Pak savagery on the Line of Control in J& K
Lt-Gen HarwantSingh ( Retd )
Pakistani troops crossed the Line of control ( LoC ) in the Poonch Sector of J and K and killed two India soldiers. It is not so much the killing but the savage act and heinous crime of mutilating the bodies of these soldiers, which has caused widespread indignation and outrage in India. There is nothing unusual for casualties to take place, on both sides of the L of C due to sporadic firing from either side. It is the crossing of the Loc and committing the brutal and un-soldierly act of mutilating the bodies and beheading one of our soldiers, that has created such uproar in India.
Such cowardly acts are normally the wont of Taliban. On all accounts, Pakistan army has been through a phase of Talibanisation. Shooting women, stoning them to death as a dispensation of justice is reprehensible practice followed by the bigoted and the savage. Whereas soldiering, is an honourable profession where gallantry and chivalry is the hallmark of a good army. It is also in the interest of discipline and good morale that the troops are required to conduct themselves in a dignified manner, both in peace and during operations.
In the same sector, in early nineties, Pakistani troops crossed over the L of C and established a post in the upper part of Kirni village. A few days later, Pakistani troops were evicted from this post. While the enemy was thrown back, it left behind dead bodies of a soldier and an officer. Next day at a flag meeting at Poonch and in the presence of a few thousand civilians from both sides, the dead bodies were handed over to Pakistan military, observing complete religious rites and with full military honours. Because, for Indian army it is an article of faith that enemy dead must be honoured and the unarmed done no harm. Those who violate this code of conduct are hauled over the coals.
Pakistan army does not fool around with those who take firm and punitive action against any misdemeanor on its part. In the above narrated incidence, it was expected that Pakistan army would react to, what it felt was an ignominy of being evicted from that post and having to accept two dead bodies in the presence of such a large gathering of civilians. Pakistan army had tremendous tactical advantage in the area, but Indians took the necessary steps to nullify that advantage and cater for such an eventuality. Pakistan army launched two battalion size attacks on two successive nights and both the battalions were decimated by the defensive fire tasks ( DF tasks ) much before the enemy could close in with our troops. Thereafter Pakistan army pleaded for a ceasefire, to evacuate its dead and wounded. Such a firm action by the Indian army resulted in complete peace along the L of C for the next many years.
There is complete lack of trust of the Pak army and it is this, which has resulted in Indian army’s stance of no withdrawal from Siachen without demarcation of the Line of Actual Control on the ground and delineation of the same on the maps of both countries. Wherever and where ever India has firmly dealt with Pakistan, the later has refrained from repeating the same mischief. Be it the invasion of J and K in 1947 or the offensive in the Akhnur sector of J and K in 1965.
Had India acted firmly against Pakistan after the attack on Parliament, in all probability 9/11 at Bombay would not have taken place. These and the attack on Red Fort were preplanned and executed with the full knowledge and support of Pakistani establishment. BJP government then and UPA now, failed in its primary duty to protect the nation.
It is our failure to deal with Pakistan at Kargil in an appropriate manner and not punish it for it’s perfidy that has left us with the sinking feeling that once we vacate positions at Siachen, Pakistan would invariably occupy these. At Kargil the political executive showed extreme timidity and the military failed to put across the necessity of making Pakistan pay for its mischief, with the result that we paid in heavy casualties in those frontal attacks, up impossible slopes and heights. Further we ended up deploying a division where a brigade was enough and a corps where a division could do the job. Such large addition of troops, North of Zojila Pass, has sent the Indian defence budget into a tailspin.
India’s backward bend to create a climate of trust and good neighbourly relations, building bridges of trade and commerce has been a one sided affair. These attempts need to be linked with, end to cross border terrorism. Any mischief by Pakistan needs appropriate reaction by India: politically, diplomatically and militarily.
the author commanded a corps in J and J during the early nineties.