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June 11, 1999
Retired generals offer their services
Ramesh Bhan in New Delhi
Several retired senior officials of the three wings of the Indian armed forces have offered their services for flushing out Pakistan-backed infiltrators in the Kargil sector.
The former officials, in a unanimous resolution passed at a seminar in New Delhi last evening, also congratulated the soldiers for 'their skill, dedication and sacrifice' in tackling the well-entrenched and fully armed enemy in extremely difficult mountainous terrain and weather conditions.
The officials -- including Lieutenant General Satish Nambiar, director of the United Services Institute and former commander of the United Nations Peace Keeping Troops in Yugoslavia, Lieutenant General K K Nanda, former commander of a brigade in Jammu and Kashmir during the 1971 Indo-Pak war, Air Marshal Bharat Kumar and Lieutenant Colonel Daljit Singh -- urged the Indian government to adopt a tough stand against the infiltrators. They said Indian should take ''counter-action to put Pakistan in its proper place''.
They even demanded a tough stand during talks with visiting Pakistani Foreign Minister Sartaj Aziz in New Delhi today. ''Mr Sartaj Aziz should be told in no uncertain terms what India wants,'' Lieutenant Colonel Daljeet Singh said.
Deploring the 'soft approach' that India had adopted towards the Kashmir problem so far, the generals called for an aggressive stance and said a 'diplomatic offensive' has been initiated long ago.
Air Marshal Bharat Kumar called upon the armed forces not to succumb to any political pressures and urged politicians not to make irresponsible statements which could affect the morale of the soldiers.
He was referring to the recent statement by Defence Minister George Fernandes about providing 'safe passage' to the infiltrators. ''It is not incursion. It is not infiltration. It is aggression. Such statements send a disturbing message.''
The generals also strongly refuted Pakistan's claims that they were not involved in the aggression. ''This was a well-planned, orchestrated operation, run and executed by the Pakistan army using well-trained troops and not briefly trained men. We must take this into account.''
They said Pakistan's aim was to change the Line of Control despite the fact that it was clearly defined.
The generals called for absolute unity among all political parties and leaders in the matter. ''There can always be a post-mortem. But right now we have to put out the fire.''
They also expressed firm resolve for ''throwing out each and every infiltrator from the Indian soil'' and stressed that Indian troops should be stationed at the posts vacated by the infiltrators.
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