Despite four wars being fought with Pakistan and thousands of bomb blasts devastating the soil of India, New Delhi’s pursuit of a pacifist policy towards Islamabad, except for occasional surgical strikes, has only emboldened terrorists into killing more and more of highly experienced military personnel. An explosion in Rajouri, coinciding with Pakistan’s foreign minister Bilawal Bhutto’s visit to India, claimed the lives of five Army personnel.
Surprisingly, has any celebrity from Bollywood ever voiced support for the fallen heroes, including those that made the supreme sacrifice in the most recent Poonch and Rajouri attacks?
The external affairs minister may have been blunt in denouncing Islamabad’s sponsorship of terror during junior Bhutto’s presence, but it is extremely doubtful whether venting the nation’s collective outrage, through a humiliating snub, would ever halt the tide of these vicious attacks. Had that been the case, then proxy war would have ceased long ago, especially against the backdrop of the irrational hatred that Pakistan harbours for India, ever since it came into being. What kind of compulsion prevents an aspiring superpower from imposing costs on the perpetrators in its own backyard is beyond fathoming.
Predictably, the political dispensation conveniently falls back on clichés and platitudes, which sound like pathetic exercises in self-justification, duly magnified by the concerted breast beating of the print and electronic media, until the next onslaught. What it does not realize is that an ounce of action is always worth a tonne of verbosity, especially against perpetrators of terror. The public may come out in large numbers to honour soldiers slain in counter terror operations, or demonstrate solidarity with their family members. But do they protest when servicemen going home on leave are physically assaulted, vilified or humiliated by politicians, policemen, district officials or even done to death? Why do they forget that soldiers are often the last resort in dire emergencies like floods, natural or manmade disasters?
Surprisingly, has any celebrity from Bollywood ever voiced support for the fallen heroes, including those that made the supreme sacrifice in the most recent Poonch and Rajouri attacks? Rather they have gone out of their way to align with the ‘Break India’ forces and malign the Army or question its loyalty, besides demonizing Indic culture and vaunting a morbid love for Pakistan. One of the starlets even questioned the valour of Galwan heroes by tweeting about it derogatively. Significantly, these pampered entities, propelled by grandiose notions of self-glorification, never let go of opportunities to strut about as Special Forces officers, on the big screen, only to make a mockery of their roles.
Unfortunately, the Army has always been left to deal with the messy outcome of disastrous policies pursued by the first prime minister and successive political dispensations since. The decision to approach the United Nations in 1948, at the behest of the then governor general Mountbatten, especially when Pakistani raiders were on the verge of being thrown out of the whole of Jammu and Kashmir by our forces, left a huge chunk of the state under enemy occupation. The festering sore has claimed more lives of Indian soldiers than accounted by all the five wars. Later Nehru practically gifted China with a seat at the UN Security Council, which was being offered to India.
The veto power has not only served to block India’s legitimate aspirations, but also helped protect some of the most wanted jihadi masterminds, ensconced in Pakistan, from the consequences of their horrific attacks on India.
This act of misplaced altruism, despite Sardar Patel’s dire warning on Chinese designs, encouraged muscle flexing by Beijing and indiscriminate use of veto power. It virtually paved the way for occupation of Tibet, a proud and free country that stood as a buffer between two inimical neighbours. If today Beijing covets Arunachal Pradesh, the Siliguri Corridor and parts of the Northeast, besides grabbing land in Ladakh, are they not then the offshoots of Nehru’s hasty step in the name of a pan Asian bonhomie. Many respected veterans and strategic analysts have exposed Chinese perfidy on the icy desert and its salami slicing. But New Delhi remains adamant on denial or maintains a stony silence.
The veto power has not only served to block India’s legitimate aspirations, but also helped protect some of the most wanted jihadi masterminds, ensconced in Pakistan, from the consequences of their horrific attacks on India. If the ‘rogue state’ dares to treat New Delhi with such contempt and in open defiance of global censure and wreak mayhem on Indian soil, every so often, then it is because of the Dragon’s unfailing encouragement and support, in a bid to subdue its Asian rival. More alarming is the fact of India’s acquiescing in Beijing’s acts of omission and commission, concealing the depth of latter’s duplicity with misleading statements, enough to shame any self-respecting nation.
When the nation’s first Army chief, Gen Robert Lockhart, sought a directive on defence policy, Nehru flew into a rage and questioned the wisdom of maintaining an Army. The police were good enough, he peremptorily told Lockhart. Shocked out of his wits by the outburst, the general beat a hasty retreat, according to Maj Gen D.K. Palit. Then in 1958, the army seized power in Pakistan, casting an ominous shadow over the fate of politico-military relations in India. It further impacted Nehru’s psyche, which became apparent in the days to come, as for example in 1962.
A panicky government, steeped in Gandhian pacifism and politics of protest, hastily dumped entire formations on the icy Himalayan heights, straight from the sweltering plains of Punjab, without acclimatizing the men or providing them with vital supplies, winter clothing, armaments, artillery or air support, culminating in the Indian Army’s most ignominious defeat. What mortification it must have been for a ‘frugal’ soldiery that had won laurels in European and African theatres and helped the British win the Second World War. Unfortunately, Nehru’s strategic naiveté continues to haunt successive political dispensations.
Ten years down the line, Indira Gandhi committed a blunder of Himalayan proportions by unconditionally returning 93,000 Pakistani POW’s, guilty of the most horrific genocide after the Holocaust. Perhaps she was fulfilling her father’s agenda and vote bank compulsions. The ISI repaid India by waging a proxy war, vowing to inflict a ‘thousand cuts’, first in Punjab and then in Kashmir. Felled by jihadi bullets, thousands of soldiers left behind wailing widows and traumatized children, their future shattered. These stark images caught on video clips and the horrific loss of lives, cost India militarily and economically.
The thriving politics of appeasement helps explain why the most brutal perpetrator of violence on Nirbhaya was let off lightly, just as the horrific torture of Captain Saurabh Kalia and his valiant band…
Did Kargil, playing out under the watch of a non-Congress government, fare any better? The couplet mouthing PM’s bus ride to Lahore backfired, with Musharraf’s hordes occupying mountain tops, poised to commit an act of unparalleled treachery. Vajpayee verily declared the he would wrest back every inch of occupied territory, but later reversed his statement and undertook not to pursue Pakistan is fleeing across the LoC, obviously under US pressure. The Indian forces, fighting virtually blind, did not know where or how many of the enemy were holed up above. Washington spurned requests to provide their locations through satellite imagery, engendering heavy casualties on Indian side.
Does this mindset not permeate the system from top to bottom? The thriving politics of appeasement helps explain why the most brutal perpetrator of violence on Nirbhaya was let off lightly, just as the horrific torture of Captain Saurabh Kalia and his valiant band, dubbed “the single most depraved act of barbarity after the mass extermination of Bengalis in 1971,” matters little to whichever party is in power, fearful of antagonizing vote banks. There is something deeply flawed about the piecemeal approach to terror, which is loaded against the Indian soldiery and needs to be reviewed at the highest levels of the government.