The Web


Capital Buzz
Dear Rediff
Rediff Poll
The States

Home > News > Columnists > Varsha Bhosle

YES, all four wars

April 14, 2003

Last week, one "Robert Price" posted a response characteristic of the dribblings from the TFTAP Brigade: tall, fair, tight-assed, Punjabi/Pathan Pakis who are superior to Hindus and have therefore won all wars over the past 5,000 years and, especially, the last four, which were always "strategically brilliant." Just wondering, how did this operative of the Ministry of Self-delusion come to log on as "Robert"? Was he watching a movie with Ajit saying "Raaaberrt" at the time?? Anyway, Price-miya postulates that, I quote:

  1. Infact, [Pakistan] won the 1948 war when it took away one-third of Kashmir, which it still holds.
  2. Even the 1971 war was not strictly a war between India and Pakistan, rather it was a political problem within the united Pakistan and India just took advantage of the situation.
  3. 1965 war was a stalemate by all accounts... Also, look at the Times of India special report on 1965 war, calling it a stalemate.
  4. As to the Kargill war... Owen Bennett Jones writes that Pakistan had India by the 'scruff of its neck.' He mentions how Pakistan was on top of the mountains and Indians had no chance of winning Kargill back until Vajpayee literally begged the Americans and Clinton intervened with dire consequences, forcing Pakistan to cease-fire. By all military accounts (I can provide references), it was a brilliant military-strategic move, but of course, not a good political one.
  5. I have, infact, found hindus/Indians to be the most meek people in face of foreign aggression in the entire human history.

Oh okkk... Since the dork has threatened me with "references," I'll counter in kind.

The 1948 War

Here's what Altaf Gauhar -- Information Advisor to Gen Ayub Khan in the 1960s -- writes: "...the Kashmir invasion, planned by hordes of lawless tribesmen of the NWF... indulged in murder and looting as they moved into the territory of J&K... The tribesmen were assured that the Indian army was too ill-organised to offer any counter offensive, so they could fight their war of freedom without fear... When the Indian army moved into Kashmir, the Quaid-i-Azam ordered the C-in-C of the Pakistan army, Gen Douglas Gracey, to send Pakistan forces into Kashmir to confront the Indian army... The British soldiers... threatened to resign if they were ordered to go to Kashmir... The Indians captured a large part of J&K and the tribesmen were driven out in disgrace."

Brig (retd) ZA Khan (who arrested Sheikh Mujibur Rahman in March 1971), writes in The Way It Was: "Pakistan intervened by sending tribesmen and elements of the Pakistan Army in civilian clothes."

Meaning, the marauding hordes didn't consist of just tribesmen; the character of Pakistani soldiers remains unchanged. Two, it wasn't just "tribesmen" who were "driven out in disgrace" -- by "meek" Hindu/Indians.

The greatest disaster that India has ever been saddled with -- Jawaharlal Nehru -- took J&K to the UN Security Council instead of allowing the Indian Army to eject the Pakis from the entire territory: The Gilgit Scouts, Chitral Scouts, the Frontier constabulary and the tribals had entrenched across the Srinagar-Leh highway after having taken Dras and Kargil, and were ready to enter the valley. Maj Gen Thimmaya, after booting the enemy across the Pir-Panjal, rushed troops to Zoji La. On November 1, 1948 -- after a 7-hour battle in a blizzard -- the pass was breached and Indian troops crossed the range towards Kargil. By December, most of Ladakh was taken, and our troops had gone beyond Leh into Aksai Chin. And just when the General was planning to seize all of Baltistan, that Icon of Socialism ordered a ceasefire...

India's greatest tragedy is, every battle won by the soldier turned into a war ceded by the politician -- there is no denying that. Just as there is no refuting that India's Finest creamed the Pakis in each and every war...

The 1971 War

Why go further than the Hamoodur Rahman Report -- never made public in Pakistan? When Chief Justice Rahman in his official inquiry recorded the truth about 1971, PM Zulfikar Ali Bhutto "personally ordered that each and every copy of the report be burnt." Let's ignore the recorded rapes and massacres heaped on the East Pakistanis in Op Searchlight by the despicable organism known as Pakistan Army. Let me lay out just snatches on India's role -- or non-role, as per Raaberrt-miya -- and the "courage" of Pakis faithfully noted by Justice Rahman:

  1. "The avowed intention of India to dismember Pakistan was only too well known, but even then the need for an early political settlement was not realised by General Yahya Khan."
  2. "...the surrender of well-defended strong points and fortresses without a fight, desertion of his area... disintegration of brigades and battalions in frantic and foolish efforts to withdraw from certain posts, and abandoning of the wounded and the sick in callous disregard of all human and military values."
  3. "Indians mounted their training programme for the Mukti Bahini and started guerrilla raids into Pakistan territory."
  4. "...the Army High Command... did [not] pay any attention to the growing disparity between the war preparedness and the capability of the armed forces of Pakistan and India..."
  5. "It had become quite evident that the Mukti Bahini, on their own, even after their training in India, would never be able to face a pitched battle with the Pakistan Army..."
  6. "...the story of the abject manner in which [Lt Gen AAK Niazi] agreed to sign the surrender document laying down arms to the so-called joint-command of India and Mukti Bahini, to be present at the Airport to receive the victorious Indian General Aurora, to present a guard of honour to the Indian General, and then to participate in the public surrender ceremony at the Race Course, to the everlasting shame of Pakistan and its Armed forces."


The 1965 War

Raaberrt-miya places great faith in that commercial rag called The Times of India, which pushed the "official history" that deems the 1965 war ended in a stalemate. I don't, and neither does historian Patwant Singh: "The most recent instance of fantasy masquerading as fact in Delhi are stories by excitable newspapermen on what is gratuitously described as the Official History of the 1965 War. For sheer inventiveness these stories are hard to beat because no such history of the 1965 war exists... operational orders and war diaries of Army HQ and all formations and units involved in operations, which documented the conduct of the war, are with the government... What is now described as 'official history' is not based on them but is a reconstruction of events put together by civilian officials of the ministry about 37 years after the war ended."

The Pakistan Army's actions in the 1965 war is the stuff of black comedies. To give just two samples:

  • 24 Cavalry attacked Khem Karan-Bhikkiwind with two companies and a squadron of tanks. The attack began well, but when one company commander was killed and the other wounded, both the companies ran back -- firing at their own men.
  • Pakistan's 4 Armoured Brigade secured Mastgarh without opposition, and then, instead of advancing eastwards, turned west towards the Pakistan border...

If you wanna read more such jokes culled from Brig ZA Khan's The Way It Was, check here. In any case, here's one pertinent extract: "[The war] ended with the loss of over 5,000 Azad Kashmiris forcibly recruited and sent as infiltrators... Operation Grand Slam was very near a success but failed due to commanders and staff officers... not being alert to the opportunity... The discipline and the determination of our troops in adversity requires a deep study. Generally when officers got killed, the troops abandoned their mission... [Generals Musa and Nur Khan] asked for a ceasefire which was arranged and came into effect on 23 September."

What "by all accounts"?? What "stalemate"???

But wait, why take just Brig Khan's word? Maj (retd) Agha Humayun Amin writes in his book Pakistan Army Since 1965: "The fact that the Pakistan Army was in a position to inflict a decisive defeat on the Indians in the war, but failed due to primarily poor leadership at and beyond brigade level, and due to doctrinal and organisational deficiencies at the higher level, was not accepted!"

Altaf Gauhar, too, in his memoirs, says that after the total rout of Pakistan's 1st Armoured Division in the Khem Karan offensive – India destroyed 97 Patton tanks -- the war was practically over for Pakistan on September 11, 1965.

Even so, a great many Indians, including military officers, believe that the war ended in a stalemate -- because India did not effectively exploit the massive forces (like the IAF) available to it and make for a "decisive victory." Thing is -- as always -- the problem lay in Gandhian India's politico-strategic aim itself: The political leadership didn't aspire to take back territory grabbed by Pakistan, nor did it think of annexing that State. The army, therefore, calls it a "strategic holding operation... with tactical-level offensives aimed at denying capture of home territory."

The 22-day war of 1965 included the largest tank battle since WWII -- which India won. Pakistan began to feel the pinch from day 10 after having lost loads of armoured vehicles per day. By day 14, army chief Gen Mohammad Musa had had enough and yielded to the West's feelers for a peace settlement. Some stalemate...

The 1999 War

Brig (retd) Shaukat Qadir, founder and vice-president of the Islamabad Policy Research Institute, in his paper, An Analysis of the Kargil Conflict 1999, for the journal of The Royal United Services Institute for Defence Studies, writes: "Under cover of fire, elements of 2 Rajputana Rifles captured... 'Tololing top,' (Point 45907), the most dominating height directly overlooking Dras. An adjacent post was captured on 13 June, and Tiger Hills (Point 5140), another dominating height, fell on 20 June." In the footnote, he adds: "The army had continued to assert that no posts had fallen to the Indians, which reaffirms the contention that no effort was made to explain such a loss... [PM Nawaz] Sharif found the Indian claims more credible than the Pakistan army's denials."

And Indians couldn't have won a mountain-top war, it seems...

In February 2002, Nawaz Sharif, in an interview to Jang, said that Kargil was a bigger disaster than 1965 and 1971 because Pakistan lost over 2,700 soldiers – the entire Northern Light Infantry was wiped out. "The Indians were closing in on us when the Washington agreement was arrived at for an honourable pull back," he said. It was he who had to salvage the nation's prestige through the offices of President Clinton, he admitted.

Which, Brig Qadir confirms thus: "The international pressure was becoming unbearable when the posts at Dras fell; [Sharif] began looking for an escape route... After some frantic telephone calls by Sharif to US President Clinton, in which he conveyed his desperation at the course of events, he went to Washington. He met Clinton on 4 July, and armed with guarantees of his support, returned to announce the withdrawal of the 'freedom fighters' occupying Kargil."

Vajpayee begged the Americans?? "Forced" Pakistan to cease-fire??? Heeheehee!

America's RAND organisation published the report, Limited Conflict Under the Nuclear Umbrella: Indian and Pakistani Lessons from the Kargil Crisis. Here are snatches from it that further shake Owen Bennett Jones by the scruff of *his* neck:

  • Both the scale of Pakistan's covert operation and the rapidity and degree of India's counter-response were unprecedented in the history of the 'violent peace' in Kashmir.

  • In fact, several Pakistani writers have questioned Pakistan's foray into Kargil, comparing it with the 1965 war as a fine example of why Pakistan should resist such adventurism... prior to launching this operation, Islamabad should well have comprehended India's ability to inflict pain on Pakistan. [That's killed two birds: Pakistan was beaten in, both, 1965 and 1999.]
  • A second common variant is that Kargil was a tactical success but a strategic failure... Interlocutors who held this view asserted -- often against the weight of evidence -- that the Pakistani Army's operational performance at Kargil was flawless, and they invariably concluded that the Army's attainment of strategic surprise was in effect synonymous with the achievement of victory... Since those who hold this view entirely neglect the fact that the Indian Army, once mobilized, redeployed, and committed to eviction operations, actually secured repeated tactical victories – often against great odds – throughout the concluding half of the Kargil campaign, they continue to claim that Kargil must be chalked up as an operational victory for the Pakistani Army... [Now do you see why Raaberrt can only be a Paki?]
  • According to [one] argument, Pakistan could have easily maintained its commanding operational tactical positions along the occupied hilltops while, more importantly, India was not in a position to widen the war... one academic analyst argued that India... would have been unable to take back the peaks had the withdrawal not occurred. These views again are significant for two reasons, both disturbing because of their variance with the facts.
  • First, the Pakistani Army's defeat at Kargil is [falsely] attributed to the venality of Pakistan's politicians... and not the strategic, operational, and tactical blunders of the soldiers... Second, the failure to appreciate the Indian Army's operational and tactical successes in the eviction campaign is compounded by pervasive ignorance of the extensive Indian preparations for horizontal escalation, preparations that were initiated both as a prudent measure in case of Pakistani attack and as a mitigatory strategy in case the eviction efforts along the occupied heights were not as successful as they eventually turned out to be.

I'm sooo tired of gloating now. Maybe another day I'll tell you what the Indian Army was up against in Kargil... NO! I don't mean Paki "valour"; I refer to terrain and climate. But this article's been long. But, that's the nature of Indian Defence: We may take long, but we make a comprehensive kill in one stroke -- like the kukri to the NLI throat.


Varsha Bhosle

Article Tools

Email this Article

Printer-Friendly Format

Letter to the Editor

Related Stories

The Kargil Crisis

'Kargil harmed Kashmir freedom struggle'

Time is on India's side

Stupid is as stupid does

© 2003 rediff.com India Limited. All Rights Reserved.