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Saturday, June 19, 1999
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Pak may try same mischief again

I AM an old soldier. I have served in mountains and in high altitude. I know what it means just to survive there but to attack up such slopes and that too under constant observed artillery fire from enemy sanctuaries across the LoC right from the moment you leave your base camp, requires a superhuman effort. Their task is almost impossible and each one of them is a true hero. The nation owes them a great debt. May they succeed and succeed soon and that their sacrifice be not in vain.

Kargil indicates that perhaps Pakistan has changed its tactics. With an ample dose of deceit, good and thorough preparations and an investment of barely a thousand soldiers/mercenaries, Pakistan has succeeded in creating a war-like crisis in India. They apparently have concluded that with their nuclear deterrent now in place, we shall never escalate the situation beyond Kargil or whichever target they might choose for their next adventure . Except in this context, I cannot think of any other explanation for why they planned this operation this particular year and never earlier. Kargil’s potential for causing major difficulties for us could not have been hidden from them all these years. They now seem to be betting on the strategy to bleed us to death with a few well-chosen stabs like this, a kind of Halal, while we behave like a responsible nuclear nation and confine ourselves to just fending off such local attacks and not enlarge the conflict lest any generalisation of the conflict leads to a nuclear exchange.

If my above fears are correct, there will be many Kargils in years to come or even sooner. I hope someone in our political and military leadership is thinking about them and doing some advance strategic planning, while the present crisis is being tackled. I think we will put our very survival at risk if we continue to remain so totally defensive and reactive as we have always been in regard to Pakistan. We are being forced to fight at a place, time and to a large extent in a manner chosen by our adversary and they couldn’t have chosen better. We are being forced to spend tremendous resources of will, men and material in a campaign whose best outcome we can ever aim for is to push the intruders back across the LoC so that they can come back and fight another day.

Our traumatic history of the last thousand years is full of perils of such lack of initiative and aggressiveness. Luckily, we also have a few shining examples of the opposite in the same history and the most relevant happened in 1965. I think we would surely have lost Kashmir that year but for two of our bold decisions, first to capture the Haji Pir pass and then to attack across the Punjab border. I feel we will soon be on that crossroad again if we are not there already and may have to confront the same set of tough choices. Certainly, the situation this time is different than it was in 1965; it always is and no two situations are ever alike. Two new important factors that are obvious are the nuclear equation and the emergence of the USA as the sole super power. Obviously, both will need to be taken into account. Yet, the basic need to save Kashmir and in fact to survive as a nation, at any cost, remains the same as it was in 1965 and so does, luckily, our comparative superiority in conventional weaponry.

So, the day of reckoning has finally arrived or as people in this country are fond of saying, it is time to either put up or shut up. This may well be one of those occasions when a seemingly more risky course involves the least risk. However, it is easy for a person like me to become an armchair super hawk than it is for someone who has the awesome responsibility of taking such momentous decisions. Let us therefore pray that may our political leadership have the courage and sense to decide whatever is best for our country. Let us support them as much as we support our brave jawans and pilots at this critical hour. Our leaders alone have all the inside information to be able to take the most appropriate decision. Let us therefore stand resolutely behind them whatever they decide like a mature democracy should, irrespective of what our personal opinions or party affiliations may be. A united and resolve stand is what the need of the hour is.

New Jersey (USA)
(Received in response to the Internet edition.)

Raw deal

While the situation in Kargil turns from bad to worse, the number of Indian soldiers dying for the country in this conflict is rising by the day. Anyone who has even an ounce of patriotism in him must find his eyes moist for those who have made the supreme sacrifice for the nation. We must salute the Indian army for its courage, bravery and commitment to defend our frontiers at all costs. For them, “It is not to question why, it is but to do and die.”

But that certainly doesn’t mean that we should remain silent spectators to the raw deal being given to our armed forces by the Indian government. While our army is engaged in a deadly battle to save our area in Kargil, it is business as usual for our shortsighted politicians. Instead of merely politicking in Delhi or elsewhere, these self-proclaimed “servants of the people” should find time to give a healing touch to the families of the bereaved soldiers. It is disgusting to see the mortal remains of our dear soldiers being consigned to flames one after another, day after day, with hardly any top minister or government official around, leave aside the prospect of any swift and concrete financial or other help. This callous and brazen attitude will seriously affect the morale of our army which is certainly not very upbeat at the moment. Certain immediate steps must be taken by the government to boost the confidence of the armed forces before it is too late.

This is almost war-time and the government must implement firm austerity measures on itself and on the bureaucracy and all such savings should immediately be directed towards army welfare. This is no time for mere slogan-raising and empty speeches. Let our leaders set an example and do something really concrete for our defence forces. Present ex-gratia grant for the army personnel is hardly sufficient and must be enhanced considerably. The dependant/dependants of the soldiers killed in action must continue to get their full salary till the actual retirement age along with all other benefits plus an immediate suitable employment — that too without any difficulty or hassles.


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After reading a letter, “Govt’s dismal role in Kargil” (June 12) I read once again Mr Inder Malhotra’s article “Mishandled Kargil mess: Government’s dismal role” (June 9).

Mr Malhotra debunks the government calling it a “blunderous bunch of politicians on the top of the heap...ensconced in New Delhi, even if as caretakers”. Is Mr Malhotra speaking Sonia Gandhi’s language? Where did Mr Vajpayee blunder? How was his government’s role in Kargil dismal?

Mr Malhotra’s article raises several questions. who created Kargil, who created the Line of Control (LoC), who created the Kashmir problem? I would urge Mr Malhotra to read Mr Hari Jaisingh say in his article “Lessons from Kargil (June 11): “Perhaps there would have been no Kashmir problem had the Army not been stopped from taking its 1947 operation to its logical conclusion by throwing out raiders from the valley.”

Why shy away from the patent reality that all this was the creation of the Panchsheel priest Nehru who was worried more about his international image as a peacemaker than India’s interest.

“The blunderous caretaker” Prime Minister’s diplomacy has brought the USA closer to Indian stand on Kargil, the Pak Foreign Minister, Mr Sartaj Aziz, has returned empty-handed from China. Mr Vajpayee has given a free hand to the army . He has sternly told Pakistan “Talks yes, but only on Kargil, or else they will end before they’ve begun”. He is even prepared to face a war if thrust by Pakistan. What more does Mr Malhotra want from the “blunderous” Mr Vajpayee?



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