Armed Forces: A Pillar In Nation Building

Written by: Nairita Das
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New Delhi, Nov.16 (ANI): The 21st century looks towards security, justice, economic development and a democratic polity as the pillars of nation building. Security comes first in the pecking order because the other three pillars function effectively only if the security of the nation is assured.

In the Indian subcontinent, some armies of neighbouring states,instead of providing the security umbrella to their countries, exploited the system to seize power and have, by so doing, effectively stagnated the flow of the polity towards democracy.

The most visible case is Myanmar. Than Shwe, the head of the military regime in Myanmar disregarded the rule of law and democratic aspiration of the people of Myanmar, and kept a Noble Laureate and champion of democracy, Aung San Suu Kyi, imprisoned since 1990 despite international pressure.

Now, Myanmar recently held multi-party elections which international observers have denounced as rigged. The military junta has, in a positive step, released Aung San Suu Kyi, but the impact of this initiative is yet to be seen. The situation will crystallize with time.

Nepal's tryst with destiny witnessed the Nepali Army extending full support to the pro-monarchy forces of King Gyanendra. The army stepped back only in the face of an overwhelming public support to the cause of democracy and a changeover to the proposed republican political order.

Even at this stage when democratic forces have established their writ, the government is functioning on the basis of an interim constitution and the constituent assembly has got yet another year extension on May, 28, 2010.

Nepal's search for an acceptable Prime Minister has not achieved much progress. The possibility of an Army coup hangs like a Damocles sword on the pro-democracy forces with the erstwhile King becoming more visible with each passing day.

In Bangladesh, the corrupt regime was effectively quashed and the army took over the reins of governance. Fortunately, it facilitated a quick and smooth changeover to democratic functioning and now a democratic government is in place. However, given the history of this poverty stricken country one can only wonder as to how long this will last.

Sri Lanka had been embroiled in a long and costly insurgency movement mainly because of the chauvinistic attitude of its Army officered by feudal Sinhalas who do not favour giving equal rights to the Tamils. With the LTTE effectively marginalised in a war that is associated with allegations of the worst possible human rights violation, the world is still waiting for the Sri Lankan government to take credible steps to integrate the Tamils into the political fabric of the Island Nation. If this does not happen the situation is bound to deteriorate.

The situation in Pakistan is well documented. Musharraf whom someone rated as the 15th worst dictator in the world, left no stone unturned to maintain his position, but ultimately had to bow down to pressure and allow a civilian government to take over. However, even today the real power in the country is being exercised by the Army Chief, General Ashfaq Pervez Kayani, who has been given a three year extension, while the country dithers from one crisis to another . True democracy in Pakistan appears to be a pipe dream.

India, as of now,is surrounded by military-led governments that are unwilling to shed their personalised agendas in favour of a more progressive society. Further, some of the regimes, as a result of their overwhelming sense of insecurity, are exporting their repressive tenets into India in the form of terrorism, population migration and narco-terrorism . The situation poses a serious threat to the security of the nation.

In India, democracy, however tenuous, has managed to hold and the constitution as initially introduced continues to be sacrosanct. This has been facilitated, in no small measure, by the armed forces who have observed the ideals enshrined in the constitution . They have thus contributed to nourishment of democracy in the nation.

The strength of the armed forces lies in their high standards of discipline and morale supported by a secular outlook and an apolitical demeanour. They have helped the nation face all challenges . They have been a pillar of support to the people who look up to them in times of crises. The ability of the nation to maintain its security has contributed significantly to the progress that it has recorded post independence.

The achievements of the nation and its armed forces offer enough reason for cheer but leave no scope for complacency. The situation in the neighbourhood is such that we have to be prepared to meet multifarious challenges.

No effort should be spared in terms of vigilance and appropriate response to emerging situations. There is no limit to the type of threats that may emerge in the neighbourhood and beyond. These can be met only by maintaining the versatility and cutting edge of the armed forces and by ensuring that they remain capable in terms of equipment, training and morale to face all threats to the nation's security. (ANI)

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