Saturday, November 29, 2008

INDIA declare national emergency

Mr LK Advani has offered to the PM his party's full cooperation against terrorism. That is not enough. The PM should respond by inviting all the major national and regional parties to join a national government. And to declare a National Emergency.

The full details of the Mumbai bomb blasts are yet to come. But sufficient is known to suggest broad conclusions. The attacks were conceived and carried out with meticulous commando efficiency. Considerable homework must have gone into the planning for attack against five-star hotels, the best time for attack to target elite foreigners, and the best approaches to the hotels. The attackers came by sea at the foot of the Taj Hotel. At the moment of writing Intelligence agencies reportedly have claimed the arrest of one Pakistani attacker belonging to the Lashkar-eTaiba. The agency has also reportedly claimed that the attackers came by the sea route from Karachi to Mumbai. Several eyewitnesses saw the boats on which the terrorists landed. Therefore the terrorists certainly came on ships or trawlers from wherever, armed with grenades and weapons.

The attack, its scale and nature, are a turning point in terrorist attacks against this country. It comes in the wake of serial blasts across metropolitan cities of India that have steadily escalated. The government’s failure to stem terrorism has emboldened the terrorists to attack brazenly. It is most likely that such attacks will proliferate, become deadlier, and come in quick succession. Terrorism has declared full fledged war against India. This war may not directed by any government. Recall the Marriot Hotel bombing in Islamabad. Are these Mumbai blasts a follow-up? They seem to be directed by Al Qaeda, possibly aided by its proxies within and outside governments. Some governments may have substantial penetration by terrorists, others may have miniscule penetration. But terrorist infiltration recognizes no boundaries and spares no nation, including India.

Before formulating strategy to win this war there is need for an appropriate instrument to fight the war. To achieve that two steps are needed. Mr LK Advani has offered to the PM his party’s full cooperation against terrorism. That is not enough. The PM should respond by inviting all the major national and regional parties to join a national government.

The second required step is that a state of National Emergency should be declared. This would in no way replicate the Emergency days of 1975 when the media was muzzled to prevent criticism of Indira Gandhi. That fraudulent Emergency was justified by a public speech attributed to Jaya Prakash Narain which was distorted beyond recognition by official agencies. Now India faces a genuine Emergency situation.

Article 352 (1) of the Constitution states: "If the President is satisfied that a grave emergency exists whereby the security of India or any part of the territory thereof is threatened, whether by war or external aggression or by armed rebellion, he may by Proclamation, make a declaration to that effect in respect of the whole of India or of such part of the territory thereof as may be specified in the Proclamation."

Should not the Cabinet advise the President to issue the Proclamation?