Dr Manmohan Singh calls Modi Govt’s bluff on internal security
In a scathing attack on the internal security record of the Modi Government, former Prime Minister Dr Manmohan Singh also spiritedly defends the record of the UPA Government
In an interview to Sunetra Choudhury of Hindustan Times, former Prime Minister Manmohan Singh accused the Modi Government of hiding behind the valour of the armed forces to deflect and divert attention from its mismanagement of the economy. Pointing out that no Government in the last 70 years had to take recourse to such subterfuge, Dr Singh said, “such attempts to politicise our armed forces are shameful and unacceptable”.
Defending the Internal Security record of the Congress-led UPA Government and the response after the 26/11 attack on Mumbai, Dr Singh made the following points:
- Inviting ISI to investigate the Pathankot Air Base terror attack was the biggest strategic blunder committed by the Modi government. This demoralized our Armed Forces. In the past five years, internal security situation in Jammu & Kashmir has rapidly deteriorated on account of an opportunist PDP-BJP government as also lack of a clear-cut Pakistan policy.
- Our 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.
- Within 14 days of the Mumbai attack, we got China to agree to declare Hafiz Saeed as a global terrorist under the 1267 Sanctions Committee of UN. Congress-UPA ensured that a $10m bounty was placed on the head of the Mumbai attack perpetrator and the founder of Pakistan-based Lashkar-e-Taiba (LeT), Hafiz Saeed by America. Another mastermind, David Headley was convicted to 35 years of prison during UPA-Congress Govt in 2013. The UN Security Council also put top LeT members involved in Mumbai attack on sanctions lists as terrorists. This has virtually rendered LeT ineffective today.
- Several terrorists were arrested and deported to India, as they travelled outside Pakistan. Sheikh Abdul Khwaja, handler of the 26/11 attack and Harkat-ul-Jihad al-Islami (HuJI) chief of operations for India, was subsequently picked up in Colombo, Sri Lanka, and brought to Hyderabad and formally arrested in January 2010. Zaibuddin Ansari (aka Abu Hamza/Abu Jundal) was arrested at the Delhi airport in June 2012, after he was deported from Saudi Arabia.
- We also conceived the NATGRID, which is an integrated intelligence grid connecting databases of core security agencies of the Government of India to collect comprehensive patterns of intelligence that could be readily accessed. But the Modi government has virtually put NCTC & NATGRID in cold storage.
- 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.
- The Modi Government has been an utter failure on the issue of national security. In the last five years, terror 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 terror 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?