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The Talking Fist

Parrikar and Doval talk, but terror demands action

The Talking Fist
Prabhjot Singh Gill
The Talking Fist
outlookindia.com
2016-02-29T18:15:59+05:30

Two top policy pundits of security—defence minister Manohar Parrikar and National Security Advisor Ajit Doval, both in the limelight after Pathankot—have failed to turn words into deeds. Parrikar, especially, has become an embarrassment. His latest tirade was at a recruitment rally in Jaipur, at which he said, “The nation has run out of its capacity to tolerate acts of terror, and as a defence minister, I’ve run out of it too. So we’ll do something about it. You’ll see.” Strangely, he also said, “The pain my country and I have borne must be returned to the attackers (of Pathankot)”, adding that this was his personal opinion.

Big talk indeed. And his track-record is uninspiring. After a terror attack last year, he’d talked of using terrorists to take out terrorists; he has been promising an overhaul of defe­nce procurement procedures; and he’d said a chief of defence staff (CDS) would be appointed in two-three months. Nothing has come of it. It’s more than ten months, for instance, since talk of a CDS. A defence minister, for heaven’s sake, must not speak loosely or anecdotally. And he certainly mustn’t speak in his personal capacity.

The truth is, real authority on defence, especially defence acquisitions, is vested in the PMO, and stories in South Block indicate it’s Ajit Doval who calls the shots. (His last trip was to Paris, to work out the final cost of the Rafale aircraft.) But Doval, too, has been singing the same tunes as Parrikar. His warnings to Pakistan have touched on defensive off­ence, deterrence and the like. He once said, “You do another Mumbai, there’ll be no Balochistan.” This went viral in Pakistan. But, despite Doval and Parrikar’s statements, nothing has materially changed the government’s capacities to...

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