‘Using Armed Forces to win political arguments worrisome’

Lt. Gen. (retd) D.S. Hooda  

Lt. Gen. (retd) D.S. Hooda, the main architect of the 2016 surgical strikes on terror launch pads in Pakistan-occupied Kashmir, said on Thursday it is “worrisome” that the military is increasingly being drawn into the political discourse and used to win political arguments.

The Indian Army’s former Northern Command chief also said the talk around politicisation of the military “is sort of exaggerated”.

“The military (is) being increasingly drawn into the political discourse, it’s being used to win political arguments, it’s being used as something which generates success in the elections. And that frankly is worrisome,” he said at an event here titled “Dialogue on National Security”.

“For example, you saw the recent debate over ‘my cross-border strikes versus your surgical strikes’. What ultimately happened? A document was pulled out in reply to an RTI reply... to say that look, this is what the Army headquarters is saying, that’s where, I think, the worry is — when too much political debate starts over military,” he said.

“Then you could see the military being increasingly drawn in and ultimately in the long run, everybody understands it that it is going to impact your impartiality, it is going to impact your apolitical character,” he added.

Responding to an RTI application, the Directorate General of Military Operations said last year that the Army did not have any records of any “surgical strike” conducted before September 29, 2016 — the day when the raid was carried out in PoK. “If all political parties can just leave the military out of the political discourse, that would be the best. Whether it is going to happen, I don’t know because people have also tasted success using name of the military for electoral victory,” Lt. Gen. Hooda said.

Lt. Gen. (retd) Praveen Bakshi, who was also present at the event, said politicisation of the armed forces was his “biggest fear”.

“Politicisation of the armed forces is when the government in power can make the armed forces do its bidding, not in the national interest but for personal interest, that could be politicisation,” said Lt. Gen. Bakshi, who headed the Army’s Eastern Command during the Doklam stand-off.