New Delhi: A senior official of the outgoing UPA government today said that “conflict entrepreneurs” in Pakistan are working hard to create an atmosphere of “animosity” against India.
Deputy National Security Advisor (NSA) Nehchal Sandhu said it is expected that in the coming days, “launching pads” along the Pakistan border will be “re-activated and determined attempts will be made for infiltration”.
“Even though there has been an orderly transition in mid-2013 from one democratically-elected government to another, conflict entrepreneurs in Pakistan continue to strive hard to sustain and entrench an atmosphere of animosity against the Indian state,” Sandhu said at an event organised by Border Security Force here.
“As we head into summers, launching pads are likely to be re-activated and determined attempts will be made for infiltration. The burden for thwarting the same will essentially fall upon BSF,” he told the gathering of men and officers of the paramilitary force as he delivered the annual ‘Rustamji Memorial’ lecture.
Nawaz Sharif is the current prime minister of Pakistan after winning elections last year. India’s prime minister -elect Narendra Modi has extended an invitation to Sharif to attend his swearing-in ceremony on May 26, although the latter’s participation in it is still unconfirmed.
Sandhu, a former chief of the Intelligence Bureau (IB), said an array of terrorist groups, which have earlier perpetrated violence and killings in India, continue to enjoy “much latitude” in Pakistan.
“The Pakistan council — which includes Jamaat-ud-Dawa, a front for the Lashkar-e-Taiba — is one such platform. An array of terrorist groups, which have previously exhibited the ability to carry out operations in several states of India, continue to enjoy much latitude in Pakistan and they remain very active,” Sandhu said.
He said restrictions on those terror groups in Pakistan, which conducted the worst terror attack in India in 2008 in Mumbai, “evaporated” a few years ago.
“Limitations imposed on their (terror groups’) recruitment schemes, training venues, fund collection mechanisms and infiltration platforms in the immediate aftermath of November 2008 terrorist attacks in Mumbai evaporated a few years ago.
Sections of the state apparatus continue to extend support to these groups. Unrestrained outpouring of vituperative propaganda against India has not caused the Pakistan government to impose any restrictions.
“With the number of cadres available to them, these groups have spare potential despite having dedicated many of their cadres to eastern and central parts of Afghanistan in the last few years,” he said. Sandhu also spoke of the security situation along India’s eastern flank, where it shares borders with Bangladesh.
“The proxy platforms of the (Pakistani) outfits in Bangladesh, although exposed in many places, continue to maintain their vitality. Recent investigations show that Indo- Bangladesh border has been exploited by terrorists for clandestine movements of their colleagues and hardware.
“‘Rohingyas’ are also believed to have availed of extant vulnerabilities. Here again, the responsibility falls upon BSF,” the Deputy NSA said.
Delivering the talk on ‘BSF-The Way Ahead’, Sandhu said that the country’s largest border-guarding force should engage in “greater exploitation of available technologies” as this was necessary for them to provide effective security and gather vital intelligence along border areas.
He said the completion of the border fence was a “pressing requirement” and best practices from across the world could be borrowed to secure the vulnerable riverine areas along Indian borders. He also cited the example of an anti-infiltration fence erected by Singapore in the sea.
Sandhu said there was a requirement for “supplementing the barrier posed by the border security fence through collateral deployment of sensors” and their collective output should be available in the nearest border outpost of BSF along the Pakistan and Bangladesh borders.
He said the information obtained through human intelligence should be enhanced by data provided from smart gadgets like Unmanned Aerial Vehicles (UAVs) and aerostats.
The Deputy NSA, however, said that BSF’s induction in anti -Naxal operations has distracted the about 2.2-lakh personnel force from their “core duties”, which is maintaining security along the borders.
BSF has deployed close to 25,000 men in anti-Maoist operations in Chhattisgarh and Odisha.
Sandhu also said that since plans are afoot to entrust the security of the 1,643km-long Indo-Myanmar border to BSF, an enhanced sanction for manpower is required. Assam Rifles is at present guarding the Indo-Myanmar border.
Terming the frontier a difficult area which has been for decades “routinely criss-crossed by armed insurgents of different hues”, Sandhu said if the government wishes to effectively curb insurgent movements and activities along this border, there may be a need to rethink the quantum of manpower and the number of border posts that need to be dedicated for manning the Indo-Myanmar border.
He said border fencing, 4,500km length of roads and about 100 helipads will have to be created over a period of 10 years to effectively guard this border.