As the fog in the national capital lifts its dangerous veil, the country has come under the wraps of what seems to be a classic case of information hoarding on the part of the central government and its enormous, but terribly leaky, security apparatus. Indo-Pak bilateral touched a new low when a so-called ‘terror boat’ blew itself up off the Porbandar coast in Gujarat after dodging an Indian Coast Guard ship for a while, that too in the wee hours of the new year’s day. Whether it was indeed a terror plot that was deftly handled or an instance of state paranoia resulting in significantly disproportionate use of force, a thorough investigation is more than due. Yet, there is little hope that a probe to pierce this thick smoke of packaged and well-filtered half-truths will be undertaken, given that the massive lacunae in the official narrative have already been hinted at and a number of reports in the media have caught the loose ends of this tangled mess. That the Pakistani boat was carrying ‘illicit’ materials and had explosives on board is beyond a straw of doubt, but whether they were meant for carrying out an extensive attack or simply to be sold in the weapons market remains unclear. That the intruders were on a single-engine motor boat and were chased by the state-of-the-art inshore patrol vehicle ICGS Rajratan for over an hour, following which they blew up the boat, again points towards the inadequacy of the official account that loudly proclaimed terror-related ill-intent before any investigation had been undertaken. In addition, the defence ministry’s version that says the boat sank after explosion is equally confounding since debris from such a blast would float on the surface and not sink.
While giant loopholes in the story which the state security apparatus would like us to accept do merit in-depth probe, it is equally true that Pakistan has upped the ante in its home turf as far as tackling terror is concerned. But instead of reconfiguring the toxic military-industrial complex and the intricate relationship between its democratically elected government and the armed forces, particularly the ISI, it is resorting to an executive overkill, hanging those convicted of terror left, right centre. Moreover, such a state-sponsored initiative, apparently intended to crack down on radical elements, might end up targeting those from the tribal heartlands of the country, who have little access to law and justice anyway. Post Peshawar school attack, which touched a raw nerve killing 138 children and sent Pakistani military establishment into a mad rage, there is a palpable sense of anger seething in every heart of Pakistan. Yet, unless a carefully calibrated strategy is adopted, the chances of disproportionate use of force or law will only grow bigger by the day.