India’s “timid” response to the Pakistani military ingress in Kargil in 1999 has been blamed by a retired Army General for the series of terrorist strikes beginning with the attack on Parliament in 2001.

He has also come down heavily on the country’s then political, executive and military leadership -- Prime Minister Atal Bihari Vajpayee, Defence Minister George Fernandes, Army chief General V P Malik and IAF chief Air Chief Marshal A Y Tipnis -- for not standing up to the challenge.

“Our (NDA’s political and military leadership’s) timid response at Kargil, laid the foundation for future terrorist attacks on India, starting with the attack on the Indian Parliament,” former Deputy Chief of Army Staff Lieutenant General Harwant Singh says in an article in the coming edition of the Indian Defence Review.

Apart from the wasteful troop mobilisation at a cost of Rs 1,000 crore after the terror strike on Parliament House, India was paying, literally and figuratively, large sums on strengthening NSG, Coast Guard and police after the 26/11 Mumbai attacks, all because of the dithering during Kargil operations, he says.

Singh notes that there was no great captain in the Indian military, who could urge the political executive to let him seize the opportunity provided by Pakistan: to take the bull by the horns.

“For all one knows, the Prime Minister (Vajpayee) and others may have grasped the import of such as move. This would have also sent a clear message, in unequivocal terms, to Pakistan that mischief against India will not go unpunished,” he writes in a six-page piece ‘Kargil Controversy’ in the magazine.

Referring to the tussle between the Army and the IAF on employing air power against the intruders at Kargil heights, he says the political and military leadership wasted a week’s time to decide if the IAF’s attack helicopters should be used to pound enemy-held positions, due to fears of escalation of the conflict and the nuclear threat.

But both of these apprehensions were proved wrong by the unfolding of events after May 18, 1999, when the go ahead for the use of air power was given.

Pitching for the creation of the Chief of Defence Staff (CDS) post as a single point of advise to the government on military matters, he says the recommendation of the Kargil Review Committee for integration of the services headquarters with the Defence Ministry and coordination among the wings of the armed forces was yet to be achieved, a decade after the 1999 battle.


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