Sunday, March 18, 2001,
Chandigarh, India


M A I N   N E W S

Raise standards of probity, Vajpayee tells Army
Tribune News Service

New Delhi, March 17
A day after addressing the nation on disclosures made in the tehelka tapes and the government’s plan of action, Prime Minister Atal Behari Vajpayee today urged the armed forces to raise the standards of probity, transparency and accountability.

Giving indications of possible curbs on the media getting information on defence matters, the Prime Minister added that the press had to accept restriction while covering military matters.

Delivering the keynote address on a conference on “Role of the Military in Asian Democracies” organised by Asia News Network here, the Prime Minister said: “Just as all institutions of a democracy are expected to respond to the rising expectations of the people, so too must the military. While keeping to their well-defined role, the armed forces need to constantly raise the standards of probity, transparency, and accountability”.

He said because national security overrides all other considerations, it is given a higher level of protection against external oversight to prevent interference in its functioning. Even the press, which normally plays the role of a watchdog on other institutions of a democracy, has to accept restrictions in covering military matters.

“Similarly, military decisions are not dragged into political controversies in a democracy”, he said adding that the men in uniform were an example of how to put the nation’s interests above personal and sectional interests.

The Prime Minister said: “The military is constitutionally required to accept the supremacy of a civilian authority. Its role is to defend and not to govern. The military is neither expected nor oriented to intervene in politics”.

He said in a mature democracy, people had a well-defined way of expressing their discontent against bad governance by voting out a set of people in power and voting in another set of their choice and did not need to turn to the military for the same.

Mr Vajpayee said defining specific relationship between the armed forces and the civilian authority did not in any way belittle the importance of the military.

“Rather, it provides a protection to the military as an institution whose integrity should not, in any way, be weakened by its stepping into the role of other institutions of governance. Such constitutional provisions also protect the institution of the military from individual adventurism”.

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