Homeland Security

Denigrating the Armed Forces
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Issue Net Edition | Date : 28 Apr , 2019

Surprisingly, the opposition political parties have started making disparaging remarks against the Armed Forces and casting aspersions on their cross border strikes for narrow 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 Forces to provide verifiable proof of damage caused to an adversary is also a severe risk to the nation’s security. The worst has been when eight former army chiefs of armed forces and 156 veterans wrote a letter to the President of India Honourable Ram Nath Kovind who is the supreme commander of the armed forces urging him to stop the government from using the defence forces for political purpose with a copy to the Election Commission.

Opposition parties targeted the NDA government over what they called “blatant politicization” of sacrifices made by jawans. After a meeting where 21 opposition parties were present, a joint statement was read out stating that the ruling party is “politicising the sacrifices by armed forces”. Congress President Rahul Gandhi, who read the statement, also lauded the “actions taken by the Indian Air Force against the menace of terrorism”.

It is not understood as to why the government cannot highlight the bravery and valiant events of the armed forces for keeping their morale high. Even in the past events like capture of Haji Pir in 1965 war, capture of 93,000 Pakistan Prisoners of War of 1971, liberation of Bangladesh, Kargil operation, Longewala battle and so on have been highlighted as glorious events and ‘Vijay Diwas’ is being celebrated nation wise as such and nobody had raised any objection.

The Modi government has carried out some of the bold actions against the terrorists, which are unprecedented in the past. The guts of this government for highlighting ‘Surgical Operation I and Surgical Operation II’ and also the Shakti Mission’ are the great prides for the country. All countrymen must feel proud of their armed forces and space scientists.

On 18 September 2016, a suicidal attack was made by four armed militants on an army base near the town of Uri. Nineteen Indian Army soldiers were martyred. India accused Jaish-e-Muhammad, a Pakistan-based terrorist organisation for this act. Having come after similar suicidal attacks in Gurdaspur and Pathankot, the Uri attack gave rise to high degree of concern in India. The following day, the Indian army said 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 conducted “surgical strikes” against militant launch pads across the Line of Control in Pakistan Occupied Kashmir (PoK), and inflicted “significant casualties” 60 to 70. Partial footage of the strikes was released to the Indian media on 27 June 2018. A movie on Uri has also been displayed in the Indian cinemas. However, the some political parties still demanded proof doubting the integrity of the Army.

On 14 February 2019, a vehicle-borne suicide bomber at Lethpora in the Pulwama district, 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 attacker. The Pakistan-based Islamist militant group Jaish-e-Mohammed claimed the responsibility for the attack. The government and the whole nation took it seriously and wanted the government to teach a lesson to Pakistan for such a dastardly act. Resultantly, the 2019 Balakot airstrike was conducted by the Indian Air Force in the early morning hours of February 26 when Indian warplanes crossed over to Pakistan Occupied Kashmir (POK) stealthily in a surprise attack. The warplanes dropped bombs in the vicinity of the town of Balakot in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa province in Pakistan several miles inside the POK. Pakistan’s military, the first to announce the airstrike on February 26 mornings, described the Indian planes as dropping their payload near Balakot. India, confirming the airstrike later the same day, characterized it to be a preemptive strike directed against a Jaish-e-Mohammed terrorists’ training camps, and causing the deaths of a “large number” of terrorists. The following day, February 27, in a tit-for-tat airstrike, Pakistan retaliated, causing an Indian warplane to be shot down and its pilot to be taken prisoner by the Pakistan military before being returned on March 1. India also shot down Pakistan’s F-16 fighter jet in a dog fight which fell in POK. Indian Air Force has given sufficient proof of its bravery but again the opposition parties did not believe in the air strike and wanted a proof.

Another pride to the nation has been India’s space achievement. On March 27, DRDO conducted ‘Mission Shakti’, an anti-satellite 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 on 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. India now joins a select group of nations — USA, Russia and China — with a similar technology. Surprisingly, the opposition parties have not questioned this outstanding space achievement.

Some Indian political parties are launching a united attack on Prime Minister Modi for what they see as his politicisation of the armed forces as he tries to ride a patriotic wave into a second term in office at a general election. The opposition parties are seeing ghosts when there are none.

Pollsters say opposition parties may be making a mistake by questioning Modi on national security instead of focusing more on national security issues, increasing the defence budget, recommending Chief of Defence Staff (CDS), modernisation of defence forces, improving the acute shortage of officers in the defence forces, provision of nonfunctional upgradation of grade (NFU) allowance given to police forces and so on. This could have been a positive contribution of the opposition parties for making the armed forces strong to face our adversaries.

These certain political segments have severely damaged the reputation of the Indian Armed Forces in the country and internationally too. They need to apologise for their unpardonable acts and irresponsible statements when most of the countries are appreciating India’s bold action against the terrorists.

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The views expressed are of the author and do not necessarily represent the opinions or policies of the Indian Defence Review.

About the Author

Col (Dr) P K Vasudeva

Col (Dr) P K Vasudeva is a defence analyst and commentator.

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