Surgical strikes carried out in past too, say two Army ex-chiefs

New Delhi, Dec 6 (IANS) Giving credence to Congress claims on surgical strikes during the earlier United Progressive Alliance rule, two former Army chiefs on Tuesday said that the Indian Army conducted surgical strikes across the Line of Control (LoC) in the past as well.

Former Chiefs of Army Staff, General V.P. Malik and General Bikram Singh, stressed the need for a combination of offensive and defensive operations while dealing with a state like Pakistan.

During a discussion in the ‘Agenda Aajtak’ event, they said the country will have to switch to offensive operations to mount pressure on Pakistani spy agency, Inter-Services Intelligence (ISI), to control terror attacks on Indian soil.

“Surgical strikes were carried out by us (armed forces) several times. But we had taken the responsibility for them. We were scared that the Ministry of External Affairs (MEA) or the Prime Minister’s Office (PMO) may ask us about it. However, this time (after the September 18 Uri attack) the decision was taken by the political authority,” Malik said.

Malik said the message had gone to Pakistan following the September 28-29 surgical strikes but only one strike may not help.

On September 29, the Indian Army announced it had carried out surgical strikes across the LoC, following which the Congress criticised the Narendra Modi government for making the operation public.

The opposition party said similar operations were carried out during its rule too though the government of the day did not make these public in the interest of security.

“We need a combination of offensive and defensive operations. There was hardly any political leader that allowed offensive operations or increased military capability. The terror attacks at Pathankot in Punjab, Uri and Nagrota in Jammu and Kashmir occurred because we are doing defensive operations. So, we need to increase our offensive capabilities, politically and militarily. And we should execute them if need so,” Malik said.

Bikram Singh said surgical strikes have been executed at times and they will be carried out in future as well. “We will not let them (Pakistan) go scot-free.”

He said the surgical strikes were aimed at sending a message across to Pakistan and the international community.

“The surgical strike showed that we had the power and the resolve. However, it was a tactical operation, intended to give a message. We need to be aggressive. If we keep killing them (Pakistani), it will put pressure on the ISI to stop executing terror activities.”