New Delhi: Pakistan, the situation in Kashmir, the Naxal threat and communal violence feature prominently in the report prepared by a former Indian Army general on the Congress’ strategy vis-a-vis national security.
Lt Gen Deepender Singh Hooda (Retd), who oversaw India’s 2016 surgical strikes on terror camps in Pakistan-occupied Kashmir, was chosen by the Congress to head a task force to prepare a national security strategy for the party.
General Hooda met Congress president Rahul Gandhi in Delhi Sunday to hand over the report prepared by the task force.
“Lt General Deepender Singh Hooda (Retd), who oversaw the Uri surgical strikes in 2016, was appointed by Congress president Rahul Gandhi to oversee a task force, to prepare a comprehensive national security strategy report,” said a Congress functionary.
“The task force included a number of senior retired armed forces officers, diplomats and security experts. He has made a comprehensive report,” the functionary added.
The report prepared by Lt Gen Hooda and his team suggests an in-depth strategy to tackle Naxal violence, the source said, and highlights the potential threat communal violence could have in destabilising India.
On the neighbourhood
Importantly, the report states that India needs to start taking action against terrorism emanating from Pakistan by putting pressure on Islamabad “politically, diplomatically and even through military measures”.
“The current policy of Pakistan, where it indulges in state-sponsored terrorism to bring the focus on India-Pakistan talks, has failed,” said a second source who has accessed the report, describing its contents. “Pakistan has to stop terror activities. But the talks between the two nations also need to have some structured focus. India needs to put pressure on Pakistan through various channels, including the military,” the source added.
According to sources, the report prepared by the task force is divided into five parts: India’s place among global countries, how we need to have a secure neighbourhood, managing India’s own conflict, protecting our own people, and the need for building capabilities — military, police, intelligence, cyber and space.
The section on “secure neighbourhood” highlights the need for an ‘Act East’ policy, one that has also been pursued by the Narendra Modi government.
“The section talks about having a secure neighbourhood, with respect to Pakistan, China, Afghanistan, the ASEAN countries,” the second source added.
ASEAN, or the Association of Southeast Asian Nations, comprises 10 countries from the region, including Indonesia, Thailand, Singapore, Malaysia, Myanmar and Vietnam.
Laying down guidelines for the Congress’ handling of India’s “own conflicts”, the report stresses the need for intra-state dialogue between Jammu & Kashmir’s three regions — Jammu, Kashmir, Ladakh — to resolve the state’s problems.
“There’s a lot of division between the three regions and it is important that they all sit down and talk. There’s so much suspicion between the three regions,” said a third source privy to the report.
On Jammu & Kashmir
The report also states that the Jammu & Kashmir situation, where several local youths have reportedly joined terrorist ranks, has to be looked at with more empathy.
“Terrorism has to be addressed but there can’t be sole reliance on only a muscular approach. The entire situation has to be viewed with more empathy to resolve it,” the source added.
In the section on “managing our own people”, the report points to the risks posed by demographic pressures and climate change.
This report has been updated with additional information about the report of the task force
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