I love my India and want it to be the best in the world. It has the talent and capability. The state has constantly deteriorated in last six decades. The downfall is due to low quality, incompetent and corrupt leadership, unaccountable, equally corrupt bureaucracy and ineffective judiciary unable to fulfil people's aspirations resulting in unparalleled corruption and lawlessness. Drastic changes are necessary to make systems vibrant and responsive to make it an India of every Indian's dreams.
Gen VP Malik (retd)
Ex COAS Indian Army (During Kargil War of 1999)
Ties between India and Pakistan have not improved despite efforts. The Indian military leadership should be kept in the
strategic decision-making loop.
INDIA-PAKISTAN relations are complex and unique. In Lahore,
Bollywood-made Bajrangi Bhaijan brings tears to theatre-goers; just like it
happens with my wife when she watches a particular Pakistani short film on
Zindagi channel. From Islamabad, young students from Westminster School come
excitedly to Chandigarh to participate in a Model United Nations and go back
happily, clamouring ‘Yeh dil maange more’. A young Pakistani lady, pining for
Bollywood actor Salman Khan, reaches Amritsar without a passport, proving filmi
style that ‘pyaar koi bhi sirhad cross kar sakta hai’.
But around the same time, three Pakistani fidayeen cross over
into Punjab, kill seven policemen in Dina Nagar and narrowly miss blowing up
250 passengers travelling aboard the Pathankot-Amritsar train. They were highly
motivated, well trained, armed and equipped and, therefore, able to fight for
nearly 11 hours before getting killed. My 42-year military experience tells me
that they could not have embarked on this mission without substantial support
from Pakistan’s state agencies.
Let us roll back the last 16 years. Prime Minister Atal Bihari
Vajpayee is invited to Lahore by Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif. Vajpayee
inaugurates the Sada-e-Sarhad bus service between Delhi and Lahore on February
19, 1999. He travels on its first trip with band, baaja and baraat comprising
Indian celebrities, and is received at the other end with much back-slapping
bonhomie. Two days later, both Prime Ministers sign the Lahore Declaration,
committing themselves to a ‘vision of peace, stability and mutual progress,
full commitment to the Simla Agreement and the UN Charter’. Within a few weeks,
the Pakistan army launches its pre-planned ‘attack by infiltration’ into the
Kargil-Siachen sectors. Sharif and Sartaj Aziz, Pakistani political prime
actors then and now, put the blame on Gen Pervez Musharraf. However, few strategists
and military historians on either side of the border believe that these prime
actors had no role in the attack.
Over the next 70 days, India was forced into its fourth war with
Pakistan. We succeeded in achieving the political aim to throw the Pakistan
army out but not cross the LoC or the border. There were heavy casualties on
both sides. And yet, throughout that war, political leaders and their
interlocutors remained in touch. The Sada-e-Sarhad continued to run.
Although the formal victory was declared on July 26, 1999,
Pakistan lost the war psychologically when its people learnt of the Pakistan
army’s perfidy — the Mujahideen façade — through the Indian media, and when, on
the day we recaptured Tiger Hill, Nawaz Sharif desperately sought US
Ever since, I am often asked two questions: (a) Will there be
another war with Pakistan? (b) Are we better prepared now as compared to the
Kargil war time?
The first question is more political. It has less to do with the
military. As reasoned by Von Clausewitz, a war starts from ‘a political
condition called forth by a political motive and is, therefore, a political
act. It is a mere continuation of policy by other means’. Between India and
Pakistan, there has been no political progress on disputes like cross-border
terrorism, Jammu & Kashmir, Siachen Glacier or Sir Creek. Notwithstanding
the dramatic gesture of Narendra Modi inviting Sharif for his swearing-in
ceremony in May 2014 or the summit meeting with a constructive joint statement
from Ufa last month, there is no change in the ground situation. The continuing
cross-border terror acts and daily violations of ceasefire along the LoC are a
testimony to that.
To the military, I like to quote Admiral JC Wylie from his paper
‘Military Strategy: A General Theory of Power’ that “Despite whatever effort
there may be to prevent it, there may be a war.” This assumption is neither
being provocative nor a justification for the large expenditure on the armed
forces in peacetime. Military history tells us that nations who neglect this
historical determinism are vulnerable to military surprise and defeat. The
Kargil war was not the first time Pakistan initiated a war. We cannot assume
that it would be the last time.
To the second question, I will say that our western border is
much better manned than before. More troops have been deployed on the LoC and a
border fence has been constructed. We also have surveillance satellites,
unmanned aerial vehicles, thermal imagers, radars and ground sensors, which
were non-existent in 1999. But apart from that, we do not seem to have learnt
any important lessons from that war. The modernisation of the armed forces
continues to lag behind. The existing state of weapons and equipment could be
sufficient for border skirmishes, but if they escalate, which can never be
ruled out, deficiencies of weapons and ammunition and the lack of modernisation
will make the present day Chiefs repeat what I had said long ago — “We shall
fight with whatever we have.” Over the years, our capability to deter the
adversary has been seriously eroded.
An important war lesson called for faster politico-military
decision-making, rapid deployment of resources and synergy among all elements
involved in the war effort, particularly the three services; not only during
war, but also in peacetime. This requires keeping the military leadership in
the security and strategic decision-making loop. Unfortunately, there is no
politico-strategic guidance to the military, no keeping them in the integrated
decision-making loop, and no effort to promote jointmanship. The reason is that
important recommendations made on the reorganisation of a higher defence
structure have not progressed in letter and spirit.
We won the Kargil war primarily on the strength of our human
resource. The young officers and men were daring, deeply committed and
determined. The spirit was strong! Will such a spirit be there in our present
rank and file when they see Kargil war veterans and others on hunger strike and
agitating for months on the streets over the non-implementation of government
committed One Rank, One Pension? Let us not forget the strong linkage between a
serving soldier and a military veteran. The former will be a veteran tomorrow.
It hurts him as much, and alienates him from the ‘powers that be’.
India will remain vulnerable along its borders unless it builds
the will and the capability to deter and dissuade its likely adversaries. An
enduring lesson of Kargil war, and indeed most wars, is that sound defence and
security enables sound domestic and foreign policies. Indian civil and military
leadership needs to keep this in mind.
— The writer was the Army
Chief and Chairman, Chiefs of Staff Committee, during Kargil war