Chandigarh: The September 2016 ‘Surgical Strikes’ were unnecessarily hyped by the Centre to gain political mileage, endangering India’s future military cross-border responses, war veterans said at the Military Literature Festival (MLF) here on Friday.
Describing the retributive actions across the LoC (Line of Control) as “business as usual” for the forces, decorated war veterans, taking part in a panel discussion on ‘Role of Cross-Border Operations and Surgical Strikes’ on the first day of MLF, flayed the Modi government for politicization of the Army’s operational successes to further its political ends, reports IANS.
During the discussion, defence commentator Ajai Shukla cautioned against the trend to colour military achievements with political motives. He also underlined the need to maintain operational decency and sanctity of the operations undertaken by the defence forces.
The excessive publicity of the September 2016 strikes, which had in fact been a reactionary strike conducted after the Pathankot and Uri attacks on the Indian Army, had set a dangerous benchmark for the Indian political dispensation, which they would find difficult to maintain in the eventuality of future terror attacks, Shukla said.
He said that it was only wishful to assume that the strikes on terrorist hubs in Pakistani Kashmir would have any deterrent effect on Pakistan or push it to alter its terror policy against India. He added that Pakistan had, in fact, been emboldened by the strikes as they knew now that the Indian government would be always be under immense pressure to strike across the border after each terror attack.
Taking part in the discussion, attended by Punjab Governor V.P. Singh Badnore and former Chief of Army Staff (COAS) V.P. Malik amongst a battery of former Generals and Army Commanders, former Northern Command Army Commander Lt. Gen. D.S. Hooda said it was natural to have initial euphoria about the success but the constant maintenance of hype around the military operations was unwarranted.
Responding to a question from the audience, Hooda said: “In hindsight, it would have been better had we done it secretly.” The aim of any such offensive had to be not only tactical but strategic too, which substantially hampers enemy morale, he said, adding that he could not say with certainty if India had actually achieved that objective in full measure.
Citing the example of the 1981 Israeli air strikes on Iraqi nuclear sites, which had caused considerable damage, Lt Gen. N.S. Brar underscored the need to ensure long-term impact on the enemy before undertaking any such operation in the future. Cautioning the political masters against being adventurists, Brar asked if the political masters would have taken responsibility had there been any casualties in the strikes.
Lt. Gen. J.S. Cheema said it was too simplistic to assume that Pakistan would rethink its course of action against India after the much advertised surgical strikes. The MLF is being held here from December 7 to 9.