New Delhi: Rajinder Khanna, former chief of the Research and Analysis Wing (RAW), was on Tuesday appointed the deputy national security adviser (NSA), by the Appointments Committee of the Cabinet, headed by Prime Minister Narendra Modi.

A 1978-batch Research and Analysis (RAS) cadre officer, Khanna headed RAW from December 2014 for a fixed two-year period, following which he served as the officer on special duty (Neighbourhood Studies) in the National Security Council Secretariat, which prepares policy papers of neighbouring countries, including Pakistan, Sri Lanka, Bangladesh and Nepal.

Khanna’s appointment comes at a time when India’s relations with neighbouring Pakistan have been, at best, tenuous. Having spearheaded several counter-terrorism operations, Khanna is hailed as an expert on matters of Islamic terrorism and Pakistan.

“Right now, our intelligence units need to be well prepped against all threats. We cannot take anything lightly. This appointment is crucial because it makes for a robust office of the NSA, with Ajit Doval leading from the front. Our internal and external security apparatus is excellent and we need the best minds on such jobs," said a senior intelligence official, who did not wish to be identified.

Defence experts said India needs better internal security management and better counter-terrorism strategies.

“Pakistan has handled our strategies exceedingly well. Despite the surgical strike, they remain undeterred. We have not been able to contain them and they continue to strike. Our policies have been belligerent but the execution has not been proper. Right now, we need to manage our internal security better," said H.S. Panag, former lieutenant general in the Indian army.

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