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June 7, 1999
India must be ready for war: General Rao
Shireen in Hyderabad
Former Jammu and Kashmir governor, General K V Krishna Rao has said that India must be psychologically prepared for a full-fledged war with Pakistan while trying to avoid such a situation.
Making a presentation on 'Kashmir scenario: emerging security perceptions' at a meeting in Hyderabad on Sunday, the former chief of army staff ruled out a nuclear confrontation between India and Pakistan or, for that matter, between any two nuclear powers.
"There is always a threshold of tolerance for a nuclear power. The countries will be compelled to use their nuclear weapons only after crossing this threshold. India and Pakistan had conducted nuclear tests to ensure security to their respective countries. Past experience shows that Pakistan had never acted in a rational manner. It behaves as a rogue state but it dare not use nuclear weapons.
"Pakistan knows that it cannot destroy India with one or two nuclear weapons whereas New Delhi can obliterate it. It is talking of a nuclear war only to involve the Western countries in the Kashmir issue.
''Pakistani Prime Minister Nawaz Sharief's statements should be viewed in this contest." He was critical of the Pakistani prime minister for making an 'irresponsible statement' that there could be a war between India and Pakistan (the statement has since been denied by Pakistan).
"It is important to protect our interests... It will be wishful thinking to say that Pakistan will reconcile to a dialogue and cease its hostilities".
"For Pakistan, Kashmir is an unsettled issue. It will continue to rake up the issue again and again. Even if Kashmir is handed over to it on a platter, it will not stop its subversive activities because its ultimate aim is to destabilise and disintegrate India."
The general, who has settled in Hyderabad after his retirement from the army and his two stints at the Raj Bhavan in Kashmir, said, "Unfortunately, India could not get Pakistan declared as a terrorist state for abetting terrorism in Jammu and Kashmir even after producing ample evidence. The United States wants more credible evidence."
He said that what Pakistan was doing in the Kargil, Drass, Batalik sectors and Mushkov valley was not just infiltration of terrorists but an intrusion of well-trained armed forces.
''It will not be possible for terrorists to withstand air strikes by the Indian Air Force," he said and pointed out that regular forces from the Pakistani army were active as 'infiltrators'.
"No time-limit should be fixed for the Indian armed forces to evict the infiltrators since it is not an easy task. It will be a protracted operation as our forces have to carry out their activities in a difficult terrain. The operations should be left to the armed forces themselves. We should be careful to ensure that there are no heavy casualties. A good general always tries to achieve the goal with minimum casualties."
While continuing its military operations to drive away the intruders, India should bring diplomatic pressure of the international community on Pakistan to isolate it on the issue, he said.
He declined to comment on the controversial utterances of Defence Minister George Fernandes on the Kargil crisis.
Referring to the other controversies raked up by various parties in the wake of the crisis, he said, "It is the Research and Analysis Wing which should report to the government. Air and satellite surveillance could not give a clear picture probably because of the difficult conditions. Even if information was available a few weeks ago, it would not have been possible to move forces immediately to flush out the infiltrators."
Replying to questions from the audience, he said two methods were available for 'reclaiming' the Pakistan-occupied Kashmir: using force or through diplomatic means.
"It requires tremendous resources to regain the PoK through force, which may even force Pakistan to cross the threshold of tolerance. With the other method, one has to wait for a long, long time."
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