Antony must say something more
Defence Minister A K Antony acknowledged the need for reduction of the visibility of the Armed forces as much as possible without compromising efficacy during his first day of the two-day visit of Kashmir on Saturday. But he did not elaborate the term “efforts should be made to reduce the visibility of the Armed forces”. Who is to make that effort, security forces themselves or there is a need for the political and executive branches of the government to do something on this count. Or, it is just that he has thrown a talking point in the political arena, or may be the international pressure is just becoming unbearable.
There are few more things which need to be explained by him. Is it his individual perception there should be reduction in the footprints of the army ( Kashmiri translation of the reduction of visibility). Footprints are visible and that rule also applies to the army. Obviously, as the common sense suggests, Mr. Antony was talking about the reduction of forces from the populated areas. By any stretch of imagination, he was not suggesting the reduction of forces, and their visibility from the contentious Line of Control ( LoC). A slight diversion. We are living in a fool’s paradise ( the term used is strong but inevitable) that everything is hunky dory on the LoC because of the November 2003 ceasefire on the borders. There was some semblance of armies adhering to holding of the ceasefire, but since January 2005, the ceasefire has become a joke. There are frequent ceasefire violations and India charges Pakistan with violation of that as also pushing the infiltrators from its side to the Indian side. In these circumstances, the fact is that most of the armed personnel committed to the counter –insurgency grid have been diverted to the borders to keep infiltrators away. So that possibility is ruled out.
A deep connect exists between the situation on the LoC and that of presence of the Armed Forces in the hinterland. If the LoC is quiet and there are no infiltration bids, then the militants would not get replenishments from across and the violence level would come down automatically, and there would be no need of troops, whether in jungles, LoC or the populated areas. It makes no sense that the bullet proof jacket wearing, gun wielding armed forces men standing on the roadsides, where tourists often outnumber the locals. In fact, they become a source of provocation as their presence is intrusive into the privacy of the people. Secondly, tourists also tend to feel that the peace that brought them to the Valley is still suffering from some sort of absence of complete peace. And, it is a bad strategy to play up the number of tourist arrivals in the Valley. Tourists are coming to the Valley, they should be welcomed. That adds to the sense of normalcy and peace but they are not the one word of peace themselves nor are the high flying officials and politicians coming to Srinagar on one excuse or the other to have TA, DA paid holidays with their families.
Now the visibility of men in uniform has to be reduced with a rider without compromising efficacy. Mr. Antony did not describe what compromising efficacy means. It should have been spelled out in clear terms. This rider can be explained in many ways. This obscurity has many perils. Have we to go by what the definition of efficacy means what the Armed Forces say that their presence is must and so are their special powers, and the reduction of the troops has already been done as almost two divisions have been made diverted to the borders. With the discovery of 500 meter long tunnel detected on the India-Pakistan border in Jammu, even that number would fall short of the requirement. The tunnel was discovered in Samba district, listed as one of the areas in the government records, from where the Armed Forces Special Powers Act is to be removed. Are dots getting connected somewhere.
Defence Minister needs to spell out how it can be done. He has the feedback from the armed forces – he must say something on that basis. One liner the reduction of the visibility of the Armed Forces is great in rhetoric, less in the reality.
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Lastupdate on : Mon, 30 Jul 2012 21:30:00 Makkah time
Lastupdate on : Mon, 30 Jul 2012 18:30:00 GMT
Lastupdate on : Tue, 31 Jul 2012 00:00:00 IST
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