Revitalizing security strategy

By K.N. Pandita

It is premature to assess Modi government’s performance. We will do that at its proper time. Right now, much of what PM Modi would want to do can be cobbled together from his election speeches. How many commitments will materialise at the end of the day depends on the response of the people from time to time.

We can, at least, frame some contours of his security concerns, a subject of considerable priority with his administration. Pakistan-based Theo-fascist organizations, planning for Islamic Caliphate strictly run by sharia law, are casting their shadow on vulnerable sections in India. During Congress regime this was patently projected as home grown discontent springing from so-called discrimination against the Indian minority community.  

Apparently, Pakistan’s anti-India bureau has no compulsion to restrain jihadis from their Kashmir adventure. LeT continues to bask in ISI’s sunshine. Nawaz Sharif has little leverage over the army and ISI. During his brief talk with Narendra Modi, he could not go beyond saying that terrorism is a challenge.

This and the revelations coming from captured jihadis of various groups across the country give an idea of their designs. Attack on Indian Consulate in Herat is a corollary to the indicated design. Containment of terror is Modi government’s first priority.

While planning any new strategy, an assessment of how the Congress coterie was soft paddling on terrorism, particularly in Kashmir, was desired. It was done very quickly. In fact, the BJP cell on national security had made the assessment far ahead of parliamentary elections. It was in pursuance of that assessment that former IB Chief Ajit Doval was recalled to be the new NSA even before the Council of Ministers was announced.

Grapevine has that inner circles in the Congress, in tandem with some of their foreign cohorts, had got the wind of re-employment of the former spy master and tried their best to stonewall it. In a story, an English daily of Jammu lamented that the attempt of scuttling the appointment of Doval failed. The inference is that soft-paddling on terror will be reversed. It could be an indication of Modi government adopting more muscular approach.

Congress regime’s soft paddling on terror emboldened terrorists, secessionists and their external mentors. It created an impression with jihadis that over a period of time, opposition to them will fade away and they will carry forward their agenda without much resistance.

Now that this will no more be the scenario, the wounded animal will react with added ferocity till it is neutralized. In that sense Ajit Doval has a thorny path to tread but veterans welcome adventures.
During Congress regime, ISI had succeeded in relegating proxy war to jihadi ambit but with the induction of Indian super cop, the scene will shift back to spy war levels.

Very rightly, Prime Minister chose a right person to man the portfolio of Eastern States for more than one reason. We find various elements interfering in the Eastern region of the country. China, Bangladesh, illegal immigrants from Bangladesh, internal dissenters in some of the Eastern States, Naxalites, Maoists and others are the source of disturbance. The former Army Chief and a patriot to the hilt, retired General V.K. Singh will be heading the ministry.

The strategy of fighting terror and separatism is now split into two wings, the western and the eastern. But evidently, there has to be close cooperation between the two. General Singh’s appointment as federal minister for northeast region has been made keeping in mind that the strength of the Eastern and Northern Commands has to be streamlined substantially along with infrastructural wherewithal in next one decade. He is the person who had drawn the blue print of a mega scheme of expanding and upgrading of our combat capability in both sectors.

General Singh’s appointment will have bigger impact on the terror spread by Naxalites and Maoists. There have been passing reports in print media that Islamists in India were now trying to establish liaison with Naxalites. It is already known that ISI has established its moles in Bangladesh close to the border with India. ISI’s Bangladeshi operatives have been apprehended at various places across the country and valuable information has been extracted from them about who handles them and in what ways.
The two top-level appointments, reporting directly to Prime Minister Modi, point to a desire to address what are arguably India’s two most pressing external security concerns – Pakistan and China, both of which, like India, have nuclear arms.

One thing is obvious. With the unfolding of changed approach to internal security, good shake-up in our intelligence structure should be on the anvil. Corruption has seeped into these cadres also and that has to be totally unacceptable to Modi government. Fake NGOs who have been carrying forward the agenda of Congress regime rather than the national interests will have to wind up their shops and replaced by highly efficient and nationalist NGOs.

Finally while reflecting on external threats to our security we have to remember that the elected government in Islamabad is not in a position to push its desired agenda of peace with India. It knows that we are aware of its limitations. It also knows that today Modi government is in a position to take a decision.

Nawaz Sharif has been speaking of taking up the thread where Vajpayee-Sharif talks had left. In practical terms, that may not happen. The position of Prime Minister Modi is quite different from what was the position of Vajpayee. Moreover much water has gone down the river since the time when Vajpayee had taken the initiative. How can Modi go back to Vajpayee initiative when the ISI tried to derail his meeting with Nawaz Sharif by launching attack on Indian Consulate in Herat? This leaves no space for Kashmir leadership, NC/PDP/Hurriyatis and others to urge Modi for talks with Pakistan on Kashmir. They will have to join Modi in asking Pakistan to stop infiltration of jihadis into our side before they ask for talks.

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