The Telegraph
Friday , June 12 , 2015

Signal of 'change in mindset'

New Delhi, June 11: Manohar Parrikar today signalled a new aggressive security policy in the wake of the military operation after the Manipur ambush and immediately invited barbs from Pakistan and opened a debate on India's military capabilities at home.

The defence minister said the action against the insurgents illustrated what a "change in mindset" can do. India has already said the "tempo of operations" against insurgents in the Northeast was set to increase.

But the statements by Parrikar today and by minister of state Rajyavardhan Rathore have the potential to make the diplomacy required to tackle militants across border more difficult. Sovereign countries do not easily welcome foreign troops with hostile intent into their territories.

Even more important, there are questions now being asked from within the security establishment if Parrikar was implying that India was adopting a doctrine of pre-emptive strikes against militants. Such a doctrine is adopted by regular militaries that believe its capabilities far outweigh those of its adversaries.

"If the thinking pattern changes, lot of things change," he said at a seminar on participation of medium and small scale industries in defence production.

"You have seen (this change) in the last two-three days. A simple action against insurgents has changed the security scenario in the country," he said.

Parrikar said he would not dwell on the military operation. "But I am going into the aspect of it creating a different mindset, so much so that those who fear India's new posture have started reacting."

The last was an unnamed reference to Pakistan whose interior minister Nisar Ali Khan today said: "India should not think of repeating such an exercise inside Pakistani territory." The reference was to the Indian army's commando-strike on Tuesday morning against militants said to have been sheltered in camps in Myanmar.

The doctrine of pre-emptive strikes means that the armed forces of a country can strike at potential adversaries if there is reason to believe that they may inflict harm.

After the June 9 raid on insurgent camps along the border with Myanmar in Nagaland and Manipur, the Indian Army statement said there was credible intelligence that the groups, such as the NSCN(K) and its affiliates, were planning attacks in India. The raid was to pre-empt such attacks.

In reality, though, the raid was more reactive - a response to the June 4 ambush in which 18 soldiers were killed in Manipur's Chandel district - than pre-emptive.

However, NSA Ajit Doval's engagements with Myanmar and a promise to increase the tempo of operations means Indian security forces are engaged in or are planning to shift counter-insurgency operations to a higher gear.

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