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Pak Attack Kill 5 Soldiers:TIME FOR TOUGH ACTION ON BORDERS?By Col (Dr) PK Vasudeva (Retd),7 Aug,13 Print E-mail

Defence Notes

New Delhi, 7 August 2013

Pak Attack Kill 5 Soldiers


By Col (Dr) PK Vasudeva (Retd)


In the early hours of Wednesday a heavily armed group of 15-20 terrorists and Pakistani troops ambushed an Indian Army patrol along the Line of Control (LoC) in Jammu and Kashmir’s Poonch sector killing five Indian soldiers and injuring one. The incident occurred just hours after another ceasefire violation on Tuesday 6th August evening at the Samba sector in which one BSF soldier was injured.


According to the Army, “the attack took place around 450 meters inside our territory at 1am near the Sarlah post of Poonch Brigade near the Chakkan-da-Bagh area, over 200km away from Jammu.”


Undoubtedly, it is a well-planned and deliberate attack as the Pakistani troops crossed over and accosted the Indian patrol without provocation. Moreover, the ambush is the most serious incident after the killing of two soldiers and beheading of one of them in January last. There have also been a series of other provocative actions recently in which a number of BSF personnel were injured in firing.


Pertinently, the assault has also to be seen in the context of the attack on the Indian consulate in Afghanistan’s Jalalabad city in which the hand of Pakistan’s ISI can not be ruled out. Notwithstanding, Islamabad’s denial. 


Importantly, this incident coming just prior to Prime Minister Manmohan Singh’s meeting with his Pakistani counterpart Nawaz Sharif on the sidelines of the UN General Assembly in New York next month has put a big question mark on the tête-à-tête. Many foreign policy experts are of the opinion that the Prime Ministerial meeting should not be held under such circumstances.


Adding, that bilateral talks too should not be resumed as serious doubts abound on Pakistan’s ability and sincerity in pursuing the peace process. Given that there are elements in Pakistan, which are intent on subverting the process. Despite, Nawaz Sharif expressing his Government’s keenness to restart the dialogue after taking charge in Islamabad.


Notably, whether it is a case of double dealing or helplessness on the part of the Pakistan Government, it only further vitiates the atmosphere and makes progress much more difficult.


This apart, the recent Pakistani attacks along-with the intrusions by the PLA gets one to think about the reasons for the Indian Army’s inability to counter these ambushes and intrusions.  Raising a moot point: Is the Army incompetent, unprofessional or lacks guts and courage?


Significantly, the Army is neither to be blamed nor accused of incompetency alone. The boot is on the other foot. The UPA Government is suffering from policy paralysis on crucial defence and national security issues. Wherein, the Army is facing three main hurdles in thwarting the attacks from across the LoC.


First, there is a shortage of 14,550 officers in the Army alone. How can it then carry out active operational duties without the junior leadership, which is backbone of all ground operations both defensive and offensive?


Why is our top brass silent and the Defence Ministry passive in not taking action in recruiting youth in the defence forces by making it more attractive and lucrative? Underscoring the country’s integrity and sovereignty is involved. Remember, it is always young officers (not available due to deficiencies) who are aggressive and fast in taking decisions and leading patrols along LoC.


Second, there is acute deficiency of arms and ammunition as emphasized by former Army Chief General VK Singh. The Army still has to procure the latest night firing devices, guns, man-packed radars and other modern defence equipment for infantry soldiers who are carrying out the duties with whatsoever is available to them.


In fact, the Chief of Army Staff General Bikram Singh instead of going to Poonch should allow his Army, corps, divisional and brigade commanders to function independently and give them a free hand to retaliate under such circumstances as they are all capable of handling such situations. His visit is demoralizing for the troops.


Third, the Government has still to implement the recommendations of the Naresh Chandra headed 14-member task force Committee on national security, submitted to the Government last year. The Committee was set up by the Union Government on 21 June 2012 to suggest ways to revamp defence management in the country.

Essentially, the Committee’s main objective was to contemporarise the Kargil Review Committee’s recommendations, which was tabled in Parliament on 23 February 2000. Besides, the task force was also asked to examine the state of the country’s border management and restructuring system.


 The salient recommendations of the task force were: One, creation of a new post of Intelligence Adviser to assist the National Security Advisor (NSA) and the National Intelligence Board. Two, appoint a Permanent Chairman of the Chiefs of Staff Committee who would be an adviser to the Government on National Security and defence matters. Last but not least, deputation of officers from services up to Director’s level in the Defence Ministry.


Indeed, it is a mystery why the recommendations of such a high-powered Committee are not being implemented by the Government even after its submission last year. It smacks of a lackadaisical attitude of the Government in national security and defence matters.


What next? True, lodging a protest with Islamabad over these killings is the routine response, and it has been done. However, India must read the message of the murders carefully before it moves forward. Has it done enough to secure the borders?  --- INFA


(Copyright, India News and Feature Alliance)

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