Hyderabad: The Pulwama attack by terror outfit Jaish-e-Mohammed came as a “gift” to Prime Minister Narendra Modi and its timing would benefit the NDA government in the Lok Sabha elections, said India’s former top spy A.S. Dulat. “The BJP will display muscle and claim credit for the retaliation,” he said.
In a conversation with Deccan Chronicle, Mr Dulat, former director of the Research and Analysis Wing, who is among India’s foremost experts on Indo-Pak relations, said, “It was a ghastly tragedy. With an intent to send a strong message to Pakistan, India reacted through air strikes. Pakistan retaliated immediately because their air space was violated, and the rest is known to the world. However, the terror strikes have taken the BJP government to new heights. The incident has benefited Mr Modi to a degree that will be known post the elections,” he said.
Repeating what Telangana state Chief Minister K. Chandrasekhar Rao had said about the surgical strikes during the UPA government, Mr Dulat said, “Strikes kept happening and there were undisclosed attacks against Pakistan during the UPA regime but the government never spoke about it. In fact, no government in the past has given surgical strikes such a public display. This government likes publicity, as we have seen Mr Modi talking about it every day. Even Mr Shivshankar Menon, National Security Adviser during the UPA government, said that during our time we never spoke about the strikes.”
“The NDA is lucky. There was the 26/11 attack during the tenure of Prime Minister Manmohan Singh. There were the Kargil war, the Parliament attack, and the plane hijack during Prime Minister Atal Bihari Vajpayee’s tenure. The Modi government is lucky because the Pulwama attack happened before the elections,” he said.
Mr Dulat has served in high ranking positions and advised the PMO between 2000 and 2004 on Kashmir. Asked about the situation in the Valley, he said, “There is zero dialogue between Kashmir and Delhi. The Valley is in a mess of our making. The coalition between the north and the south never worked out.”
As far as the approaches taken by Mr Modi and Vajpayee in addressing the situation in Kashmir are concerned, he cited that there was a solution to the Kashmir issue during Vajpayee’s government. The Modi government has been messing it up since July 2016. “When Mr Modi was elected to power, it was thought that Kashmir would return to be peace. However, the Valley is in a mess,” he said.
Asked if hypernationalism was good for the country, Mr Dulat said: “Nationalism means war. The DNA of India remains secular. The country would do better without the open display of nationalism. A true sense of patriotism is more than enough. The country needs more humanism.”
Agreeing with another former RAW chief, Mr Vikram Sood, for increasing human intelligence, Mr Dulat said, “Resources (funding) for human intelligence should be increased. However, I believe that RAW and IB are among the top intelligence agencies. We are better than the enemy country’s intel body and this (statement) was backed by a former ISI officer.”
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