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The year 2018 ends both on a high and a low note for the political leadership – a high for the BJP-led ruling government following the order of the Supreme Court on the Rafale deal, and low for the Congress party in the opposition following the extradition of a middleman in the Agusta Westland case, approved by the earlier UPA government. And this will continue well into the next year, as the election dates approach. But in these political slugfests, our Armed Forces become a casualty, left to maintain a military posture against two nuclear armed neighbours, with increasingly obsolete weapon platforms. Meanwhile, Kashmir also continues to spiral out of control, specially after the Pulwama incident where seven civilians were killed in their attempts to obstruct counter-terror operations and in the confrontations that followed. Pakistan has successfully trapped India in a situation where being both civilian sensitive or harsh will serve it's propaganda. Ignoring stone-pelters will embolden the terror minders who will be more brazen with terror strikes, while being hawkish will strengthen the ISI's “India's high-handed anti-Kashmiri” narrative. This leaves us few options to resolve the intractable dispute. It is well established that we need to counter Pakistan's propaganda, build up on the achievements of our Armed Forces, and give out a blueprint for Kashmir's future, but successive governments have failed to do so repeatedly. That the Kashmir imbroglio cannot be solved with purely military successes and has to be solved with a politico-socio-economic plan is obvious to us all, but little has been done about it. Why? And on January 14, 2019, we'll observe the fifth iteration of the Veterans' Day. It was first announced by the government in 2015.

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