View from the other side Col (r) Harish Puri
Tuesday, April 14, 2009Dear Gen Kayani,
Sir, let me begin by recounting that
old army quip that did the rounds in the immediate aftermath of World war II: To
guarantee victory, an army should ideally have German generals, British
officers, Indian soldiers, American equipment and Italian enemies.
A Pakistani soldier that I met in Iraq in 2004 lamented the fact that the
Pakistani soldier in Kargil had been badly let down firstly by Nawaz Sharif and
then by the Pakistani officers' cadre. Pakistani soldiers led by Indian
officers, , he believed, would be the most fearsome combination possible.
Pakistani officers, he went on to say, were more into real estate, defence
housing colonies and the like.
First off since when did Pakistani soldiers serve in Iraq? Are you sure this "Pakistani soldier" you met was not a mirage from the heat you suffered there?
As I search for defence housing colonies on google, the first previews I get in the search space are:
-Defense colony New Deli (279,000 results)
-Defense colony Deli (5,15,000 results)
-Defense colony (4,590,000 results)
-Defense colony Banglore (340,000 results)
All these are Indian cities that come up when searching for defense colonies. Are Pakistani generals so interested in defense colonies as opposed to Indian ones that the name of Indian cities get the highest searches and results on the Internet?
As I look at two photographs of surrender that lie before me, I can't help
recalling his words. The first is the celebrated event at Dhaka on Dec 16, 1971,
which now adorns most Army messes in Delhi and Calcutta. The second, sir, is the
video of a teenage girl being flogged by the Taliban in Swat -- not far, I
am sure, from one of your Army check posts.
It is not difficult to analyse why an army which bravely fought 1000 miles away from it's base, surrounded and outnumbered by enemies during a civil war lost. Pakistan could easily have played a similar foul game and done the same during the 1962 Indo-Chinese war and celebrated a "courageous victory." The favor for 1971 could have been returned by lending support to the Sikh militants and establishing an independent Khalistan.
Regarding your special interest in the flogging of the girl in Swat may I ask where your army or even police is during the daily persecution of dalits and the satti practices of widows?
The surrender by any Army is always a sad and humiliating event. Gen Niazi surrendered in Dhaka to a professional army that had outnumbered and outfought him. No Pakistani has been able to get over that humiliation, and 16th December is remembered as a black day by the Pakistani Army and the
Pakistani state. But battles are won and lost
- armies know this, and having
learnt their lessons, they move on.
No army is professional when it fights without honor. Outnumbering it's opponents and attacking during the enemies weakest points. Pakistanis have moved on from the mistakes of the 1971 war but Indians seem to be hell bent on this as if cheating during a war is something to be proud of. I would be ashamed as an indian to see my compatriots taking pride in such dishonesty.But much more sadly, the video of the teenager being flogged represents an even
more abject surrender by the Pakistani Army. The surrender in 1971, though
humiliating, was not disgraceful. This time around, sir, what happened on your
watch was something no Army commander should have to live through. The girl
could have been your own daughter, or mine.
And what of the thousands of women killed in India by Satti? Could they too not be your daughters?
I have always maintained that the Pakistani Army, like its Indian counterpart,Or is it that the Bengalis were never considered "your own" people, influenced as they were by the Hindus across the border? Or is that your troops are terrified by the ruthless barbarians of the Taliban?
is a thoroughly professional outfit. It has fought valiantly in the three wars
against India, and also accredited itself well in its UN missions abroad. It is,
therefore, by no means a pushover. The instance of an Infantry unit, led by a
lieutenant colonel, meekly laying down arms before 20-odd militants should have
been an aberration. But this capitulation in Swat, that too so soon after your
own visit to the area, is an assault on the sensibilities of any soldier. What
did you tell your soldiers? What great inspirational speech did you make that
made your troops back off without a murmur? Sir, I have fought insurgency in
Kashmir as well as the North-East, but despite the occasional losses suffered
(as is bound to be the case in counter-insurgency operations), such total
surrender is unthinkable.
Is it? When a joint NATO force cannot even tackle the Taliban in Afghanistan and is considering negotiations? And yet you can sit there and expect a single country like Pakistan to face up to the Taliban? Another Indian tactic of twisting facts to suit their own propaganda machine.
It is said your army does not want to kill their own people so why did it not hesitate during 1971 to kill so many Bengalis?
Bengalis are certainly distinct being geographically far and culturally too despite their common Indo-Aryan language.
Why is an Indian so interested in the Bangladeshi genocide? Obviously to deflect the genocide your army has carried out against Sikhs and Dalits all over India being persecuted even until today.
Sir, it is imperative that we recognise our enemy without any delay. I use the word "our" advisedly - for the Taliban threat is not far from India's borders. And the only force that can stop them from dragging Pakistan back into the Stone Age is the force that you command. In this historic moment, providence has placed a tremendous responsibility in your hands. Indeed, the fate of your nation, the future of humankind in the subcontinent rests with you. It doesn't matter if it is "my war" or "your war" - it is a war that has to be won. A desperate Swati citizen's desperate lament says it all - "Please drop an atom bomb on us and put us out of our misery!" Do not fail him, sir.
We Pakistanis know our responsibilities very well and are committed to stopping them whether army or civilian. How about you as an Indian for once give up your obsession of trying to look "better" than Pakistan and do something to protect your country -already living in the stone age- from fanatics like Bajrang Dal which your army shamelessly and openly provides training and support for.
But in the gloom and the ignominy, the average Pakistani citizen has shown us that there is hope yet. The lawyers, the media, have all refused to buckle even under direct threats. It took the Taliban no less than 32 bullets to still the voice of a brave journalist. Yes, there is hope - but why don't we hear the same language from you? Look to these brave hearts, sir - and maybe we shall see the tide turn. Our prayers are with you, and the hapless people of Swat.
Pray for your own impoverished 'country' which is far worse than Pakistan and any other country by world standards, then come to pray for Pakistan.
The New York Times predicts that Pakistan will collapse in six months. Do you want to go down in history as the man who allowed that to happen?
Newspapers can predict anything they want, they are not reliable sources. Defence and politcial analysists are the ones to consult and Zaid Hamid also make 'predictions' but most are never true. May I also add that you wrote this classic piece of nonsense around the same day your "professional army" lost 7 troops at the hands of Kashmiri rebels. Is 60 years not long enough for your "professional army" to quash a few rebels like bugs? Was your loss so humiliating to them that you run away from it and want to point fingers at Pakistan to deflect these losses?