Congress, BJP in war of words over Pathankot attack

New Delhi: A war of words erupted between the BJP and the Congress on Monday over the Pathankot attack, with the opposition party questioning the government's handling of the threat to the nation's security and the ruling party hitting back saying the opposition should not politicise such a sensitive issue like terrorism.

"Intelligence report on a terror module's infiltration in Delhi, bomb scare on the Shatabdi Express train and all-round general security alert have created an atmosphere of insecurity, raising a question mark on the government's efficacy to neutralise the threat with the alacrity it deserves," Congress spokesperson Ajay Maken said in a statement here.

"Seemingly, there is a lack of 'command and control structure' within the government to deal with, take control of and direct elimination of the terror attack like the one in Pathankot," he added.

The main opposition party asked why Prime Minister Narendra Modi did not describe as "Pakistanis" the terrorists who attacked the Indian Air Force base in Pathankot.

"Why is the prime minister giving a new description of terrorists as 'enemies of humanity' instead of describing them as Pakistani terrorists?" Maken asked.

"In one of the most sinister terror attack since 26/11 (the November 26, 2008 attack in Mumbai), Pakistani terrorists have committed a dastardly attack on India's security by storming the IAF base in Punjab, which is one of our principal first line of defence," he said.

The Congress also criticised the government for not convening a meeting of the Cabinet Committee on Security (CCS) to assess the situation.

"As expected, the prime minister should have convened a CCS meeting with all his ministers, monitor the situation and provide a clear-cut unified command to give a befitting reply to Pakistani terrorists and their handlers in Pakistan," the Congress leader said.

"Besides saving many lives in the process, Modi ji should have sent a strong message of reassurance qua security to all countrymen and a stern warning to those in Pakistan that is exporting terror modules into India," he added.

Taking a dig at Modi, Maken said: "Even as the neutralisation of terrorists at the Pathankot air base continued with our security forces fighting valiantly, Modi was propagating yoga to the gatherings in Karnataka."

He said Modi also addressed a press conference amid the 26/11 Mumbai terror attack, when he was the Gujarat chief minister.

The BJP criticised the Congress for flaying the government.

"In the midst of the operation, the Congress criticism is unfortunate. It should not politicise the such a sensitive issue like terrorism," BJP national secretary Srikant Sharma told IANS.

"The menace of terrorism is four decades old and the NDA government has inherited it from the previous governments," he added.

Sharma also said the Congress has no moral right to question the Modi government and its poliicies against terrorism.

"Those who are responsible for the menace of terrorism have no moral right to question those trying to solve it," he said.

He also claimed that the government was a visible one and handled the Pathankot attack actively.

"The previous UPA regime's approach towards terrorism was casual whereas the present government is active and visible. There was an input from security agencies and the government handled the issue prudently," Sharma said.

On the Congress's criticism that Modi had addressed a press conference amid the 26/11 Mumbai terror attack, he said: "We will respond to the Congress's allegation in their language at appropriate time."

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