While addressing the Hindustan Times Leadership Summit, Singh also referred to the Sino-India border row in Ladakh, and said the armed forces have been given a free hand to effectively deal with any attempts to change the Line of Actual Control and that the government will not allow any harm to India’s self respect.
“I want to assure everyone that under Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s administration, there will be no compromise on India’s self-respect, sovereignty and territorial integrity,” he said.
Referring to the 26/11 attack, Singh said India is no more a soft target for terrorism due to variety of measures in the last few years, and added that Pakistan has been exposed as “nursery of terrorism” following diplomatic outreach by New Delhi.
“We can assure all the countrymen that now India has strengthened its internal and external security cycle so much that it is now almost impossible to execute another 26/11 attack on Indian soil,” Singh said.
On November 26, 2008, a group of 10 Pakistani terrorists went into a rampage, carrying out a coordinated attack on a railway station, two luxury hotels and a Jewish centre, after they sneaked into India’s financial capital through the Arabian sea route.
Over 166 people including 28 foreigners from 10 nations were killed in the nearly 60-hour seige that sent shockwave across the country and even brought India and Pakistan to the brink of a war.
“Now India’s response to terrorism has been under a 360 degree approach. India is taking action within its borders. But, if needed, our brave soldiers are going beyond that to destroy the terrorist bases,” the defence minister said.
The defence minister also referred to the failed attempts by Pakistan-based terrorists to carry out a major attack in Nagrota in Jammu and Kashmir recently.
“Whether it was the surgical strike after the Uri incident or the Balakot air strikes after the Pulwama attack, our armed forces have taken drastic action to deal with terrorism,” Singh said.
“Pakistan’s model of terrorism against India is slowly being demolished…We have escalated the cost for those supporting terrorism, and countries like Pakistan may have to pay a heavy price for making terrorism a state policy,” Singh said.
The defence minister also said a ‘blacklisting’ of Pakistan by global anti-terror watchdog FATF will prove to be highly costly for that country which is already reeling under financial stress.
The 26/11 attack had given a new direction to India’s security policy, and there has been a “paradigm shift” in naval and coastal security architecture since then, the minister added.
On the border row with China, the defence minister said there was a perceptional difference over the LAC and problem arises when laid down protocols are violated.
“I am assuring everyone that nobody can claim even an inch of India’s land,” Singh said.
On assembly elections in West Bengal next year, Singh said there was a possibility of BJP getting two-thirds majority.
In the nearly 45-minute-long interactive session, Singh delved into a plethora of issues including farmers’ agitation, India’s defence modernisation programme, situation in Jammu and Kashmir and threat of hybrid warfare.
“Civil-military coordination has improved a lot after the removal of Section 370 in J&K. We are seeing a positive improvement there. Similarly, in the North-East too, there has been continuous improvement in the security situation,” he said.