New Delhi [India], Oct.11 : Defence expert Lieutenant General (Retd.) Raj Kadyan on Tuesday reacting to General (retd.) V P Malik's comment that during the Kargil episode in 1999, when he was the Army chief, the Indian forces were all set to enter the Pakistan-occupied territory, but were stopped by the then Prime Minister Atal Bihari Vajpayee said though it is unfortunate that the army is being dragged into a political debate, the army should themselves refrain from making any controversial political comments.
"Very unfortunately, the last few days, last 10-12 days, ever since we carried out surgical strikes, the Indian Army is being increasingly dragged into a political debate.
Traditionally, the Indian Army has been apolitical, in fact to the extent that in our Army messes and dining halls, any discussion on politics is a taboo, it is not permitted," Kadyan said.
"I think it is in the interest of the nation and the Army to keep it that way. On 10th October, we held a rally at Jantar Mantar to appeal to all countrymen, to all parties, to all individuals to keep the Army out of political debate," he added.
According to Kadyan, political debate is fine in a democracy. It is in fact an integral part of healthy democracy, but people should not use the Army for scoring points against rival parties.
"The contrary is also true. It is also our duty to endure that we do not make any statements, give any cause for that same political debate to take place," he said.
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.
While speaking to ANI, Raj Kadyan mentioned Operation Ginger and added that some of the Army personnel are privy to secrets that have a bearing on national security, but it does not behove on them to speak them out.
"If we did not speak out that time because the national requirement demanded it, that demand is equally applicable today; otherwise we ourselves are dragging the Army into political controversy.
My advice to everybody, particularly senior retired defence officers is to avoid making such remarks," he added.
Drawing references to the 1999 Kargil conflict, Malik said the Army was ready to cross 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.".