["The Congress has protested against the last-minute cancellation of a
scheduled army briefing tomorrow on the recent surgical strikes to the
parliamentary standing committee on defence, with two senior leaders
dubbing it "highly unacceptable"."

So, not only any evidence of "surgical strikes" will be released to
minimise the chances of retaliation from Pakistan, even a scheduled
briefing by the Army to the Standing Committee meeting of the Defence
on October 14 2016 stands cancelled.]


MPs demand army briefing

Our Special Correspondent

New Delhi, Oct. 13: *The Congress has protested against the
last-minute cancellation of a scheduled army briefing tomorrow on the
recent surgical strikes to the parliamentary standing committee on
defence, with two senior leaders dubbing it "highly unacceptable".*
[Emphasis added.]

In a joint statement, Ambika Soni and Madhusudan Mistry called for
maintaining the "original agenda" of the meeting.

"The last minute change of agenda of the forthcoming Standing
Committee meeting of the Defence on October 14, 2016 is highly
unacceptable. We are deeply disappointed over the change of agenda,"
the statement said.

It added: "The original agenda was that the army officials would brief
the committee members on the recently carried out surgical strikes and
subsequently deliberate on the shortage of arms and ammunition for the
defence forces. This has now been changed. We believe that the agenda
must have been fixed after consultation with top officials of defence
ministry. We see no reason why this has been changed and that too at
the last minute."

Although the agenda of House committee meetings are changed sometimes
because of various reasons, the Congress believes this time it was
done deliberately by the government to pre-empt questions on previous
such strikes.

Defence minister Manohar Parrikar's denial yesterday of similar
cross-border operations in the past has triggered a verbal war between
the Congress and the BJP and this issue would have dominated the
standing committee meeting tomorrow.

Although members of the committee don't talk about the meetings that
are supposed to be confidential, a senior Congress leader told The
Telegraph: "Our MPs would have naturally asked the army for details of
similar surgical strikes in the past and the officials, unlike the BJP
politicians, do not have any vested interest in hiding stories of
their valour. The government forestalled this situation."

Soni and Mistry revealed their plans for the meeting in their
statement when they said: "We demand that the original agenda of the
forthcoming committee meeting be maintained and also defence officials
inform the committee about the number of surgical strikes carried out
since 2004."

The meeting would have witnessed fireworks as Congress members -
Amarinder Singh and Abhishek Singhvi, apart from Soni and Misty -
would have faced resistance from senior BJP members like Murli Manohar
Joshi and Subramanian Swamy. The committee is headed by BJP veteran
B.C. Khanduri, a former army man.

Soni and Mistry stressed the importance of examining the preparedness
of the army. The statement said: "It is our firm belief that the
officials should brief the standing committee as they briefed the
leaders of the opposition parties on the above issues. The decision
not to brief the committee over (the) surgical strikes under the garb
of secrecy only amounts to 'lack of confidence' in the members of
Parliament, who are in the committee and who are bound by the oath of

The army officials had themselves confirmed a few days ago that they
would brief the parliamentary committee on the strikes but would not
share footage or visual evidence that may compromise operational

The Congress statement said: "It is also unfortunate that we come to
know the shortage of arms and ammunition to the 'Special Forces', who
carried out (the) surgical strikes, from newspaper columns, but the
army officials are not ready to discuss or answer queries to be raised
in the meeting of standing committee members."

The Congress leaders complained that the ministry never took the
committee seriously and despite repeated formal mentions it never
presented their policies and preparedness to meet emergency situations
created by neighbouring countries.

"The 'Make in India' initiative also seems to be a complete failure in
the defence sector," the statement added.

Peace Is Doable

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