  and their handlers show there was a deliberate attempt to give an indigenous  spin to the strike and show domestic reasons as the primary motivation. One  of the attackers in conversation with a television anchor claimed to be  associated with the Hyderabad Mujahideen group of south India. “So many  Muslims were butchered. Our mosques were demolished, and we were not  allowed to sleep peacefully. Our sisters and mothers were killed, why did  nobody talk of surrender then? Let the commandoes come, we will make  their children orphans.” And when asked about his demands, apart from the  release of “Mujahedeen,” he says “yes, and also Muslims in India should not  be harassed. They demolished the Babri Masjid and harass Muslims.” The intercepts show that handlers tutored the terrorists to make this claim. That the LeT and JeM have a pan-Islamist ideology and have links with  global jihadist groups like Al-Qaeda is well documented. These groups have  also sent their cadre to fight in Afghanistan after the American intervention  against Al-Qaeda and the Taliban in the aftermath of 9/11 and the ensuing  Global War on Terror. However, they see Kashmir as an “occupied land” and  therefore the nearest front for their jihad. A study done by the New America  Foundation argues that LeT leaders believe after liberation Kashmir will  become the base of operations to take over other parts of India. Stephen  Tanker of the New America Foundation writes: However, it would be a mistake to suggest the group’s leaders viewed this  simply as a territorial struggle. Rather, they claimed (with no regard for  the historical record) that the Kashmir conflict was the latest chapter in a  Hindu-Muslim struggle that has existed ever since the time of the  Prophet Muhammad. Once Kashmir was liberated, they argued, it would  serve as a base of operations to conquer India and restore Muslim rule to the Indian subcontinent.” 

So where does Kashmir fit in this larger Jihadist scheme? 

Within Pakistan, the narrative on Kashmir sums up in a simplistic slogan:  Kashmir is the jugular vein of Pakistan. While this narrative is exploited by  the terror groups for recruitment and propaganda, it does not always work  in their favour. During 26/11, the narrative of persecution of Indian  Muslims was exploited to highlight domestic motivations and actors as the  cause. The global discourse on Islamophobia is also used to bolster these  false narratives. For a short while after 26/11 there was an attempt to delink  the militancy in Kashmir with the Mumbai attacks, but that has once again  turned. In recent years, there has been a brazen attempt to link attacks like  those in Pathankot to Kashmir and portray the revival of old terror groups as  a form of “revenge”. 

Attacks inside Kashmir, like the ones in Sunjuwan and Nagrota, and the  creation of the ‘Afzal Guru Squad’ after the attack on the BSF camp in  Srinagar in 2017 also indicate that revival. The Afzal Guru Squad is simply  Jaish-e-Mohammad by another name. If the footprint of JeM had faded in  the aftermath of 26/11, it now uses the hanging of Afzal Guru as reason for  its resurgence, encashing on a sympathy wave for Guru. Afzal Guru was  convicted for his role in the 2001 attack on India’s parliament and was  subsequently hanged ahead of his scheduled turn on death row. 

After 26/11, the focus of the media in India shifted to Hafeez Saeed and LeT  — so much so that any conversation on Pakistan was incomplete without a  mention of Saeed. But the singular focus on Saeed and demands to bring him  to justice as the mastermind of 26/11 relegated Masood Azhar to the  background—to India’s detriment. Azhar Masood and Jaish-e-Mohammad  rose once again in a new avatar, with a new narrative, targeting security and  military installations. In 2018, another Pakistan-based group, Al Badr, has  begun to conduct low-intensity grenade attacks in Kashmir. The group was  actively fighting against the Soviet Union in the 1990s before shifting its  focus to Kashmir. 

From Kargil to 26/11 and to the recent attacks on military camps, there is  indeed a dynamic shift. Kashmir will be used as a cause and an excuse when it  suits the policy of Pakistan. When the environment is conducive for talks,  Pakistan’s deep state chooses not to be a spoiler in the dialogue process;  Kashmir is downplayed in conversations on 26/11 and terrorism. However, in times like these, when India-Pakistan ties seem to have gone into deep freeze, Kashmir has returned in the discourse as Pakistan’s causus belli. Therefore, even though Pakistan might constantly adapt its responses, it is  imperative for India not to lose sight of this, even as it continues to seek  global censure for Pakistan as a state sponsor of cross-border terror. 


Khalid Shahis an Associate Fellow at Observer Research Foundation. 


1. Nasim Zehra, “The Making of the Kargil Disaster”, Dawn, July 2, 2018 <> (accessed on 17 Oct 2018) 

2. Don Rassler, C. Christine Fair, Anirban Ghosh, Arif Jamal and Nadia Shoeb, “The  Fighters of Lashkar-e-Taiba: Recruitment, Training, Deployment and Death”,  Combatting Terrorism Center at West Point (2013) < stable/resrep05591> (accessed on 20 Oct 2018) 

3. C. Unnikrishnan, “Kasab Thought He Was on Mission Kashmir”, Economic Times,  January 5, 2009 < nation/kasab-thought-he-was-on-mission-kashmir/articleshow/3935798.cms>  (accessed on 17 Oct 2018) 

4. “26/11 Tape: Terrori s t Talks to TV”, The Hindu, June 25, 2012 <> (accessed on 17  Oct 2018) 

5. “26/11 Tape: Zabiuddin Ansari Briefs Terrorists”, The Hindu, June 25, 2012  <> (accessed on 17 Oct  2018) 

6. Stephen Tankel, “Lashkar-e-Taiba: Past Operations and Future Prospects”, New America  Foundation, April 27, 2011 < 04/27/lashkar-e taiba-past-operations-and-future-prospects-pub-43802> (accessed on 20 Oct 2018) 

7. Azhar Qadri, “JeM’s Afzal Guru Squad Strikes Again”, The Tribune, February 11, 2018  < strikes-again/541891.html> (accessed on 18 Oct 2018) 

8. Manan Dwivedi, “Cross Border Terrorism: Irritants in Indo-Pakistan Relations”, Indian  Journal of Asian Affairs 21, no. 1/2 (2008) pp 31-53 <  41950489> (accessed on 18 Oct 2018) 


The Chaos that is Counterterrorism in India

Pushan Das 

The terrorist attack on Mumbai on 26 November 2008 exposed key vulnerabilities and inadequacies in the tactical and operational aspects of the Indian security response. What followed were episodic reforms in the country’s security apparatus, only to go back to default mode  in less than a decade. This failing was evident in India’s uncoordinated and  chaotic response to the terrorist attack on the Pathankot Air Force base in  January 2016 that, once again, painfully underscored issues of tasking,  synergy and jointness in the country’s counterterrorism (CT) capabilities.There is a need to re-evaluate old doctrines that have determined the use of  intervention forces in domestic counterterrorism situations and the way the  Indian security establishment prepositions advanced components of special  units in a cohesive network covering all of India. 

Following the 26/11 attacks, a number of structural reforms were  ambitiously proposed for the improvement in the country’s counterterror  infrastructure and strategy — notably, the creation of regional hubs for  National Security Guard deployment in various states, the establishment of  the National Investigation Agency (NIA), the setting up of a National  Intelligence Grid (NatGrid), and the plan for a National Counter Terrorism Centre (NCTC). 

The NCTC was to bring a multitude of agencies under a unified command. It  will be responsible for preventing terrorist attacks, containing them in the  event they were launched, and guiding a response in the aftermath. A decade  since 26/11, the proposal to create this unified command and control  structure for counterterrorism responses remains only on paper. The NCTC  was supposed to be aided by the National Intelligence Grid (NATGRID),  which is networked to the databases of 21 different agencies that contain  vital information and intelligence. Previously, each organisation had its own  database that cannot be accessed by others. 

The Mumbai attacks, however, were not a failure of intelligence gathering;  reports indicate that some 26 warnings were passed by Indian intelligence agencies to the Mumbai police between 2006 and 2008 about a possible  attack. New mechanisms like Multi Agency Centres (MAC) and Subsidiary  Multi Agency Centres (SMAC), to enable intelligence sharing and coordination amongst multiple agencies, continue to remain deficient in  high-level coordination which involves the Home and Police departments  2 working together with their central counterparts. This is unlikely to come  through an administrative fiat, and would need to be subject to legislation. 

Complicating matters further, India’s police and internal security system is  highly disjointed and poorly coordinated. India’s federal political system  leaves most policing responsibilities to states. State police forces have  perennially suffered from inadequate counterterrorism training and equipment. Both are required for first responders to be effective in  containing a terrorist incident. It is important to note that the majority of  deaths in the 2008 attacks occurred in the first hour, followed by a tense  drawn-out period of four days when attackers barricaded themselves into  buildings, taking hostages with them. The attacks graphically illustrated how  ill-trained and -equipped the local police was to handle a major terrorist  incident at that time. Many police officers remained passive, seemingly  because they were outgunned by the terrorists. In the ensuing years, the  Mumbai police has raised a commando force with the moniker “Force One”.  However, reliance upon a police tactical team even in those jurisdictions  where police are armed can only be effective if that capability can respond to  multiple threats within a short time. 

In the event of another attack similar to 26/11—dispersed and highly  mobile—or one like the Paris attacks of 2015, where multiple teams attacked  several locations at once, combining armed assaults, carjackings, drive-by  shootings, prefabricated IEDs and hostage-taking— it is doubtful that state  police forces would be able to adequately respond effectively and in time. As a  first step, even a marginally improved quality of basic training, would have a  broader effect of increasing the response capacity of India’s police forces. 

In 2008, the National Security Guard (NSG) was headquartered in south of  Delhi and lacked bases anywhere else in the country. Worse, it had no aircraft of  its own and needed access to Indian Air Force aircraft in an emergency. Any  rapid-reaction force must reach the scene of a terrorist incident as soon as  possible, and no later than 30–60 minutes after it has commenced. In Mumbai  in 2008, nearly 10 hours elapsed. The NSG was further hampered by the  absence of relevant equipment such as night-vision goggles, as well as poor  intelligence and planning. It did not even have an operational command centre. 

Since 26/11, governments have implemented knee-jerk reforms drawn from  the NSG’s failure to reach Mumbai quickly. Hubs have been established in  Mumbai, Kolkata, Bangalore, Chennai, Hyderabad, and more recently  Ahmedabad, each with about 250 personnel. However, as the NSG expands,  questions remain about its quality as a force. In Pathankot, reports indicate that none of the terrorists were shot by members of this ‘elite’ force. On the  contrary, they lost an officer of the rank of Lt. Colonel who broke standard  operating procedures in dealing with improvised explosive devices and  lost his life. 

The undeliberated expansion of the NSG has resulted in falling standards of training and manpower, which has, in turn, weakened key capabilities. Hubs  have been created, but the question of dedicated aircraft is still unanswered.  The NSG requires tactical helicopters for timely movement, but this has not  even been raised as a policy option. Its night combat capability is also inadequate — long-range, night-vision devices and hand-held thermal  imagers are still unavailable. The world over, special operations units like the  SAS (UK), GSG-9 (Germany), GIGN (France), all number between 200 and  400 personnel and work out of centralised locations. Most special forces that have CT roles are equipped or permanently assigned their own air assets.  The British SAS has specially trained and equipped pilots and helicopters at its disposal, and its personnel train extensively with these helicopters. In the  United States, the Federal Bureau of Investigation has its own helicopter unit  for critical interventions. In India’s case, an ambitious INR 1,400-crore  modernisation plan has not gone beyond the drawing board. 

The nature of terrorism has changed significantly over the years. Dispersed  “maximum violence” attacks, like those in Mumbai, and in Paris in 2015 are  the new norm. They require rapid intervention. Ten years since 26/11, the  NSG continues to face serious logistical and transportation challenges.  Simply put, the NSG cannot wait around to execute a planned counter assault. Time is a luxury that is absent under most modern terror scenarios.  In terms of personnel, no matter how well-equipped or trained specialist  forces like the NSG are, responding to any terrorist attack requires the  development of a strong, police-led capability. Under such an arrangement,  the first responders are always the local, armed police officers. The  deployment of specialist counterterrorism forces can only be considered an  option in the event of failure of the first-liners. Developing interoperability  between specialist CT assets and police forces by way of regular training and  exercises will address some of the existing inter-agency co-operation gap.

Any CT responses in India needs to start from processing intelligence alerts,  mobilising first responders, carrying out counterterror operations under a  well-defined command-and-control system. Pre-positioning the advanced  components of special units in a network covering all of India and using  aviation-based platforms as an enabler hold potential in addressing some of  the NSG’s shortcomings. Policymakers will also need to consider the  introduction of new technologies in the context of counterterrorism and  intelligence collection, in the capability assessment and procurement  process. In the end, improvement in India’s CT capability will require  significant infusions of resources, policy consistency, and political will in the  coming year if the country wants to effectively prevent another significant  terrorist attack. 


Pushan Das is Associate Fellow and Programme Coordinator at Observer Research  Foundation. 


1. C. Christine Fair, “Prospects for Effective Internal Security Reforms in India”,  Commonwealth & Comparative Politics(July, 2011) pp 145-170 

2. Paul Staniland, “Improving India’s Counterterrorism Policy after Mumbai”, CTC Sentinel,  Vol. 2 issue 4 (April 2009) < policy-after-mumbai/> (accessed on 25 October 2018) 

3. Angel Rabasa, Robert D. Blackwill, Peter Chalk, Kim Cragin, C. Christine Fair, Brian A.  Jackson, Brian Michael Jenkins, Seth G. Jones, Nathaniel Shestak, and Ashley J. Tellis,  “The Lessons of Mumbai”, Rand Corporation, OP 249 (2009) <  pubs/occasional_papers/OP249.html> (accessed on 24 October 2018) 

4. “Gujarat gets new NSG hub; fifth in the country”, The Economic Times, 14 July, 2018  < fifth-in-the-country/articleshow/58095713.cms> (accessed on 21 October 2018) 

5. Saikat Datta, “Revisiting the NSG operations: what worked and what didn’t”, Hindustan  Times, 25 November, 2014 < india/revisiting-the nsg-operations-what-worked-and-what-didn-t/story-gLNfQU89EIyZxUxQH 9780L.html> (accessed on 22 October 2018) 

6. Jugal R. Purohit, “No choppers, no training, no men: National Security Guard in crisis as  helicopter and manpower shortages cripple counter-terror effort”, 18 April, 2013  < training-men-National-Security-Guard-crisis-helicopter-manpower-shortages-cripple counter-terror-effort.html> (accessed on 22 October 2018) 

7. R a j i t O j h a , “ F o r c e A l a r m ”, T h e C a r a v a n , 1 F e b r u a r y , 2 0 1 6 < security-guard> (accessed on 25 October 2018) 

8. Tyler Rogoway, “About That “Blue Thunder” Counter-Terror Chopper That Landed On  London Bridge”, The Drive, 4 June, 2017 < the-war zone/11121/about-that-blue-thunder-counter-terror-chopper-that-landed-on london-bridge> (accessed on 22 October 2018) 

26/11 and the Media: Where Were the Protocols?

Maya Mirchandani

Walking down the Colaba Causeway, past the renovated face of Cafe Leopold, in the shadow of the iconic Taj Mahal, or in Kalaghoda, abutting the Jewish Chabad house where scars of violence have been swallowed up by the cracks in its decaying walls, it takes a  minute to remember the bloodshed and mayhem let loose on these Mumbai  landmarks on the 26th of November 2008. In the decade gone by, time has  stood as still as it has moved on. While the Indian government still waits for  Pakistan to bring the masterminds of 26/11 to justice, grieving families of  victims have tried to rebuild their lives in different cities around the world;  and social media — a nascent ally of the traditional press in 2008, has  become more powerful than anyone could have imagined, in disseminating  information and shaping opinions across the world. 

It is a little talked about fact, but The Daily Telegraph’s journalist Claudine  Beaumont wrote, just a day after the siege of Mumbai began, that Twitter  and Flickr users not only broke the news first, but continued to provide instant, eyewitness accounts of the unfolding horror in a steady, invaluable stream of information. Onlookers uploaded photos to blogs, hostages inside  the hotels tweeted about terrorists demanding to know nationalities of guests from the hotel reception. In addition, many hostages were calling  their families and sending emails or text messages as and when they could.  On Twitter, #Mumbai was trending, and this new trend of hashtags made it  easier for families and journalists to receive blow by blow accounts of what  was happening on the streets, in the train station, inside the buildings and  hotels under attack. Twenty-four-hour news television cameras were trained on each location. This was a major news story, after all. And,  intercepts of phone calls between terrorists and their handlers indicated  they were watching the news too—informing attackers of details they  gleaned from the reports and reminding them to persist, for the ‘glory’ of  martyrdom awaited them — all in real time. 

In times of crisis, allover the world — journalists face a demanding audience  while navigating difficult reporting environments. Terror strikes, or  unfolding hostage crises make their role even more complex. Everyone looks  to news media for information and updates, and journalists struggle to find  balance between preserving National (State) interest and Public (Citizen’s)  interests. This is naturally easier for State-owned media that follow only one  stream of information. But for the rest, the line is often a fine one, and an  absence of crisis protocols for news coverage makes things even more  difficult. 

Off the record, top Indian government sources admit that by and large,  when governments and law enforcement authorities put systems in place in  a crisis, the media — even privately owned networks and newspapers — do  comply. Internationally, such examples abound — the coverage of the  aftermath of 9/11 or the 7/7 London bombings are cases in point. The media  followed guidelines put in place for both access and display of visuals that  could have inflamed passions. They broadcast information released in  regular briefings by police, intelligence and administrative officials. In crisis  situations, a few things happen immediately. A perimeter is set up by first  responders — usually local law enforcement, a crisis group convenes to stay  in touch with families, and control rooms are set up where officials deployed  to ensure authoritative, credible and clear information give systematic,  periodic briefings to the media — a critical player in any national emergency. 

None of this happened during the siege of Mumbai. Instead, reporters and  camerapersons tried to get as close to the sites as possible, some even stood  alongside National Security Guards Chief J.K. Dutt, as he directed  operations. As a result, some reporters, themselves in an unprecedented  environment ended up reporting operational details, like those of fires being  lit inside the hotels under attack, in an attempt to literally smoke out the  terrorists. Without appropriate systems and channels of information in  place, journalists went by what they saw, what was visible to the naked eye, and to the ordinary citizen, some of them, breathlessly. It was through news  television that terrorists realised fires had been lit and that helicopters were  trying to land on the roofs of the Oberoi Hotel and the Jewish Chabad House  with an American Rabbi and his family being held inside. Was it poor  judgement of the journalists to release this information? With the benefit of  hindsight, the answer possibly, is yes. But, for a government under attack for  a security failure of epic proportions, deflecting blame was key. News media  became the ‘fall guy’. Citing phone intercepts between terrorists and their  handlers, the political spokespersons placed the lion’s share of blame for the  mayhem terrorists were able to spread during the 60-hour long siege  squarely on the mainstream media, particularly live, commercialised, 24- hour news television. But the truth is, if 26/11 was India’s 9/11, India’s  immediate response was far from optimal. 

For any government, live hostage situations are never easy. In the case of the  hijacking of IC 814 in December 1999 over a decade before 26/11, and well  before the advent of social media, the Indian government held mainstream  media responsible for the pressure it faced from families of hostages to act  swiftly. Without the government’s own standard operating procedures  

(SOPs) to sequester families in place and set up an organised information  channel that both families and journalists could have access to, hostages’  relatives held a sit-in outside the prime minister’s residence. The pictures  were splashed across the few TV networks and all the newspapers. To be  charitable to a government that sent its foreign minister as a personal escort to terrorists being freed in exchange for the hostages who were held on the  tarmac in Kandahar for over a week, one can argue that the crisis was  unprecedented. But even then, blaming the media was a diversion from the  sharp attack that agencies came under for their inability to prevent the  hijacking in the first place, and then for their subsequent ineptitude in  failing to act while the aircraft was still within Indian territory. 26/11 told  us, that even a decade later, the situation was still as chaotic. 

We know today that a crisis management group comprising of high-level  intelligence officers, defence personnel and bureaucrats met late at night on  26 November 2008 after officials received calls — either to ‘turn on the TV’  and see what was unfolding, or from journalists calling to ask for  information. Convening a meeting was, in fact, standard procedure when a  crisis unfolded. But officials present that night say it was chaotic and no one  was able to take quick, critical decisions. A day after the attacks, as special  commandos of the National Security Guard landed in Mumbai, top media  owners were summoned to South Block. The government was clear. Wall to  wall coverage was against ‘national interest’ as the phone intercepts  suggested. Senior government officials from the Defence and Home  ministries and across intelligence and security agencies reprimanded  television news networks. In the immediate aftermath of the attacks, the  Ministry of Information and Broadcasting issued notices to two Hindi news  channels — Aaj Tak and India TV. However, official sources admit they had  no answer when asked if the networks in question had indeed violated any  SOP for the media in crisis situations. Why were there no guidelines created  — in consultation, by taking media owners into confidence on how best to  devise a communications strategy in such situations? While reviewing the  failures and addressing new challenges, the absence of a simple protocol was  glaring. In fact, it took an attack like 26/11 for both the government and the  media industry to evolve new frameworks for coverage. 

It is not unusual for governments in crisis or warlike situations (and some  bureaucrats argue 26/11 was an act of war), to black out access and filter  information. In fact, Indian journalists have seen this with the Kargil war,  when daily periodic briefings jointly held by the Army, Air Force and  Ministry of External Affairs provided the media with credible information.  It is also no secret that terrorist groups, like anyone else — use  communications media for propaganda. History tells us that the media is as  important a tool for the citizens and the state as it is for those who wreak havoc on them. And journalists who have sometimes found themselves or  their platforms manipulated, have, on their own, changed rules of conduct  to safeguard against this manipulation, over the years. Similarly, after the  Mumbai attacks of 26 November 2008, under a committee headed by  Justice JS Verma, India’s News Broadcasters Association, an autonomous industry body for TV news channels came up with a new set of guidelines for the coverage of emergency situations (armed conflict, internal  disturbance, communal violence, public disorder and crime). Even today, the  code is governed by the National Broadcasting Standards Association that  can issue notice suo-moto, or on the basis of viewer complaints. 


Coverage is to be tested on the ‘touchstone of public interest, and  must be factually accurate and objective. 

There should be no live reporting that ‘facilitates publicity of any  terrorist or militant outfit, its ideology or tends to evoke  

sympathy towards or glamorize their cause.” 

During live hostage situations and rescues, no details of pending  rescue operations should be given or broadcast regarding  

methods or personnel. 

Respect should be shown to the dead and no gory visuals should  be shown on TV. 

Reporters should refrain from being in live, direct contact with  victims, security forces, technical personnel or perpetrators. 

Networks should refrain from continuous/ unnecessary broadcast of archival footage that may agitate the viewers. (If any such footage is shown, it should clearly indicate ‘file’, with date and time.)  

Self-regulation by an autonomous body — though not always foolproof, has  a strong influence on most newsrooms. The threat of excommunication by  one’s own fraternity is often a far greater control than any government  attempts to censure journalists The National Broadcasters Association  (NBA) also tries to ensure that the line between national interest and  political interests stays clear. In 2015, the BJP led government sent notices  to three channels for their coverage of the hanging of Yakub Memon — the brother of one of the masterminds of the serial Mumbai blasts of 1993. In  another case, the government cited national security and tried to ban NDTV  India for a day over its coverage of the attacks on the Indian Air Force base in Pathankot in January 2016 where the government alleges that ‘sensitive  information’ about the vicinity of the air base was reported. In both cases,  given a history of adversarial relations between the networks in question  and the party running government, the Ministry of Information and  Broadcasting show cause notices did not hold up to NBA scrutiny. While media houses responded to all notices, the ban on NDTV India for  Pathankot coverage has been held in abeyance with the possibility it can be  invoked at any time. 

For the most part, however, evidence now indicates that private broadcast  news media in India have complied with crisis reportage guidelines since  they were put in place. Whether or not the government evolved better  security strategies and developed SOPs for communications in crisis, the  media has learned from past mistakes and experience. When they were  announced, senior ministers welcomed the NBA’s guidelines as a “step in the  right direction”, and accepted that both the government and the media had  lessons to learn from the handling of the Mumbai attacks. In the decade  gone by since 26/11, reportage of riots and terror strikes, including those on  the Indian Air Base in Pathankot and an army camp in Uri in Jammu and  Kashmir, has broadly indicated this commitment. The case is similar for  coverage of riots around the Delhi gang rape in 2012, or communal riots in  Uttar Pradesh and West Bengal where newsrooms have tried to exercise  control over releasing potentially sensitive information. 

Broadly, with a few minor exceptions, networks do display restraint in terms  of live visuals and news updates from reporters on the field. The bigger  challenge today, however, is news studio debates with ideological anchors  and the rapid spread of social media to create echo chambers of hate based  on religion or political persuasion. While social media can, and has been a  significant force multiplier to mobilise people and/or public opinion in the  shaping of national debates, globally law enforcement and intelligence  agencies are dealing with its grave potential for incitement and radicalisation. With different national laws governing different platforms,  and very little self-regulation possible, Indian agencies are at a loss when it  comes to tackling this new challenge. For the moment, their immediate  response is to shut off mobile internet facilities when violence erupts. As in the past, this response too is far from optimal. And the way forward  indicates the same lessons of the past — the need for conversations and  communication among all stakeholders — governments, mainstream  media and now social media organisations — to evolve layered responses in  a complex media environment. After all, in a democracy, the role of the  media in shaping public opinion can neither be understated, nor  underestimated. 


Maya Mirchandaniis a Senior Fellow at the Observer Research Foundation and Assistant  Professor of Broadcast Journalism and Media Studies at Ashoka University. 


1. Claudine Beaumont, “Mumbai attacks: Twitter and Flickr used to break news”, The  Telegraph, November 26, 2008 <  india/3530640/Mumbai-attacks-Twitter-and-Flickr-used-to-break-news-Bombay India.html> (accessed on 16 Oct 2018) 

2. Brian Stelter and Noam Cohen, “Citizen Journalists Provided Glimpses of Mumbai  Attacks”, The New York Times, November 29, 2008 <  11/30/world/asia/30twitter.html> (accessed on 14 Oct 2018) 

3. @dupree_, November 26, 2008 <> 

4. @shrinagesh #mumbai, November 26, 2008 <  shrinagesh%20%23mumbai&src=typd> 

5. Murthy, Dhiraj, “Twitter: Microphone for the Masses?” Media, Culture & Society 33, no. 5  (July 2011) pp 779–89 (accessed on 13 Oct 2018) 

6. "NBA to form emergency protocol for coverage of crisis situations”, Exchange4media,  December 11, 2008 < form-emergency-protocol-for-coverage-of-crisis-situations-33391.html> (accessed on  14 Oct. 2018) 

7. P Vaidyanathan Iyer, “Explain why you shouldn’t face action for Yakub’s execution  coverage: Govt notice to 3 channels”, Indian Express, August 8, 2015 < action-for-yakub-coverage-govt-notice-to-3-channels/> (accessed on 15 Oct 2018) 

8. Take NDTV India off air on November 9 for Pathankot: I&B panel”, Indian Express,  November 4, 2018 < ban-on-ndtv-india-proposed-for-its-pathankot-coverage/> (accessed on 11 Oct 2018) 

9. Harveen Ahluwalia, “NDTV India ban draws condemnation from editors, journalists”,  Livemint, November 4, 2018 < U4MOiANSlwYO/Editors-Guild-condemns-IB-ministry-action-against-NDTV Ind.html> (accessed on 13 Oct 2018)

The Past as Prologue

Sushant Sareen 

The old saying, “soldiers are always preparing to fight the last war”, also applies to combating terrorism. Quite like armies that spend enormous amounts of time trying to understand how they could have fought the last war better, security forces often focus on terror attacks  of the past to prevent them from reoccurring. But plugging breaches that  caused the last spectacular terror attack is often not enough to prevent the  next big strike. 

History tells us that while incidents of ‘garden variety’ terrorism repeat  themselves, there is almost never a repeat of ones that are more spectacular  in scope and scale. This is partly because the gaps in security have been filled,  and partly because a repeat incident is unlikely to have the same impact or  shock value as the first attack. Except for the repeated targeting of Mumbai’s  local trains, almost all the other major incidents of terrorism in India have  been one-off events — the attack on Parliament, the bombing of the Jammu  and Kashmir Assembly, the 1993 serial bomb blasts in Mumbai, or for that  matter, the 26/11 siege of Mumbai by terrorists. Therefore, conversations  around preventing the “next 26/11”, or warning Pakistan against perpetrating another 26/11 are quite pointless. In all likelihood, there will  not be another 26/11; but there will be other attacks that are just as  horrendous and just as brazen. 

After 26/11, Pakistan-based terror groups have tried to carry out audacious  attacks that aimed to cause either mass casualties or grievous damage to  Indian military assets—the July 2015 terror strike in Gurdaspur where bombs were placed on a railway track to blow up a train, for example, or the  Pathankot airbase attack in Jan 2016 in which no aircraft was damaged, or  the series of bomb blasts in 2017 on rail tracks in UP and Bihar. Each of these strikes, had they succeeded, would have confronted India with the same stark policy choices on how to respond as the country faced after 26/11.It is therefore imperative to address the vulnerabilities exposed by past  terrorist attacks in order to prevent similar strikes in the future. For  example, after 26/11, hotels heightened security protocols, coastal security was strengthened, National Security Guard (NSG) hubs were set up to  ensure quick response, and institutional and legal reforms were undertaken.  However, it is more critical to anticipate and game the next big terror attack  that will seek to exploit vulnerabilities that are yet to come on the radars of  security agencies. 

At a time when Pakistan has once again been ratcheting up jihadist violence  in Jammu and Kashmir and doing everything possible to reignite the  insurgency in the state, opening new fronts in mainland India by proxy  terror groups to stretch the capabilities of security agencies is something  India should be prepared for. Already, strenuous efforts are being made by  Pakistan to revive the Khalistan movement. Even more dangerous will be Pakistani efforts to recruit Indian Muslims to the jihadist cause. Since the  early 2000s, Pakistan managed to do this with the Indian Mujahideen,  which was responsible for a spate of attacks before the network was  demolished. However, rising social tensions and communal polarisation in India could make it much easier for Pakistani agent provocateurs to incite Indian Muslims against the Indian State.  

The Pakistani reason for trying to recruit Indians to fight their own state  flows from the fallout of 26/11. Pakistanis have found it exceedingly difficult  to live down the arrest of a Pakistani national — Ajmal Kasab — and the  subsequent unveiling of their sinister plot. This is a mistake they would like  to avoid in the future. Using Indians to attack India could give Pakistan much  needed plausible deniability. The use of Indians as terror proxies is important  not only to avoid an external backlash but also to limit the possibility of an  internal blowback, something that Pakistan is familiar with. In the years  since 9/11, and particularly around 2004—because of both international  pressure and domestic compulsions—Pakistan tried to regain control over  its own jihad factory, not only in the Tribal Areas straddling the Western  border with Afghanistan but also along the Eastern border with India. 

The effort, increasingly, is to keep jihadist terror organisations on a tight  leash so that they serve the interests of the Pakistani state, instead of going rogue. The entire “mainstreaming” project is part of this effort. But even as  jihadist groups are ostensibly sought to be demilitarised and mainstreamed  for public consumption, their terror wings remain intact. Indeed, in the pre 26/11 period, terror groups operated with complete impunity and openly  owned their jihadist operations (or even pre-2004, before the then Pakistani  President Gen. Pervez Musharraf assured the world that he would not allow  Pakistan territory to be used as a staging ground for acts of violence against  India. Today, the difference is that terror groups no longer function as  openly as they once did. There is no official endorsement of these groups,  public grandstanding is discouraged, media coverage of their activities is  tightly controlled, if not entirely shunned, and recruitment has gone  underground—there is no more of openly inviting people to jihad with  phone numbers of recruiters splashed as graffiti. 

The bottomline is that while Pakistan has become more discreet in using  jihad, there is absolutely no sign of it dismantling the jihadist infrastructure.  In the words of S.Paul Kapur, “support for militants has not simply been one  among many tools of Pakistani statecraft. Rather, the use of Islamists  10 militants has been a primary component of Pakistani grand strategy.” Since Pakistan cannot compete with India in the conventional military  space, it seeks to balance the military equation through the instrumentality  of ‘sub-conventional offensive warfare.’ 

Given that jihad continues to remain the central pillar of Pakistani grand  strategy, and that Pakistan today exercises far greater oversight and control  over jihadist organisations, the fiction of non-state actors operating on their  own volition from Pakistan stands exposed. In other words, the next big  terror attack in India will be decided and directed by the Pakistani state. What  is more, regardless of how much Indian security agencies anticipate, prevent,  prepare, pre-empt or, if it comes to that — put out an attack, it is highly likely  that there will be another attack with Pakistani fingerprints all over it. 

The question is: how will India respond? One option is to exercise restraint  and not undertake any kinetic action — not only because of the risks of  escalation that such an option entails, but also because while military  response (even a limited one) will be emotionally satisfying, it will not solve  the problem of terrorism. Therefore, quite like after 26/11, India will continue to use diplomatic and political tools to raise the costs for Pakistan. 

However, former National Security Adviser, Shivshankar Menon, who  defended the policy of restraint after 26/11, himself admits that “it will be  virtually impossible for any government of India to make the same choice  13 again” in the event of another spectacular attack. 

The response will therefore have to be multi-pronged. While diplomatic and  political instruments will certainly be brought into play, India must also start using economic levers to inflict punishment on Pakistan. These measures will have to be accompanied by some kind of kinetic action, not just to  15 “assuage public sentiment”, but also to unsettle Pakistan by introducing an  element of uncertainty and unpredictability in how India will respond to  16 Pakistani provocation. One template of kinetic action is of course the  ‘surgical strikes’ carried out in September 2016. But such action does not  necessarily have to remain limited to cross-border punitive raids. The armed  forces have worked out various options which can be exercised — options  that take into consideration the possible dangers of escalation- possibly a  greater threat for Pakistan than it is for India. The idea is to ensure Pakistan  no longer thinks it can export terrorism to India with impunity and without  consequences. 


Sushant Sareenis Senior Fellow at Observer Research Foundation.  


1. Manjeet Sehgal, “Gurdaspur attack: Horror could have snuffed out many more lives”,  India Today, 28 July, 2015 < attack-live-bombs-terror-attack-285010-2015-07-28> (accessed on 28 October 2018) 

2. Nitin Gokhale, “Securing India the Modi way”, Bloomsbury (2017), pp 67-68 

3. Rakesh Jain, “Bomb explosion near Buxar railway track: Sabotage, terror cause of recent  train tragedies?”, India Today, 7 February, 2017 < today/story/bomb-explosion-train-tragedies-959345-2017-02-07> ; and 

“Pakistan hand in Kanpur train tragedy? ISI paid goons to plant bombs on railway  tracks , hint s Bihar poli ce ”, Financial E x pre ss, 17 Januar y, 2017 < railways-train-tragedy-isi-paid-goons-to-plant-bombs-on-tracks-bihar-police/ 511749/> (accessed on 30 October 2018) 

4. George Perkovich & Toby Dalton, “Not War, Not Peace: Motivating Pakistan to prevent  cross-border terrorism”, Oxford (2016), pp 1-4 

5. Sanjeev Verma, “Pak Lt Col brain behind pro-Khalistan initiative in Canada, Eaurope:  Sleuths”, Times of India, 7 August, 2018 <  pak-lt-col-brain-behind-pro-khalistan-initiative-in-canada-europe-sleuths/articleshow/  65299899.cms>; and  

“Sikh youth being trained at ISI facilities in Pakistan, says Indian government”, Press  Trust of India, March 21, 2018 < being-trained-at-isi-facilities-in-pakistan-says-indian-government/articleshow/ 63396056.cms> (accessed on 26 October 2018)  

6. Praveen Swami, “The Indian Mujahidin and Lashkar-i-Tayyiba’s Transnational Networks”,  Combating Terrorism Center: Vol. 2, Issue 6 (June 2009) < indian-mujahidin-and-lashkar-i-tayyibas-transnational-networks/> ; and  

Namrata Goswami, “Who is the Indian Mujahideen?”, Institute for Defence Studies and  Analyses, 3 February, 2009 <> (accessed on 28 October 2018) 

7. Praveen Swami, “India’s Invisible Jihad”, Hudson Institute, 3 November, 2017  <> (accessed on 28  October 2018)  

8. Asif Shahzad, “Pakistan army pushed political role for militant-linked groups”, Reuters,  21 September, 2017 < militants/pakistan-army-pushed-political-role-for-militant-linked-groups idUSKCN1BW2JW> (accessed on 7 October 2018) 

9. Jaish-e-Muhammad (JeM) founder, Masood Azhar, is a native of Bahawalpur, in South  Punjab and this town is also the headquarters of JeM. South Punjab is the breeding  ground for many extremist, sectarian and Jihadi groups, including, Lashkar-e-Taiba  (LeT), Deobandi madrasa - Makhzan-ul-Uloom, which is a hotbed of anti-Shiism, among  others. 

10. S. Paul Kapur, “Jihad as grand strategy – Islamist militancy, national security and the  Pakistani state”,Oxford (2017), pp 9 

11. Praveen Swami, “India’s new language of killing”, The Hindu, 1 May, 2014 < 5963505.ece> (accessed on 30 October 2018)  

12. Shivshankar Menon, “Choices: Inside the making of India’s foreign policy”, Penguin (2016) pp 94-97 

13. Ibid

14. Sushant Sareen, “Pressuring Pakistan, Scholar Warrior”, Centre for Land Warfare Studies (Spring 2018), pp 50  

15. Ibid

16. Op.cit. (Gokhale, pp 49-50) 


The editors would like to thank Swati Pant, Somnath Sengupta, and Chandika  Gupta for their assistance in completing this report.  

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Harsh V. Pant

Harsh V. Pant

Professor Harsh V. Pant is Vice President – Studies and Foreign Policy at Observer Research Foundation, New Delhi. He is a Professor of International Relations ...

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Maya Mirchandani

Maya Mirchandani

Maya Mirchandani is a Senior Fellow at the Observer Research Foundation and Head of Department, Media Studies at Ashoka University. Maya is the Chair of ...

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