THE CONGRESS Monday said mere “rhetoric” or stating that those responsible for the Uri attack will not go unpunished, will not help, and exhorted the Narendra Modi government to mount a diplomatic offensive to “isolate” Pakistan and ensure imposition of sanctions against the country.
Stating that a “firm and appropriate” response by security forces is required, the party also attacked Prime Minister Modi and said he owes the country an explanation for the “intelligence failure” that led to Sunday’s attack. The Congress also argued that Defence Minister Manohar Parrikar cannot shrug off “responsibility and accountability”.
While arguing that the Congress does not intend to politicise the attack, party leaders at the same time tried to embarrass the Centre by recalling Modi’s past tweets and statements following similar attacks when the Congress-led UPA was in power. “The BJP used to argue during our (UPA government’s) time that 10 heads of Pakistanis should be taken for each Indian soldier killed. (But) 17 soldiers have been killed and they are merely holding meetings,” former Home minister Sushil Kumar Shinde said.
The toll rose to 18 today, with Army Sepoy K Vikas Janardhan succumbing to injuries. Shinde said the Modi government should “immediately give a strong response”.
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Senior Congress leader Anand Sharma said, “It is time India presses for complete isolation of Pakistan (and) comprehensive sanctions against it…until complete dismantling of the terrorist infrastructure supported and sponsored by (Pakistan’s) ISI.”
He argued that the government should have kept senior Opposition leadership informed of the situation and its assessment of building a strong national consensus on India’s response. “It is time the government steps away from rhetoric and takes a measured, firm and appropriate response,” Sharma said. “After Pathankot, there was no room for complacency, so there are serious issues that do arise about intelligence failure…not keeping high alert in the wake of developments in Kashmir Valley over the last two months.”
Sharma said Modi and Parrikar have “much to answer (for)”. He added, “The PM owes an explanation for the intelligence failure and his Defence Minister cannot shrug off his responsibility and accountability.”
Sharma said the Congress will not be prescriptive and argued that it is for the government and the security agencies to ensure there is a firm and appropriate response. “Mere words — that it will not go unpunished — may not help,” he said.
At the AICC briefing, Manish Tewari said: “We want to ask the Prime Minister just two questions: will you assure the country that there would not be another terrorist attack, and do you have a policy towards Pakistan? And if you do, what is that policy.”