Sultan M Hali
AFTER Pakistan magnanimously permitted the mother and wife of Indian terror monger Commander Kulbhoshan Jadhav to meet him, India is acting belligerently towards Pakistan. It cannot swallow the fact that its conspiracies to destabilize Balochistan at the hands of its senior RAW operative have been thwarted. Indian machinations in Pakistan’s tribal regions have also been blunted through successful military operations. Continued support of anti-Pakistan elements entrenched in Afghanistan, does take its toll of human lives through proxy attacks in Pakistan but with the Taliban gaining ground in Afghanistan, Indian plots are meeting setbacks. In this bleak milieu, Narendra Modi has found an ardent partner in U.S. President Donald Trump. Unable to accept defeat in Afghanistan, Trump finds it expedient to blame Pakistan for its failures. Egged on by Modi, Trump is issuing warnings with dire consequences. The U.S. is keen on using India to foment trouble for Pakistan and China.
Spurred by Trump’s admonition of Pakistan, India believes it can get away with adventurism like surgical strikes against alleged terror training camps in Pakistan. A feverish rise in bellicose statements against Pakistan and intense cross border violations can be observed. Amidst this jingoistic behaviour is the fear that Indian Armed Forces are facing a rot from within. Morale is at an all time low and statistics reported by the Indian media indicate that the rate of suicide has assumed extremely high proportions. As many as 425 Indian soldiers from the Army, Air Force and Navy committed suicide in the last four years. The maximum number of suicide cases were reported from the nearly 12 lakh strong Army where nine officers and 326 soldiers took their lives. This is followed by the IAF which reported suicide of five officers and 67 airmen since 2014. Navy is the least affected service with two officers and 16 sailors committing suicides in the last four years; Minister of State for Defence Subhash Bhamre said in a written reply in the Lok Sabha. These figures are yet another demonstration of an unfortunate trend that dogs the Indian armed forces for years but they do not tell the whole truth.
The maximum number of suicides was reported in 2016 (129) followed by 2014 (109) and 2015 (95). 2017 saw 92 cases of suicide. The statistics reflect an abject trend of the Army witnessing more “physical casualties,” coming from suicides, road accidents and fratricide cases rather than “battle casualties” that happen in the counterinsurgency and counter-terrorism operations. Physical casualties in the Army are more than 12 times the number of battle casualties with road accidents and suicide being the two major culprits. Multiple directives were issued in the recent months to check the fitness of the drivers, sensitise them on safe driving and punishing the errant drivers as a deterrent.
What adds to the woes of the Indian military is the premature retirement taken by thousands of soldiers to leave the military early at a time when the armed forces are facing a shortage of nearly 60,000 personnel. The number of suicides has seen a swell from female personnel, who were sexually molested by their superiors and colleagues. There have been gang rapes of women in uniform by morally depraved Indian army personnel, forcing the victim to commit suicide to avoid being censured by parents and peers. According to the details provided by Defence Minister Nirmala Sitharaman in the Lok Sabha, the deficiency of officers in the Army, Navy and the Indian Air Force is 9,259 while the number for below officer rank personnel is 50,363. Bhamre told the Parliamentarians that nearly 42,000 soldiers took premature retirement from the three services since 2014. The maximum number of the premature retirement was reported from the Army with 803 officers and 38,150 soldiers (up to March 2017) who opted for severing their ties with the military. “Various steps have been taken by the armed forces to create a healthy and appropriate environment for the officers and other ranks,” Bhamre said but recruitment drives have failed miserably as fewer and fewer Indians are joining the armed forces.
Under the circumstances, Indian Armed Forces face an uphill task in fulfilling their mission statement and will prove to be a poor match against Pakistan’s highly motivated and battle hardened armed forces. Meanwhile, RAW has stepped up its efforts to attempt placing impediments in the path of the completion of the China Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC). Quetta Church attack must be seen in the context of declared Indian designs to destabilize Pakistan by actively sponsoring terrorism. Use of Afghan soil for the purpose of such attacks jointly planned and executed by RAW and NDS is an established fact. Pakistan is trying to take numerous steps to plug the gaps which provide ingress to RAW operatives. Closure of NGOs is a positive step as the same must have been done based on authentic information regarding true motives of these so called friends of humanity. Pakistan must not be allowed to become a “free for all” state where such anti-state elements can operate with complete impunity. A deep ingress in Pakistan by the infamous Black Water in the garb of such like NGOs is a case in point. Anti CPEC tirade appearing from apparently odd places like London shows the length to which Indians are going in their nefarious designs to sabotage the project. Pakistan and China must stand firm in their resolve to see through and surmount any number of challenges thrown by the anti Pak-China forces.
—The writer is retired PAF Group Captain and a TV talk show host.