Amid heightened tension between India and Pakistan, Defence Minister Manohar Parrikar on Sunday said the country was “fully prepared for any escalation”.
“We are fully prepared for any escalation. My mother used to say if you go to the forest hunting for a rabbit, be prepared to face the tiger as well,” Parrikar told CNN NEWS18 channel in an interview aired on Sunday.
The situation has been tense on the Line of Control (LoC) after the September 18 terrorist attack on an Indian army base camp in Uri in Jammu and Kashmir and the Indian retaliation on the terrorist launch pads through cross-border “surgical strikes” early on September 29.
However, Parrikar refused to say anything beyond what Director General of Military Operations (DGMO) Lt Gen. Ranbir Singh said on the surgical strikes.
“I would only say that it was successful operation. I would not comment beyond the stated official position because it’s a very sensitive security matter… The DGMO has already given all the details in his statement,” Parrikar said.
On India’s relations with China in the light of China’s proximity to Pakistan, Parrikar said that a country’s closeness to a particular nation does not stop it from having relations with other nations, and that India’s relations with China have improved over the years.
“We are concerned about (certain) issues, but I think our relations with China are better today. The border management is better. We are employing more confidence building measures,” he said.
He added that China’s refusal to acknowledge remarks made by the Pakistani media that China would side with Pakistan in case of a tussle with India is a diplomatic victory for India.
“China’s statement (that they do not know of any senior government functionary pledging support to Pakistan) is a victory for our diplomacy vis-a-vis China,” Parrikar said.
The minister said that thanks to its diplomatic efforts, India now has more international support against terrorism and all major powers of the world know that “terrorism is flowing out of one country”.
“Our Prime Minister made all efforts to build relations with Pakistan,” he said.
Asked if India is now beefing up security around military camps and equipment, the minister said that security is also a “mindset”.
“I think security is a mindset. The equipment and apparatus has to be there but it is also a mindset. For example, while driving a car some people anticipate danger and escape safely. Some people do not anticipate danger and meet with an accident,” Parrikar said.
“We are trying to sensitise the commanders and troops so that security improves, while providing all the requisite infrastructure,” the minister added.
On the removal of the brigade commander of Uri camp, Parrikar said it was the army chief’s decision.
“I think it was the decision of the army chief because perhaps he must have found some lapses, or at least he wants to investigate some apparent lapses in terrorists’ entry to the camp,” he said.
He said for an impartial enquiry, the person being investigated cannot be allowed to remain in a position of power.
Pointing at the apparent lack of vigil at the Uri camp that probably provided terrorist a chance to enter the army camp, and not the lack of infrastructure as was pointed out by some, Parrikar said: “If two cars meet with an accident, it has to the fault of one of the drivers. It is very rare that an accident occurs due to axle failure.”