This is the draft outline of a speech which, in our opinion, PM Narendra Modi should give to the nation regarding the Pathankot attack. Of course, he should wait for the mopping up operation to conclude. He should also get some preliminary conclusions from the NSA team.
The speech has to be brief, to the point, poignant and without any politics or partisanship involved. It should come straight from the heart. Perhaps Modi is the only leader in this country capable of doing this.
The speech (draft)
You are aware of the recent terror strike in Pathankot. Let me offer my sincere condolences to the families of brave Indians who laid down their lives to protect the nation and its assets. I join you in saluting their bravery. We lost x of our brave sons who died so that you, your children and our future are more secure.
As a nation, will should always remember their sacrifice. But as a great nation, we should always look forward too. In this connection, two vital questions have arisen that needs serious thought.
One is what should be our policy regarding talks with Pakistan.
We fully understand the anguish and frustration of many Indians who feel there is no point talking to Pakistan, which is a state sponsor of terror. Even we have made such demands in the past. My recent efforts in the direction of peace, including the Lahore visit, were with the hope that Pakistan has turned a corner, especially after facing several jihadi terrorist attacks in its own cities. You remember the Peshawar school attack that killed many children among others. We felt there is serious rethink underway in Pakistan, at least in some sections of its ruling establishment, that its terror policies are not only failing, they are becoming counterproductive. We also strongly believe that jihadi terrorism is our enemy, not the state of Pakistan or its citizens. Peace with Pakistan is our ultimate goal, continued hostility not in our interest.
Of course, while we look to the future with hope, we also take into account actual events and feedback from our intelligence. After the Pathankot attack, we are not going to call off talks with Pakistan. Instead we are going to bring this up in the next round of discussions with the civilian government of Pakistan as the first and only major topic, and see what their reaction is.
If we see some hope that they are with us in this battle, as they claim to be, that is good for all of us. We can work together to combat this evil, even as we discuss over problems and issues and find mutually acceptable solutions.
But if we find they simply use talks as a facade, they do not seek peace but share the jihadist goal of dominance over India, we will call off the talks and wait for better times. You have my assurance.
Second important question is, is there anything we could have done better? Are there lessons to be learnt?
There have been lots of criticism in the media and from our friends in the opposition over so-called intelligence failure, operational mismanagement, delay in concluding the operation etc. I am convinced our jawans as well as civilian and military leadership did their very best. They knew about this attack through our intelligence network and they deliberately decided to let the terrorists come to the airbase instead of chasing them all over the civilian areas of Pathankot. This would have been even worse.
This does not mean that everything is perfect or that things cannot be done better. We have to continuously improve our defenses and offensive capabilities to deal with jihadi terror. Better training, better coordination among various state and central agencies, clearer communication to media as well as the public are some of the things that come to my mind right now. But we have to let experts look at this issue in a proper way.
We are thankful to those who offer us meaningful criticism and suggestions, whatever be their political background or motive.
Towards this end, we have to be ready to accept criticism and seek the truth. NSA Doval has been tasked with identifying specific weaknesses and areas of improvements on an urgent basis. I will share with you his findings as soon as possible and also tell you about some of the steps we are taking to improve in future.