Q and A with Lt General Shankar Prasad
What is your reaction to the recent killing of two jawans in Kashmir?
It’s a barbaric action, a ghastly incident. My vocabulary will fall short if I want to express my anger and grief.
Is diplomacy the right way to end this recurring issue? Do you think it’s time for military intervention?
This is not a question that can be answered with either diplomacy or military reaction and diplomacy alone will never be able to control. It’s an issue that has to be dealt with diplomatic, military and political activity. If all three meet together then only it will become a national policy or a national response. Unfortunately, till now, most of the time it’s either political activity or diplomatic activity and they include all the populist measures like Aman Ki Asha, or trade or cricket and train-bus services. I have no objection or any qualms about them. But there has to be a red line drawn beyond which you should not allow a single step forward in the line of control. Therefore the military must be involved in the overall development of the national policy regarding Pakistan both in strategic level as well as action. We are a democracy. By its own means the military is not authorised to take a single step on its own. And this that can’t stop incidents like the recent one. There has to be concrete national policy for Pakistan. Pakistan is not able to see the policy India has for it. When a national policy is formed Pakistan will stop doing what it is doing because they will be certain of the reaction.
In that case what should be the initial reaction?
So my suggestion is not to go to war. War is not the solution. But be emphatic. While war is not the most ideal option, the nation must prepare to go to war. Today Pakistan is the side that is taking the belligerent action. Whereas India should be the one with this kind of a stance. After all offensive action is the best form of defence. And Pakistan has taken those offensive actions. They stopped the movement of buses, they stopped trade, they called High Commissioner for a demarche. These are all offensive actions and implemented because Pakistan continuously is finding themselves in trouble. So at this point of time there is no need to overreact. It’s a time to form a concrete policy.
What steps should be taken on both diplomatic and military levels to stop incidents such as these?
There is a phrase in Hindi: Chanakya Neeti. Chanakya Neeti is such that the enemy has no clue what the strategy is and from where the attack will come. And this is exactly the need of the hour. We have the capabilities, we have the power, we have the intelligence. Most importantly, we have a very strong army. The strength of the army is 1.3 million. It has to be included in national policy making. You can’t afford to keep the army out of the loop any more. That will only worsen the situation. This is the only reason Pakistan is getting bolder in their action every day. This is why they dare to attack the Indian Parliament, they dare to attack Mumbai and do all sorts of condemnable things. One other thing we have to keep in mind is that Pakistan is going for an election and their army chief’s tenure is about to be over. How could they want to stay relevant? Obviously, by creating a problem with India. And we should not dance to their tunes. A stable Pakistan is in the interest of India.