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archive: A question of answers

A question of answers

Editorial
The Free Press Journal
July 28, 1999


    Title: A question of answers
    Author: Editorial
    Publication: The Free Press Journal
    Date: July 28, 1999
    
    What led to the armed conflict in Kargil? Intelligence failure?  A
    misplaced sense of complacency?  Or the plain perfidy of the enemy who
    was bent on fomenting trouble in the name of Kashmir somehow or the
    other?  Following the end of armed hostilities in the craggy mountains
    and the eviction of the last of the intruders, these questions were
    bound to engage the attention of the policy-makers.  The army has its
    own mechanism of accountability and we are certain that it has already
    been set in motion.  After all, ultimately the policing of the borders
    all along the Line of Control in Jammu and Kashmir is the task
    entrusted to the army.  Therefore, it must pin-point the reason why
    hundreds of fully-armed intruders could gain entry deep inside the
    Indian territory without being detected till it was too late. 
    Admittedly, Pakistan was treacherous in exploiting the routine
    withdrawal of Indian troops from their frontier posts in the months of
    extreme winter to occupy Indian territory.  But to have trusted such a
    treacherous neighbour in the first place was a great mistake.  The
    Army has already proceeded against two of its senior officers Who were
    entrusted with the task of overseeing Kargil defences in peace-time. 
    And it is only a matter of time before it got to the origins of the
    Kargil aggression and took necessary corrective steps to pi-event its
    recurrence.
    
    It is however in the political arena that shrill noises are being made
    by some to detract from the success of our soldiers in driving out the
    aggressors.  Leading the diversionary charge are the courtiers in the
    durbar of the Congress Party boss Sonia Gandhi.  Throughout the
    hostilities the party had raised discordant notes about the so-called
    intelligence failure in Kargil.  But following the success of
    Operation Vijay on all fronts, military, diplomatic and moral, the
    Congress Party seems to have lost all sense of proportion.  Having
    been earlier frustrated in its bid to misuse the forum of the Rajya
    Sabha to embarrass the Government at the height of the armed action in
    Kargil, the party has now sought to blame the Prime Minister for the
    alleged intelligence failure while pro forma congratulating the
    soldiers for having vacated the aggression in Kargil.  To say the
    least, the Congress Party seems to. be Propounding a strange theory
    which would, if implemented fully, free the Indian Army of the control
    of the civilian leadership.  Vajpayee is to be blamed as much for the
    failure of intelligence, if any, as he is to be baited for his
    statesman-like conductor Operation Vijay on all fronts and its
    eventual success.
    
    Precisely because the Congress Party approaches the question of
    intelligence failure with ulterior motives, the issue has been
    needlessly dragged into the vortex of partisan politics.  Otherwise,
    there exists a very good case for undertaking a thorough review of the
    genesis of the Kargil conflict and to probe the shortcomings, if any,
    in the intelligence set-up in the light of the earlier wars with
    Pakistan and the lone one with China.  The question why we always end
    up being taken by surprise by the enemy must be addressed frontally. 
    Are we too credulous as a nation?  Or do we credit to the enemy the
    same goodness which we have internalised as a people, that is, not to
    covet our neighbours territory.  Did the army let its guard down in
    Kargil?  Did the successive cuts over the years in the Defence outlay
    deprive the armed forces of the modern equipment of electronic and
    aerial surveillance?  Was the intelligence gathered digested properly
    at the higher levels in the army and Government?  These and other
    related questions must be probed dispassionately and without let or
    fear.
    
    Admittedly, the constitution of the non-statutory four-member
    committee to review the intrusion in Kargil will reflect upon some of
    the questions mentioned above.  Those seeking a probe by a
    parliamentary committee will do well to ponder the disastrous JPC
    probe on Bofors.  It was an eye-wash.  And to this day the
    Hendersen-Brooks report into the national disgrace in 1962 in Aksai
    Chin had not been made public.  In contrast, the Kargil committee
    inspires confidence precisely because it is headed by a stridently
    apolitical strategic affairs expert, and includes, among others, the
    country's most respected and least controversial journalist who has
    given a lifetime championing esoteric causes.  If the committee is
    able to throw light on the question as to why India always ends up
    being the victim of aggression it Would have served its purpose. 
    Meanwhile, mean-spirited attempts to denigrate die Committee ill-serve
    the nation's cause.
    



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