General (retd.) VP Malik on Monday said the Indian Army was fully equipped to cross the LoC to enter Pakistan-occupied territory in 1999, but then PM Atal Bihari Vajpayee halted the move under international pressure.
Malik, who was the Army chief during the Kargil conflict, however, extended “full support” to the Indian Army’s surgical strike across the LoC.
According to a report in Indian Express, Malik said, “After the surgical strike, we don’t have to beg to the international community (to build pressure on Pakistan to stop supporting terror activities against India). We have to tell them that if they (Pakistan) continue to do this, we will have to go to war.” He was delivering a speech on leadership and motivation during the ongoing Switch Global Expo in Ahmedabad.
In an interaction session as part of the occasion, Malik said, “I am not optimistic that Pakistan will change after one surgical strike. We must be prepared for more action from them and more reaction from us.”
The report added that Malik, taking an exception to the war of words between the ruling BJP and opposition parties Congress and AAP over the surgical strike, said, “We have to tell them that when it comes to national security, we must work together. Also, politicians who do not have the knowledge about national security should not speak (on the matter).”
Malik said the Army was ready to cross the LoC to retaliate the Pakistani incursion, but it was stopped by Vajpayee. Malik said, “On June 2, PM Vajpayee told the Army not to cross the border. Then national security adviser Brajesh Mishra had said in an interview that the Army was told ‘not to cross the border today, but we don’t know about tomorrow’.”
Malik also expressed that he was “very unhappy” when Vajpayee asked to “let go of Pakistan”. He further said, “It required three long meetings in a single day and a lot of convincing from the then prime minister to make me let them (Pakistan) go. I was unhappy and so were the soldiers. Among the many reasons, one was that the international community pressuring India… another was the general elections (held later that year). In the hindsight, it was a right decision.”