Srinagar: Former Indian spy chief AS Dulat has said on Friday that war was not a picnic and asked Prime Minister Narendra Modi to weigh his widely speculated options against Pakistan with preference for an aggressive diplomacy.
His views published by National Herald newspaper tallied with former Congress home minister P Chidambaram who said the suicide bomber who killed 49 paramilitary men in Pulwama on Feb 14 was an Indian, and as such the government should focus on winning the hearts and minds of the alienated people of the disputed state. Dulat said he did not believe war was imminent.
“I don’t think so. The government [Prime Minister Modi] did say they were giving a free hand to the army, but wars are nastier these days. I’m sure there are other options short of war. Even after the Mumbai terror attack, there was a clamour for war, probably even louder, but Dr Manmohan Singh did not go to war. So, Modi has to weigh his options, people at the top have to weigh the consequences. War is not a picnic.
There hasn’t been a real war since 1971. Kargil was a limited operation and it was in the heights where fortunately not many civilians got affected. But, if Lahore is bombed, or Amritsar is bombed or even Muzaffarabad is bombed, are we prepared for the consequences? Today, the weaponry is also not that of 1971, it has all changed.”
“We have to win the hearts and minds of the people of Kashmir Valley,” said Dulat, a Kashmir expert, who served as adviser to former prime minister Atal Bihari Vajpayee, adding that Vajpayee had faced the worst of assaults – including the Kargil standoff, the parliament attack and the hijacking of the Indian airline plane to Kandahar. But he handled all the events with equanimity.