India unveils anti-terror measures, says Pakistan must act (Roundup)

December 11th, 2008 - 8:24 pm ICT by IANS  

Bharatiya Janata PartyNew Delhi, Dec 11 (IANS) A national investigation agency, new counter-insurgency and anti-terrorism schools and the creation of a coastal command were among the measures India announced Thursday, while categorically stating that it could not be “business as usual” with Pakistan following the Mumbai terror attack.Home Minister P. Chidambaram, External Affairs Minister Pranab Mukherjee and Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) leader L.K. Advani were amongst the leaders who spoke in the Lok Sabha, the lower house, on the 60-hour Mumbai siege in which more than 170 people were killed and stressed that the nation was one in this war against terror.

“We expect Pakistan to take some positive steps. It is for the Pakistan government to decide,” Mukherjee told the Indian parliament during the discussion on the Nov 26 Mumbai terror siege.

“People expect this country to take resolute action which will convey the message that the territorial integrity of the country can’t be ignored. And nobody dare do it,” he said.

India, Mukherjee said, wanted Pakistan to hand over 40 people it believes are behind militant attacks and other crimes but ruled out military action as a solution.

“Unless the action is carried to its logical conclusion like banning terrorist outfits and the dismantling of the terrorist infrastructure, it will not help,” Mukherjee said in his tough message to Pakistan.

Alluding to some recent steps taken by Pakistani security agencies against terror outfits in that country, Mukherjee stressed that the crackdown on terror must be seen to be genuine.

“They are simply changing the signboard. Ideology is the same and activities are the same,” he said, referring to the banned Lashkar-e-Taiba (LeT), a militant outfit suspected of having masterminded the Mumbai carnage, which resurrected itself as the Jamat-ud-Dawah (JuD).

Hoping to plug gaps in the intelligence and security apparatus, Chidambaram unveiled anti-terror reforms and also asserted that India could not go back to “business as usual” with Pakistan.

“We will strain every nerve to defend our borders. Given the nature of the threats, we cannot go back to business as usual. Hard decisions will be taken to protect our country and its people. The finger of suspicion unmistakably points to the territory of our neighbour Pakistan,” he said in his first address to the Lok Sabha after taking over as home minister on Dec 1.

He disclosed that intelligence reports of a suspected LeT vessel attempting to infiltrate into Mumbai was shared with the Coast Guard as well as the naval intelligence.

“The navy had committed several surface units and aircraft in the zone during the period Nov 19-20. In the absence of further inputs or information from the agencies concerned, the navy concluded that no further action could be taken on the basis of the available information.”

He emphasised that there was need to make the intelligence machinery “effective” and “result-oriented”.

“All aspects concerning intelligence are under my examination. While the basic structure seems sound, there is a need to make intelligence gathering and intelligence sharing more effective and result oriented. Some changes have already been made and more are underway.”

Giving details, he said a decision had been taken in principle to create a Coastal Command for overall supervision and coordination of maritime and coastal security.

“It has been decided to set up 20 counter-insurgency and anti-terrorism schools in different parts of the country for training the commando units of the State police forces,” he added.

At a time when the government was preparing the country and the people to face new challenges of terror, political parties assured the government of support in all “stern decisions”.

“The whole nation is one and together. The ruling party and opposition may have differences on many issues but in the war against terror, we are united,” Leader of Opposition Advani thundered.

Terming Pakistan the “epicentre” of terrorism, he cautioned the government against relying completely on the UN Security Council to bring the perpetrators of the “terror war” in Mumbai to justice.

“We are trying to pressurise Pakistan by moving the UNSC. But we should not forget our experience in terms of Kashmir. We should take whatever action we can take on our own strength, as this is our problem. We should not expect too much from the UNSC,” Advani said.

Congress general secretary Rahul Gandhi said Mumbai was “an attack on our nation”. “It was an attack on the idea of India. They attacked the freedom of our people. They have attacked all of us.”

His colleague, Congress MP, Milind Deora, who comes from south Mumbai that witnessed the worst of the terror siege, appealed to political parties to be united at this particular point.

“We should not get into petty differences and find fault with each other. This is not a time to polticise terror. At this time we need an effective mechanism to prevent and respond to terror,” he said.

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