The politicisation of Kargil

Not all bad

Delay in calling in the air force cost lives and prolonged the battle in Kargil in 1999. With perfect 20/20 hindsight, the air force should have been called in early. The air chief at that time was reluctant to deploy air power for fear that it might be seen as an escalatory move. That the air chief wanted political endorsement before a potential escalatory move is to his credit. That the national security apparatus was not geared to respond to such threats in a timely manner is obvious.

The National Security Council and the office of the National Security Advisor is a step that closes the most obvious gap arising from the Kargil experience.

During its time in the opposition, the Congress was not able to raise the level of debate over Kargil to more serious issues beyond the scandal over procurement of coffins. Now in government, it obviously would revel watching the previous one squirm when the way in which the war was handled is further brought to the open. Yet putting the government’s management of the Kargil war under a microscope is not only good but also necessary. That is so that the lessons of Kargil are well learnt.

Update: The Hindu weighs in

The criticism of the Vajpayee Government’s conduct of the war comprises four elements: that there were gross intelligence failures; that the conduct of operations by the Indian military’s higher command was inept; that the use of air power was delayed; and, finally, that errors of judgment and a loss of Indian territory were covered up. In all these charges there is some basis of truth. What the Members of Parliament leading the ongoing Kargil campaign seem to have missed out are the critical nuances…
The last thing needed is a witch-hunt: after all, with justice and moderation on its side, India emerged from Kargil as the military and moral victor. [The Hindu]