India wins gold in security
By Rory Medcalf - 15 October 2010 1:31PM
Whatever the mixed reviews of the management side of the 2010 Commonwealth Games in New Delhi, India's security forces deserve praise for their exceptional success in preventing terrorism there.
At the start of the Games, I published a Lowy Institute Perspective explaining the risks and the wider context of terrorism in India. My assessment was that a major attack was unlikely, but that it would very difficult to prevent small attacks on soft targets distant from the Games venues, along the lines of the shootings of two Taiwanese tourists in Old Delhi on 19 September.
Yet preventing more such attacks was precisely what the massive Indian security blanket did. Who knows what scares or near misses we may never hear about, or what plots were thwarted at an early stage. And who knows whether this confirms that, when the military and intelligence powers-that-be in Pakistan do not want to see terrorism in India, suddenly there is a miraculous absence of violence.
Still, it would seem that reform of India's internal security apparatus has come a considerable distance since the disaster of Mumbai in November 2008. In any case, I am delighted if some of the more downbeat elements of my assessment now stand corrected.
India is a prominent target of terrorism — it shares with Israel, the US and its allies the honour of being on Osama Bin Laden's hate list. And it has internal political and security challenges that no other democracy — let alone an authoritarian state — could imagine. The presence of thousands of foreigners in New Delhi for two weeks — many of them from nations previously attacked by jihadis — must have been a tempting target.
India has protected its guests and itself, and on security grounds at least deserves a gold medal.