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Jaw for tooth, Arun spits fire

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By OUR SPECIAL CORRESPONDENT in Delhi
  • Published 11.12.08
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New Delhi, Dec. 11: The unanimity in Parliament on the war on terror does not mean everyone in the Opposition will let the government off the hook on alleged omissions in the run-up to the Mumbai attack.

BJP member Arun Shourie today claimed the UPA government knew about the terror threat from the sea for at least two years and took no action.

During the debate in the Rajya Sabha, the former minister recommended Pakistan be kept “preoccupied” in its troubled provinces as a way of averting terror strikes in India. He suggested India target Pakistan’s vital installations: “Not an eye for an eye; but for an eye, both eyes. For a tooth, (the) whole jaw.”

Shourie said that in 2006, then home minister Shivraj Patil had said Pakistan was preparing Lashkar terrorists against India and the sea route would be used. The BJP MP then mentioned purportedly similar observations by Prime Minister Manmohan Singh in 2007, and national security adviser M.K. Narayanan’s briefing on the same points at an international conference.

“We are not consultants to the government, we are the government,” he said sarcastically, suggesting the UPA government spent its time warning of dangers instead of acting against them.

He advised the government to stop expecting others to help the country tackle terror. “Please stop running to mummy (the US).”

Shourie said the fall in militant violence in Kashmir in the past year and a half made it clear what India should do — “keep it (Pakistan) preoccupied in its own problems in Baluchistan, in Gilgit, Baltistan, in PoK”.

He made a dig at Narayanan’s habit of referring to Chinese strategy by saying India must target the “acupuncture points” of Pakistan — its air traffic control, railway traffic control, power grids, etc.

Shourie said the Opposition backed the government’s actions following the Mumbai attack but added that India must implement the recommendations of task forces on security and intelligence.

“Prepare for the next form of assault. We are always preparing for the last (previous attack)…. (That) the coast guard should be put under the control of the navy and accountability fixed is a recommendation (made) seven years back,” Shourie said. Recommendations for a marine police force date back to December 1996, he added.

He deplored the thin presence of intelligence officials on 35 of Lakshadweep’s 36 islands, citing the report of the Godbole task force, submitted in the aftermath of Kargil.

He asked the government to “shed all inhibitions” and collaborate with countries with expertise in intelligence — a possible reference to Israel.