Strong Military


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We need a strong military, not a political one
karim.jpg (4379 bytes)by Maj.Gen.(retd.)Afsir Karim

Following The mini-war in Kargil, the government is making a definite attempt at militarizing the country.
This issue has both military and political dimensions.
Militarily, there is no denying that India faces a real threat from Pakistan, and has two nuclear powers pointing their missiles at it. It might sound hawkish, but India has no option but to develop an effective nuclear deterrent in these circumstances.

Politically, though, there is no need, as is being done today, to take tough postures and keep harping on our nuclear progress. Consequently, a certain amount of belligerence and jingoism have crept into our uttering on security matters, ordinarily best left to experts and the defence establishment, especially those pertaining to our nuclear capability. This doesn’t make us strong, but only sends a wrong message to our neighbours.

For instance, all kinds of things are being said and written about the nuclear doctrine, which was articulated recently. Political leaders and so-called experts should realize that it is only a draft doctrine, which need not provide operational details.

I must emphasize that the process of modernization of our Armed Forces shouldn’t be done in a gung-ho manner. Post-Kargil, there is the danger of real issues taking a backseat. A balance should be struck between the two. No country has gained much by militarizing itself without establishing a strong economic base. We shouldn’t forget that mere posturing would not make us a strong nation. A nation’s strength flows from its economy, which should be our first priority.

But the most serious repercussion of Kargil, which few are talking about, is the way the Bhartiya Janata Party and its sister organization, the Vishwa Hindu Parishad, are politicizing the Armed Forces- and all this to gain a few extra seats in the forth coming elections.
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First, the Sangh Parivar has injected militarism into our polity and is behaving as if the soldiers who died in Kargil were from its cadres. By allowing the VHP to distribute Hindu religious texts to injured jawans, the BJP is playing with fire. In my long Army career, I have never seen such a thing happen even though we have fought bigger and bloodier wars than the one in Kargil.

Our Armed Forces believe in all religions but not in communalism. All festivals are celebrated with equal enthusiasm and devotion by all. An individuals personal religious persuasion does not count. I don’t know how the BJP will react if Sikh, Christian or Muslim religious leaders decide to emulate the VHP. A dangerous trend is being set – and this will adversely affect the discipline in the Army.

By deploying them extensively for internal security duties, we are already politicizing them. A time may come when our Armed Forces will stop fighting the way they do now and even shy away from real battlefields.

We are trying to politicize the Armed Forces by talking too much about their voting rights; The soldier has the right to vote, just like any other citizen of this country. But then, this not always possible – and we must accept this. What’s the guarantee that tomorrow the same politicians and communal parties won’t start canvassing in cantonments and combat units? That will be the last straw. Don’t blame the military if it starts meddling in politics.

Courtesty "The Hidustan times"


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Last updated: February 23, 2000 .