“Why should India be afraid of Pak’s nuclear capability?”
GEN V N Sharma, former Chief of Army Staff, is of the view that India has failed to capitalise on the ‘window of opportunity’ that Kargil had offered. "We have not had the courage to take resolute military action," he says in an interview to Rajiv Sharma. Excerpts:
Do you feel the Indian response to the problem of Pakistan-sponsored terrorism has been rather timid?
India has not handled the situation properly ever since the Kargil war. Kargil was India's first mistake. When India was required to tackle infiltration by Pakistan, it decided not to cross the Line of Control (LoC). We did not have the guts to do that. In order to please the USA and to convince them that Pakistan was sponsoring terrorism in J&K, we did not allow our troops to cross the LoC.
What should India have done?
We did not open another front in Punjab or on the Karachi coast. Those options were available to us. Indian stand on the protection of its territory has been inconsistent. Thousands of Indians were killed and we did not take any physical action to counter Pakistan-sponsored terrorism. We have shown ourselves to be a soft state. We had the option of opening the western front at any point of time. We have not had the courage to take resolute military action. This attitude of India has encouraged Pakistan and its benefactor, the USA, to take liberties as far as Indian sensitivities are concerned.
You mean the Indian government did absolutely nothing to counter Pakistan?
From December 13, 2001, what action has India taken? For nine months India deployed its troops on the border only to pull them back. It was a window of opportunity for carrying out limited military action across the LoC or other areas of our interest.
Do you feel that India did
not use this opportunity for fear of a nuclear strike by Pakistan?
Pakistan has never feared Indian nuclear capability and has carried out its terrorist acts with impunity. If Pakistan is unafraid of the nuclear capability of India, why should India be afraid of Pakistan's nuclear capability? Pakistan is fully assured that India will never take resort to the nuclear option. The USA controls any offensive reaction by India. There is no possibility of Pakistan using the first nuclear strike against India. It is a game between Pakistan supported by the USA on one side and the Indian sensitivities on the other. Another reason for this is the extremely ambivalent nuclear philosophy of India. There is no doctrine. To have a nuclear weapon does not mean that you should have a doctrine that you will only make the second strike. The reason is that India does not have the capacity for the second strike. For second strike you need nuclear capability in the ocean and far larger nuclear capacity than what you have or what you propose to have.