Pakistan does not seem to learn any lesson. After showing the white flag after the Border Security Force destroyed many bunkers of the Pakistani Rangers along the international border a few days ago, it has started firing across the Line of Control. It seems to overlook defence minister Manohar Parrikar’s order to the armed forces to hit back in full force if the border or LoC was violated. If Pakistan continues its adventurism, it will end up with a bloody nose forcing it to raise the white flag every time it violates good neighbourly practices. The incident in which a suspicious boat was intercepted on the Arabian Sea ought to have been a warning to Pakistan.
The Indian Coast Guard (ICG) had clear evidence based on intelligence inputs, intercepted communication and observations through radars and other equipment that the boat which started its journey to the Gujarat Coast from Karachi did not belong to fish workers. That the four occupants preferred to torch the boat and trigger an explosion, rather than subject themselves to scrutiny once they entered Indian waters, confirms that fishing wasn’t their aim. In 2008, it was this sea route that the terrorists took to attack Mumbai and kill innocent Indians and foreigners. There is one significant difference between the situation then and now, as underscored by the ICG’s action.
The investments India has made in strengthening maritime security have started paying dividends. The interception was possible because intelligence collection and its collation and analysis have become prompter. During the last seven years, Indian coastal preparedness has acquired greater teeth. All the same, the threat India faces from state and non-state actors in Pakistan cannot be underestimated. As Indian naval chief R K Dhowan cautioned the nation recently, the dynamics of maritime security have changed due to the rising terrorist threat in the region. Given the possibility that whoever had sent the explosive-laden boat to the Indian coast can still make similar attempts, eternal vigilance and swift retaliatory action alone will stand the nation in good stead.