JPC: 48 Hours- Too Less?

Mihir Chaturvedi of SANA reports on the proceedings of the first day of JPC.

NEW DELHI, India – In the early morning of January 2nd, a strategically important Indian Air Force base in the town of Pathankot in Punjab was attacked by suspected Pakistani insurgents. An ad-hoc Joint Parliamentary Committee (JPC) was set up to deliberate on the reasons as to why an attack of such magnitude was allowed to happen, and the subsequent actions that should be taken.

JPC’s first session commenced with a classic political blame game between the members of India’s two largest coalitions: the United Progressive Alliance and the National Democratic Alliance. The former repeatedly criticised the latter for their failure to act on time, while the NDA tried their very best to defend themselves. Soon, as debate progressed, the political aspect of the attacks were put aside to allow matters of more moment to take centre stage. The main focus of the committee was the surplus Intelligence Agencies of India and their inefficiency. The committee realised the shortcomings of the Intelligence Agencies, and that the Agencies needed a major overhaul. They argued that these Agencies needed specialised agents with training of all sorts and special recruitment processes. They also acknowledged the fact that there was a grave shortage in the number of personnel per agency, which needed to be looked after immediately.

Discussing the Pathankot Attacks in particular, most of the Opposition members criticised the NDA government, and the Home Ministry specifically, for not acting instantaneously, despite having received intelligence of suspicious activity in the border-areas only 48 hours prior to the Attack. The NDA members, in trying to save themselves from further accusations, made some immature statements that reflected poorly on them.

The repeated failures, of not one but all the governments since 1947, to protect the country from external threats and aggression calls for stringent measures to combat terrorism of such sorts. It is time to implement the much needed measures to restructure the Indian Intelligence web. Overlapping mandates and area of authority of the agencies should be dealt with immediately so as to allow the intelligence to flow lucidly through the system, and not be a victim of the rampant red-tapism and the sluggish clerical work. It is time that this system works for the country and her people, instead of for the politicians and bureaucrats.

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