SHAME AT SHARM-EL- SHEIKH
By Brigadier (Retd) Chitranjan Sawant,VSM
The Indian team of negotiators, under no less a person than Prime Minister Man Mohan Singh, has offered on a silver platter to Pakistan what she wanted. Some commentators and columnists feel that the Indians have been tricked into giving away something now so that they get back in greater measure what they desire in future. A wishful thinking indeed. It has not happened in the past, is not happening in the present and shall not happen in future. Indians have lost heavily at the negotiating table. One wonders if the prime Minister is prepared to take the blame. Time alone will tell.
HISTORY REPEATING ITSELF
Way back in the 12th century Prithvi Raj Chauhan, King of Hindustan had defeated in battle Muhammad of Ghor more than once. However, the victor did not incapacitate the vanquished to pre-empt a similar misadventure in future. It was a fatal mistake for both the king and the country. The history of India abounds with similar situations where brilliant generals made stupid mistakes in the hope of achieving permanent peace to avoid bloodshed in war. Peace was elusive but ignominy was at hand. Let us skip a few centuries and come to the post-independence India.
Jammu & Kashmir has been the bone of contention between India and Pakistan since 1947. His Highness Maharaja Sir Hari Singh, the ruler of Jammu& Kashmir wished to be an independent sovereign monarch of his big State. Jinnah of Pakistan , however, had a different design of power play. Notwithstanding a Stand-Still Agreement between the Maharaja and Pakistan, the latter encouraged armed tribals, under Pakistan Army officers to invade the Maharaja’s territory. He, willy-nilly acceded to India. The Indian Army was flown to Srinagar and they succeeded in driving the invaders back to the border region. As the Indian Army was poised for the final push to reclaim the rest of the State, Jawaharlal Nehru, under pressure of UNO where India was a complainant against Pakistan aggression, and the advice of Lord Mountbatten, then Governor General under the dispensation of Nehru, accepted cease fire. The people of India were astonished and our Army felt cheated as it was near a total victory. What the Indian Army had won on the battle field through “sweat, blood and tears “was lost at the negotiating table by the inept political masters.
We come to the India-Pakistan War of 1965. General Ayub Khan, President of Pakistan had a misconception that India , under the Prime Ministership of Shri Lal Bahadur shastri, was a weak country and will never develop the will power to counter-attack Pakistan. As a matter of fact most of the autocratic rulers of Pakistan thought that the Indian soldier was a poor fighter and under heat of fire power turned tail. On the contrary it was the Pakistan Army’s soldiers who jumped out of their tanks set on fire by Indian missiles and turned tail. A Muslim does not want to be burned for religious reasons. It cost them heavily in tank battles like the one in Khem karan and Asal Uttar in Punjab.
Right from April 1965 through September 1965 skirmishes between the two countries went on as a ding-dong battle. It came as an unpleasant surprise to Pakistan when Prime Minister Shastri ordered the Indian Army to cross the international border in the Punjab and attack Pakistan. The tables were turned. The Pakistan Army advancing in Jammu and Kashmir had to grind to a halt. Shastri achieved what Nehru would not have even attempted. We won the difficult pass, Haji Pir. When the cease fire came into effect, the Indian Army was victorious. The Soviet Union organised a peace conference at Tashkent and impressed on the warring countries to return to status quo ante. With the result, India had to withdraw from the difficult areas that she had captured. Shastri Ji could not stand this pressure and breathed his last at Tashkent. India lost at the negotiating table what she had won on the battle field.
A Himalayan blunder at Simla. The Babus, that is the bureaucrats of the Ministry of External Affairs tendered a piece of wrong advice to Prime Minister Indira Gandhi that India should give some concession to defeated Pakistan so that Z.A.Bhutto, civilian President of Pakistan shows to his people what he has gained from a victorious India. Our bureaucrats said that it would be better for India to deal with a civilian head of Pakistan than with Army generals. The babus’ tendered a piece of wrong advice forgetting that it was Bhutto who had declared many times that he would fight a thousand year war against Indian dogs. The Mandarins of the South Block forgot the age-old adage – Serpents are just serpents, whether Nagnath or Sanpnath. Both bite and the bitten man survives NOT. Bhutto persuaded the Indian leadership to have faith in him, trust him and he would deliver the goods. India granted him all the concessions. India returned 93,000 prisoners of war and the entire conquered territory to Pakistan without taking any written commitment on the Kashmir issue from Pakistan. It was a grave mistake on the part of Indian negotiators. Bhutto was once again as belligerent as before on return to Pakistan. I have great admiration for Indira Gandhi as she dismembered Pakistan. I feel sorry for her and for India that what our brave soldiers won on the battlefield, our political leaders and shifty bureaucrats lost to the enemy at the negotiating table. How Sad?
It may be mentioned in the passing that Pakistan had attacked India four times since independence. Pakistan lost all four wars. The Generals of Pakistan Army have been building their war scenario on the presumption that when Pakistan attacks, the Kashmiri Muslims would rise in revolt and fight shoulder to shoulder with their co-religionists against infidel India and the war would be over before you can say Jack Robinson. Nothing of that sort ever happened and their edifice fell like a house of cards.
SHARM-el-SHEIKH WAS NO EXCEPTION
The government of Egypt , being an active member of NAM since Nasser days, decided to host the current Summit in its country at Sharm-el-Sheikh which is a tourist resort and was under the occupation of the Israelis after the 1967 war. When the Egyptians brokered peace and accepted Israel as a superior power in the region, Israel returned Sharm-el-Sheikh to its original owner, Egypt. The summit of the Non-Aligned Meet was appropriately held there. On the sidelines of the NAM, met India and Pakistan. It was a fine climate, lovely environment and everything was custom made for settling a long standing dispute. Who knew that the joint declaration at the end will spell a disaster.
The Indian delegation should not have allowed a delinking of Terror from talks. Terror and how it was being exported from the soil of Pakistan to India had all along been the main plank of government and people of India. How could the common man in India forget the killing and maiming of his kith and kin – the loved ones – by the Islamic terrorists who came to Mumbai from Pakistan and are citizens of Pakistan. The bomb blasts in trains, the killings in the mine fields at various places and what have you had the hand of Pakistan nationals and planning by personnel trained by government agencies in Pakistan. Now , suddenly, the joint statement made by Prime Minister Gilani of Pakistan and prime Minister Man Mohan Singh of India says that Talks and Terror are delinked. If terror is delinked, what are the two governments going to talk about? Just the weather? Please do not waste time and tax payers money on a talk about weather. Excuse yourselves on grounds of health and save both time and money.
Balochistan has been a thorn in the flesh of Pakistan for a long time. Remember General Tikka Khan, the butcher of Bangladesh? Well, he had also earned the dubious title of Butcher of Balochistan. The Baloch are an independent minded people and do not like to be driven around by the Punjabis of Pakistan. They have, therefore, been fighting for independence for quite some time. Pakistan suspects that India has been aiding and abetting the Baloch uprising from time to time. It may not be true. However, the point in question is that Balochistan has been mentioned for the first time in a joint declaration of India and Pakistan. This means that India tacitly accepts her presence at the trouble spot. This gives a leverage to Pakistan to point out India’s involvement in fomenting trouble in a province of Pakistan and thus establish her reciprocal’and legitimate presence in Kashmir. Our Netas and Babus should not have allowed the mention of Balochistan being made. One wonders if they signed the joint declaration under a drunken stupor! Even God does not help those who do not help themselves.
All said and done, an independent columnist-cum-critic will have no hesitation in saying that Sharm-el-Sheikh has brought shame to the Government and people of India.
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