The Indian Defence Minister, Nirmala Sitharaman, seems to be a colourful personality or at least her statements fall in this category. She recently claimed that the Indian Congress leaders were playing dirty politics by seeking help from Pakistan to remove Modi’s government. The statement should not come as a surprise for the Pakistani government and people as BJP leaders are under immense pressure due to the coming elections. Also, they are fond of making statements that are extremely nationalistic in nature but mostly irrational.
Some statements of Indian defence minister extract every morsel of propaganda and therefore are worth reading.
Defending Modi, Nirmala Sitharaman says the prime minister has provided "corruption-free" five years but she totally ignores the Rafale fighter aircraft scandal. She claims while the Bofors deal was a scam, the Rafale deal was in national interest. She refused to reveal the exact full price of each Rafale aircraft fitted with weaponry, as demanded by Rahul Gandhi saying that information leaked about the weapon systems can ultimately help Pakistan and China. “For whom is he worried? By leaking information (about weapon systems fitted on Rafale aircraft), whom is he trying to help? By demanding replies from us, who will ultimately benefit? This is what I am seriously asking. Is it Pakistan, or China? Those countries which keep an evil eye on us will benefit. Do we have to do this? I am sorry that the president of the oldest political party sitting in the opposition is demanding this.” Both countries, Pakistan and China, are close to BJP leaders’ hearts and their names regularly appear in domestic Indian politics. At the mention of the two countries, the Indian politicians work themselves into a frenzy.
No wonder, Pakistan comes in for special bashing. "Pakistan is today isolated in the world arena due to prime minister's diplomacy and his ability to maintain relations with all countries. He has built relations with the leaders of the world. Pakistan is feeling the heat today," she says. Did Trump write to Pakistani leadership to help facilitate solution in Afghanistan or did he write to Modi? The Indian defence minister, wrapping herself in cloak of rhetoric, perhaps believes otherwise.
Sitharaman also said under Modi's leadership, "the defence forces conducted surgical strikes across the border and instead of commending them, the opposition wanted proof.” It is now generally known even in India that the notion of surgical strikes linked to alleged terrorist bases in AJK was an illusion that was deliberately generated to create false effects. The BJP leadership has always wanted to convince the Indians that New Delhi could act tough with Pakistan. But when it comes to show proof of the Bollywood scripted operation, the Indian leadership looks the other way and fails to negotiate the maze of lies.
Also, in 2018, Nirmala Sitharaman rejected a UN report on definite human rights violations in Kashmir, claiming the Indian Army exercises “maximum restraint” in carrying out operations in the troubled state. "It was a report which was prepared sitting somewhere else. The assessment is totally without basis. The Indian Army shows maximum restraint in conducting operations including in Jammu and Kashmir," she told reporters. Except for New Delhi, the Indian Army operations in held Valley are a gory exercise that hold no restraint or bar any action against civilians.
As for held Kashmir, Bikram Singh, former Chief of the Indian Army Staff, has recently advised the BJP leadership that “an effective sealing of the conflict zone, both in the physical and virtual domains, is a prerequisite for dealing with the deteriorating situation. Therefore, in addition to plugging the porosity of the Line of Control, we need to establish ‘information superiority’ in the virtual space.
“On the military front, the security forces should continue with their people-friendly counter proxy war operations, employing smart power, which is an imaginative mix of both hard and soft power.”
Yes, the “people friendly counter proxy war operations” have killed scores of innocent Kashmiris in 2018, blinded hundreds of them more and brought untold misery on the people of the Valley. One is struck by non professionalism of Indian Army’s “people friendly counter proxy war operations”, which were also noticed and criticized by the former UN HR chief in a landmark report. As the violence grows in the Valley, it becomes evident that Indian Army has no strategic direction, choice or flexibility and cannot create conditions for low-level conflict termination.