New Delhi: Terming the politicisation of military operations for electoral gains as ‘shameful’, former Prime Minister Manmohan Singh has said that the armed forces were given a free hand to counter security threats under the Congress government as well.
“Multiple surgical strikes took place during our tenure as well. For us, military operations were meant for strategic deterrence and giving a befitting reply to anti-India forces than to be used for vote garnering exercises,” Singh was quoted as saying by the Hindustan Times.
The statement comes amid the BJP’s poll narrative revolving around national security, with Prime Minister Narendra Modi repeatedly invoking the surgical strikes and the Balakot air strikes in his campaign.
Other Congress leaders, including party chief Rahul Gandhi, have also said that multiple surgical strikes were conducted by the armed forces when Manmohan Singh was the Prime Minister. But this is the first time that he himself has confirmed this.
Slamming the BJP for inviting Pakistan’s intelligence agency ISI to probe the Pathankot Air Base terror attack of 2016, Singh said that it was the biggest strategic blunder by the BJP government.
He said that since 2014, Pakistan-based terror groups have targeted India’s military installations in Pampore, Uri, Pathankot, Gurdaspur, Sunjwan Army Camp, and even attacked the Amarnath Yatra.
“In the past 70 years, a government in power never had to hide behind the valour of our armed forces,” he said, adding that this was being done to divert attention from the ‘failures of Modi government’.
Rubbishing the claims that the response of the UPA government in the aftermath of 26/11 Mumbai attack was not enough, Singh said that different geopolitical conditions require different responses, adding that it was due to the efforts of the UPA government that LeT is inffective now.
“Within 14 days of the Mumbai attack, we got China to agree to declare Hafiz Saeed as a global terrorist. Congress-UPA ensured that a $10m bounty was placed on the head of the Mumbai attack perpetrator and the founder of Pakistan-based Lashkar-e-Taiba (LeT), Hafiz Saeed by America. The UN Security Council also put top LeT members involved in Mumbai attack on sanctions lists as terrorists,” he said.