Pakistan has flouted every norm of decency in its dealings with India. It has no compunctions allowing terrorism in India to be planned on its soil. It has absolutely no inhibitions about affording state protection to the most rabid believers of ‘jihad’. It is pointless to expect the religious-military establishment to even contemplate peace with India! It is here that the Indian people, especially the Indian armed forces have good reason to feel let down by their own government. Ashoka asks, why the Indian government should even pretend that we are at peace when anyone who has been to the borders would know the peace is as elusive as ever!
The only eventuality worse than winning a war is losing a war! ~ Duke of Wellington
For many years, I was an ardent admirer of the wisdom encapsulated in this aphorism from one of the greatest generals the world has ever known. Unquestionably, war is a terrible proposition and ‘winning a war’ carries its own concomitants most of them being unpleasant.
But it’s also a reality that precluding a war is a two-way process. If one of the parties is adamant on allowing hostilities to assume sinister proportions, perhaps war is the only realistic alternative available. But, even that eventuality should have its main objective a state of lasting peace.
But in the context of India-Pakistan relationship, we have another state and I have often wondered whether the legendary general would have perceived it as at least just as damaging as a war. We are in a state of hostility which by no reckoning can be construed as peace. But is it a state of war!
I happen to believe it is! And there are very strong reasons for me to draw this dismal inference.
Pakistan has flouted every norm of decency in its dealings with India. It has abused all the accepted parameters of civilised conduct.
It has given shelter to the world’s most dreaded terrorist who carries out his nefarious designs with full state protection. It unashamedly cultivates terrorists cloaked in the religious attire and unleashes them on India with impunity.
It has no compunctions allowing terrorism in India to be planned on its soil. It has absolutely no inhibitions about affording state protection to the most rabid believers of ‘jihad’.
It has absolutely no problems when it is caught red-handed violating every tenet of natural justice when it comes to an Indian citizen. It does not even experience remorse when it beheads Indian soldiers and refuses to acknowledge and accept bodies of its own soldiers.
Nowadays, it does not even make any attempt to disguise its designs vis-à-vis India. The ISI vetted Pakistani interlocutors on the Indian television channels always instill in me a sense of gloom. Mendacity is I believe a part and parcel of statecraft but the manner in which it is practiced exceeds every threshold of decorum so crucial in ensuring comity between two nation states.
It would, of course, require a very lengthy debate as to why Pakistanis feel that inflicting damage on India is its raison d’être! One of the major reasons has been an abrogation of the Fourth Estate.
Way back in 1971, during the Indo-Pak War, I recall strolling to the Charbagh railway station in Lucknow. One of us carried a transistor set which he adjusted to listen to the news emanating from Radio Pakistan. In a gruff voice, the newscaster announced that the Pakistan Air Force had destroyed the Lucknow railway station!
Sadly for all of us but especially so Pakistan, the press and the media have not changed for the better. I recall Benazir Bhutto at Oxford making a point that the most difficult point for the Pakistanis was the surrender by Amir Abdullah Khan Niazi to his old IMA mate General Jagjit Aurora, especially so because they were always informed that Pakistan was winning the war. I believe she has made a mention of this fact in her book Daughter of the East!
It is, therefore, pointless to expect the religious-military establishment to even contemplate peace with India! It is here that I feel the Indian people, especially the Indian armed forces have good reason to feel let down by their own government.
Why should the Indian government even pretend that we are at peace when anyone who has been to the borders would know the peace is as elusive as ever!
And I often wonder what the Duke of Wellington may have to say about the state of war, which neither party wishes to acknowledge as such. Where would he place them in his hierarchy! The way I look at it, an undeclared and unacknowledged war is just as dangerous as the actual war itself!
We are witnessing the consequence of this hesitancy to see this as a war and declare it as such. Apart from ourselves, the biggest losers have been the armed forces.
The most disciplined and the thorough military in the world is left picking up pieces of the gross ineptitude of the successive governments.
Technically, we are at peace with Pakistan. While all of us know this to be piffle, we have to observe the peacetime conduct until the war is formally declared.
Major Gogoi’s use of human shield has generated quite a storm. Being a firm believer in my army, I would believe his version any day over the narrative provided by his detractors. And I believe that he took the best possible course under the circumstances. I, therefore, feel the strong criticism that has come his way is misplaced.
During a state of war, this would be completely understandable. And we are at war in a de facto sense. And here all of us have reason to feel peeved with the way the politicians over the last thirty years have attempted to give this ‘war’ an untenable spin.
The armed forces are being unjustly criticised for a major political lapse. In a peacetime situation, perhaps the young Major’s action would be open to criticism. In a situation of peace, the army would not be expected to take on a policing and patrolling role except on an ephemeral basis.
Because the war is not formally declared, India still has to maintain diplomatic links with Pakistan and have to suffer the mendaciously truculent rantings of the Pakistani High Commissioners! The latest, viz Abdul Basit has violated every norm of diplomatic propriety and should have been expelled long ago.
Armed Forces personnel have reason to take umbrage when they are criticized from different quarters. Most of the criticism is in any way misplaced and motivated. But the fact remains that the expectations we lay from our armed forces which are nearly always fulfilled are for a war situation.
For that reason alone, I think it would be prudent for the government to tell us something all of us already know! We are in a state of war, which may last a long time!
©Ashoka Jahnavi Prasad
Photos from the internet.
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Ashoka Jahnavi Prasad is a physician /psychiatrist holding doctorates in pharmacology, history and philosophy plus a higher doctorate. He is also a qualified barrister and geneticist. He is a regular columnist in several newspapers, has published over 100 books and has been described by the Cambridge News as the ‘most educationally qualified in the world’.