The Bold Voice of J&K

Stop politicising the armed forces- look after them

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Brig Anil Gupta   

The entire nation is dismayed at the vocal slugfest going on between the political parties on the national media. The political discourse has reached its lowest ebb with the choice of language nothing less than deplorable. One had heard such phraseology and words at street level politics but expected much sober and mature terminology at the highest echelons of politics. Oratory is a skill and USP of a successful politician but it should never cross the ‘Laxman Rekha’ of morality and decency. In the yesteryears people eagerly awaited to listen to the national leaders and appreciated them for their vision and oratory skills. What has happened that has led to such dismal discourses that at times one wonders about the calibre of the modern day politicians. One possible cause could be a shift from “accommodative politics” of yesteryears to modern day “combative politics” with media acting as a force multiplier.
The Indian Armed Forces, army in particular, are being unnecessarily being dragged into this political one-upmanship. At the eye of the storm is the successful ‘surgical strike’ carried out by the army on the intervening night of 28th -29th September that shook the Pakistani Deep State and world-wide changed the image of India from being a ‘Soft State’ to a nation ready to fight terrorism and its perpetrators employing all elements of national power of which ‘political will’ is most critical. While the nation is celebrating and feeling proud of its army, a few politicians have questioned the veracity of these strikes and demanded evidence, the line being towed by the Deep State. At times, one wonders if they are bidding at the behest of inimical forces! But they do not realise the harm they are doing to the morale and professional ethos of the army. In order to score political brownies over the issue of ‘surgical strike’ they are doing irreparable damage by dragging army in order to meet their political ends. The army has successfully executed the assigned task and should be left free to train and prepare for the next task. At this stage one may not be very certain of the magnitude of the next task, but being a thoroughly professional organisation the Army would be busy preparing itself for any task that the nation may assign to it.
By trying to leverage army’s successful counter terror operation to uplift their electoral fortunes the political class is doing a grave harm to our national interest of keeping the armed forces ‘apolitical’. It goes to the credit of the Indian Armed Forces that despite their counterparts in all the neighbouring countries in South Asia, at some time or the other attempted to overthrow the democratic governments through military coups, they have remained loyal to the Constitution of India and the government of the day. Their contribution to nation building is unquestionable. The army is proud of being ‘apolitical’ and abhors being dragged into political controversies. The army’s loyalty is to the nation and government of the day and not any political party. The army has successfully responded to nation’s call on numerous occasions since independence in different domains ranging from war, counter insurgency, internal security, counter terrorism, proxy war, counter infiltration, out of area operations (Sri Lanka and Maldives), operations other than war (OOW), United Nations Peacekeeping Operations, disaster management and aid to civil authorities. It is rightly referred to as ‘last bastion’ of national security, when all other elements raise their hand the army is called in. The military’s efficiency and professionalism flows out of it being “apolitical”. It is a national asset and do not downgrade it by politicising it or its achievements. The armed forces do not wish to become “poster boys” on huge bill boards and neither do they need unnecessary publicity. The military is a silent force, desires to be left alone in order to prepare for the ultimate. Rather than playing politics over the military all political parties must concentrate to ensure its ‘capacity’ and ‘capability’ building so that the nation is assured. In a matured democracy, the ongoing vocal slugfest would have been replaced by learned and informed debates about the preparedness of the armed forces to meet any type of threat ranging from nuclear to hybrid warfare. Alas, our politicians are not bothered about that but only about their immediate political interests. No politician or political party has ever tried to gauge the morale of the armed forces personnel. Remember, it is the man behind the gun which matters in the ultimate analysis. No amount of modern gadgetry or sophisticated weaponry can be a substitute for a soldier’s morale. Dear politicians, the armed forces do not need your political bickering but they need your understanding and support to safeguard their ‘Izzat’ and status. ‘Izzat’ to a soldier is like divine nectar or elixir and he can go to any extent to safeguard it.
“Those who cannot remember the past are condemned to repeat it”, goes an old saying. It is time to recall what Chanakya had written to the all-powerful King of Magadha on the matters of defence. “The soldier does not enrich the Royal treasuries nor fills the Royal granaries.
(To be continued)

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