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Debunking the fauji

These petty charlatans of the Opposition have severely damaged the reputation of the Armed Forces not only within the country but internationally as well. They need to apologise for their unpardonable acts and irresponsible statements when most of the other countries have appreciated India‘s bold action against the terrorists. The Opposition might be making a mistake by questioning Modi on national security issues, instead of focusing more on unemployment and agriculture.

PK Vasudeva | New Delhi |

Surprisingly, the Opposition parties are making disparaging remarks against the Armed Forces and casting aspersions on their cross-border strikes for narrow and selfish political gains at enormous cost to the nation. This is the real damage to the dignity and morale of the Armed Forces. Asking the Services to provide verifiable proof of damage caused to an adversary is also a severe risk to the nation’s security.

As many as eight former chiefs of the Armed Forces and 156 veterans have written to the President of India, Mr Ram Nath Kovind, who is also the supreme commander of the defence services, urging him to stop the government from using the defence forces for political purposes. A copy of this letter was also advanced to the Election Commission.

Opposition parties targeted the NDA government over what they called “blatant politicisation” of sacrifices made by jawans. After a meeting where 21 Opposition parties were present, a joint statement was read out by the Congress president, Rahul Gandhi, stating that the ruling party is “politicising the sacrifices by the Armed Forces”. He also lauded the “actions taken by the Indian Air Force against the menace of terrorism”, perhaps not knowing that the action was taken after the nod from the Modi government.

It is not understood as to why the government cannot highlight the bravery and valiant events for keeping the morale of the soldiers high. Even in the past, major events such as the capture of Haji Pir in the 1965 war, surrender of 93,000 Pakistani Prisoners of War (POW) in 1971, the Indo-Pak war and the liberation of Bangladesh, the Kargil operations, Longewal battle and so on have been highlighted as glorious events.

‘Vijay Diwas’ is now being celebrated across the nation and nobody has ever raised any objection. Unlike in the past, the Modi government has carried out bold operations against terrorists. The courage of this government for highlighting ‘Surgical Operations I and II’ and also the ‘Shakti Mission’ are respectively the greatest achievements of the armed forces and scientists. The citizens must feel proud of their armed forces and space scientists.

On 18 September 2016, a Fidayeen attack was perpetrated by four armed militants on an army base near the town of Uri. Nineteen Indian soldiers were killed. India accused Jaish-e- Muhammad, a Pakistan-based terrorist organisation for this act. The Uri outrage followed similar Fidayeens attacks in Gurdaspur and Pathankot.

No wonder it was a matter of grave concern to India. The next day, the Indian army claimed that it had displayed considerable restraint in the wake of the attacks, but it deserved the right to respond “at the time and place of our own choosing.” On 29 September 2016, India announced that it had conducted “surgical strikes” against militant launch-pads across the Line of Control in Pakistan Occupied Kashmir (POK), and had inflicted “significant casualties” (60 to 70).

Partial footage of the strikes was released to the Indian media on 27 June 2018. A film on Uri has also been screened in Indian cinemas. However, the Opposition parties still demanded proof, implicitly expressing doubts about the integrity of the Army. On 14 February 2019, a vehicle- borne suicide bomber at Lethpora in Pulwama district of Jammu and Kashmir, attacked a convoy of vehicles carrying security personnel on the Jammu-Srinagar National Highway.

The attack resulted in the deaths of 46 Central Reserve Police Force personnel and the suicide bomber. The Pakistan-based Islamist militant group, Jaish-e- Mohammed, claimed responsibility for the attack. The Modi government and the rest of the nation took it seriously and wanted the government to teach a lesson to Pakistan for such a dastardly act. The Balakot airstrike was conducted by the IAF in the early hours of February 26 when Indian warplanes crossed over to Pakistan Occupied Kashmir (POK) in a surprise attack.

The warplanes dropped bombs in the vicinity of the town of Balakot in Pakistan’s Khyber Pakhtunkhwa province, which is several miles inside POK. Pakistan’s military, the first to announce the airstrike on February 26 morning, said the Indian planes had dropped their payload near Balakot. India, confirming the airstrike later the same day, called it a pre-emptive strike directed against the Jaish-e- Mohammed terrorists’ training camps, and resulting in the deaths of a “large number” of terrorists.

The following day, February 27, in a tit-for-tat airstrike, Pakistan retaliated. An Indian warplane was shot down and its pilot taken prisoner by the Pakistan military before being returned on March 1. India also shot down Pakistan’s F-16 fighter jet in a dogfight, with the aircraft falling in POK. Indian Air Force has given ample proof of its bravery, but again the Opposition parties did not believe in the IAF operation and wanted evidence.

India’s space achievement has been another source of pride. On March 27, DRDO conducted ‘Mission Shakti’, an antisatellite missile test, from Dr. APJ Abdul Kalam Island launch complex. One of India’s existing satellites operating in lower orbit was used in the mission. The test was successful judging by all parameters. India has made it clear that its space capabilities aren’t directed against anyone and the government is committed to safeguarding the country’s national security interest. India has successfully demonstrated its capability to intercept a satellite in outer space based on indigenous technology.

This country now joins a select group of nations ~ USA, Russia and China ~ with similar technology. Surprisingly, the Opposition parties have not questioned this outstanding space achievement; however, some of them are still casting aspersions. The Opposition has launched a united attack on Prime Minister Modi for what they call his politicisation of the Armed Forces as he tries to ride a patriotic wave into a second term in office post the general election. Pollsters feel the Opposition might be making a mistake by questioning Modi on national security issues, instead of focusing more on unemployment and agriculture.

Actually, the Opposition will do good to the country if it raises the weaknesses of the Modi government pertaining to national security and defence related issues; lowest defence budget, no Chief of Defence Staff (CDS), insufficient allocation of funds for modernisation, action on acute shortage of defence officers, integration of the Ministry of Defence with three service headquarters, provision of nonfunctional upgradation grade (NFU) allowance to armed forces officers and so on.

This could have been a positive contribution of the Opposition parties for making the Armed Forces suitably strong to face adversaries. These petty charlatans have severely damaged the reputation of the Armed Forces not only in the country but also internationally as well. They need to apologise for their unpardonable acts and irresponsible statements when most of the other countries have appreciated India’s bold action against the terrorists.

(The writer is former Senior Professor, International Trade. He may be reached at [email protected])