In J&K, besides Army action, need to revive interactive civilian,economic activities. The Rafale controversy continues to rock the nation. The Congress and other Opposition parties are trying to take it to the scale of the infamous Bofors scandal to push the Modi government to the wall in the run-up to the Lok Sabha elections. How fair is the controversy ? Former Chief of the Army Staff Gen Malik, shares his views on it and the state of Indian Army with DAILYPOST Editor Ajay Bhardwaj. Excerpts;
Q : What is your take on the Rafale controversy ?
A : It is sad to see the debate in public. In fact, at times it looks absurd to the extent of being farcical in political circles. Q : Do you suspect any hankypanky in the deal?
A : See, as far as money part is concerned I don’t see any irregularity to have happened. Procedures required for making such a deal seem to have been followed. Pricing, transparency, quality of product, all have been taken care of, I think.
Q : But why is so much ruckus over it ?
A : I personally feel that had the prime minister shared all details at the initial stages with all the opposition parties there would not have been such a storm. Though all details are tumbling out now, but taking the entire Opposition in confidence soon after doubts had started coming up publicly would have helped diffuse the controversy at the outset.
Q : So you think communication gap between the government and the Opposition is the key factor ?
A : I personally think so.
Q : What do you think could be its fallout ?
A : All such controversies in the long run may lead to weakening of the Indian defense forces technologically. Every time a controversy surfaces it not just reflects on the morale of the forces but make the process of acquiring sophisticated weaponry more tedious every time. In the present circumstances we do not need to expand the manpower of our forces, but need equip our forces with better equipment. We need technological advancement in a big way to keep pace with the world armies.
Q : How do you view the prolonged role of the Army in bringing peace to J&K?
A : The Army’s role basically is to contain disruptive elements. It would identify and zero in on elements which pose threat to the security and peace in the state, which our forces are doing in a commendable manner. But I feel that a political dialogue must go hand-in-hand in order to bring about long-lasting normalcy.
Q : You think boycotting of talks all together is not a prudent exercise ?
A : I think so. The security forces can decimate violence and criminal activities, but it is for the political leaders to address the basic problems on the ground to help restore peace. And for that it is mandatory that political, administrative, economic activities also go along to build people’s confidence. In Punjab, for instance, restoring political system to relate to the people went hand-in-hand with an iron hand that crushed militancy. Political solution to the violence ridden state is as much important as containing the disruptive forces. The policy that brought peace in Punjab should be replicated in J&K where we need to undertake development works, build infrastructure etc.
Q : How do you see the Indian Army today ?
A : As I said we don’t need to expand the man power any more. We need to build an extra technological muscle which is need of the times. Moreover, it is time we rid the army of bureaucratic stranglehold. I recall my days as the Army chief when frequent one-to-one meetings with Prime Minister Atal Behari Vajpayee helped us a long way. Vision of the political party in power and performance of the Army must gel with each other. I personally experienced its benefits during the Kargil war when the then prime minister and me executed plans in a cohesive and decisive manner.
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