Congress flays government over Pathankot terror attack

The main opposition party also asked why Prime Minister Narendra Modi did not describe the terrorists who attacked the Indian Air Force base in Pathankot as Pakistanis.

New Delhi: Dubbing the fidayeen attack in Pathankot air base of Punjab as "one of the most sinister since 26/11" Mumbai terror attack, the Congress on Monday questioned the government's handling of the threat to the nation's security.

"Intelligence report on a terror module's infiltration in Delhi, bomb scare on the Shatabdi Express train and all-round general security alert have created an atmosphere of insecurity, raising question mark on the government's efficacy to neutralise the threat with the alacrity it deserves," Congress spokesperson Ajay Maken said in a statement here.

"Seemingly, there is a lack of 'command and control structure' within the government to deal with, take control of and direct elimination of the terror attack like the one in Pathankot," he added.

The main opposition party also asked why Prime Minister Narendra Modi did not describe the terrorists who attacked the Indian Air Force base in Pathankot as Pakistanis.

"Why is the prime minister giving a new description of terrorists as 'enemies of humanity' instead of describing them as Pakistani terrorists?" Maken said.

"In one of the most sinister terror attack since 26/11 (November 26, 2008, in Mumbai), Pakistani terrorists have committed a dastardly attack on India's security by storming the IAF base in Punjab, which is one of our principal first line of defence," he said.

The Congress also criticised the government for not convening a meeting of the Cabinet Committee on Security (CCS) to assess the situation.

"As expected, the prime minister should have convened a CCS meeting with all his ministers, monitor the situation and provide a clear-cut unified command to give a befitting reply to Pakistani terrorists and their handlers in Pakistan," the Congress leader said.

"Besides saving many lives in the process, Modiji should have sent a strong message of reassurance qua security to all countrymen and a stern warning to those in Pakistan that is exporting terror modules into India," he added.

Taking a dig at Modi, Maken said: "Even as the neutralisation of terrorists at Pathankot airbase continued with our security forces fighting valiantly, Modi was propagating yoga to the gatherings in Karnataka."

He said Modi also addressed a press conference amid the 26/11 Mumbai terror attack, when he was the chief minister of Gujarat.

"May we remind Modi that in the midst of the Mumbai terror attack, he reached the spots under attack and even held a press conference to criticise the then Congress government even as the attack was continuing?" he said.

"Why can't the same man now take control of the situation in Pathankot instead of shying away from defining the terrorists as Pakistanis?"

The Congress leader also took digs at Defence Minister Manohar Parrikar, Home Minister Rajnath Singh, External Affairs Minister Sushma Swaraj and Food Processing Minister Harsimrat Kaur Badal.

"Parrikar was preoccupied in his home state of Goa, as always. A usually out-of-loop (Rajnath) Singh first declared the operation to flush out terrorist successful through a tweet but after contradiction by his Home Secretary, he shockingly deleted his own tweet," he said.

"(Sushma) Swaraj, in the meanwhile, calls a meeting of ex-envoys. Complete disharmony and disjointed responses by those responsible for providing leadership in time of a serious terror attack speaks volumes about the political leadership as also the command and control structures within the government," Maken added.

Maken said even as security forces continued to battle militants, Harsimrat Kaur Badal released a press statement on Sunday evening congratulating the armed forces for successfully ending the operation.