Prime Minister Manmohan Singh on Tuesday disclosed there were regular intelligence reports of imminent terror strikes and emphasised that the armed forces must be equipped to deal with all threat scenarios.
“Although there has been no major attack in India since then [26/11 Mumbai attacks], there are regular intelligence reports of imminent attacks in the country. This is a matter of deep concern and there is no room for complacency,” Dr. Singh said, addressing the annual Combined Commanders Conference at the Defence Ministry.
Stating that the Mumbai attacks confirmed the worst fears about the lethal dimension of terrorism and non-traditional threats to the country’s security, he said, both state and non-state actors were involved in the business of terrorism.
He said India being a democracy and an open society was at times “highly vulnerable” and suggested the need to improve its defensive mechanism against all forms of terrorism, asymmetric warfare and aggravated militancy.
“We need to be prepared to face onslaughts of this kind, but we should avoid knee-jerk reactions,” Dr. Singh said in his closed-door address, excerpts of which were released by his office.
Making a reference to the October 8 attack on the Indian embassy in Kabul, he said, it was yet another reminder of the forces India was pitted against. He said the overall situation in the immediate neighbourhood had worsened since his address to the Combined Commanders meet last year.
The apparent reference was to the manner in which there have been increasing militant attacks inside Pakistan including the Army during the last few weeks, a situation Defence Minister A.K. Antony described on Monday as very serious.
The address touched upon various facets of national security as also the challenges the country faced in the field of economy, climate change, food and energy security, India’s growing stature on the world stage, and issues relating specifically to the armed forces.
To face emerging challenges, the country needed to be strong internally, he said, emphasising that it could not rely on others to solve the problem. “This requires a well thought national response and judicious policy prescriptions. It also means creative and constructive engagement with the outside world based on enlightened self-interest, and autonomy in the processes of decision making.”
As for the armed forces, he said, they must be trained to fight anywhere, anytime and under any condition. Their ability to deal with non-traditional threats must receive greater attention.
While stating that the government was fully committed to the modernisation of the armed forces to ensure its military superiority and technological edge, he said the plan should have a long term perspective and formulated in an integrated manner.