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Mudda panel debates policy post border killings, feels army hamstrung by bureaucracy and cannot do anything more than just follow orders

The Indian army indicated on Tuesday that it will avenge Pakistan against the killing of four of its soldiers in heavy shelling by Pakistani forces along the LoC. A day later, Pakistan, too, gave a warning to India. In a report in The Express Tribune, Pakistan Defense Minister Khurram Dastagir was quoted as saying: “They (India) may have the right to start a misadventure but the right to respond, at what level and with what magnitude will be reserved by us.” This war of words is nothing new. The central government and different political parties also indulge in a war of words regarding deaths of Indian soldiers. It is high time the government stops this and takes action.

Thursday’s edition of Mudda, APN’s daily current affairs show discussed the strategies of the Indian army and its relationship with the government. Moderated by Anant Tyagi, the guests were former diplomat JK Tripathi, security experts Major Gen KK Sinha (retired) and Brig Praful Bakshi (retired), Congress spokesperson Ajay Verma, BJP spokesperson Suresh Nakhua and consulting editor of APN Govind Pant Raju.

Singh said: “The army is a part of the government’s governance. But in Pakistan the army rules the country. Since Pakistan lost the 1971 war with India, its strategy has been to break India into pieces. We call it the ‘proxy war’. Pakistan follows two strategies—separatism and terrorism. I want to talk about terrorism here. This can be dealt with only by hard military action. It can’t be contained by homeland security… This continuous ceasefire violations and deaths of Indian soldiers is a long-drawn conflict. It will not be resolved soon. We don’t have the right advisors or the strategies to deal with it at the moment. We have often heard that the army should be ‘proactive’ which means instead of defensive strategies the army should follow offensive policies. But we follow only defensive policies and hence our soldiers are dying at the front.”

Bakshi said that the Indian army and the government are repeating the same mistake since the Kargil war. He explained: “There is no one to give the right advice to the government. The government does not allow the army to put forward its grievances or thoughts on the matter. The army should be allowed to do its job without any interference. The army can work with the government on the same ground when the government policies are right. The army is not allowed to be proactive. Our bureaucratic policies are such that our army can’t do anything more than just follow orders.”

Tripathi said though the government keeps saying the army has full freedom to work, it is not so. He said: “Though there is the policy of ‘surgical strike’ political parties have used the concept to its advantage. The army should be given more freedom and the government should stop its useless commentary and do some actual work.”

Raju rebuked the government for trying to politicise the army. He said: “The government’s actions should be such that Pakistan does not even dare to look towards the LoC. Major Aditya’s father went to the Supreme Court to request them to quash the FIR filed against his son for allegedly starting the Shopian firing incident. Why is the central government silent? Also, an investigation is going on about the alleged links between stone-pelters and terrorist groups, their funding, their leaders, etc. Why has the government not taken any stringent action yet against those who have been proven to be terrorists?”

-Compiled by Usha Rani Das

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