Having half heartedly mentioned military option twice it is good thing that Indian political masters of the UPA Government have now finally given it up as an riposte for 26/11. In any case it was we Indians who were being fooled. Pakistan fully knew that we are not in a position to take it on militarily. For this sorry state of affairs we must thank our entrenched bureaucracy and uninitiated netas who refuse to rise beyond the level of small time politics.
We continue to breast beat on Mumbai carnage as if the 25 jehadi strikes before this, that killed and maimed more than 2000 Indians in various parts of the country in the last five years of UPA rule, did not take place. All such attacks which went unpunished, emboldened the Pakistani military establishment and their prot?g?s?the jehadis?to launch bigger attacks culminated into 26/11. Now the Government is patting itself on the back that without deploying a single soldier on the border, Pakistan was forced to accept that the perpetuators of Mumbai carnage did come from Pakistani soil. The truth of the matter is that this acceptance from Pakistan has come not because of any great diplomacy by India but due to the stupidity of the jehadis and their military handlers in Pakistan who searched out and killed not only Indians but citizens from 14 other countries. Besides, the entire World saw the Mumbai horror live on their TV screens for almost 60 hours that has left behind lasting memories.
India has gone on record saying that in Mumbai carnage Pakistan has crossed Indian threshold of tolerance. Had we been militarily strong and politically ready to go for an immediate military response, if necessary, would Pakistan still had dared to do Mumbai carnage?
Recently from the very senior rank of Lt. General to poor soldiers all returned their most priced possession, the gallantry awards won by them in defending their motherland, back to the President of India in thousands. Do these netas in power realise how demoralising it is for the silent force? The ex-servicemen were forced to take this extreme action because the Neta-Babu combine of the current Government has let them down on their promise of one rank one pension. In addition the Sixth Pay Commission has dealt a body blow to the izzat (respect) of the armed forces. In any other country this would have made the people in power to hide their faces in shame but in Mera Bharat Mahan sab chalta hi. Jai Ho?. It may be just a coincidence that in 1962 when an ill clad and ill equipped Indian Army suffered its only shameful defeat in the hands of China the Congress was in power and now again the same party is leading the UPA Government.
A demotivated armed force is not the only reason, which negates against a military option. There are large gaps in India'sdefence preparedness. We have not learnt any lesson from the Kargil war of 1999 or the armed forces mobilisation against Pakistan of 2001. In their recent report the Defence Committee of Parliament criticised the UPA Government for not implementing the recommendations of the Kargil Committee and the GOM set up by the previous NDA Government. The Chief of Defence Staff System has not been implemented and there is hardly any jointness between the three services or for that matter integration of the three service headquarters with the Ministry of Defence.
There is acute shortage all around of defence equipment and basic spares. In last eight years, after operation ?Parakram? of 2001, except for the addition of three squadrons of Sukhoi 30 MKI, there has been no major acquisition. From the sanctioned strength of 39 and ? squadrons the Air Force strength has come down to just 32 squadrons for the want of fighter aircrafts. The Navy from 142 ships is down to 132 ships. The worst hit is the submarine arm. Out of the 19 submarines that India had, 6 have retired without replacement. Six of them are under various kinds of repairs. Currently, only six very old submarines are operational. Out of the two aircraft career that we had, Vikrant retired long time back and Viraat is a floating museum piece now. The state of Army is no better. Out of the 410 Bofors guns, which won the Kargil war for us, in absence of any replacement, only 320 are now left. On our western front we have 3000 tanks. Only 390 of them have the night fighting capability rest of them are night blind.
First time in the history of Independent India the Indian defence expenditure last year fell below two per cent of the GDP. These crippling shortages are not because we do not have money to buy. This year alone Ministry of Defence is returning Rs 7000 corer as an unspent amount. This is due to the bureaucratic delays and prevarication with no accountability.
At this time when Pakistan in West, Bangladesh in East Sri Lanka in South or Nepal in North, all our neighbours are in a state of unrest and flux and when we should have been militarily strong we are weakest. The country will pay heavy price for this neglect of its strategic interests. If India wants to deter Pakistan from launching more Mumbai type of attacks, It is time India reestablishes its military superiority in South Asia. People of India have a right to know why their political masters are playing with country'ssecurity and the lives of the countrymen.
(The writer can be contacted at [email protected])