Defence minister Manohar Parrikar said on Monday any individual or organisation hurting India should be paid back in the same coin but the how, when and where of the operation “should be our choice”, sharpening his attack on militants involved in the Pathankot ambush.
Speaking at a seminar organised by the army, the minister said history showed that until those who “inflict damage on others experience the same pain, they don’t change” but clarified that the remarks weren’t the government’s line on the issue.
His comments came nine days after Pakistani terrorists attacked an air force base in Punjab’s Pathankot, leaving seven soldiers dead.
India has linked proposed bilateral talks to action taken by Islamabad to hunt down the Jaish-e-Mohammed militants involved in the attack.
Watch | Manohar Parrikar says those harming India “should receive pain they inflict”
“How, when and place should be of your choice but if someone is harming this country, then that particular individual or organisation, I purposely used the words individual and organisation, should also receive the pain of such activities,” the minister said at the seminar where top officers, including army chief General Dalbir Singh, were present.
“Basic principle is that until we give them pain, whoever they may be, until then, such incidents will not reduce.”
The minister did not refer to the Pathankot attack but said the country was proud of its seven soldiers who laid down their lives but added that he was pained by the loss.
He said soldiers should aim at neutralising the enemy and “our own casualties should be minimal”.
“The aim should be taking life, not giving. Sacrifice is respected... But what nation needs is that you neutralise your enemy, the nation’s enemy.”
Asked if that meant a change in policy from the previous UPA government, Parrikar retorted, “If someone comes and hammers you, you should keep quite? Was that the policy?”
The Congress, meanwhile, asked the government to make public all details related to the Pathankot attack. “What are the actionable proofs and evidences that they have given to Pakistan? Has Pakistan acted on these evidences and to what extent? Is the government satisfied with Pakistan’s actions?” asked party spokesperson Abhishek Manu Singhvi.
The main opposition party also asked Prime Minister Narendra Modi to clarify why a lead agency wasn’t earmarked for the operation and no unified command and control mechanism specified. “Is it true that the command and control of this multi-agency operation was resolved when the NSG inspector general and army had a tussle over the issue?” Singhvi asked.