In an interaction with officials travelling with Prime Minister Manmohan Singh on the latter's six-day visit to Ethiopia, rediff.com's Vicky Nanjappa learns about New Delhi's views on the attack on naval base in Pakistan, US game plan in Afghanistan and how India needs to work closely with the African region
The attack on a naval base in Pakistan has left India worried. Officials travelling with Prime Minister Manmohan Singh on his six-day visit to Ethiopia said that the attack looks very coordinated and it appears that it was done to provide cover for something bigger at Afghanistan.
We are monitoring the situation and are obviously concerned with the developments over there, officials said, adding that although this attack does not indicate a higher level threat to us, the bigger worry is the risk to Pakistan's nuclear establishments.
Officials noted that the attack in Pakistan was sophisticated and involved use of heavy machinery.
We are definitely concerned about Pakistan's nuclear programme and the recent developments have only put the threat perception at a high, they added.
For India, the nuclear weapons are not fighting weapons and we will continue to have the policy of no first use, officials underlined, adding that New Delhi will sit and analyse the events in Pakistan and see what lessons need to be drawn from this attack.
Considering that this was an attack on the naval base in Pakistan, it once again brings back memories of the 26/11 attack, which was a maritime attack to begin with.
An official source said, "We have improved a great deal over the past couple of years in terms of coastal security. It would not be correct to say that we are satisfied, as it is dangerous to be content. However, in terms of coastal security we have done a great deal and as of today we are in a much better position when compared to what we were last year."
"The coast guard has done its bit to enhance security. This issue has a lot to do with the individual state governments too and some of them are yet to set up coastal police stations to ensure that coastal security is intact.
On India's position in Afghanistan, the source said that it is not right for anyone to tell what another country ought to do.
"There are certain power tussles and issues in Afghanistan and they are being sorted out. Afghanistan has changed a lot since the year 2000 and currently there is a whole new generation over there. It for the Afghans to chose who they would like to work with," the source said.
On the claims of a US pull out from Afghanistan post the killing of Osama bin Laden, the source said that the Americans may not pull out completely.
"There will be a draw down of forces and the search team of 30,000 will be drawn down for the moment. The US sure wants a change of role in Afghanistan and in the months to come the policing by US forces on the streets of Afghanistan is likely to stop. They do not want to be protecting the streets and the nature of what they will be doing in Afghanistan will change. A clear picture will emerge once Hamid Karzai visits Washington probably next month."
On doing business in Africa, an official said that India has a smaller presence in the region as compared to China.
"The nature of the business being done by us is different when compared to China. For us, Africa is an opportunity and there is enough space for us to do what we are good at over here. Although the Chinese have a larger presence here, we cannot say that they have outdone us. It is in our interest to be in Africa," the official said.
"We need to understand the African sensitivities and we as Indians need to be sensitive. We have done well here in the past two years and the time has now come to accelerate.
However, we in the government will not be in a position to tell the businessmen what is to be done. It is their decision and what we could do is provide advisories and also give able assistance. We cannot take a call as what we want the businessmen to be doing."