PoK would’ve been ours if left to us: Indian Air Force chief

NEW DELHI (TIP): Air Chief Marshal Arup Raha today indicated that Pakistan-occupied Kashmir (PoK) would have been India’s had the country gone for a military solution rather than taking a “moral high ground”. He rued that air power was not fully utilised by the Indian Government till the 1971 India-Pakistan war.

Recalling the post-1947 era when hordes of raiders, supported by the Pakistan government and military, tried to overrun Jammu and Kashmir, he said  it was IAF’s transport planes that had helped soldiers and equipment to reach the battleground.

“At that time we went to the United Nations for a peaceful solution. But the problem persists and Pakistan-occupied Kashmir remains a thorn in our flesh even today,” Raha said.

PoK has recently witnessed violent protests. Prime Minister Narendra Modi, in his Independence Day speech, had spoken of rights violations in PoK and Balochistan.

“We have been reluctant in use of power, specially 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,” the IAF Chief said while speaking at a seminar here.

He said India’s security environment had been vitiated and that aerospace power would be required to deter a conflict in the region as well as ensure peace. “We have been governed by high ideals and we did not follow a very pragmatic approach, to my mind, to security needs. To that extent, we did ignore the role of the military power to maintain a conducive environment,” Raha said. The IAF Chief said the only time when air power was fully utilised was during the 1971 war. “But the situation has changed. We are ready to use air power to defend ourselves and deter a conflict,” he added.