What is the main lesson for India from the spectacular military operation conducted by the CIA and the US Special Forces?
Nations that are too moralistic and legalistic in dealing with the complex challenge of state-sponsored terrorism end up as hapless victims. Only covert operations conducted by proactive counter-terrorism agencies can raise the cost for an adversary enough to deter him from launching terror strikes.
There is no reason why terrorist-criminals like Hafiz Sayeed, Masood Azhar and Dawood Ibrahim should walk freely, planning future terror strikes and delivering inflammatory anti-Indian speeches from the Pakistani soil.
They can and should be brought to justice through covert operations launched by the Indian counter-terrorism agencies in concert with armed forces personnel of the Special Forces.
The US and Israel have repeatedly shown the determination to eliminate non-state actors who plan terror strikes against them. For its own national security, India must do the same.
The major requirements for pro-active operations: political will, meticulous intelligence and requisite counter-terrorism and military capabilities. Research and Analysis Wing should be allowed to re-establish covert operations capabilities dismantled under a prime minister's orders in the late 1990s. Air assault capabilities exist with the armed forces, but need modernisation and qualitative upgrade.
The killing of Osama bin Laden by US Special Forces in a compound halfway between the Pakistan Military Academy and the Baloch Regiment Centre in Abbottabad will go down in the annals of counter-terrorism. A total of 40 US troops, largely Navy Seals, were involved in the heliborne operation launched from the Afghan soil.
Of them, 24 Special Forces troops rappelled down directly into the compound, engaged Osama and his party in a firefight, killing him. One helicopter was lost, but there were no US casualties.
The Pakistan army and the ISI's double game has been finally exposed. Everybody is now saying 'I had told you so', but it was clear there was no way a man on a weekly kidney dialysis could hide in Afghan caves. He had to be hiding in Pakistan, preferably close to a military hospital.
In his address on Monday morning, President Barack Obama, referring to the families of the 9/11 victims, said, "Justice had been done."
The families of the 26/11 victims are still awaiting justice. They will not get it from Pakistan courts.
(Brigadier Gurmeet Kanwal (retired) is director, Centre for Land Warfare Studies, New Delhi)