Tuesday, September 8, 2015

Connecting the Emerging Dots – A Govt. finally getting its Act together on Terror Networks

Connecting the Emerging Dots – A Govt. finally getting its Act together on Terror Networks

If the message coming from the UAE is indeed true, that Dawood’s financial assets there will be seized, then it is clear that the broad counters of the Doval- Modi Doctrine on Pakistan and the terror machine are well in execution mode now.

My own take is that at a very broad level it has three components which are classic strategic and tactical moves

1. Reduce Operating Space: One thing that the recent past has shown that the GoI has shown clear signs of proactive diplomacy to secure the support of the governments that are currently the operating areas of the Pakistani terror operatives and ISI operating bases against India. Towards this, the Modi-Doval duo have been working assidiously at many levels. Right from setting up a network of information gathering and sharing protocols with regard to specific targets and assets, being alive to the opportuinities that the fast changing Middle Eastern geo-political scene and exploiting that (the role of India in securing the Iran nuke deal, has meant also creating a shared agenda that Iranians will work with India; the opening that was created by the Yemen crisis quickly capitalized in UAE, the extensive links being established across several Central Asian states; the increased working arrangements with ASEAN countries) all are evidence that the GoI is finally working to a plan. It is not fully down but it is clear that there is a tremendous coordination between Home, MEA and PMO on this.

2. Shutting of the Money Supply: The second leg, and by far the most crucial, seems to be a clear and concerted effort to go after money sources and financial hubs of targetted people. The passing of a stringent Black Money bill also has a component of neutralising money supply to the terror network. Given the past experience in actual cooperation (largely negative) on counter terror moves with the West, the Modi-Doval duo seem to have calibrated this aspect of cooperation with the western powers in terms of sharing of financial movements tracking and tracking of assets. The operational aspects of tracking and sharing information on specific high value targets seem to be going at a slower pace. What is evident from of the publlic statements made by the GoI, is that they are now tracking and sharing financial operations far more closely and are getting the inputs and cooperation from the West. I think this had a lot to do with Shri Doval staying back post Modi's US visit and having extensive interactions. If the UAE action is indeed true, it is a clear proof that they are going after the oxygen supply

3. Building and extending covert reach: This aspect, for obvious reasons, will not be in public domain, and will have to be estimated in terms of extending some of the actions that are visible to announcements and assertions and connecting a lot of dots. What is clear however, is that under Modi-Doval doctrine, there seems to be three concentric rings of networks that are being equipped to expand and extend the covert capabilities. 

One is the re-building the internal intelligence network and reducing the operating space for the terrorists inside conflict zones. 

Second network is the building up of technical capability including TechInt and HumInt networks across the operational zones of Pakistani ISI and their terror workers. 

The third is a Geo-Political network of world powers that will act in concert with India on terror directed against India, that is being established by Modi personally. It is clear from his first foreign policy initiative of inviting SAARC heads that he has integrated cooperation in anti-terror operations of India as an integral part of all relationship. In exchange he is providing them the access to Indian market, technology, skills and investments, in a deft combination. 

For the first time, National Security is fully integrated into bilateral and multilateral frameworks including economic ones - case in point making Terrorism as a point of discussion in G20; in BRICS, at Ufa, with Japan, Germany, US. Earlier this level of integration was not visible at least.

This is of course a reading that I have made based on observation of Modi's foreign visits and the clear articulation of goals for each and every relationship. The imprint of strategic National Security thought in the conduct of foreign policy is very evident and the efforts made by a more galvanized and action oriented MEA, Home, Finance and Intelligence agencies are begining to make an impact. These are welcome changes that arrests the policy of drift and stop start, siloed and hesitant approach that marked the era of Manmohan Singh.

The signs that efforts are begining to yield results are yet to emerge, but the signs that these efforts are being executed well by a competent team in Modi-Doval-Sushma Swaraj-VK Singh-Rajnath Singh is clearly visible for those who wish to see.

Just the usual ramble. Take it for what it is worth.

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