New Delhi: India had gone to the United Nations for a peaceful solution to the Kashmir dispute when a “military solution” was in sight, and Pakistan Administered Kashmir still remains a “thorn in the flesh”, the IAF chief, Air Chief Marshal Arup Raha, said on Thursday.
Speaking at an event here, Raha said in the past, India has been reluctant in using military power, especially air power, and did not apply its full force in achieving the end of conflicts.
“We have been reluctant in use of power, especially aerospace power. Air power in deterring our adversaries, or deterring a conflict and when involved in a conflict which we have been drawn into several times in the past, we did not apply ourselves adequately in achieving the end state after the conflict,” Raha said.
He cited the example of the attack by tribal militias on Kashmir soon after independence.
“In 1947, immediately after independence, hordes of raiders from across the border, supported by the military and the government, tried to overrun the state of Jammu and Kashmir. The Indian Army on the ground was not strong enough, they didn’t have enough boots on the ground to react to these raiders and prevent them from overrunning Indian Territory,” he said.
“It was the Indian Air Force transport wing with Dakotas which came to help and rescued the situation.”
Raha said a large amount of military equipment and logistics were brought to Srinagar, Poonch and Leh by the IAF, and a few of the fighter aircraft were also involved in attacking the raiders.
“Indian Air Force therefore played a very important role in pushing the raiders back,” he said.
“…and when a military solution was in sight, taking the moral high ground, I think, we went to the United Nations for a peaceful solution to this problem. But the problem still continues, PoK (sic) remains a thorn in our flesh even today,” Raha, who is also the Chairman of the Chiefs of Staff Committee, said.
He added that the only time air power was properly utilised was in 1971 — and the result was the creation of Bangladesh.
“The only time air power was fully utilised was in the 1971 conflict and the Indian Air Force’s capabilities and assets and operations were integrated nicely, in a well synergised, coordinated manner with the Indian Army and Navy and the results were there to be seen by the entire world — the creation on Bangladesh in just over 15 days of conflict,” he said.
“But the situation has changed. I think we are ready to use aerospace power to defend ourselves and prevent a conflict in the region,” Raha added.
The IAF chief’s remarks come as India has conveyed to Pakistan that it will discuss the issue of “earliest possible vacation” of Pakistani Administered Kashmir during the upcoming Foreign Secretary level talks in Islamabad.
India has also raised the issue of Balochistan, in Pakistan, with Prime Minister Narendra Modi himself commenting on the issue during his Independence Day speech and speaking about the alleged rights violations there during an all-party meeting earlier.