Tuesday, January 22, 2002, Chandigarh, India

National Capital Region--Delhi



Removal of Corps Commander unfortunate

THE removal of the Army Commander of one of the country’s three strike corps based at Ambala, Lt-Gen Kapil Vij, the General Officer Commanding (GOC), even before the war has started, is most unfortunate. He had allegedly moved his troops closer to the border (Forward Assembly Area) “unauthorisedly”. Procedures for operational movement of troops in Army are so foolproof that the GOC could not have carried out such a major move without the approval of his superiors.

Obviously, the Western Command Headquarters or even Army Headquarters must have been involved in the move. Or else, there must have been “monumental ambiguity” in the issue of “operational directive/instruction” or “verbal orders/code words”. It appears that the Corps Commander has been made a scapegoat for someone else’s fault.

When the troops are supposedly poised for war, sacking a Commander of a strike corps for his alleged “aggressiveness” would send an unmistakable message to Pakistan that we “don’t mean business” but are indulging only in “saber (trishul) rattling”. As the new Corps Commander will take some time to have grasp of things, we have clearly told Pakistan that she must not worry about us using the ultimate weapon of politics, war, immediately. We have told General Musharraf that there is no urgency for him to take action on our demands. Thus we have already weakened our bargaining position. Nobody will be more pleased than General Musharraf the way we are making only “empty noises”. No wonder, he has rubbished our demand for handing over 20 terrorists.


No Army can be expected to give its best, whose Chief is “chided” by a “trade unionist” Defence Minister for only emphasising the Union Government’s known nuclear doctrine, and the sack of the Commander of Corps, which is supposed to strike deep into the enemy territory, in such a humiliating manner.

Hitler used to indulge in these antics and was more responsible for the defeat of the finest Army of the time than the entire might of the Allies. The Indian Army still remembers how V.K.Krishna Menon used to behave. He gifted us the ‘Disgrace of 1962’. Hope history will not be repeated in 2002.

May God save the Indian Army from its politicians?

Brig HARWANT SINGH (retd), Mohali

Time for peace

We are delighted that Mr Vajpayee’s New Year appeal to Pakistan to return to the way of peace has now evoked a matching response from Gen Pervez Musharraf. Given the PM’s stated willingness to meet the General “more than half way” in the pursuit of peace, and the General’s firm commitment to walk his half of the way, time has come for de-escalating the explosive situation on the border and to resume parleys for peace.

We welcome the constructive steps announced by Gen Musharraf as a belated realisation that for our countries war is assured mutual destruction, even discounting the nuclear scenario. We have shed enough blood for war. Let us shed some vanity and forego the heritage of hate for the sake of peace. We can only be wiser and richer for this.

Committed as we are to a shared spiritual heritage, we remain alarmed at the political abuse of religious sentiments resulting in fundamentalist misadventures that discredit the religions they pretend to promote. Religious fundamentalism is a developmental holocaust, plunging millions into untold suffering. The facade of religion should no longer mask the cruelties and hypocrisies violence and wickedness, unleashed in the pursuit of political and economic power. The diabolic abuse of the sacred human capacity for religious devotion should no longer be tolerated anywhere in the world.

While we welcome the bold measures announced by Gen Musharraf, we wish to salute the initiatives undertaken by the PM, whether it be the bus diplomacy, the unilateral ceasefire in Kashmir or the Agra summit. Even so, we wish to appeal to the PM to initiate urgent steps to bring to an end the misery of the people of Kashmir.

The window of opportunity for peace opened first by Mr Vajpayee in his New Year reflections and now by Gen Musharraf must be turned into a windfall for the cause of peace. We believe there is enough on the table for our leaders to prospect for peace. Any willful blindness or cavalier indifference to this reality can only amount to gambling with the cause of peace for some hypothetical gains.

The Revd. Valsom Thampu,
Dr Asghar Ali Engineer,
Dr MAHINDER SINGH, by e-mail



All that I wanted to say has been very well summed up by Lt Gen Harwant Singh and Brig Kang. I was also watching the live press conference of the Army Chief and was really impressed by his clean answers and the precise way of replying to a question. I don’t think it is very comfortable to be bombarded by so many media people and to be ready to give out all the right answers.

It was shocking to switch on TV at night and see the not so very appreciating way one 24-hour Hindi news channel reported on the reprimand given to the Army Chief. It is really sad that our politicians do not have the common courtesy of handling such matters. It’s unfortunate that the services officers with impeccable educational backgrounds have to face such remarks from politicians who have many skeletons in their cupboards. It’s sad, unfortunate and demoralising at a time like this.


What’s wrong?: In the editorial “George at it again” (Jan 14) you have rightly pointed out the misdemeanour of the Defence Minister. General Padmanabhan is not an “anybody” like any politician. He is a professional soldier and the Chief of the Army Staff. He knows better than George as to what he says and does or has to do in regard to the Army’s role concerning protection of our country from an external aggression.

It is not the first time that the Defence Minister of our country has disowned the serving Army Chief. Mr Sharad Pawar, as Defence Minister, did the same thing to the then Army Chief, General Joshi.

The Defence Minister must inform the public how the Army Chief’s assurance to his countrymen, which he gave and is duty-bound to do so professionally, amounts to a wrongdoing as to warrant his denouncement by the Defence Minister. The Prime Minister should step in to counsel his Defence Minister appropriately, knowing well what task the Army and its Chief have ahead.


Military education

To check terrorism and other anti-India activities, we must impart military training to youth in schools and colleges. The services of ex-servicemen can be used.

The 15 per cent reservation given to ex-servicemen in government jobs should rather be given to their wards and out of this 50 percent seats should be reserved for the wards of those who had laid down their lives for the country.

VIKRAMJEET SHARMA, Samkri (Hamirpur)

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