A Bundle of Lies?
“We have spent tens of thousands of billions of rupees and dollars on the army, and what is the history: ’48,’65,’71,’84 and ’89’! If an independent commission of this country’s representatives is appointed to enquire into these five wars, people with even the least bit of self-respect would hang down their heads in shame”.
It is a sad commentary on the state of affairs in Pakistan that these derogatory words against the bravest army in the world (in the sense that, for sixty seven years of its existence, it has stood eye-ball to eyeball against an enemy several times bigger in terms of size, population and resources), should have been uttered not by a leader of the BJP, but by someone who was destined to be put in-charge of the very armed forces whom he had so heartlessly and senselessly derided and ridiculed.
Hitler is reported to have remarked that the best way to destroy a nation is to create discord between the people and their army. This was the purport of the speech made on the floor of the National Assembly by Khwaja Muhammad Asif, then in the Opposition. At a time when a pincer-like situation is developing in the region with Abdullah Abdullah and Narendra Modi poised for victory in Afghanistan and India respectively, if Pakistan has friends like the author of the referenced quotation, who needs enemies?
A nation lives and dies by the battles which it fights for its existence. The records of these battles go down in the history books and inspire and motivate its youth from generation to generation. The hon’ble minister for defence had chosen to distort history. What sort of message does he want to give to Pakistan’s future generations: “Hang down your heads in shame”?
Khwaja Asif’s speech could fairly be described as a bundle of lies. Talking about the ’48 war, he said “These are the same Waziris who, when the Pakistan Army refused to go into Kashmir, went with their lashkars”. This is a blatant lie. The Pakistan Army never refused to go into Azad Kashmir. It was the British Commander, General Gracey, who refused to obey the orders of the Quaid-e-Azam. Every student of history knows that the partition of India took place in the shadow of a Machiavellian conspiracy hatched by Mountbatten, Nehru and Patel to nip and crush the young state in the bud, while it was still trying to get a foothold. Pakistan had a law-abiding leadership which could not officially invade a state which had still to decide its future under the terms of partition. Covert support in supplies and logistics coordinated by Major General (then Brigadier) Akbar Khan was there from day one, and the Pakistani Army stepped in as soon as Indian forces were flown into Srinagar in violation of international protocol. In fact it was the indiscipline of the tribals which not only gave away a golden opportunity to take Srinagar but also provided India with a propaganda tool, with pictures displayed at the United Nations and at other international forums across the world. Major General Akbar in his book “War for Kashmir in 1947”, was only being polite when he wrote: "The uncouth raiders delayed in Baramulla for two (whole) days for some unknown reason." Foreign writers like Alastair Lamb, Charles Chevenix and Tim Cook have been more candid.
Attacking the Army for its conduct of the 1965 war, which will go down in history in letters of gold for Pakistan’s valor and courage, with young soldiers lying down with dynamite tied to their bodies in order to stop the advancing Indian Army, was the “most unkindest cut of all”. The person responsible for the 1971 disaster was a politician who refused to accept the victory of Sheikh Mujibur Rehman in the fairest national election ever held in Pakistan, and gave the doctrine of “tum udhar, ham idhar” (you over there, we over here), threatening to break the legs of any MNA daring to go and attend the post-election national assembly meeting scheduled at Dacca, East Pakistan.
It would be out of place to go into details, but the facts relating to the wars which Pakistan has had to fight for its survival are well known and have been chronicled by impartial observers including Indian generals. People would only laugh at the baseless insinuations in the Minister’s speech. It was amusing to see a pigeon-chested politician in shirt-sleeves poking fun at our jawans for “apna seena chauRa kar kay”, like a Don Quixote railing against the windmills, unprovoked and without reason. This was as ridiculous as the recent quixotic claim of the other Khwaja that “the PMLN Government ridiculed dollar and heightened rupee”.
The minister accused the army of running a welfare state for its soldiers. The reason that the armed forces can provide for the welfare of the soldiers and their families is that there is no corruption in the administration of funds, unlike the public sector where the funds are milked at the source, with only a trickle getting through to the public.
The Pakistan Army is the only institution in the country which the general public respects and trusts. It serves the people in times of war and in peace, whether it is on the blood-freezing heights of Siachen or at the scenes of national disasters such as the earthquakes in Kashmir and the floods in Sindh and Baluchistan. The Pakistani nation is proud of the exploits of its armed forces, with full self-respect and full self-esteem. Those who wish to hang down their heads in shame can please themselves.
After the hue and cry which followed the publication of this notorious speech, the Minister said that he had made this speech in 2006 but now, as a Minister of Defence he values and regards the services of the army. He seems to have missed the point of the hue and cry. It was not when or where he said it. It was whether a man holding such views deserves to be put in-charge of an institution which he holds in such contempt. The values of a man of honor do not change with the rank he is holding. The Minister has used equally insulting and derogatory words in the same vein against former President Parvez Musharraf, which reflect more on the minister’s own upbringing rather than on anybody else. There has never been any contradiction in the values which Parvez Musharraf holds dear. As Allaama Iqbal had said,
Haqeeqat-e-abadi hai muqaam-e-Shabbeeri
Badaltay rahtay hain andaaz-e-koofi o Shaami.
(To abide by the truth under all circumstances is in the tradition of Syedena Imam Husain (RATA);
The values of the fickle dwellers of Koofa and Shaam keep changing from time to time.)