The most damning indictment of the UPA government has come not from the leading opposition party, the BJP, nor from the Leftist parties led by the CPM, but from a former Indian High Commissioner to Pakistan and Deputy National Security Adviser, Satish Chandra. And to think that the criticism was published in The Tribune (July 13, 2008) of all newspapers! The Tribune has become a strong supporter of the UPA government and the publication of Satish Chandra'sarticle must have raised many eyebrows in Delhi. But it must be said that the time has certainly come for an evaluation of the UPA'srecord of administration, considering that general elections are not far away.
The truth is that we have a soft government that doesn'thave the courage to stand up to anybody, let alone the only Super Power in the world, the United States. Consider some of the charges made against the UPA government by a high-level bureaucrat of great administrative experience: ?Domestic turbulence is at an all-time high. Indian foreign policy bears a distinct made-in-Washington stamp. Influenced by the nuclear deal, other activity has been put on the back-burner and India'spolicies are oriented to accommodate US interests. Pusillanimity is yet another deeply depressing characteristic of the UPA'sforeign policy. Security reform is at a discount today and many of the institutional mechanisms activated and nurtured by Brijesh Mishra and J.N. Dixit have been run down. Given the government'sweak-kneed and short-sighted approach, is it any surprise that the internal security situation in the country verges on the grim? India'srelatively rapid economic growth in the last few years has been largely due to the endeavours of its entrepreneurs and not due to the government??
The Free Press Journal (July 26) damned the Manmohan Singh government for its ?shocking insensitivity? over the Sethusamudram issue. ?Senior advocate Fali Nariman arguing on behalf of the central government in the Supreme Court virtually mocked at Lord Rama,? the paper said, adding: ?Seen in the context of how the ruling establishment panders to the Muslim minority vote bank, these self-appointed guardians of ?secularism? in the Establishment are doing a great disservice to the cause they profess to espouse.?
The paper added: ?Manmohan Singh government has indeed unmasked itself by the insensitivity with which it has responded to the issue.? Gomantak Times (July 16) said the time has come for the government to ?stop soft-pedalling?. The government, it said, ?should not hesitate in posting special forces, including element of the regular armed forces at strategic locations to convince anti-Indian elements that it means business?. The paper said the US does it, the erstwhile Soviet Union did it and even China is doing it ?on the sly?.
The Indian Express (July 9) said that the Kabul blasts are ?a wake-up call for Indian to focus on security? and India ?needs to pay much greater attention and upgrade substantially the perimeter security?? The Hitavada (July 15) said that the Pakistan intelligence and military ?has become used to the idea that they can continue to foment trouble in India or Indian targets abroad with little or no consequence? and needed ?to be jolted out of their comfort zone?. Besides, said the paper, ?Indian intelligence too should pick up suitable targets within this establishment and eliminate them.?
The Week (August 10) in its cover story on terrorism quoted ?sources from the Intelligence Bureau as saying that Indian Mujahideen is either ? a combined front of Students Islamic Movement of India (SIMI) and Harkat-ul-Jihad-al-Islami (HuJI) or SIMI has revamped itself post-ban?. But of one thing the story was sure, that it is a group which is ISI-linked. The story said that the reasons for rising home-grown outfits could be many. For one thing, the ISI and Bangladesh'sDirectorate-General of Forces Intelligence (DGFI) were aiding terror groups. The story quoted M.K. Dhar, former Joint Director of the Intelligence Bureau as saying: ?Between 1989 and 2008 the ISI and DGFI set up camps, charted out routes and established supply depots for jihadis to create modules all over India. The mission is nearly complete.? The unasked question is what the UPA government has been doing during these last four and odd years it has been in power. According to the Free Press Journal (July 29), ?India should not delude itself that it can bank upon the Americans to bale it out of difficulties caused by ISI-fuelled subversion.? It quoted the distinguished terrorism expert B. Raman as pointing out that while continuing to give financial training and arms assistance to the Lashkar-e-Toiba, the ISI is encouraging it to rely on Indian Muslims for its operations in Indian territory and not to depute Pakistani Muslims for this purpose.
Raman has warned that it is only a question of time before the Harkat-ul-Mujahideen, the Jaish-e-Mohammad, the Lashkar-e-Jhangvi and Al Qaeda itself set up their own outfits or sleeper cells in India constituting only of Indian Muslims, so that these too could be projected as indigenous Muslim organisations of India and not as Pakistan or Arab organisations. Said the editorial in the Free Press Journal: ?This underlines the need for India to tackle the menace with greater application and improvisation. There is no escape from sharper intelligence and more stringent law to take the challenge head-on.?
Everyone except the UPA government seems alert to what is going on right under the UPA government'sclosed nose. Writing in The Tribune (June 20) Sushant Sareen reminded the government to take note of the fact of ?the sudden re-activation of the propaganda machinery to incite Sikhs? and ?the rising incident of infiltration, repeated violations of the cease-fire line along the LoC and the re-emergence of the jihadi groups?.