DURING THE 2020 standoff with the Chinese PLA in Eastern Ladakh, use of force by Indian forces was approved by Prime Minister Narendra Modi with alacrity, and such actions to safeguard national interest would be taken in future as well, National Security Advisor Ajit Doval has said in a book on the Prime Minister.
“In contravention to all existing border management agreements, inimical forces in the shadow of a pandemic, endeavoured to challenge some of our major interests, which required a proportionate use of force. That use of force was approved with alacrity at the topmost level. It authorized freedom of action at the lowest tactical level. The leadership and troops showed the will to resist unilateral actions. Thus, during this crisis, while we have reacted in a particular manner, there were other options. Some were exercised and some more will be exercised, if vital and major interests of the country are at stake,” Doval has said in the book on Modi’s 20 years in power.
The book, Modi @ 20: Dreams Meet Delivery, which was released on Wednesday, is an anthology of articles written by various eminent people, including Cabinet ministers such as Amit Shah and S Jaishankar on Modi’s leadership and achievements.
The India-China standoff in Eastern Ladakh, which started in April 2020 and in between claimed the lives of 20 Indian soldiers in a clash, continues to this day with many friction points in Galwan Valley, Charding Nala and Depsang Plains still remaining unresolved.
According to Doval, the PM’s efforts to develop personal equations with world leaders, including Chinese President Xi Jinping, has been instrumental in resolving many crises.
During the the 2017 Doklam stand-off, Doval said, India showed resolve both during the stand-off and in post-conflict negotiations. He also narrated an incident of Modi walking up to Xi to talk about the issue on the sidelines of G-20 summit.
“After all other options had been exhausted, PM Modi personally took it up with President Xi. PM Modi showed statesmanship when he walked up to President Xi on the sidelines of the G-20 meeting in Germany for an informal meeting. I was an eyewitness to this most dramatic interaction between the two leaders, when they agreed to find an immediate solution. Eventually, after a series of negotiations, the deadlock was resolved. It would not have been possible without the Prime Minister’s direct action,” Doval said.
In 2017, Indian and Chinese forces were locked in a faceoff that stretched to 73 days after India objected to China building a road on the Doklam plateu close to the India-Bhutan-China tri-junction adjacent to Sikkim.
Even during the September 2014 standoff in Chumar in Ladakh, Doval said, Modi again used the opportunity of Xi’s visit to India to resolve the issue. “During the stand-off, the Prime Minister seized the opportunity of President Xi Jinping’s visit to India that month. During an informal tete-a-tete with President Xi in Ahmedabad, he was able to convince him about the need to ensure the unconditional and immediate withdrawal of Chinese troops. He did not bank solely on conventional diplomatic or military-to-military engagement. The Indian reaction at a time when the Chinese President was in India, highlighted the Prime Minister’s political resolve to stand firm on issues of national importance.”
On Pakistan, Doval has written about decision-making during the 2016 Pathankot attack, Uri attack and the 2019 Pulwama attack.
While on the Pathankot attack, Doval has praised the PM’s decision-making in preparing to thwart the attack with prior information, on the Uri attack that year, which was responded with a surgical strike inside PoK by Indian forces, he said, “In the response to Uri 2016, a few aspects stand out.”
“One, it was a simultaneous operation by multiple strike teams at four disparate locations and extended across a vast geographical boundary. Two, it was a political call by the Prime Minister, which meant that he was taking responsibility, not only for success, but also failure. This exhibited risk-taking at the highest level – a quality shown by very few. Three, it was novel planning, in that it generated chaos, panic and confusion by creating the ‘enemy is everywhere syndrome’. The then Pakistan Army leadership castigated its ground formations for failing to block even one strike team across a vast frontage, despite having a large number of forward deployed troops.”
On Pulwama, that was responded to with the Balakot strike, Doval has said, “We have been responding to terror strikes in the ground domain. It was for the first time that an aerial strike was conceived and implemented with finesse, in the bargain also blowing away the myth of Pakistan’s nuclear blackmail. …the post-Uri strikes were different, and Balakot was different from post-Uri strikes. Tomorrow, it may be different from both. This remains at the core of the Prime Minister’s style of thinking and direction.”
Doval also praised Modi’s dealing with West Asian countries who he said had deported 150 terrorists to India in the past seven years due to good relations developed with them.