SRINAGAR The internal security situation in Jammu & Kashmir has rapidly deteriorated in the past five years due to an opportunist PDP-BJP government as also lack of a clear-cut Pakistan policy, former Prime Minister Manmohan Singh has said.
The octogenarian Congress leader, in an interview with Hindustan Times, termed Pulwama attack, in which more than forty CRPF personnel were killed in February, as grave intelligence and national security failure.
Compromise on Indias National Security is unacceptable. 40 of our brave CRPF soldiers were (killed) in the Pulwama attack at the most secure National Highway in the country. This is a grave intelligence and national security failure. Since then, it has come out that CRPF and BSF were requesting for airlifting the soldiers but the Modi Government refused it (sic), said Manmohan Singh.
Government also ignored solid intelligence inputs from J&K police about an IED attack, besides turning a blind eye to a video warning of a (militant) organization. In the past five years, Pakistan based (militants) have repeatedly targeted Indias military installations at Pampore, Uri, Pathankot, Gurdaspur, Sunjwan Army Camp, and even attacked the Amarnath Yatra, he continued.
Asked whether he would agree that the BJP has been successful in making security and terror a major election issue, the 86-yerar-old leader said: Riding on empty rhetoric, the Modi Government has been an utter failure on the issue of national security. In the last five years, (militant) attacks in Jammu & Kashmir alone have gone up by 176% ; ceasefire violations at the border by Pakistan have increased by 1,000%. There have been 17 major (militant) attacks on our security installations. Defence expenditure as a percentage of GDP is lowest in the last 57 years. Does it not speak volumes about the performance and priorities of this government?
How can anyone say that jobs or rural distress or livelihood issues are interchangeable with internal security? Truth is that Modiji promised 20 million jobs per year, but his disruptive policies of demonetisation and a flawed GST have snatched over 40 million jobs from the youth. Joblessness and unemployment is at a 45-year high of 6.1%. It was 2.2% during the Congress-UPA in 2011-12 [NSSO Report, 2017-18].
He said the demonetisation disaster and a flawed GST wreaked Indias growth story that UPA-Congress government built successfully.
The monumental failure of demonetisation alone has set the GDP back by close to 2% and caused a loss of Rs 3 lakh crore to the economy. It decimated the informal sector as also thousands of small and medium businesses. Hard-earned savings of people of India were extinguished overnight. Should the government not be held accountable on these issues of livelihood?
He said inviting ISI to investigate the Pathankot Air Base attack was the biggest strategic blunder committed by the Modi government. This demoralized our Armed Forces, he said.
He said armed forces were always given a free hand to operationally respond to every threat. Multiple surgical strikes took place during our tenure too. For us, military operations were meant for strategic deterrence and giving a befitting reply to anti-India forces than to be used for vote garnering exercises. In the past 70 years, a government in power never had to hide behind the valour of our armed forces. Such attempts to politicize our forces are shameful and unacceptable.
All this, he said, is being done to draw the attention away from unpardonable failures of Modi Government on the economic front, on jobs, on rural distress, on MSMEs and the informal sector.
Asked that while as Prime Minister you have spoken about maintaining taboo on nuclear weapons while the present PM has said that they werent just meant for Diwali, Singh said: Our nuclear capabilities are our strength and a security deterrent. Pandit Nehru laid the foundation of our nuclear capabilities. Indira Gandhi conducted our first nuclear test in Pokhran, in 1974. Since then, every Congress government has carried the resolve of strengthening and advancing our civil and military nuclear programme forward. As a result, our weapons capability was tested by the 13-month long Vajpayee Government. Nuclear deterrence and peaceful use of nuclear power are two time-tested responsible policies of our nation.
He continued: You would recollect that for harnessing nuclear energy for the nation, we had put at stake the very existence of UPA-Congress government. The entire nation remembers the no-confidence vote initiated by a hypocritical BJP on the issue of making India strong and independent in nuclear energy. Why did Mr. Narendra Modi and the BJP oppose it then? Yet, we never used the issue as a political prop. This is the gold standard of our resilience, restraint and sensitivity towards our nuclear capabilities. No Prime Minister has used the issue of our nuclear capabilities for political purposes. I suppose this reflects the political desperation in face of an imminent defeat.