An Alternative History of Pakistani Wars

More Than The Wars Against India, Pakistan's Wars Against Itself Have Been Most Deadly

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Since the creation of this country,this country has been in a constant state of war. Either there is a war going on with India or Pakistan is fighting a war against itself.
Six wars have been fought against India in the form of 1947, 1965, 1971, Siachen 1984 (which is still ongoing), Kargil 1999 and the proxy war in Kashmir (which has been going on from time to time since the 1990s).
The wars that Pakistan fought against itself
Ironically, Pakistan’s wars against itself have proved more deadly than those against India. In 1971, Pakistan attacked its largest province in the month of March, as a result of which the people of East Pakistan started a war of independence and in November, India attacked East Pakistan. The result was that East Pakistan became Bangladesh. On December 16, the Pakistani army surrendered to the Indian army. From March to December 1971, war crimes were committed, the details of which have been repeated many times.
Similarly, the war against the Frankenstein raised by love and hard work, known as Tehreek-e-Taliban Pakistan, has also proved deadly. If Pakistan lost 18,000 lives in four wars against India, 70,000 Pakistanis have died in the ‘war against terrorism’. ‘After taking a short break’ the series starts again.
The Gambling Syndrome
Who has been deciding to start these wars? This question has been examined by Pakistan’s well-known academic Tariq Rehman in his recent book Pakistan’s Wars: An Alternative History. Tariq Rehman says, “…decisions of wars were made by a group (clique) sitting on top, civilians were also included in this group, but mostly military officers were included in this group who took extreme risks while making decisions”.
Tariq Rahman named this risk-taking attitude as Gambling Syndrome, while he explains the decision-making process in the following way: Standards should be kept high, decisions are taken in a misleading manner like rogue elements decide.
Even when there are legal institutions for decision-making, such as the civilian government and parliament, when they exist, decisions are taken above them, and even the military is informed on a ‘necessity basis'”.
Dysfunctional democracy
It is not that the risk-taking tendency is unique to Pakistan’s decision-making group or group. This is also the case in other countries and that there has been opposition to war decisions within the military itself, however, the gambling syndrome is attributed to “authoritarian political culture, lack of civilian control over the military, and dysfunctional democracy” .
Although the first war of Pakistan in 1947-48 was started by a civilian group, the rest of the wars were decided by the military group. The reason for this military dominance is the ‘Overdeveloped’ character of the Pakistani state and the ‘Praetorian’ nature of Pakistani society. According to Tariq Rahman, since most wars are decided by soldiers, Tariq Rahman believes that to understand the decision making of wars, it is necessary to understand the ‘military mind’ (he uses the term military mind) or the worldview of generals.
According to him, the military mind is formed by four elements: seeing India as an enemy, thinking that Pakistani soldiers are better (brave) soldiers than Indian soldiers, looking down on civilians and Islamic sentiment.
This Islamic sentiment is a recent addition.
In this book based on more than 500 pages, Tariq Rehman has provided numerous evidences to prove his thesis. For example, the first war launched on the question of Kashmir (1947) was the decision of Muhammad Ali Jinnah and his deputy Liaquat Ali Khan, which included some middle-ranking Muslim officers, but CNC General Sir Frank Meseravi and Other British commanders were unaware of this decision. Apart from the discussion, an interesting point here will not be so out of place. Maulana Maududi opposed this war on religious grounds .
About the 1971 war
Similarly, the 1965 war, which was a continuation of the previous war as the objective was to capture Kashmir, was also a group decision. In addition to General Ayub and Major General Akhtar Malik, two civilians, Foreign Minister Bhutto and Foreign Secretary Abdul Aziz, were involved in this decision . The ‘military thinking’ behind the decision-making was that a cowardly India would not dare to retaliate while the US would arm Pakistan and continue to support it. A further misconception was that the campaign would result in the world recognizing Pakistan’s right to Kashmir . This decision was taken in such a group manner that even the head of the army, General Musa, was against it.
The decisions of 1971 were also taken by a group, but this time an additional element was also part of the military thinking. Apart from Hindu India, there was also the thought behind the decision-making that pistachio Bengali banks would fall down in a fit of rage at the sight of stylish Punjabi and Pashtun soldiers .
The battle was decided by General Yahya and his close general, General Omar (father of Asad Omar). Yahya was afraid that if he recognized the 1970 elections, there would be a military coup against him.
Even within the army, there was opposition to launching a military operation in East Pakistan. Major General Sahibzada Yaqub Ali Khan, Admiral Ehsan and Air Commander Zafar Masood were prominent among these defectors.
Apart from military thinking, there were also traditional assumptions behind this decision. For example, it was believed that if India attacked, America and China would go to war for Pakistan.
No lessons learned from the past
The rest of the wars examined in this book were also imposed by a group or elite group. One thing that strikes one somewhat from reading the book is the ability of the military mind to learn no lessons from the past. For example, the Kargil war was also imposed by a group of four. The plan to attack Kargil was also presented to General Zia, Benazir Bhutto and General Jahangir Karamat but they rejected it. Tariq Rahman believes that the reason for the lack of learning is: “Decision-making is done with great secrecy so that it can be refuted as needed, resulting in the possibility of critical review of these decisions later. It does not happen so that better decisions can be made in the future” (p. 2-3).
Deciding on wars is one aspect of this book. On the other hand, the experiences of soldiers, widows, rape victims and their families who participated in these wars or became their victims are also documented. If the war decision-making aspect is written as an academic (for which there is a lot of sweat, Tariq Rehman is adept at collecting documentary evidence anyway), the other aspect is written in Sahirludhianvi’s poetic style. . The truth is that the epigram with which the fourth chapter begins is taken from Sahir’s famous poem ‘O Sharif Insanu’.
War from perspective of mothers, widows and rape victims
The ninth chapter titled ‘War and Gender: Per Mile’ is full of women’s harrowing stories that look at the war from the perspective of mothers, widows and rape victims. Women paid a particularly heavy price in two wars. For the first time in 1947 when the tribal army went to Kashmir.
Tribal Mujahideen raped, kidnapped and killed Hindu, Sikh and Christian women. Similarly, the Muslim women of Jammu paid the price. On the other hand, in the 1971 war, Pakistani soldiers on one hand treated Bengali women in a horrific manner, while on the other hand, Mukti Bahini guerrillas inhumanely treated Bihari or some West Pakistani women who were present and laid hands on them. (To be clear, Tariq Rahman does not judge the excesses of the Pakistani army and the Mukti Bahini on the same level, the difference in strength between the two was a world of heaven).
Tariq Rahman mentions the war of 1947 while recording the statement of a resident of Muzaffarabad and writes: “A female relative of ours had a healthy child. We hid in the goat shed. This woman strangled her child to death because she was afraid that the Pathans would come after hearing the child’s cries”.
Incidents that keep faith in humanity
The book also contains numerous incidents that keep the faith in humanity intact. For example, Indian Prime Minister Lal Bahadur Shastri ordered his Air Force Chief not to attack civilian settlements. Similarly, in the war of 1965, Pakistan also refrained from attacking civilian settlements. According to Tariq Rehman, it was quite civilized compared to how the Allies bombed the German city of Dresden at the end of World War II . Similarly, during the 1965 war, Indian soldiers sent needles to Pakistani soldiers on the occasion of Eid, and Pakistani soldiers sent sweets in return . Bengalis saved the lives of Punjabi soldiers and Punjabi soldiers protected some Bengali women.
At the end of the comments I would like to make two points. First, Tariq Rahman did not push the debate too far in terms of a clique or an upper caste. Isn’t the decision of the war made by the groups sitting at the top anyway? Where popular support is needed, rulers successfully create war frenzy. The way America won the support of the American people for the highly unjustified invasion of Iraq is a lesson that decisions are made by mobs, whether these decisions are made in secret or by fooling the public. The book leaves little to be desired about this. Secondly, there is no doubt that during 1971 Bhutto, along with the generals, stabbed democracy in the back, but in the war of 1965, he has been over-responsible, in this book, whose documentary evidence is impressive. no. Speaking to BBC Urdu , former Foreign Secretary Riyaz Khokhar, while talking about Bhutto’s role in the 1965 war, said: “We saw the entire record. The soldiers put the responsibility on Bhutto.
Excellent document for understanding Pakistan
Overall, this book is an excellent document for understanding Pakistani politics, history, state and society. Scholars, students, human rights activists, feminists and ordinary citizens can benefit from this book by Tariq Rehman. Being written in English language, this book deserves attention across the subcontinent. Most importantly, this book, written from a progressive and humanistic perspective, demands the attention of every serious reader to challenge the state-imposed thinking and promote a critical and scholarly culture.

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