Common Minimum National Security

While common, let’s hope its not minimum

The UPA government will make the National Security Council professional and effective institution. It will appoint a full-time National Security Adviser.

The UPA has been concerned with the manner in which POTA has been grossly misused in the past two years. There will be no compromise in the fight against terrorism. But given the abuse of POTA that has taken place, the UPA government will repeal it while existing laws are enforced strictly [Rediff]

Institutionalising decision making on national security through a NSC is long overdue step. However, the NSC is not an end in itself; neither is it a substitute for good security policy and execution. If there is one area where the new government’s lowest-common-denominator based decision making is unsuitable, it is in the area of national security. While the Vajpayee government did not put the NSC to much use, Brajesh Mishra was one of the best national security advisors India has had in a long time. It all boils down to the quality of leadership the Prime Minister, the National Security Advisor and the security cabinet provides. As A G Noorani points out in his review of Karl Inderfurth’s new book, even the United States struggles to maintain a balance between charismatic national security advisors and an institutionalised national security council.

Like almost every other law, the Prevention of Terrorism Act (POTA) has been abused. But the propensity of the state apparatus to abuse a law should not be the sole consideration for its total repeal. The more reasonable thing for the new government to do would have been to examine how it could weave in a process of judicial oversight into the anti-terror legislation – with an objective to minimize the scope for its abuse rather than prevent its use entirely. The scourge of terrorism has not disappeared and a weak coalition may not have the political will to tackle terrorist tactics. Repealing POTA will restrict the new government’s room to effectively tackle terrorism.

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