Terrorism as instrument of state policy unacceptable: PM (Lead)

December 12th, 2008 - 12:04 am ICT by IANS  

Manmohan SinghNew Delhi, Dec 11 (IANS) Holding that “the use of terrorism as an instrument of state policy is no longer acceptable”, Prime Minister Manmohan Singh Thursday called for galvanizing the international community “into dealing sternly and effectively with the epicentre of terrorism, which is located in Pakistan”.”I believe that we have to work at three levels. Firstly, we have to galvanize the international community into dealing sternly and effectively with the epicentre of terrorism, which is located in Pakistan,” the prime minister said while replying to the debate in the Lok Sabha on the security scenario in the country in the aftermath of the Mumbai terror attacks.

“The infrastructure of terrorism has to be dismantled permanently. This is for the good of the entire world community, including the well being of the people of Pakistan themselves,” Manmohan Singh added.

Noting that several heads of state and government had spoken to him in the wake of the Mumbai outrage, he said each one of them “praised India for demonstrating restraint” and agreed that “strong action” should be taken against those responsible for such acts.

“I conveyed to them that we could not be satisfied with mere assurances. The political will of the international community must be translated into concrete and sustained action on the ground. It is time for the international community to squarely confront the challenge of terrorism.,” Manmohan Singh told the house.

“The use of terrorism as an instrument of state policy is no longer acceptable,” the prime minister said, adding there should be “no double standards in the global fight against terrorism”.”There are no good or bad terrorists,” he stressed.

Admitting that the Mumbai attacks had “highlighted gaps in our preparedness to deal with these kinds of assaults”, Manmohan Singh said: “We need to equip ourselves more effectively to deal with this unprecedented threat and challenge to our country’s integrity and unity.”

Outlining the specific steps being taken in this area, the prime minister said the Coast Guard would be entrusted with the sole responsibility of guarding the coastline, arrangements have been streamlined for securing the country’s air space taking into account conventional as well as non-conventional threats, and the National Security Guard (NSG) would be decentralised and dispersed.

A bill would be introduced “at the earliest” to create a national investigative agency to probe terror strikes and prosecute their perpetrators, he assured the hosue.

“The need for stronger measures to protect our coastline has been highlighted before, but the progress on ground in this regard has obviously been tardy and too slow,” Singh conceded.

“We are strengthening maritime security against asymmetric threats from the sea. Since there are currently multiple agencies tasked with coastal security, it has been decided that the sole responsibility of guarding the coastline would be entrusted to the Coast Guard,” the prime minister said. The Indian Navy would provide the necessary back-up.

Special security and protective arrangements were being put in place for all major ports and sensitive installations in the vicinity of India’s shoreline.

He also noted that real time monitoring of aircraft movement jointly by the air force and the civil authorities has begun and that air defence measures to prevent intrusion of rogue or unidentified aircraft were in place.

With the Mumbai attacks highlighting the need for response “with much greater speed”, the prime minister said: “We have worked out a mechanism for a comprehensive crisis management response.”

The National Security Guard would be decentralized and located in major metropolitan areas.

Till such time as the strength of the NSG was increased and new units were trained, the Special Forces available with the army, the air force and the navy and other civilian agencies would be used, while each state would create commando units, the prime minister said.

He told the house the government has already decided to strengthen the legal framework to deal with terror and to set up a national investigation agency. These bills would be brought to the house at the earliest.

The prime minister said he was “happy” that the UN Thursday placed sanctions on four individuals of the Lashkar-e-Taiba (LeT) terror group, including its chief Hafiz Muhammad Saeed, and on the front organisations under which the LeT was operating such as the Jamaat-ud-Dawa.

“This is the kind of purposeful action that we believe should be pursued in a sustained manner by the world community to ensure that the entire infrastructure of terror is dismantled,” Manmohan Singh said.

Noting that India had “so far acted with utmost restraint” in the wake of the Mumbai attacks, Manmohan added a word of caution: “But let not our commitment to civilized norms be misconstrued as a sign of weakness.

“Every perpetrator, organizer and supporter of terror, whatever his affiliation or religion or location, must pay the price for such cowardly and horrific acts against our people.”

“We have noted the reported steps that have been taken by Pakistan. But clearly much more needs to be done and the actions should be pursued to their logical conclusion,” the prime minister added.

Manmohan Singh prefaced his remarks by saying: “I would like to apologise to our people for the fact that these dastardly acts could not be prevented.”

He also noted “with great sorrow” that a number of foreign nationals were victims of the Mumbai onslaught and added: “I have personally spoken and written to leaders of countries apologising for the loss of their nationals.”

Saluting the courage and patriotism of the police and security forces, including the Special Forces like the NSG and the naval commandos, Manmohan Singh said: “This nation is proud of them.”

The prime minister ended his address on a note of caution - and conciliation.

“In conclusion, I wish to say that it is in times of adversity that the true mettle of a nation is tested. We must remain calm and be resolute. We should stand firm as one nation and one people to meet this challenge posed by terrorism.

“We will give a fitting rebuff to our enemies. The idea of India as a functioning democracy and a pluralistic society is at stake. This is a time for national unity and I seek your cooperation. Truth and righteousness are on our side and together we shall prevail.”

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