Call on Indo-Pak FS talks only after Pathankot operations over :Jaitley

Call on Indo-Pak FS talks only after Pathankot operations over :Jaitley

Call on Indo-Pak FS talks only after Pathankot operations over :Jaitley

India will decide on going ahead with the foreign secretary-level talks with Pakistan scheduled later this month only after operations to flush out terrorists from the IAF base at Pathankot are over, Finance Minister Arun Jaitley said today.

"I think let the operations get over and it is only then government takes a view on such matters," he told reporters after the National Security Council meeting presided by Prime Minister Narendra Modi discussed the terror attack among other issues.

Jaitley was asked about the impact of the terror attack on the planned Indo-Pak talks.
Asked about the identify of the terrorists, he said, "I think we are at a stage where operations is still on (and) therefore it is not proper for me to say anything more than that."

Jaitley said combing operations take time as the Base is a large complex with a 24-km long circumference.

Security forces managed to confine the terrorists to a limited area and have been successful in containing any damage to the strategic assets at the Air base, he said, adding the combing operations is taking long becuase there could be explosives.

Stating that security forces took prompt action, Jaitley said terrorists had come with the main objective of damaging strategic assets at Pathankot Air base.

"These were well trained terrorists and part of suicide squad. When such kind of Fidayeen attack takes place it has potential to cause huge damage. The complex is very big. The circumference of airbase is 24 kms therefore combing operations is also taking time," he said.

Security forces confined them where they had initially entered which is far away from the strategic location, he said adding four bodies of terrorists have been taken in posession and the "process is on for two more bodies."

"The announcement would be made by security forces," he said.

The Minister said the objective of security forces was to ensure no damage is caused to the strategic location, and "our security forces were completely successful in doing so."

Jaitley said the second objective of security forces was to ensure minimal damage. "In that also to a large extent security forces were successful."

"During initial attack they killed 5 security personnel, during encounter they could kill only one and there was one accidental death of a Lt Colonel," he said.

The third objective of security forces was either to catch the terrorists alive or liquidate them so that they cannot do much damage, he said.

"Such kind of operation continues for long. The reason for long operations is because there are huge quantity of explosives, area is huge. The operational details will come from Pathankot," he said.

At the National Security Council meeting today, there was detailed discussions on the the prompt action by security forces, he said.

Asked why the operation stretched to third day when specific intelligence was available, Jaitley said, "Operations of such kind continues for very long time. Even in Mumbai, if you remember, on 26/11 the operation continued for a very long time. There were 6 terrorists. They were able to inflict damage in terms of loss of lives and property.

"Damage to the extent of 180 people, operations had to continue for several days, because these are trained terrorists, these are suicide squads who come here with particular object of inflicting damage."

Asked if no lessons were learnt from Mumbai terror attacks, he said a lot had been learnt. "It is that promptness which has led the security forces to immediately contain them at the entry point, at the first point itself."

"It was this intelligence that helped them because they had taken precautionary action by flying in special forces etc, containing them at the very first point, keeping them at reasonable distance away from strategic assets and then being able to neutralise them.

I think it is collective effort of the entire intelligence and the promptness of the security forces," he said.

Jaitley said Prime Minister Narendra Modi this morning chaired a meeting of National Security Council to discuss the Pathankot terror attack as well as the attack on Indian consultate at Mazar-e-Sharif in Afghanistan and the earthquate in North-East.

Modi, he said, has talked to chief ministers of north eastern states and the Crisis Management Commitee under Cabinet Secretary is taking "required steps like restoration of telecom and power services."

Home Minister Rajnath Singh was in North East while Minister of State for Home Kiren Rijiju was in Arunachal Pradesh and have been asked to focus on the earthquate hit states and take necessary actions.

Minister of State in Prime Minister's Office Jitender Singh has been asked to go to Imphal immediately to assist and suggest aid to be provided to those states.

On the attack on Indian Consulate in Afghanistan, Jaitley said all Indian employees are safe. "As per the last news firing is still on."

At the meeting, a detailed discussion on Pathankot attacks took place. "Government and I pay homage to all the martyr soldiers who laid down their lives. They have made supreme sacrifice," he added. PTI JD DP ADS ANZ GSN 01041908

Asked if intelligence inputs helped in Pathankot operations, Jaitley said, "We got a lot of help from intelligence inputs. As a result of this, terrorists were contained far away from strategic assets, they were contained and neutralised at entry point itself."

"We are deeply saddened by death and casualty of security forces. It was the objective of security forces that there should be minimum casualty, they should be either neutralised or caught and country's strategic assets are safeguarded. And they were successful," he said.

To a question if there was any connection between attack on Mazar-e-Sharif and Pathankot, he said, "It is too early for me to make any comments on this."