Military being drawn into political discourse worrisome: Lt Gen Hooda

Military being drawn into political discourse worrisome: Lt Gen Hooda
File Photo/ GK

Lt Gen (retd) D S Hooda, the main architect of the 2016 surgical strikes on terror launch pads in PaK, Thursday said 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 saidthe talk around politicisation of the military "is sort ofexaggerated".

" …The military (is) being increasingly drawn intothe political discourse, it's being used to win political arguments, it's beingused as something which generates success in the elections. And that frankly isworrisome," Hooda said at an event 'Dialogue on National Security', here. "For example, you saw therecent debate over 'my cross border strikes versus your surgical strikes'. Whatultimately happened, a document was pulled out in reply to a RTI reply… Tosay that look this is what the Army headquarters is saying, that's where, Ithink, the worry is when too much political debate starts over military,"he said.

"Then you could see military being increasingly drawnin and ultimately in the long run, everybody understands it that it is going toimpact your impartiality, it is going to impact your apoliticalcharacter," he added.

Responding to an RTI application filed by PTI, theDirectorate General of Military Operations (DGMOs) said last year that the Armydid not have any records of any "surgical strike" conducted beforeSeptember 29, 2016 — the day when the raid was carried out inPakistan-administered Kashmir.

"So, I think, if all political parties can just leavethe military out of the political discourse, that would be the best. Whether itis going to happen, I don't know because people have also tasted success usingname of the military for electoral victory," Hooda said.

Replying to a question about "politicisation of thearmed forces", Hooda said, "There is a lot of talk aroundpoliticisation of the Army, politicisation of the military, to me, some of itis sort of exaggerated. What exactly does politicisation mean? It means thatmen and women in uniform are taking a partisan political viewpoint and I don'tsee that to such an extent that you should start getting worried."

Lt Gen (retd) Praveen Bakshi, who was also present at theevent, said politicisation of the armed forces was his "biggestfear".

"Politicisation of the armed forces is when thegovernment in power can make the armed forces do its bidding, not in thenational interest but for personal interest, that could bepoliticisation," said Bakshi, who headed the Army's Eastern Command duringthe Doklam standoff.

"… We need to insulate ourselves and as a democracyall of us are stakeholders in preventing this part. If this (politicisation)happens, I am afraid, others are just baying for it. In fact, perhaps Pakistan'sstrategy is exactly this — to politicise our armed forces. We are amulti-party democracy, how can we be politicised?" he said.  He added that the Indian armed forces havenot been politicised yet, but it is at the germination stage and it may flowerlater. Congress leader Rajeev Gowda, also a panelist, said national security isnot just what happens at the border and is a much broader subject." …It is fundamentally about our people,their security, their prospects… It is also about what happens internally indifferent parts of India, what happens within the economy and whether everyoneis getting a chance to move forward in a manner that promotes harmony ratherthan discontent and division," he said. 

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