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Advani vouches for spy shield

New Delhi, Dec. 17: Instead of launching pre-emptive strikes on terrorist training camps across its borders, the Centre has decided to vigorously follow a policy of “pre-emptive intelligence” to prevent terror strikes.

Deputy Prime Minister L.K. Advani spelt out the intelligence drive tonight while rejecting the Opposition charge that the Centre lacked vision in combating Pakistan-backed cross-border terrorism.

“Pre-emptive intelligence is the best protection (against terrorist acts). It will be pursued to the maximum extent,” he told the Lok Sabha, winding up a four-hour debate on internal security.

The Centre is also convening a special conference of chief ministers next year to discuss threadbare the issue of national security, Advani said, declaring that India will fight its own battle to crush Pakistan-backed terrorism.

Earlier, cutting across party lines, members voiced concern at the growing incidence of militancy in the country, with some Opposition parties asking the government to check the hate campaign launched by the Sangh parivar, saying it had the potential of feeding terrorism. Congress deputy leader Shivraj Patil asserted that religion should not be used to achieve political ends.

Giving a detailed assessment of the government’s perception of cross-border terrorism, Advani said “had pre-emptive intelligence inputs not been given by our intelligence agencies, there could have been so many more tragedies”.

“If the international community does not support us, we expect that they should not help those who are encouraging terrorism,” Advani said, adding that US economic aid to Pakistan “encouraged” it to pursue terrorism as a state policy.

Referring to the killing of two terrorists in Delhi’s Tughlaqabad area on Saturday morning, he said intelligence agencies had information that the duo had been asked from across the border “to do something spectacular in Delhi” either on December 6, the anniversary of the Babri Masjid demolition, or on December 13, the day Parliament was attacked last year.

Advani, who also holds the home portfolio, said intercepts had been received from across the border, chiding the terrorists for failing to strike on either day and directing them to launch an operation on December 14.

“We do not consider ourselves as powerful as the US. But what happened on September 11 last year was that four aircraft were hijacked, striking at the World Trade Center and the Pentagon. The fourth aircraft could have even hit the White House,” he said.

Referring to the 94 recommendations of the Group of Ministers, headed by him, to strengthen national security, he said 55 had been implemented and 10 others would be put into action by the end of this year. The rest would be set in motion by the next year-end.

Stating that India will not resume its dialogue with Pakistan till it ended cross-border terrorism, Advani said Pakistan must dismantle the entire terrorist infrastructure, including training camps, stop financing terrorists and deny asylum to terrorists returning to the country after carrying out attacks in India.

He said Pakistan’s policy, as put by a German scholar, was to “bleed (India) by a thousand cuts”. Asserting that internal security in this scenario was no less important than defence, he said the home ministry had the nodal responsibility of dealing with internal security matters and had to be more proactive vis-à-vis state governments.

Referring to reports about terrorists acquiring nuclear, chemical and biological weapons, the Congress’ Patil asked the government to “anticipate these threats, plan to combat them and be ready to implement the strategy when the time comes”.

Raghuvansh Prasad Singh of the RJD said the government has failed to protect ordinary people and got away by blaming the ISI for every terrorist attack in the country. He raised the issue of a journalist of Kashmir Times being detained under the Official Secrets Act and asked the home minister to clarify the position.

Ramji Lal Suman of the Samajwadi Party demanded that organisations like the Shiv Sena and the VHP should be banned as they were posing a threat to the nation’s internal security.

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