NEW DELHI: Sending out a message to Pakistan, India on Wednesday said it wants good relations but not at the cost of its “pride, dignity and self-respect” and that it will ensure that “our enemies” cannot go scot-free as even small incidents of terrorism have to be “treated as war”.
Defence Minister Manohar Parrikar also asserted in Lok Sabha that security has been stepped up on the borders since in the wake of Pathankot Airbase attack of January.
He said till now it has not found through which route the attackers of Pathankot Airbase came but insisted that six terrorists were involved in the attack, amid contention by the NIA that the investigators had found only four bodies. Parrikar as also Home Minister Rajnath Singh were responding to a debate during which the government came in for a scathing attack over handling of the Pathankot attack, with the opposition dubbing as a “critical mistake” the decision to handover the operation to NSG.
The opposition also questioned as to what Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s Lahore stopover had achieved, noting that the terror strike had happened just a few days after that. In his reply, Singh said India wants good relations with all neighbours but not at the cost of self-respect. “We want good relations with all our neighbours. We want good relations with Pakistan too, but not at the cost of this country’s pride, dignity and self-respect,” the Home Minister said.
Parrikar noted that there are certain organisations across the border in Pakistan which are making statements and they “should be taught lessons”. “We are in the process definitely to ensure that our enemies cannot go scot-free,” Parrikar said, adding “the compromise made earlier was probably one of the reasons as to why we are suffering today.”
In a veiled attack on the previous UPA government, the Defence Minister said, “I have seen many instances. I do not want to quote more instances. I can quote many instances when military intelligence has been sacrificed at the altar of political goals.”
Talking about Pathankot attack, Parrikar said it was “an accumulation of asymmetric war. These are small attacks of weak forces on a stronger force. When the weak forces know themselves that they are not going to succeed in defeating the stronger force… they try to create disturbances and demoralise strong force.”
He then added, “I can assure that the gaps have been filled and we have already security audit of all defence establishments.”
With regard to the criticism over handling of the Pathankot attack, Parrikar said “Army acted properly” and standard operating procedures were followed. “You cannot have a running commentary about such operations on television channels. This puts security forces in danger,” he added.
The Home Minister said while different governments might have different action plans, nobody can say that their strategy is foolproof. “No one can point finger on any government’s intention when it comes to national security… When all political parties contribute only then we can ensure safety and security of nation,” Singh said.
Responding to questions by some members as to why Punjab was chosen for the attack, Parrikar said it was because security forces have tightened their grip in Jammu and Kashmir. Giving figures, he said, “I would like to indicate very clearly that the security forces tightening in Jammu and Kashmir has resulted in heat on terrorists and they are trying to shift downwards. Probably, Pathankot is one of the reasons why this has happened.”
He noted that in the last one-and-a-half years, there has been no attack on army installation in J&K.
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