HTLS 2020: India no longer soft target for terrorists, says Rajnath Singh
Defence minister Rajnath Singh said on Thursday that it was virtually impossible for terrorists to execute another 26/11-style strike on the Indian soil as a result of steps taken by the country to tighten its internal and external security architecture, even as he mounted a frontal attack on Pakistan for being a terror sponsor.
Singh made the remarks at the 18th Hindustan Times Leadership Summit on Thursday, the 12th anniversary of the 26/11 Mumbai terror attacks that led to sweeping changes in the national security set-up.
Singh said India was no longer a soft target for the perpetrators of terrorism and the country was imposing heavy cost on those harbouring terror.
“Pakistan is paying a heavy price for using terrorism as state policy,” the minister said.
Talking about the November 19 Nagrota encounter near Jammu, the defence minister said terrorists from across the border had infiltrated into India with the intention of carrying out a major terror attack similar to the 26/11 strike but security forces thwarted Pakistan’s latest attempt. Four terrorists were killed in the encounter.
The minister drew a distinction between India’s response to terror now and in the previous years.
He said there had been a significant change in India’s response to terrorism during the last six years.
“Earlier, terrorists based in Pakistan had no fear. They knew no harm would come to them as India would at best criticise the terrorist activities at international forums or present a dossier with evidence,” he said.
Highlighting the change in India’s stance, Singh said he country was now responding to terror with a 360-degree approach, with action being taken not only within the country’s boundaries but also across the borders to destroy terror camps when required.
“Whether it was the surgical strike after the Uri attack or the air strikes against terror camps in Pakistan’s Balakot after the Pulwama incident, the strong actions taken by the Indian forces against terrorism have no parallel in the country’s military history,” he said.
The minister said aspects related to external and internal security were no longer compartmentalised. “That’s a big change we are seeing today. National security has not been compartmentalised into internal and external security. It is being viewed in an integrated manner.”
He said Islamabad’s role as a “nursery of terrorism” had been exposed as a result of India’s diplomatic efforts and pressure. “The Financial Action Task Force (FATF) sword is hanging over Pakistan’s head on account of the public opinion built against terrorism by our Prime Minister at global fora,” he said.
Singh said being blacklisted by FATF would be the final nail in the coffin of Pakistan-sponsored terrorism at a time when the neighbouring country was going through a financial crisis.
The minister said that with its terror model against India crumbling slowly, the neighbour was now focusing on violating the ceasefire along the Line of Control (LoC) on a daily basis. He said the army was giving a befitting response to border violations by Pakistan, which was focused on “keeping the LoC hot”.
The minister cautioned against the threat national security faces from hybrid warfare. “Hybrid warfare involves elements of both conventional and unconventional warfare. Apart from the role of state actors, non-state actors also pose a big danger in hybrid warfare,” he said.
Singh said the scope of warfare would expand even more in the coming times and it was important to stay prepared. “Wars will not be confined to land, air and sea. These will be fought in space and cyberspace domains, and most importantly, in the hearts and minds of people,” he said.
Singh said it was important to understand this “new-age reality” in the context of integrated national security. “Our government is making continuous efforts to deal with current and future dangers,” he said.
The minister said the government had ushered in “transformative reforms” keeping the bigger picture of national security in mind, naming the creation of the post of chief of defence staff and setting up of the department of military affairs. He said the Make in India initiative was another big reform to strengthen the country’s security infrastructure by cutting down reliance on imported military hardware, and eventually becoming a weapons exporter.
He said the government had published a negative import list of 101 military items to boost indigenous defence manufacturing and provide a push to the Atmanirbhar Bharat Abhiyan (self-reliant India campaign).
In August, India announced that it will ban the import of 101 defence items over the next five years, a significant step towards achieving self-reliance in the defence sector.
The list covered artillery guns, light military transport aircraft, conventional submarines, long-range land-attack cruise missiles, assault rifles, sniper rifles, short-range surface-to-air missiles, beyond visual range air-to-air missiles, corvettes, missile destroyers, light combat helicopter, light combat aircraft, a variety of radars and different types of ammunition.