Lack of modernisation of armed forces due to non-procurement of equipment, need for proactive diplomacy to counter Pakistan and lacunae in intelligence gathering were some of the major issues discussed in the meeting between senior BJP leader L K Advani and leading security experts and analysts on Saturday.
"Many participants expressed serious concern at equipment deficiencies in the armed forces and the long and tardy procedures followed for procurement of equipment and stores," BJP General Secretary Arun Jaitley told media persons.
The experts felt that controversies raised in recent years had further compounded the problem. It was suggested that a procurement set-up should be devised "which is immune from political pressures and take decisions based on holistic considerations".
Saturdays' meeting was the third of such kind that Advani is holding with experts from different fields. The earlier meetings were with captains of industry and farmers' leaders.
The meeting was attended by top retired defence personnel like Air Chief Marshal A Y Tipnis, Air Chief Marshal Krishnaswami, Air Chief Marshal S P Tyagi, Admiral Arun Prakash, Lt Gen J F R Jacob, Air Marshal D C Dhyani, former IB director Ajit Doval, former Punjab DGP K P S Gill, former RAW Chief C D Sahay and defence expert Brahma Chellani.
It was also suggested in the meeting that a "one-command structure" should be installed for quick reaction against attacks like 26/11 before the Crisis Management Group takes over.
The security experts also suggested that defence spending -- currently at 1.98 per cent of GDP -- should be enhanced.
Advani emphasised in the meeting that security issues must be addressed regardless of political or vote-bank considerations.
Arun Jaitley said the experts and analysts felt India's policy towards Pakistan was soft despite the latter's "clear involvement with numerous terrorist incidents in India in the last three years, which inevitably led to the Mumbai action".
"The government has lacked assertion in its appeal to the international community to pressurise Pakistan on the Mumbai attack," Jaitley said.
At the same time, there was a need for being more self-reliant and not expecting "others to pull its chestnuts out of the fire".
The participants drew attention to the efforts made by Pakistan to manipulate the post-Mumbai situation to its advantage. "Efforts are being made to have the terms of collaborations with the US so modified that Pakistan secures concessions on issues not germane to the war against terror," Jaitley alleged.
The analysts expressed the need for enhancing and upgrading the intelligence set-up and better co-ordination with the lower level.
"Immediate implementation of the nearly 350 recommendations pertaining to intelligence, higher defence management, internal security and border management contained in the blueprint for security reform were advocated by Advani," Jaitley said.
Removal of lacunae in Sixth Pay Commission was also suggested.