'Opposition doubts India's right to self-defense'

'Opposition doubts India's right to self-defense'

New Delhi: Union Finance Minister Arun Jaitley delivers his press statement at his office in North Block in New Delhi on Monday.PTI Photo by Manvender Vashist(PTI12_19_2016_000245A)fm

Targeting the Congress for running a "terrible" government and now leading an "even more terrible" Opposition, Finance Minister Arun Jaitley on Sunday brought former Prime Minister Manmohan Singh in the line of fire saying he "doubts" India's right to defend its sovereignty from those who want to damage it through terrorism.

Jaitley also took exception to the joint Opposition statement accusing Prime Minister Narendra Modi and BJP leaders politicising Pulwama attacks as well as Trinamool Congress supremo and West Bengal Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee questioning the claims about the government about the results of the air strikes in Pakistan targeting Jaish-e-Mohammed terror camps.

The Finance Minister's comments came in a Facebook post 'India's Opposition has a lot to learn' as non-NDA parties stepped up attacks on the ruling BJP following Delhi BJP chief Manoj Tewari inviting criticism by appearing in public in military uniform as well as Union Minister S S Alhuwalia's statement that the air strike was meant to send a message and not kill terrorists.

"They (statements by Opposition) hurt India's national interest. Not only do they give smiles to Pakistan, they become an important instrument in Pakistan's hands to discredit India. Does the opposition want the Air Force to release operation details of the Balakot attack?" he said adding that Opposition is entitled to "oppose and ask questions" but then restrain and statesmanship are also an essential ingredient of public discourse.

Citing that A B Vajpayee and other Jan Sangh leaders spoke in one voice and supported the government in 1971 war, Jaitley said several Pakistani nationals were involved in the Pulwama attack. "Some have already been liquidated. There is enough evidence which points to this direction. It has been shared with Pakistan," he said.

He said the joint statement was "inappropriate" as it gave a "handle to the enemy" to argue that India had taken the Balakot action because of the compulsion of its domestic politics and not as a part of it’s policy to defend the country against terrorism. However, he did not mention BJP leader B S Yeddyurappa's remarks were used by Pakistan Prime Minister Imran Khan's Tehreek-e-Insaaf to take potshots at the country.

On Singh's remarks that there was a "mad rush of mutual self-destruction" and that saner counsel on both sides needed to think about "real" issues like poverty, ignorance and disease, Jaitley suggested that the former Prime Minister has "elevated himself" to the status of a neutral third party rather than be "concerned" about India’s interest.

"He further developed a theory of parity and equivalence between both India and Pakistan. The perpetrator of terrorism and the victim of terrorism are both at par according to him. Implicitly, he doubts India’s right to defend its sovereignty from those who want to damage it through terrorism," he said.

"Amongst the problems facing India that he mentions which include poverty, ignorance and disease. Violence and terrorism are of no consequence in his assessment," he added.

Emphasising that the "pre-emptive" air strike was a "perfectly executed pinpointed operation" in which only terrorists were targeted and not civilian or military installations, he said the Pakistani retaliation using F-16s was the "most botched up operation".

Claiming that Pakistan was isolated internationally and that India spoke in one voice, he said Congress "refuses to learn" like its "friends in Opposition".