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Saturday, August 20, 2011

Two Quotes from History [India-Pakistan military at independence]

On the 6th of August 1947, on the brink of India's independence & the creation of Pakistan, a party was held to bid a warm farewell to those officers who had chosen to be part of the soon-to-be created Pakistan. Major General K.M. Cariappa, who would later rise up to become the first native Chief of Army Staff of India [subsequently promoted to Field Marshal]  delivered a touching speech on that occasion, in which he said,

"I say au revoir deliberately as with it I associate the honest and sincere wish of everyone of us here and all those with the services outside that we shall meet each other frequently as the best of friends in the same spirit of good comradeship that we have had the good fortune to enjoy all these years. We have worked together so long in the same team. We hope we shall continue to work together in the same spirit of the defence of the two Dominions against external aggression. Comrades-in-arms, during all our life in the various services we have lived together, played together and fought together in the various battlefields on which our magnificent armed forces have fought with the highest degree of fellowship and comradeship. May this spirit continue even after we are separated"

Acknowledging these heart-felt words of fondness & oneness, instilled by the bond of brotherhood between the men who fought alongside as one, on behalf of the officers who would form the Pakistan Military, Brigadier Agha M. Raza, later promoted to the rank of Major General1, replied,

"The Armed Forces of Pakistan will always uphold their traditions under which they served shoulder-to-shoulder with the Indian Armed Forces and will continue to do so whenever required, not only in the interest of our own people, namely the inhabitants of this sub-continent, but also for universal security which is the aim and object of humanity that has suffered the unprecedented horrors of two devastating World Wars within a few decades"

Sometime back, I read Freedom at Midnight. The book had been in the house for many years, yet for some reason I never felt like reading it, until that time. An extremely engaging book, it narrated an incident where an officer who had opted for Pakistan left most of his luggage back home in India, thinking he could come back & take them along after settling down in the new country. Alas, ordered by his Pakistani leadership to annex the then princely state of Jammu & Kashmir [J&K], he went to war against India that came to J&K's rescue, shattering all prospects of being able to  return back & collect his belongings. More such anecdotes showing the warm & positive outlook of the Indian Officers towards their now Pakistani counterparts & vice versa, have been narrated in the book.

Despite my antipathy towards the current setup in Pakistan, I have no reason to doubt the genuineness & sincerity of the thought expressed by the Brigadier at that party.2

Click on the picture to view a larger-sized image

Pakistan-designate & Indian Military Officers gather together for a party on Aughst 6 1947, prior to India's independence & Pakistan's creation

Whatever belongingness they may have felt towards India prior to 1947, the Pakistan Army's current antagonistic & belligerent approach towards India along with its overbearing pre-eminence & unnatural influence it exerts over the apparatus ruling Pakistan could be traced back to the imposition of the first Martial Law in Pakistan. Bereft of capable leaders, following the early demise of the only two of some stature -  Mohammad Ali Jinnah & Liaqat Ali Khan, immediately after its creation, the country found itself adrift at the hands of those upon whom the responsibility now fell. The civilian government, having failed to come up with any concrete solution to address the challenges confronting them, itself relinquished its responsibility to govern by imposing Martial law in the country, a move, they wrongly believed, would bring the chaotic situation, created by poor governance, under control. From thereon, having experienced the sweet, intoxicating headiness induced by power, the Army refused to let go of it & only went on to consolidate its control as time passed.

Through a combination of twisted maneuvering that included invoking Islam as a tool to establish its authority over the civilian population & the perpetual projection of India as a mortal threat to its Raison d'ĂȘtre, despite the fact that all wars India has fought against it have been initiated by Pakistan itself, it clawed its way into the ruling setup & has firmly entrenched itself there. The possibility of dislodging it from its position as the domineering overlord of Pakistan appears nowhere on the horizon.

India, on the other hand, had fared far better on this front. Despite all its shortcomings, India's political leadership had within its midst people of immense caliber who were most well-positioned to lead the country if, & when, required. This could possibly very well explain why, despite Mahatma Gandhi as well as Sardar Vallabhbhai Patel passing away so early in Independent India, crisis of leadership was never an insurmountable issue for the nation. Pandit Nehru, with his socialist leanings, commanded the respect of people of the country and proved his leadership while guiding India through the tumultuous period following Independence, aided in no small parts by equally outstanding & capable individuals like Dr. Rajendra Prasad, Dr. B.R. Ambedkar, Shyama Prasad Mookerjee, Maulana Abulkalam Azad & others. As a statesman, Pandit Nehru won admiration from world leaders of his time.

The line between the civilian and military leadership of India has been firmly & distinctly etched, with the Indian Armed Forces having never transgressed this demarcation, remaining, what could be termed as the last bastion of apolitical institutions in the country, doing what the military is expected to do, & doing it well - protecting the nation while civilians govern it, in whatever manner.

If only the military establishment in the country on our western border had displayed better judgment and had done the same, the Brigadier's word may have held true even today & the country would not have been identified as an 'International Migraine'.


Quote & picture source: Sainik Samachar

1 it is said, Major General Agha Raza was set to take over as the first non-English Chief of the Pakistan Army. However, politicking resulted in a much junior General Ayub Khan, later self-promoted Field Marshal getting the job.

2 Dominique Lapierre's Freedom at Midnight too makes mention of the party on page 229

Note: In order to ensure that hi-res pictures do not get re-sized into smaller images, as is done by Blogger, I upload them on to Dropbox instead, thus preserving its original large size. However, owing to the large file-size, I run the risk of filling up the quota of space currently allotted.

If you use this Dropbox link [referral] to sign up & also install the corresponding software on your computer, I get awarded an additional 256 MB of space for each complete signup & install made via this link [referral]. If you don't have any need for the software, you may uninstall it a little while later [a few hours would be safe]. I still get to retain the additional 256 MB.