Parrikar: “We have to use terrorists to neutralize terrorists” - Broadsword by Ajai Shukla - Strategy. Economics. Defence.

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Thursday 21 May 2015

Parrikar: “We have to use terrorists to neutralize terrorists”

Parrikar declares money saved on Rafale will buy Tejas fighters to replace MiG-21s

By Ajai Shukla
Business Standard, 22nd May 15

In a statement that will create ripples across the border, Defence Minister Manohar Parrikar declared today that India should counter Pakistan-backed cross-border terror attacks with terrorism directed back at Pakistan.

Speaking at the Aaj Tak Manthan conclave in New Delhi on Thursday, Parrikar dropped his bombshell in response to a question about how India would react to another Mumbai-type 26/11 terror attack.

“Rather than reacting to a repeat of 26/11, it would be better not to let such an attack happen. Whatever we have to do, whether it is diplomatic, pressure tactics, or using a thorn to extract a thorn (kaante se kaanta nikalna)”, answered Parrikar.

“We have to use terrorists to neutralize terrorists”, he elaborated, to applause from the audience.

“(Is this the) first time an Indian Defence Minister has hinted at covert response to terror attack?” tweeted Sandeep Unnithan, Associate Editor at India Today, who was in the audience.

Pakistan consistently claims that Indian-backed terrorism is responsible for the unsettled state of Baluchistan, a claim that India vehemently rejects. In July 2009, after a meeting between Prime Minister Manmohan Singh and his Pakistani counterpart, Yousef Raza Gilani at Sharm-el-Sheikh, Egypt, the joint statement a mentioned Baluchistan and recognized terrorism as the “chief threat” to both countries, leading to Bharatiya Janata Party leaders accusing the government of undermining India’s position by equating the victim with the perpetrator.

Separately, Parrikar stated clearly for the first time that the 36 Rafale fighters that Prime Minister Narendra Modi requested the French government for during his visit to Paris last month would not be followed by more Rafales. Instead, the money saved by curtailing the Rafale contract would be used to buy large numbers of the indigenous Tejas Light Combat Aircraft (LCA).

“By buying 36 Rafale fighters at a price less than (what was quoted in response to) the earlier tender for 126 aircraft, I have saved the cost of 90 Rafales. We will use that money to buy Tejas LCAs”, said Parrikar.

This will address the concerns of aerospace experts, who had questioned the plan to buy 126 Rafales (six squadrons) to take the place of MiG-21 squadrons retiring from service this decade. It has been argued that the Rafale is too heavy, expensive and capable to replace a cheap, light, utility fighter like the MiG-21.

“The Rafale is not meant to replace the MiG-21”, said Parrikar, stating that he would instead buy large numbers of Tejas fighters, which he said would come cheap at a price of around Rs 150 crore each.

The Indian Air Force (IAF), which currently has 34 fighter squadrons against an assessed requirement of 42 squadrons, will lose during this decade another 7-9 squadrons of MiG-21s and MiG-27s that have already exceeded their service lives.

Yet, the IAF has ordered o just 20 Tejas fighters (one squadron) from Hindustan Aeronautics Ltd (HAL), with an additional order of 20 more promised after the fighter achieves final operational clearance, expected in early 2016.

Asked whether he was satisfied with the Tejas’ performance, the defence minister replied he was “satisfied to a certain level”. The IAF had accorded performance waivers while giving initial operational clearance to the Tejas, but Parrikar pointed out that none of the waivers affected flight safety.

Asked whether he would deliver on his promise to appoint a tri-service Chief of Defence Staff (CDS) within two months, Parrikar backpedalled somewhat. “By June-end, my proposal will be ready. But it is not my decision per se. It has to go before the National Security Council”, he said.


  1. Parrikar Saheb is a good man with clarity in thought but it is not matched by good vocabulary selection. In Hindi it sounds right ' kante ko kante se nikalna' which really translates to taking appropriate offensive action to counter terrorist action. This is perfectly justified that every country has every right to defend itself. To translate this in English to use a terrorist to fight a terrorist' is probably a media creation to create a juicy debate for TV journalists to flog for the next 48 hours.

  2. thumbs up...

  3. Mr. Parikkar's decision to use the money saved on 90 Rafales, for inducting Tejas units is welcome. It is a well-thought decision.

    90 Rafales saved could buy some 400 Tejas Mk.1s. Or, it could buy 100 Tejas Mk.1s and 250 Tejas Mk.2 units. Each Tejas Mk.1 is more than a replacement for 1 and half MiG-21s. Each Tejas Mk.2 replaces more than a single MiG-29.

    India could also do well to donate some Tejas units to Afghanistan. It would strengthen ties, and keep Pakistan under pressure from 2 sides. It would also bolster its export prospects. 'Make in India' will get a boost.

    Now, the IAF must duly stop its hard-to-please babu giri. It must grant the FoC certificate to Tejas as soon as possible. There should be no "waivers"; instead, all those should be pushed to Tejas Mk.II.

  4. Parrikar is excellent.

  5. "We will use that money to buy Tejas LCAs”, said Parrikar" would have made gripen brokers loose their sleep.

  6. Well ajai u stand vindicated, at least partly on the tejas, but tell us one thing, have u spoken to IAF guys who r going to fly into battle with tejas. My friends in IAF say off record tat its a dud and mig 21s are better and most importantly , unlike western air forces, where there are large number of modern effective aircraft's to cover up for " ego" projects. Our boys will end up flying against Chinese and Paki's front line aircraft in a dud. Actually seems unfair , no?

  7. Money is saved when a job is get done in lesser cost. job not done can't be money saved. In his way India can save lot of money by not having air force at all.

  8. 1. I am not happy with the responses of the Def Min in his recent interview. So far i think he has been a good Def Min but he needs to watch what he is saying.

    - "We have to use terrorists to neutralize terrorists"
    Which means we will be sponsoring terrorists. Instead, he could have just said 'Subversive, unconventional offensive operations'. Rather than that, he could have not said anything on COIN strategy at all and just shown results, but thats a long way off for GOI standards.

    This for sure will give Pakistan a talking point on a world stage, arguing that India is de stabilizing pakistan. Putting us on their "level" and hence loosing the status of our voice in the world community.

    2. The Rafale is not in competition with Tejas and vice versa. They are not the same class or type of aircraft, they are not designed for the same role. Im tired of reading about them being pitted against each other. We need both aircraft Rafale in perhaps lesser numbers for an offensive role (SEAD,Precision strikes, CAP, Bombing campaigns) and LCA Mk 2 (Mk 1 is not upto the standard) for a defensive role (Interception/Interdiction,CAS).

    3. While we must induct the Tejas for all border squadrons. We must certainly not make concessions just because its indigenous. ADA and HAL must be clearly told and retold that India is interested in LCA Mk 2 and not Mk1. To make public statement about us getting LCAs will only bolster ADA and HAL's notion of an assured order and thereby ease up on Mk 2 efforts.


  9. Dear Editor,

    In one of your next articles can you kindly bring to focus the Personal equipment of the Indian Soldier.

    His webbing, ballistic protection, primary weapon, side arm.

    Questions like, Do all are Army men have Ballistic protection irrespective of their arm or service if they serve in combat units do we have body armours, helmets (specialized for role, webbing gear for carrying ammo or other pieces of kit.

    Do our armor, engineer, artillery and aviation troops have personal body armor, personal comms equipment.etc ?

    These are simple things that Indian industry can 'make in India' by MSMEs. Which we must focus on as well. Enough of high profile items.

  10. Why RM did not touch burning issue of OROP, which he has been repeating now and then. Is it not his duty to take welfare of serving and retired soldiers, or only order for the jobs soldiers are not meant. In this case our EX RM Babu jagjivan Ram made an example by then refusing to remove dead bodies during AP Cyclone many years back

  11. If BJP wants to put an end to Pakistan proxy war India has to respond proactively. Whatever BJP does congress wil use it as an anti minority propaganda to gain votes.

  12. One thing that the CAG report mentions -- and that ToI conveniently did not mention -- is that the main reason for delays in Tejas is the constant shifting of goalposts by the IAF. IAF did not allow designs to be frozen, and then complained about "delays".

    The IAF must be pulled up by the scruff of its collar and told: "Accept the Tejas Mk.1, for this is what you yourself wanted in the 1997 ASR. Your own scope creeps have compromised other parameters, but even then this is miles ahead of the tattered MiGs you insist on flying.

    Then release the collar, and force it to sign a contract for 100 Tejas Mk.1s. Also make them sign a contract saying they have no objections to the waivered parameters being integrated in Tejas Mk.2. and that they'll order 4 squadrons of Tejas Mk.2 right away.

    A team of IAF officers must be stationed with the ADA team in Bangalore to clearly and unambiguously specify what parameters they want in the Tejas Mk.2. They shouldn't be allowed to change goals or targets mid-way -- if they do, an undertaking must be signed by them that they understand the risks involved, including delays and compromise in other parameters.

  13. There is a very old adage to say " fight a guerrilla like a guerrilla" ... no one ever raised a question about it.

    To fight terrorists one will have to address the root of terrorism - Pakistan ... That India should be dealing with government of Pakistan under their terms is one of the objective of terrorism. Now, in stead of dealing with the government of Pakistan which has the least say in the matter - let India tackle terrorism with terrorism. That is not a bad policy alternative.

    Why there is hullaballoo about it.

    What is so strange about it? Our fear that we are more vulnerable? No we are not more vulnerable than Pakistan...

    Addressing Pakistan through offensive defence solves many issues - Terrorism, Kashmir, China and Afghanistan.

    yes the only thing is that he should have taken care how it would be interpreted in English by Lutein journalists. " Kante se Kanta nikalna" is very practical approach as no one in India goes to a surgeon for that.

  14. Sir
    Your article has a serious flaw. The Rafael was never intended to replace the mig.Rafael is a DPSA and its needed coz Indian exstablishment is worried abt the HQ9 being sold to Pakistan. and India needs 150+ of these

    Kindly get your facts right


    Neutralization is not killing. A fair argument, I concede.


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