Congress today targeted Prime Minister Narendra Modi over the Uri terror attack, holding him "singularly responsible for the complete disarray" in the government's policy vis-à-vis Pakistan, and dared him to act against Defence Minister Manohar Parrikar for "a massive intelligence and operational failure".
"The Uri terrorist attack, which has been propagated, planned and executed by Pakistan, is the result of failure of the political leadership of the Modi government. Reports clearly point towards a massive intelligence and operational failure inside the government," Congress' chief spokesman Randeep Singh Surjewala told reporters here.
He asked Modi to show courage of conviction by fixing responsibility and accountability for this "complete failure".
"India's borders & National Security has been under siege for last 2 years. Def Min. should be held accountable (sic)," he tweeted earlier in the day.
Surjewala said yesterday's terror strike on an Army base in which 18 soldiers were killed "is an attack on our national conscience and perpetrators of the attack should be brought to book at the earliest".
He took a swipe at the government's policy vis-à-vis Pakistan and said it should approach the international community for imposing comprehensive sanctions on Pakistan which harbours global terror network and uses terrorism as an instrument of state policy.
"Prior to the 2014 Lok Sabha election, Narendra Modi consistently counselled the Congress government to 'stop writing love letters to Pakistan'. Modiji used the oft-quoted rhetoric of '56-inch chest' as also 'bringing 10 heads back in lieu of one', besides asking the government to 'answer Pakistan in the language they understand'.
"Time has come for us to remind Narendra Modi of his 'jumlas' and rhetoric once again. Since becoming the Prime Minister of the country, Modi has indulged in saree-shawl diplomacy to impromptu visits to Pakistan to attend wedding celebrations and birthday parties with his Pakistani counterpart Nawaz Sharif," he said.
"The truth is that the Modi government's Pakistan policy is based on wholesale confusion rather than pragmatic and decisive cohesion.
"Modi is singularly responsible for this complete disarray of foreign policy wherein a renegade, pariah nation like Pakistan, which is harbinger of global terror network and which stood isolated amongst international community on account of sustained policy of the Congress-led UPA government, is trying to project itself on international arena as a player for regional stability in Southeast Asia," he said.
Surjewala said India's borders and national security "have been under siege for last two years".
"There have been over 900 border ceasefire violations by Pakistan in J&K. India has borne the brunt of unchecked terrorist attacks coming from Pakistan in Udhampur, Gurdaspur, Pathankot and Pampore leading to heavy casualties of Army and police, including senior most officers," he told reporters.
"After the grave provocation of terrorist attack on Pathankot airbase, the Modi government invited a Pakistani investigation team to Pathankot headed by the dreaded ISI. Pakistan not only brashly refused to permit a bilateral visit of Indian investigating team, it shockingly accused India of engineering the Pathankot airbase attack and killing its own soldiers," he said.
He said the Modi government "appears to have learnt no lessons" which finally resulted in the cowardly Uri attack.
He also questioned why the government did not take preventive measures to pre-empt the Uri attack if there was information available from different agencies.
"Modi government needs to answer as to why no preventive measures were taken to pre-empt the Uri terror attack if there was credible information available from different agencies and security experts, more so considering the vulnerability of the Uri Brigade area and also its proximity to Line of Control," he said.
Surjewala also sought to know why the soldiers were housed in tents when two military buildings were vacant.
"Why were soldiers housed in tents when two military buildings were vacant and available, which led to casualties? Who leaked information regarding troop movement and changeover, that is that the 10-Dorgra Regiment was in the process of making space for 6-Bihar Regiment? Isn't it not a clear cut failure of command and control structure in the Modi government," he asked.
Taking a dig at Parrikar, he said the Defence Minister is "busy threatening fellow Indians like Aamir Khan" and asked whether the priorities have gone wrong for the government.
"He (Parrikar) is busy attacking fellow Indians and passing intemperate remarks against everybody rather than doing his own responsibility. The responsibility, if any, lies at the doorsteps of the Modi government and at doorsteps of Manohar Parrikar, the Defence Minister of the country, who has proved himself to be a utter and complete failure," Surjewala said.
In one of the deadliest attacks on the Army in recent years, 17 jawans were killed and 19 others injured as heavily armed militants stormed a battalion headquarters of the force in North Kashmir's Uri town in the wee hours yesterday.
Four militants involved in the terror strike were killed by the Army.
Surjewala said the government must also take appropriate steps at the international fora so that Pakistan is declared as a "terrorist state".
Replying to a question, he said, "The government must tell the people of the country about the complete and total operational and intelligence failure. Any investigation that needs to take place must take place, but it should not be for the purpose of brushing issues under the carpet which is usually done by the Modi government."
"More so, we demand responsibility and accountability must be fixed," he said.
Asked if Congress will back action like what the USA did in case of Osama bin Laden, Surjewala said, "The government has to take a call on what kind of operational action it will take. Whatever action is taken, which is in the national interest and against terrorists and those who patronise them...not only Indian National Congress, all parties will support the government."
Asked if Congress sees any link between India raising the Balochistan issue and the Uri attack, he said, "Pakistan- occupied Kashmir is very much an integral part of India and if there are human rights violations in Balochistan and if the Army there has been accused of mass rapes, that's an issue which successive Indian governments have raised from time to time. To link the terror attack coming from Pakistan to the Balochistan issue is uncalled for. Responsibility lies at the doorsteps of the Government of India to protect its borders as also its citizens."
Asked whether the Centre should grant asylum to exiled Baloch leader Brahamdagh Bugti, he said, "The government will have to take note of the same. I am certain that in accordance with our procedures as also our stand on national and international fora, the government will take an appropriate call on the issue."
Attacking Parrikar, he said, "Will Prime Minister show courage of conviction and fixing responsibility and accountability for this complete failure, particularly that of his Defence Minister Manohar Parrikar, who is more of a Swayamsevak, than holding the serious and responsible position of the Defence Minister of the country?"
He said on behalf of the people of India, Congress calls upon Modi to traverse the distance from 'rhetoric' to 'reality', from 'projection of self' to 'protection of national interest'.
"Uri terror attack demands a firm and appropriate response from Indian Government to punish the guilty," he said.