Extending “full support” to Indian Army’s surgical strikes along the LoC, General (retd.) V P Malik, who was the Army chief during the Kargil episode, on Monday said the Indian forces were all set to enter the Pakistan-occupied territory in 1999, but they were stopped by the then PM Atal Bihari Vajpayee following international pressure.
“After the surgical strikes, we don’t have to beg to the international community (to build pressure on Pakistan to stop supporting terror activities against India). We have to tell them that if they (Pakistan) continue to do this, we will have to go to war,” he told the audience while delivering a speech on leadership and motivation during the ongoing Switch Global Expo here.
Later, taking a question from the audience during an interactive session — most questions pertaining to the heightened tension between India and Pakistan — Malik said, “I am not optimistic that Pakistan will change after one surgical strike. We must be prepared for more action from them and more reaction from us.”
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Taking an exception to the war of words between the ruling BJP and opposition parties Congress and AAP over the surgical strikes, he said, “We have to tell them that when it comes to national security, we must work together. Also, politicians who do not have the knowledge about national security should not speak (on the matter).”
Drawing references to the 1999 Kargil conflict, Malik said the Army was ready to cross the LoC to retaliate the Pakistani incursion, but it was stopped by Vajpayee. Malik said, “On June 2, PM Vajpayee told the Army not to cross the border. The then national security adviser Brajesh Mishra had said in an interview that the Army was told ‘not to cross the border today, but we don’t know about tomorrow’.”
Malik said he was “very unhappy” when Vajpayee asked to “let go of Pakistan”. He said, “It required three long meetings in a single day and a lot of convincing from the then prime minister to make me let them (Pakistan) go. I was unhappy and so were the soldiers. Among the many reasons, one was that the international community pressuring India… another was the general elections (held later that year). In the hindsight, it was a right decision.”