The terror attack on Pathankot Airbase in January was carried out by Pakistan’s “non-state actors” who operated with the support of Pakistani establishment, the government said in the Rajya Sabha on Tuesday afternoon.
“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 told the House.
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.
Following the attack, steps are underway to ensure that vital defence installations in the country are secure, Parrikar said.
“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.
The Defence Minister denied reports that the airbase which is very close to the border, will be shifted from Pathankot.
“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,” Parrikar 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 added.
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.”
The government’s written reply on the terror attack said 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.
(With inputs from PTI)