DEFENCE Minister AK Antony’s direction to the chiefs of Army, Navy, and Air Force to minimise their interface with the media is in character with the United Progressive Alliance (UPA) regime. Ineffective in safeguarding national security, the government wants its inadequacies to be kept under wraps.
The Defence Minister is reported to have recently communicated to the three Service chiefs—Air Chief Marshal PV Naik, Admiral Nirmal Verma, and General VK Singh—to keep decrease interactions with journalists. The idea is to check “loose comments” that cause “needless problems” for the government. Evidently, the Manmohan Singh government brooks no dissent in its pursuit of limitless appeasement of Pakistan.
So, it gets angry whenever a sensible thing is uttered by a military chief. For instance, responding to a query, Gen Singh had remarked that the Indian armed forces were capable of launching an Abbottabad-like operation that killed Osama bin Laden. The Indian Army Chief said that we are “competent” to do that. As is its wont, Islamabad, facing flak for harbouring the world’s most wanted, tried to divert attention by warning New Delhi against “misadventure.” Our pusillanimous government got worried. What if the people of the country actually start demanding a muscular response rather than obsequious diplomacy to Pakistan’s nefarious activities?
Since UPA bosses have national security very low on their agenda, the military brings important issues to the limelight. It talked about the augmentation of our missile capacity. In fact, in the last seven years a number of defence chiefs have highlighted the inadequacies in our preparedness.
In August 2009, the then chairman of chiefs of staff committee and the Navy chief, Admiral Sureesh Mehta, said, “In military terms, both conventional and non-conventional, we neither have the capability nor the intention to match China, force for force. These are indeed sobering thoughts and, therefore, our strategy to deal with China would need to be in consonance with these realities.” In June 2008, Gen Deepak Kapoor, the then Chief of Army Staff, had said, “The Chinese space programme is expanding at an exponentially rapid pace in both offensive and defensive content. The Indian Army’s agenda for exploitation of space will have to evolve dynamically. It should be our endeavour to optimise space applications for military purposes.”
In October last year, PV Naik said that half of the IAF equipment was obsolete. Never before in the history of Independent India were military chiefs so critical of defence preparedness. The reason is obvious: national security is in disarray, thanks to the UPA’s proclivity to placate the Pakistanis and the Chinese. New Delhi continues to downplay the threats posed by the two hostile neighbours. According to Gurmeet Kanwal, director of the New Delhi-based Centre for Land Warfare Studies, “India faces complex external and internal security threats and new challenges are emerging on the horizon. Unresolved territorial disputes with China and Pakistan, insurgencies in Jammu & Kashmir and the northeastern states, the rising tide of left-wing extremism and the growing spectre of urban terrorism have vitiated India’s security environment and slowed down socio-economic growth. Yet, as the recent serial blasts at Mumbai have once again indicated, India’s national security continues to be sub-optimally managed. Strategic reviews need to be undertaken periodically to evolve a comprehensive national security strategy” (The Times Of India, July 24).
The UPA’s response to the “complex external and internal security threats” ranges from the lackadaisical to the ludicrous. Either the leaders downplay the threats or they try to mislead. So, Congress general secretary Digvijay Singh attended the launch of the maliciously titled book, RSS ka Shadyantra, 26/11 (RSS conspiracy, 26/11). He regularly raises the bogey of “Hindu terror” and sees the hand of RSS behind every outrage. The fact that Digvijay Singh is the alter ego of UPA chairperson Sonia Gandhi explains the Central Government’s reluctance to combat jihad in an effective manner.
His disciple, Rahul Gandhi, also tends to ignore the menace of jihad, as evident from his comment to the American ambassador; his views came to light in the wake of Wikileaks revelations. The government’s gag order on defence chiefs should be seen in this context. Aware of its own incompetence and worse in fighting the enemies of the nation, it wants the people to remain ignorant about the gaps in national security. It seems to be veering towards the view that the only people qualified to talk about security are Digvijay Singh and Rahul!
It sends a shiver down the spine of every patriotic Indian to even imagine Rahul, with his infantile views on security, as Prime Minister. The UPA obviously feels that his ascension would be difficult without silencing concerns over important issues.