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Wednesday, October 21, 2009

Improve anti-terror strategy: PM

NEW DELHI: Worries over the situation in the rogue neighbourhood led Prime Minister Manmohan Singh on Tuesday to call for India to improve her “defensive mechanisms against all forms of terrorism”.

Speaking at the Combined Commanders’ Conference here, Mr Singh said regular warnings about imminent terrorist attacks in the country were a matter of “deep concern”. The prime minister’s statements come in the wake of a spate of terror attacks in Pakistan, including twin blasts at an Islamabad university on Tuesday.

He told the armed forces commanders: “Although there has been no major terrorist attack in India since then (26/11), there are regular intelligence reports of imminent attacks in the country. This is a matter of deep concern, and there is no room for complacency. The terrorist attack on our embassy in Kabul on October 8 is yet another grim reminder of the forces we are pitted against. The overall situation in our immediate neighbourhood has worsened since I last spoke to you.” Mr Singh brought up the 26/11 Mumbai attacks to warn about “the lethal dimensions of terrorism and non-traditional threats to our security”.

Mr Singh refused to accept the distinction that Islamabad draws between state and non-state actors. “There are both state and non-state actors involved in the business of terrorism. India is a democracy and an open society and is, therefore, sometimes highly vulnerable. We have, therefore, to improve our defensive mechanisms against all forms of terrorism, asymmetric warfare and aggravated militancy. We need to be prepared to face onslaughts of this kind, but we should avoid knee-jerk reactions,” Mr Singh said.

Home minister P Chidambaram also recently highlighted India’s concerns over Pakistan falling short when it came to keeping Islamic terror groups under control. Mr Chidambaram had said that India continued to remain vulnerable to 26/11-type attacks as Pakistan has not been able to rein in Islamic terror groups. He, however, warned that any new attack would be tackled with a “swift and decisive” response.

Mr Singh, in his address, said the government had taken “several steps to strengthen the intelligence and security machinery and coordination between the Centre and states”. The prime minister asked the armed forces to be “fully equipped to deal with all threat scenarios” and said the ability of Indian troops to deal with “non-traditional threats” must receive greater attention.

Mr Singh also added that the UPA government was fully committed to modernisation of the armed forces and said the modernisation plan should have a long-term perspective and be formulated in an integrated manner involving all the three services.

In the wake of the terror attacks in Pakistan, defence minister A K Antony had also dubbed the situation in that country as being “very serious” and warned that terrorism was spreading. Speaking on the sidelines of a function on Monday to mark the 60th anniversary of the territorial army, Mr Antony said that everyone, including Pakistan, needed to act “seriously and sincerely” to fight terrorism. 
 

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