New Delhi: The terror attack on Pathankot Airbase in January was carried out by Pakistan's “non-state actors” who operate with support of the Pakistani establishment, government suggested in the Rajya Sabha on Tuesday.
“The complete details will come out in the NIA investigation. But in this, non-state actors from Pakistan are surely involved. This is for sure. Any non-state actors there, they cannot function smoothly without full state support,” Defence Minister Manohar Parrikar said.
He was responding to a question by Shiv Sena member Sanjay Raut who wanted to know whether it was merely a terror attack or an armed operation carried out with the support of Pakistani army.
Replying to supplementaries, Parrikar said intelligence had been received about the possible attack indicating Pathankot Army installations as suspected targets.
Following the attack, steps are underway to ensure that vital defence installations in the country are secure.
“We have now done a security audit in addition to the normal security and are in the process of ensuring that all Army installations will be properly secured,” he said.
Asked if the Airbase would be shifted from Pathankot in Punjab as it is perilously close to the border, Parrikar ruled it out.
“A lot of investment has been carried out in Pathankot and it will be very costly to shift the Airbase. But we have other bases which we have created,” the Defence Minister said.
“Other bases are strategically located within the country, much inside the border, but Pathankot is also equally important because it is closer to the enemy border,” he said.
Parrikar refused to share further details of the attack, saying the NIA is already investigating the matter and investigations are on.
“..Further details about the incident cannot be given till the investigation is complete,” he said.
In a written reply, the Minister said “government has constituted a Committee under the chairmanship of a former Vice Chief of Army Staff to inter-alia suggest measures to strengthen security of various military establishments across the country.”
He said, “The Committee appointed is to ensure that defence establishment security audit and any lack of security aspects and to further improve the security aspects and to give suggestions on that.”
He said in his written reply that a group of terrorists attacked the Air Force base in Pathankot, Punjab, in the intervening night of January and 2, 2016 and a joint operation by the Army, Air Force and National Security Guard (NSG) was conducted to neutralise the terrorist attack.
“The terrorists were confined to non-residential and non-operational area of the base. Thereby, they were successfully prevented from damaging the strategic assets of Indian Air Force,” he said.