An Indian army soldier takes his position on the rooftop of a residential house outside the Indian Air Force base at Pathankot in Punjab, India, January 3, 2016.
Mukesh Gupta / Reuters

On January 2, a handful of militants attacked the Indian air force base at Pathankot, in Punjab. Indian security officials say that they belonged to the Pakistani-based terrorist organization Jaish-e-Mohammed, which India has long accused Pakistan of supporting. The men entered the base by disguising themselves in military attire and were finally subdued after a three-day siege. The fight left all of the terrorists and seven Indian security personnel dead. Even though the militants failed to achieve their goal—the destruction of large numbers of aircraft—they nevertheless exposed the vulnerabilities of a major air base.

This was the second foreign terrorist attack in Punjab within a span of six months—though the first at a military base, which is uncommon. The last attack had taken place in Gurdaspur in July 2015 and had led to the deaths of seven policemen.

First and foremost, the attacks reveal the inadequacy of Indian security.

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  • SUMIT GANGULY is Professor of Political Science and holds the Rabindranath Tagore Chair in Indian Cultures and Civilizations at Indiana University, Bloomington.
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