SOLDIERING ON IN KARGIL
By Brigadier Chitranjan Sawant,VSM
Driving out the Pakistan Army soldiers of the Northern Light Infantry from the Indian territory in Kargil in the last year of the last century, the Indian Army’s officers and men won the fourth and the last of the four India-Pakistan Wars fought between the years 1947 and 1999.Every time it was Pakistan that committed an aggression and every time it was she who got beaten and turned tail. After wars, invariably negotiations for peace followed where Pakistan promised to behave as a good boy but never kept the word. The Pakistan Generals who always over-estimated their prowess and fighting skill and under-estimated that of the Indian Army, would return to war games before ink on joint peace declarations had dried up. A silly scenario of a multi-pronged attack on India on land, sea and air was as delightful hobby horse as drinking single malt Scotch whiskey on the house. As is well known a drunken general may be enchanting while spinning yarns but is always a bad strategist for a real war. Generals of the Pakistan Army have proved that statement as gospel truth time and again.
TEN YEARS ON
Much water has flown down the Indus river and tributaries since our victory in Kargil a decade ago. It was on 26 July 09 that the Indian soil was declared clear of the invaders and intruders from across the border and Kargil Vijay Divas was celebrated. The military situation in the area on our side has undergone a thorough change for the better.”There will NOT be a Second Kargil by Pakistan Army” is the proud declaration of our Army strategists. We are proud of them. Let us see what changes have taken place that prompts our compatriots to make a bold declaration nullifying future sinister designs-in-making in the war rooms of Pakistan Army Headquarters in Rawalpindi.
The day-to-day activity of the common citizen mirrors the state of wellness of a society. Are they going about the daily chores in a normal manner or there is discernible tension because of the enemy activity across the border. Ten years ago, every house in Kargil town had a bunker where civilians could take shelter when the enemy shelling started. Every outer wall of every house had shell marks as a result of enemy bombardment. Kargil was a ghost town after a few days of commencement of war. Men, women and children had left their home and hearth for safer shelters elsewhere. Ten years on, Kargil looks different. There is hustle and bustle of a tourist town. Now, every house has a guest room where tourists are welcome for bed and breakfast on a nominal payment. The old dilapidated hotels have been renovated and feel happy in displaying a notice of one hundred per cent occupation. The economy of Kargil is booming under the patronage of the 8 Mountain Division. General officer Commanding of the Army formation said that they pump Rs two crores every month in the local economy in the form of wages for labour, hire charges for ponies and buying knick-knacks and what have you. In a nutshell, Peace Prevails all over, thanks to the Indian Army. A full- fledged golf course of 18 holes in the green Mushkoh valley is on the cards. Now white golf balls will fly at tee off” in the area where ten years ago big guns of our artillery had boomed and shells whistled past to destroy Pakistan Army’s bunkers “.
“NEVER TRUST PAKISTAN”, that is the first lesson the Indian Army has learnt. Alas our top politicians and bureaucrats still believe in the worn out adage : keep talking to both friend and foe until a result is achieved. There is no light at the end of the tunnel and yet some diplomats love to loiter around in that tunnel aimlessly. The combat treachery of Pakistan is etched in the heart of every Jawan. How can one forget the mutilated bodies of Captain Kalia and his jawans that Pakistan had returned. It was a deliberate devilish act of Pakistan that can never be condoned. In any case they did not have the courtesy to apologise for the heinous offence of mutilating bodies of soldiers of another country. In naked contrast to this the Indian Army showed respect to the enemy war dead and buried their bodies with military honours and Islamic rites because Pakistan had refused to accept them for burial in Pakistan. Of course, the enemy made an exception in the case of their officers who belonged to influential families of Pakistan who pressurised their govt to get bodies back for burial in family burial grounds. Double Speak; Double Standards: thy name is Pakistan.
MODERNISATION ALL OVER
A complete make- over of arms and equipment, clothing and boots, tactics and strategy had been the crying need of our Armed Forces since independence. How unfortunate, little attention was paid to these aspects of defence by the powers that be. This deficiency came to light in the First Kashmir war, Goa operations, the Chinese debacle in NEFA(now Arunachal Pradesh), wars against Pakistan in 1965, 1971 and in 1999. In the 1971 war, the situation was a wee bit better because the then Army Chief made it plain that going to war with major deficiencies in weapon and equipment would mean courting defeat and disaster. Our Finance Ministry mandarins loosened their purse for the first time and the Soviet Union had made up our deficiencies. In Kargil too, Jawans had sad tales to tell. However, thereafter the Army was given wide financial powers and red tapism was done away with in case of essential purchases for war. Now the Jawans are well clad, well fed and well connected with their loved ones on phone. However, the big guns need replacement. The good old Bofors that won war in kargil along with Man behind the gun, is now 22 years old. The infantryman’s rifle needs be replaced by a modern assault and rapid firing rifle to instil confidence in infanteers’ heart. A bunker-buster weapon system is the crying need of the hour.
Unless the most modern weapon system with accurate and effective fire power is made available to the Army, our war machine cannot be expected to win laurels. A weak weapon system continues to be the Achilles’ heel of the Indian Army. Strategically speaking, more coordination is needed between the Government of India and the Armed Forces. India is a nuclear power. Fine. However, the Service Chiefs are not a part of the war mechanism that controls the nuclear button. The Armed Forces are not aware of the future targets of our nuclear weapon system and also our defence mechanism to safeguard the nation from a nuclear attack. In a case of emergency, it would take time to coordinate the present mechanism of a nuclear war. It would be in the fitness of things to streamline the mechanism for use of nuclear deterrent for both attack and defence.
As far as Kargil is concerned the Army is happy with the man power situation. Ten years ago, only 2,000 uniformed personnel were guarding the Line of Control (LOC), now as many as 20,000 officers and soldiers are keeping a watch on the enemy movement across the Line. No doubt the expenditure on their upkeep and maintenance of weapon and equipment has gone up many times. It is estimated to be Rs 8 to 10 crores per day in that area. No one should feel bad about it because the defence of the country is our supreme concern. The motto of the Indian Army is: NATION ABOVE ALL.
Let us all Rejoice and make merry as we celebrate the tenth anniversary of our
KARGIL VIJAY DIVAS.
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