Integrated development, politics and social empowerment in India and beyond

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Jamila Verghese
Books written by B G Verghese

Books written by B G Verghese

Books written by B G Verghese

Dr Manmohan Singh is a man of few words. He has sincerely sought peace negotiations with Pakistan against heavy odds. But he was compelled to tell the Rajya Sabha that “there cannot be normalisation of relations between our two countries unless and until the terror machine that is still active in Pakistan is brought under control”

“How Long This Silence”?

Lt Gen (Retd.) Shahid Aziz’s courageous autobiography, How Long This Silence?, narrating the truth about Pakistan’s blatant aggression in Kargil, offers some lessons.

By B G Verghese

10 March, 2013

Dr Manmohan Singh is a man of few words and slow to anger. He has sincerely sought to pursue peace negotiations with Pakistan against heavy odds, staking his prestige on this high endeavour. But he was compelled to tell the Rajya Sabha last week that “there cannot be normalisation of relations between our two countries unless and until the terror machine that is still active in Pakistan is brought under control”. Islamabad’s concept of peace talks seem to embrace periodic sub rosa attacks on India as “peace” appears more a tactic than a deeply held strategic goal.

The proof of this is self-evident in Pakistan’s murderous killings of its Shia population almost as a routine. Hundreds have perished in cowardly bomb attacks on innocent people. Cross-border attacks continue on India through jihadi groups that have high patronage. Pakistan’s narrow and pernicious two-nation theory, its foundational principle, has fractured into a multi-nation theory, with fratricidal war being relentlessly waged within its so-called Islamic brotherhood. The overthrow of this medieval barbarism is even now being celebrated in Bangladesh where the cry is for just punishment against those who committed terrible war crimes against what were their own countrymen who were ultimately disowned and derided.

Even the head of Ajmer’s Dargah Sharif, the famed sufi shrine, refused to welcome the Pakistan Prime Minister, when he visited there last week to offer prayers, as he has condoned military atrocities and not protected minorities and their places of worship. Pakistan’s military leadership too has warned President Zardari that the internal situation is fast spiralling out of control. This drift to chaos could jeopardise Pakistan’s forthcoming elections and the constitution of an agreed caretaker administration. This spells danger.

It is at this juncture that Lt Gen (Retd.) Shahid Aziz has courageously written his autobiography, “How Long This Silence”?, narrating the truth about Pakistan’s blatant aggression in Kargil, an ill-planned fiasco that ended in disgrace draped in a tissue of lies, with Musharraf claiming “victory”. This was known since the Musharraf-General Aziz (CGS) intercepts were published with Nawaz Sharif’s interjections at the very commencement of the perfidious assault under cover of promising peace negotiations. Others, like Group-Captain Kaiser Tufail, Director of Ops, PAF, have exposed Musharraf’s lies earlier. But now comes a full confession by someone who monitored the bizarre unfolding from a key perch in the ISI.

Gen. Aziz confirms the sordid details already known. Yet, as a connected account from the inside, it exposes the perfidy of the Pakistan leadership which has consistently lied to its people about every single war it has launched on India since 1947 and continues to do so unabashedly. If Musharraf dares return to Pakistan this month, as he boasts he will, he may well find himself walking into a well-deserved treason trial. Read Aziz’s conclusion that the war was born in hate: “We can identify the hate that is (still) being sown and also those hands which are sowing these seeds”. That is the key word: “hate”. Pakistan is a nation founded on hate and compelled live a lie ever since. Harsh words but true.

Kargil, Aziz notes, was an unprovoked act of aggression in which the mujahideen did not have any part at all as made out. Further, “in accordance with the general custom of telling lies being in fashion, false reports were being given… After all, the same thing was done in the war of 1965 too. No one believed it. Though until now we still lie to the nation that the war was started by the enemy, although its offensive was in retaliation to our Operation Gibraltar. We still celebrate September 6”.

The 1965 war launched by Pakistan through military-led and stiffened “mujahideen”, a crude ruse, was fully documented by Gen Nimmo, the Australian Chief of UNMOGIP, only to be studiously by-passed by Britain and the U.S, Pakistan’s steadfast allies in the Security Council. Go back to Pakistan’s cynical disregard of the Standstill Agreement with J&K in 1947, its “mujahideen” tribal uprising in Poonch, a poor façade for a planned invasion of J&K under Maj. Gen (then Brigdier) Akbar Khan who, like Shahid Aziz, told it all later in his “Raiders in Kashmir”.

The UN Security Council’s Special Representative, Sir Owen Dixon, named Pakistan a repeated aggressor in J&K in 1948, (See UN Resolution of August 13, 1948). Pakistan lied further to advance on Leh and then used Major Brown, a serving British Army officer commanding the Gilgit Scouts, to stage a coup against the Maharaja’s Governor and annex Gilgit, Hunza, Nagir and the rest of the Northern Areas which it has since held in thrall. Shia’s enjoy no safety there and calculated efforts have been made to ensure demographic change by importing Sunnis.

Responsible Pakistani spokesmen have from time to time claimed responsibility for the attacks on the J&K Legislature, Delhi’s Red Fort and India’s Parliament House. Siachen was an act of creeping aggression by Pakistan, powerfully aided by the US Defence Mapping Agency. And every time the suggestion has been to let bygones be bygones and move on. But for how long and to what end is what Dr Manmohan Singh and the rest of India is asking. And in the midst of all of this lying and bravado, Chuck Hagel, the new US Defence Secretary had the gall some two years back to accuse India of “financing problems” for Pakistan in Afghanistan to gain strategic depth. This is sheer balderdash, without an iota of evidence.

As long as Pakistan clings to Nazariya-e-Pakistan, defending its “ideological frontiers” (Kashmir?) against a hated India, as its school text books preach, it will never be whole. The Jinnah Institute last April styled what was being taught as “a curriculum of hate”. Yet, India must persevere in pursuing peace and friendship with its western neighbour.

Meanwhile, India must resist pressure to agree to a one-sided war crimes resolution against Sri Lanka. Both sides have been a fault and the LTTE was no innocent, shamefully assisted and goaded by India in the early years. The goal of reconciliation between Sinhalas, Tamils and Muslims in Sri Lanka must never be forgotten. One wonders when the UNHCR will as vigorously take up the case of the ethnocide of the Chagos Islanders who have been driven out of their homes by Britain and the US in order to use Diego Garcia to wage war against all and sundry. There is a lot of double standards and doublespeak here.

Back home, Raj Thackeray continues to wage war against Biharis and UP migrants with impunity. The BJP has glorified Narendra Modi as its election mascot and future prime minister even as the net steadily closes on the man for his evil role in 2002. Rapists and molesters brazenly continue on the rampage, while Raju Bhaiyya, a known SP thug has yet to be arraigned for the murder of a Muslim police officer even as the VHP says he has been framed because he is a Hindu. How communal can you get? And in Jaipur, new lawyers are demanding a monthly , stipend plus housing. Where are we headed?

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