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Soldiering on in Kargil
By driving out the Pakistan Army of the Northern Light Infantry, from Indian territory in Kargil in the last year of the last century, the Indian Army won the fourth and the last of the four India-Pakistan Wars fought between the years 1947 and 1999.
BY DRIVING out the Pakistan Army soldiers of the Northern Light Infantry, from Indian territory in Kargil in the last year of the last century, the Indian Army’s officers and men won the fourth and the last of the four India-Pakistan Wars fought between the years 1947 and 1999.Every time it was Pakistan that committed an aggression and every time it was Pakistan who was beaten and turned tail. After wars, invariably negotiations for peace followed where Pakistan promised to behave, then broke its word. A silly scenario of a multi-pronged attack on India's land, sea and air was as delightful hobby horse akin to drinking single malt Scotch whiskey on the house. As is well known, a drunken general may be enchanting while spinning yarns but is always a bad strategist for a real war. Generals of the Pakistan Army have proved that statement time and again.

Ten years on
Much water has flown down the Indus river and tributaries since our victory in Kargil a decade ago. It was on 26 July 2009 that Indian soil was declared clear of the invaders and intruders from across the border. The military situation in the area has undergone a thorough change for the better. "There will NOT be a second Kargil by the Pakistan Army" - is the proud declaration of our Army strategists. We are proud of them. Let us see what changes have taken place that prompts our compatriots to make a bold declaration.

The day-to-day activity of the common citizen mirrors the state of wellness of a society. Are they going about their daily chores in a normal manner or is there a discernible tension because of enemy activity across the border. Ten years ago, every house in Kargil town had a bunker where civilians could take shelter during enemy shelling. Every outer wall of every house had shell marks as a result of enemy bombardment. Kargil became a ghost town within a few days of commencement of the war. Men, women and children had left their home and hearth for safer shelter elsewhere. Ten years on, Kargil looks different. There is the hustle and bustle of a tourist town Kargil's economy is booming under the patronage of the 8th Mountain Division. General Officer Commanding of the Army formation said that they pump Rs2 crores every month into the local economy in the form of wages for labour, hire charges for ponies and purchase of knick-knacks.

“NEVER TRUST PAKISTAN” - that is the first lesson the Indian Army has learnt. Alas, our top politicians and bureaucrats still believe in thar worn-out adage: keep talking to both friend and foe until a result is achieved. There is no light at the end of the tunnel and yet some diplomats love to loiter around in that tunnel. The combat treachery of Pakistan is etched in the heart of every jawan. How can one forget the mutilated bodies of Captain Kalia and his jawans. It was a deliberate devilish act of Pakistan that can never be condoned. In any case, they did not have the courtesy to apologise for the heinous offence of mutilating bodies of soldiers of another country. In naked contrast to this, the Indian Army showed respect to the enemy war dead and buried their bodies with military honours and Islamic rites because Pakistan had refused to accept them for burial in Pakistan.

Modernisation all over

A complete makeover of arms and equipment, clothing and boots, tactics and strategy, has been the crying need of our Armed Forces, since Independence. It is unfortunate that so little attention has been paid to these aspects of defence by the powers that be. This deficiency came to light in the First Kashmir war, Goa operations, the Chinese debacle in NEFA (now Arunachal Pradesh), and the wars against Pakistan in 1965, 1971 and 1999. In the 1971 war, the situation was a wee bit better because the then Army Chief made it plain that going to war with major deficiencies in weapon and equipment would mean courting defeat and disaster. Our finance ministry mandarins loosened their purse strings for the first time and the Soviet Union made up for our deficiencies. In Kargil too, jawans had sad tales to tell. However, thereafter, the Army was given wide financial powers and red tapism was done away with in the case of essential purchases for war. Now the jawans are well-clad, well-fed and well-connected with their loved ones by phone. However, the guns need replacement. The good old Bofors that won Kargil is now 22-years-old. The infantryman’s rifles need be replaced by modern assault and rapid-firing rifles. A bunker-buster weapon system is the crying need of the hour.

Unless the most modern weapon system with accurate and effective fire power is made available to the Army, our war machine cannot be expected to win laurels. A weak weapon system continues to be the Achilles’ heel of the Indian Army. Strategically speaking, more co-ordination is needed between the government of India and the Armed Forces. India is a nuclear power. Fine. However, the service chiefs are not part of the war mechanism that controls the nuclear button. The Armed Forces are not aware of the future targets of our nuclear weapon system and also our defence mechanism to safeguard the nation from a nuclear attack. In the case of an emergency, it would take time to co-ordinate the mechanism to handle nuclear war. There is a need to streamline the mechanism for use of nuclear deterrents in both attack and defence.

As far as Kargil is concerned, the Army is happy with the manpower situation. Ten years ago, only 2,000 uniformed personnel were guarding the Line of Control (LOC). Now as many as 20,000 officers and soldiers are keeping a watch on enemy movement across the Line. No doubt the expenditure on their upkeep and maintenance of weapon and equipment has gone up many times. It is estimated to be in the area of Rs8 to 10 crores per day. No one should feel bad about it because the defence of the country is our supreme concern. The motto of the Indian Army is: NATION ABOVE ALL. Let us all rejoice and make merry as we celebrate the tenth anniversary of Kargil Vijay Divas.

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