A retired Indian Army General has blamed India's "timid" response to the Pakistani military ingress in Kargil in 1999 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, the then army chief general V P Malik, then Indian Air Force chief and then air chief marshal A Y Tipnis -- for not standing up to the challenge.
"Our (National Defence Aacademy'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," says former deputy chief of army staff lieutenant general Harwant Singh in an article in the forthcoming 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 the National Security Guard, coast guard and the 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 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.
"Existing arrangement of chiefs of staff committee with its conflicting views, turf tending and differing recommendations can only confuse the political executive, resulting in delays and dithering that would prove disastrous in the event of grave national emergencies demanding quick responses," Singh says.
Noting that a delay in adopting the CDS system could prove costly to the nation, he advocates "a nuclear and emerging economic power with ambitions to exercise influence for the stability and security of the region cannot have an antiquated and potentially dysfunctional decision making and operational system in the defence apparatus". PTI