The Hush Post:  Former Army Chief General VP Malik on Saturday called for the involvement of civilians to tackle terrorist situations that cannot necessary be handled with military power alone. Speaking at the `National Security Strategy’ panel discussion on the concluding day of the Military Literature Festival, Gen Malik lamented the lack of coordination between military and civil administration and identified slow decision making by the government as a major loophole in the security strategy of the country.

The speakers discussed the gains and losses from the war in the backdrop of the comparative data of the two countries, India and Pakistan. Political, economic and social repercussions of the war were also debated at length.  Noted author William Dalrymple gave the audience an insight into the intrigues in Maharaja Ranjit’s durbar. He spoke about the military techniques adopted by the British and Indians during the 17th and 18th centuries. He attributed the weakening of the empires of Ranjit Singh and Tipu Sultan in the face of the British onslaught to lack of unity, leadership and resources.

Lt Gen Surinder Singh emphasised the need for a comprehensive national security strategy, which should be more transparent and also involve members of the public. Echoing these sentiments, Lt Gen Vijay Oberoi said the security strategy should be guided by the national goals. Lt Gen Aditya Singh also participated in this panel discussion.

Meanwhile, the session on `Indo-Pak war 1965’ saw the key speakers debate on the rights and wrongs of the war, with Punjab Finance Minister Manpreet Badal joining retired army officers in highlighting some of the key developments of the time. Lt Gen T S Shergill, Lt Gen NS Brar, Air Marshal Bharat Kumar, Lt Gen Jagbir S Cheema and Brig Sukhjit Singh also answered questions from the audience.

While TS Shergill spoke about the surprises and counter surprises unleashed by both India and Pakistan, Air Marshal Bharat Kumar highlighted the key aspects of the Indian Air Force and compared the number of sorties launched by both the nations and the resultant damage.

Brig Surjit underscored the strengths and weaknesses of both the countries during the war, while Manpreet Badal talked about the selection of General Ayub Khan, who did not even figure among the four senior army generals from whom the president had to be selected. However, the one selected died in a plane crash and Ayub ended up as Pakistan’s president, said Badal.

The session on `Indo-Pak War, 1971-The Western Front’  saw participants discuss, in detail, the war that redefined the relations between the two countries in many ways.

Amar Pal Sidhu, who has written extensively on the history of the Sikhs, enlightened the audience about the reasons for the fall of Maharaja Ranjit Singh’s kingdom immediately after his death. He said that though Maharaja Ranjit’s rule of Punjab was unique, the absence of a competence and able leader to take over after his death led to the downfall of his empire.


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