Slamming Pakistan for not acting against the perpetrators of the Pathankot terrorist strike and the 26/11 Mumbai attacks, defence minister Manohar Parrikar on Thursday said the neighbouring country was “pretending to fall asleep” despite substantive evidence shared by India.
In an interview with Karan Thapar on India Today’s To the Point programme, Parrikar said, “If someone pretends to fall asleep, it is very difficult to find out (what they are up to). The government has continuously given evidence to Pakistan…if they are serious, they can act.” No dates have been fixed for foreign secretary-level talks and Pakistan’s failure to act could complicate matters further.
He asserted there was no question of allowing Pakistani investigators access to the Pathankot fighter base as the incident happened in India and it was for the National Investigation Agency to conduct a probe. “They (Pakistan) have to investigate the role of the people in their country,” the minister said. Parrikar said if someone harmed the country’s interest, India would deliver similar pain to them “at the time, place and method of its choosing”.
Pakistan ruled out the involvement of any Indian Air Force personnel but said the terrorists could possibly have been assisted by casual labourers working at the base.
On David Coleman Headley’s recent testimony, Parrikar said he didn’t need the approver’s evidence to prove that Pakistani handlers were behind the Mumbai strike.
Parrikar also said the defence ministry was working on a plan to trim the military’s structure. “Effective component of the armed forces will not be compromised...but unnecessary part of the military can be removed.” He said he had discussed the matter with the three service chiefs and some forward movement could be expected this year.
With veterans protesting over the one rank, one pension scheme being implemented in a “diluted form”, he said issues regarding extending OROP to future premature retirees and the frequency of equalisation of pensions would be referred to the judicial committee looking into the scheme.
He said the pension scheme could be extended to the future retirees if it served the interests of the armed forces. Veterans have demanded yearly equalisation of pensions, but the government has set a five-year period for revision. Parrikar said the problem with yearly equalisation was not related to money but complex administrative processes
On the Rafale deal, he said pricing was the only issue that needed to be resolved and it could take a few months. “Unless I get the right price, I can’t sign the deal.” He said India was “quite hurt” by the US decision to supply F-16 fighters to Pakistan.
External affairs ministry spokesperson Vikas Swarup said the move to sell F-16s to Pakistan would create negative sentiment in the India-US relationship.
“They said F-16s will be used for combating terrorism. We do not agree with that rationale,” Swarup said.
On Pakistan PM Nawaz Sharif’s reported comment that the 1999 Kargil “misadventure” by Pakistani army was a stab in the back for the then PM Atal Bihari Vajpayee, Swarup said Sharif had only confirmed a truth that everyone was aware of.