‘Must Retaliate After Pulwama’: Surgical Strikes Hero Lt Gen Hooda
The Congress on Thursday, 21 February, appointed Lt General (Retd) DS Hooda, who oversaw India’s surgical strikes of September 2016, as head of the party’s task force on national security.
In an exclusive interview with The Quint, Hooda said that the Narendra Modi-led government in the Centre must not be swayed by public opinion on Pakistan after the recent terror attack in Jammu and Kashmir’s Pulwama. He, however, said that “not doing anything” was not an option and that India “has to retaliate.”
Pakistan-based Jaish-e-Muhammed (JeM) has claimed responsibility for the attack, in which 40 CRPF jawans were killed.
“Now, what is the form and shape that this retaliation takes, economic and military pressure that has to be put on Pakistan, is something that the government needs to carefully think through. I think the government should not get swayed by public opinion. Decide what is the best way forward.”Lt Gen (Retd) DS Hooda
He said that the government must carefully look at the options before it and study their implications. He added that it was important to look at how prepared we are to Pakistan’s response.
‘Pakistan Better Be Aware of What We Can Do’
The retired lieutenant general asserted that the Pulwama attack signalled that Pakistan is willing to take “greater risks.” However, he warned that Pakistan must be aware of the political climate in India and what “we can do.”
“I don’t know if the Pulwama attack signals a more confident Pakistan but it does signal a Pakistan which is willing to take greater risks. Because they would have been well aware of what could be the aftermath of such a large attack, possibly the largest attack on the security forces in Jammu and Kashmir. They better be aware of the political climate in the country (and) of what we can do.”Lt Gen (Retd) DS Hooda
He added that it is important for India to have a consistent policy towards Pakistan – in a manner that puts pressure on the neighbouring country both militarily and diplomatically.
‘Current Allocation of Defence Budget Not Sufficient’
Lt Gen (Retd) DS Hooda slammed the government for defence allocation in the Budget, alleging that modernisation of equipment is unlikely to happen at this pace.
“In the army, 68 percent of the equipment is actually in the vintage category, that’s what was said by the previous vice chief of Army staff. But the current allocation of defence budget, particularly the capital allocations which go from modernisation, I think, they are insufficient. So, it’s my fear that the pace of modernisation of equipment that we want is unlikely to happen with the current calibrations.”Lt Gen (Retd) DS Hooda
He also said it was important to look deeper into why people were joining terror ranks.
“It is a stock response, every time a person joins terror organisations, he blames the security forces that it’s their (army’s) excesses which have actually caused him to join terror ranks. But the fact is that if the army was responsible for all these actions and activities, why would thousands of people line up whenever Army recruitment takes place?”Lt Gen (Retd) DS Hooda
‘Task Force Set-up by Congress, Have Not Joined Congress’
Speaking to news agency ANI, Gen Hooda also clarified that he has not joined the Congress party.
Gen Hooda further explained that the task force will look at India’s national security challenges, both external and internal.
“We will look at our internal security and provide recommendations on how to strengthen our national security, what should be our diplomatic policy, and how we should deal with our neighborhood.”
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