Sanjha Morcha

Pakistan’s General Problem.

How Pakistan’s Generals turned the country into an international jihadi tourist resort BY Mohammad Hanif
(Mohammed Hanif is the author of A Case of Exploding Mangoes(2008), his first novel, a satire on the death of General Zia ul Haq)
What is the last thing you say to your best general when ordering him into a do-or-die mission? A prayer maybe, if you are religiously inclined. A short lecture, underlining the importance of the mission, if you want to keep it businesslike. Or maybe you’ll wish him good luck accompanied by a clicking of the heels and a final salute.
On the night of 5 July 1977 as Operation Fair Play, meant to topple Zulfiqar Ali Bhutto’s elected government, was about to commence, then Army Chief General Zia ul Haq took aside his right-hand man and Corps Commander of 10th Corps Lieutenant General Faiz Ali Chishti and whispered to him: “Murshid, marwa na daina.” (Guru, don’t get us killed.)
General Zia was indulging in two of his favourite pastimes: spreading his paranoia amongst those around him and sucking up to a junior officer he needed to do his dirty work. General Zia had a talent for that; he could make his juniors feel as if they were indispensable to the running of this world. And he could make his seniors feel like proper gods, as Bhutto found out to his cost.
General Faiz Ali Chishti’s troops didn’t face any resistance that night; not a single shot was fired, and like all military coups in Pakistan, this was also dubbed a ‘bloodless coup’. There was a lot of bloodshed, though, in the following years—in military-managed dungeons, as pro-democracy students were butchered at Thori gate in interior Sindh, hundreds of shoppers were blown up in Karachi’s Bohri Bazar, in Rawalpindi people didn’t even have to leave their houses to get killed as the Army’s ammunition depot blew up raining missiles on a whole city, and finally at Basti Laal Kamal near Bahawalpur, where a plane exploded killing General Zia and most of the Pakistan Army’s high command. General Faiz Ali Chishti had nothing to do with this, of course. General Zia had managed to force his murshid into retirement soon after coming to power. Chishti had started to take that term of endearment—murshid—a bit too seriously and dictators can’t stand anyone who thinks of himself as a kingmaker.
Thirty-four years on, Pakistan is a society divided at many levels. There are those who insist on tracing our history to a certain September day in 2001, and there are those who insist that this country came into being the day the first Muslim landed on the Subcontinent. There are laptop jihadis, liberal fascist and fair-weather revolutionaries. There are Balochi freedom fighters up in the mountains and bullet-riddled bodies of young political activists in obscure Baloch towns. And, of course, there are the members of civil society with a permanent glow around their faces from all the candle-light vigils. All these factions may not agree on anything but there is consensus on one point: General Zia’s coup was a bad idea. When was the last time anyone heard Nawaz Sharif or any of Zia’s numerous protégés thump their chest and say, yes, we need another Zia? When did you see a Pakistan military commander who stood on Zia’s grave and vowed to continue his mission?
It might have taken Pakistanis 34 years to reach this consensus but we finally agree that General Zia’s domestic and foreign policies didn’t do us any good. It brought us automatic weapons, heroin and sectarianism; it also made fortunes for those who dealt in these commodities. And it turned Pakistan into an international jihadi tourist resort.
And yet, somehow, without ever publicly owning up to it, the Army has continued Zia’s mission. Successive Army commanders, despite their access to vast libraries and regular strategic reviews, have never actually acknowledged that the multinational, multicultural jihadi project they started during the Zia era was a mistake. Late Dr Eqbal Ahmed, the Pakistani teacher and activist, once said that the Pakistan Army is brilliant at collecting information but its ability to analyse this information is non-existent.
Looking back at the Zia years, the Pakistan Army seems like one of those mythical monsters that chops off its own head but then grows an identical one and continues on the only course it knows.
In 1999, two days after the Pakistan Army embarked on its Kargil misadventure, Lieutenant General Mahmud Ahmed gave a ‘crisp and to the point’ briefing to a group of senior Army and Air Force officers. Air Commodore Kaiser Tufail, who attended the meeting, later wrote that they were told that it was nothing more than a defensive manoeuvre and the Indian Air Force will not get involved at any stage. “Come October, we shall walk into Siachen—to mop up the dead bodies of hundreds of Indians left hungry, out in the cold,” General Mahmud told the meeting. “Perhaps it was the incredulousness of the whole thing that led Air Commodore Abid Rao to famously quip, ‘After this operation, it’s going to be either a Court Martial or Martial Law!’ as we walked out of the briefing room,” Air Commodore Tufail recalled in an essay.
If Rao Abid even contemplated a court martial, he probably lacked leadership qualities because there was only one way out of this mess—a humiliating military defeat, a world-class diplomatic disaster, followed by yet another martial law. The man who should have faced court martial for Kargil appointed himself Pakistan’s President for the next decade.
General Mahmud went on to command ISI, Rao Abid retired as air vice marshal, both went on to find lucrative work in the Army’s vast welfare empire, and Kargil was forgotten as if it was a game of dare between two juveniles who were now beyond caring about who had actually started the game. Nobody remembers that a lot of blood was shed on this pointless Kargil mission. The battles were fierce and some of the men and officers fought so valiantly that two were awarded Pakistan’s highest military honour, Nishan-e-Haidar. There were hundreds of others whose names never made it to any awards list, whose families consoled themselves by saying that their loved ones had been martyred while defending our nation’s borders against our enemy. Nobody pointed out the basic fact that there was no enemy on those mountains before some delusional generals decided that they would like to mop up hundreds of Indian soldiers after starving them to death.
The architect of this mission, the daring General Pervez Musharraf, who didn’t bother to consult his colleagues before ordering his soldiers to their slaughter, doesn’t even have the wits to face a sessions court judge in Pakistan, let alone a court martial. The only people he feels comfortable with are his Facebook friends and that too from the safety of his London apartment. During the whole episode, the nation was told that it wasn’t the regular army that was fighting in Kargil; it was the mujahideen. But those who received their loved ones’ flag-draped coffins had sent their sons and brothers to serve in a professional army, not a freelance lashkar.
The Pakistan Army’s biggest folly has been that under Zia it started outsourcing its basic job—soldiering—to these freelance militants. By blurring the line between a professional soldier—who, at least in theory, is always required to obey his officer, who in turn is governed by a set of laws—and a mujahid, who can pick and choose his cause and his commander depending on his mood, the Pakistan Army has caused immense confusion in its own ranks. Our soldiers are taught to shout Allah-o-Akbar when mocking an attack. In real life, they are ambushed by enemies who shout Allah-o-Akbar even louder. Can we blame them if they dither in their response? When the Pakistan Navy’s main aviation base in Karachi, PNS Mehran, was attacked, Navy Chief Admiral Nauman Bashir told us that the attackers were ‘very well trained’. We weren’t sure if he was giving us a lazy excuse or admiring the creation of his institution. When naval officials told journalists that the attackers were ‘as good as our own commandoes’ were they giving themselves a backhanded compliment?
In the wake of the attacks on PNS Mehran in Karachi, some TV channels have pulled out an old war anthem sung by late Madam Noor Jehan and have started to play it in the backdrop of images of young, hopeful faces of slain officers and men. Written by the legendary teacher and poet Sufi Tabassum, the anthem carries a clear and stark warning: Aiay puttar hatantay nahin wickday, na labhdi phir bazaar kuray (You can’t buy these brave sons from shops, don’t go looking for them in bazaars).
While Sindhis and Balochis have mostly composed songs of rebellion, Punjabi popular culture has often lionised its karnails and jarnails and even an odd dholsipahi. The Pakistan Army, throughout its history, has refused to take advice from politicians as well as thinking professionals from its own ranks. It has never listened to historians and sometimes ignored even the esteemed religious scholars it frequently uses to whip up public sentiments for its dirty wars. But the biggest strategic mistake it has made is that it has not even taken advice from the late Madam Noor Jehan, one of the Army’s most ardent fans in Pakistan’s history. You can probably ignore Dr Eqbal Ahmed’s advice and survive in this country but you ignore Madam at your own peril.
Since the Pakistan Army’s high command is dominated by Punjabi-speaking generals, it’s difficult to fathom what it is about this advice that they didn’t understand. Any which way you translate it, the message is loud and clear. And lyrical: soldiers are not to be bought and sold like a commodity. “Na  awaian takran maar kuray” (That search is futile, like butting your head against a brick wall), Noor Jehan goes on to rhapsodise.
For decades, the Army has not only shopped for these private puttarsin the bazaars, it also set up factories to manufacture them. It raised whole armies of them. When you raise Lashkar-e-Taiba, Jaish Mohammed, Sipahe Sahaba, Sipahe Mohammed, Lashker Jhangvi, Al- Badar Mujahideen, others encouraged by the thriving market place will go ahead and start outfits like Anjuman Tahuffuze Khatame Nabuwat and Anjuman Tahuffuze Namoos-e-Aiyasha. It’s not just Kashmir and Afghanistan and Chechnya they will want to liberate, they will also go back in time and seek revenge for a perceived slur that may or may not have been cast by someone more than 1,300 years ago in a country far far away.
As if the Army’s sprawling shopping mall of private puttars in Pakistan wasn’t enough, it actively encouraged import and export of these commodities, even branched out into providing rest and recreation facilities for the ones who wanted a break. The outsourcing of Pakistan’s military strategy has reached a point where mujahids have their own mujahids to do their job, and inevitably at the end of the supply chain are those faceless and poor teenagers with explosives strapped to their torsos regularly marched out to blow up other poor kids.
Two days before the Americans killed Osama bin Laden and took away his bullet-riddled body, General Kiyani addressed Army cadets at Kakul. After declaring a victory of sorts over the militants, he gave our nation a stark choice. And before the nation could even begin to weigh its pros and cons, he went ahead and decided for them: we shall never bargain our honour for prosperity. As things stand, most people in Pakistan have neither honour nor prosperity and will easily settle for their little world not blowing up every day.
The question people really want to ask General Kiyani is that if he and his Army officer colleagues can have both honour and prosperity, why can’t we the people have a tiny bit of both?
The Army and its advocates in the media often worry about Pakistan’s image, as if we are not suffering from a long-term serious illness but a seasonal bout of acne that just needs better skin care. The Pakistan Army, over the years, has cultivated this image of 180 million people with nuclear devices strapped to their collective body threatening to take the world down with it. We may not be able to take the world down with us; the world might defang us or try to calm us down by appealing to our imagined Sufi side. But the fact remains that Pakistan as a nation is paying the price for our generals’ insistence on acting, in Asma Jahangir’s frank but accurate description, like duffers.
And demanding medals and golf resorts for being such duffers consistently for such a long time.
What people really want to do at this point is put an arm around our military commanders’ shoulders, take them aside and whisper in their ears: “Murshid, marwa na daina.”

India’s first Military Literature Festival in Chandigarh next month

Military lit fest: Dalrymple, Rikhye to be in attendance

CHANDIGARH: The Punjab government and Chandigarh administration will jointly organise the three-day Military Literature Festival from December 7 at the Lake Club.

KESHAV SINGH/HT■ (From left) Lt Gen TS Shergill, Punjab tourism minister Navjot Singh Sidhu and Western Command chief Lt Gen GS Dhillon at Punjab Bhawan in Chandigarh on Friday.

The event aims to bring the Indian and foreign defence analysts under a single roof and also showcase the country’s military history. Seminars on India’s defence literature, art, music, photography, among others will be organised during the festival.

To create awareness about the country’s defence forces, around 1,200 students from rural areas around the tricity will be invited to attend the festival. The festival is open to all and there shall be no registration fee.

Prominent Indian and foreign authors and defence experts have confirmed their participation in the event. These include US-based Ravi Rikhye; emeritus professor of history at Ulster University Tom Fraser; historian William Dalrymple; curator at the Imperial War Museum London Alan Jeffreys; military historian and publisher Tom Donovan, author of ‘Battleground Chhamb, 1971 Gen AJS Sandhu, military historian Rana Chhina, and Brigadier Darshan Khullar, among others.


Army corrects a self-goal Now fix other anomalies

Army corrects a self-goal

Ever since the Modi Government came to power with the substantial help of the ex-servicemen community, the question of pay, allowances and izzat for those serving in uniform and out of it has occupied centre stage. For a party that repeatedly invokes the fauji and has politically appropriated the surgical strikes for repeated unfurling in state elections (Himachal Pradesh is the latest example), the BJP has been stumped by its inability to match its election rhetoric with delivery on the ground.  Against the contextual background of the One Rank One Pension (OROP) conundrum and the inability of the government to resolve the rank parity issue, it is welcome that the Army has worked around a problem hanging fire for six years. For years the armed forces have lived with the notion that the civilian bureaucracy has nudged or massaged rules in its favour. Their hopes had arisen after the advent of the BJP government wrapped itself in olive green. If the restoring of gazetted officers status for JCOs is meant to divert the issue of rank parity with civilian bureaucrats, discontent will continue to remain high. Successive Defence Ministers have handed out assurances, just as it was with OROP. But a year after a committee set out to resolve the rank parity issue, a narrative has been rolled out to the effect that the Government will not permit any false rank parity. This was after heated exchanges in the correspondence exchanged between the Army and the civilian bureaucracy.In order to prevent the rank parity issue from becoming another issue of dissatisfaction like the OROP, the expectation among the armed forces is that the government needs to bite the bullet. If the downgrading of JCOs was an Army self-goal, the armed forces hold the civilians culpable for disturbing the equivalence and downgrading the status of service officers in the armed force headquarters. The anomaly was a hand-me-down from the UPA government that had been unable to resolve the issue for six years. This is a pointer to the tortuous nature of the task at hand.


India’s first Military Literature Festival in Chandigarh —-28TH&29 NOV 2017::CHANDIGARH

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India’s first Military Literature Festival in Chandigarh 

India’s first Military Literature Festival (MLF) will be held in Chandigarh in December as a tribute to the armed forces, whose contributions to the nation remain etched in history as iconic events, Punjab Local Bodies and Tourism and Culture Minister Navjot Singh Sidhusaid on Friday.

The MLF will be held in Chandigarh from Nov 28 to 29, 2017. Sidhu told media here that Punjab Chief Minister Amarinder Singh, himself a military historian and author, was pioneering this initiative, which is being jointly promoted by the Punjab government and the Chandigarh Administration with the objective of spreading awareness about the subject among people.
Top thinkers, authors, historians, curators and experts related to defence matters will participate in the event, he said.

“With Punjab standing tall in terms of Param Vir Chakras won by its men, the festival is an apt and glowing tribute to the grit, courage and fearless determination of the country’s defence personnel,” Sidhu said.

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 Punjab Chief Minister’s Senior Advisor, Lt. Gen. T.S. Shergill (retd), said military literature had ancient roots, with the longest poem, the Mahabharata, being all about warfare.
 He also spoke about the relevance of technology to military and literature, underlining the importance of promoting all aspects of the subject.
A two-day military literary festival, the first such event in the country that would focus on contemporary thought and promote recent publications on defence and national security, is being organised here by the Punjab Government from Nov27 to 28.Sources said the modalities and programme of the event were being worked out and different themes explored. Chief Minister Capt Amarinder Singh had held a meeting in this regard yesterday.“Books published recently are being shortlisted and their authors would be invited to talk about their work. Panel discussions on the topic would also be held,” an official said. Besides, there could also be talks by eminent persons on current military issues and other aspects of national security as well as subjects like war stories, military history and acts of gallantry, the official added.The idea of a military literary festival was mooted by Governor VP Singh Badnore earlier this year while releasing a book on the legendary Saragarhi battle authored by the CM. He opined that a number of senior and distinguished retired defence officers, including close to a 100 lieutenant generals, were based in Chandigarh and their expertise and experience should be a source of enlightenment for others.

The Military Literature Festival

Opening Ceremony 08 December 10:00 to 11:00 Lake Club
Tea 08 December 11:00 to 11:30 Lake Club
Panel Discussions 08 December 11:30 to 13:45 Lake Club
Lunch 08 December 13:45 to 14:35 Lake Club
Panel Discussions 08 December 14:45 to 18:15 Lake Club
Mega Social Evening 08 December 19:00 onwards Capital Complex
Dinner (By Invite Only) 08 December 20:00 onwards CM Residence
Panel Discussions 09 December 10:00 to 13:30 Lake Club
Lunch 09 December 13:30 to 14:30 Lake Club
Panel Discussions 09 December 14:30 to 16:45 Lake Club
Closing Ceremony 09 December 17:00 to 18:00 Lake Club
Tea 09 December 17:00 to 17:30 Lake Club
Dinner with Concert (By Invite Only) 09 December 20:00 onwards Hotel Mt View

  FOR REGISTRATION OPEN SITE

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http://www.militaryliteraturefestival.com

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45 ANOs take part in one-day conclave

Tribune News Service

Amritsar, November 13

A one-day conclave of associate officers of National Cadet Corps (NCC) was held at Sri Guru Harkrishan International School here today.The conclave was organised by the 11th Punjab Battalion NCC.As many as 45 associate NCC officers (ANOs) from all three wings of defence –Army, Air force, Naval — took part in the conclave. The day-long event saw a number of activates to upgrade the skills of instructors, known as ANOs. These instructors are responsible for training young students who have opted for NCC in schools and colleges.NCC officials laid stress on improving the quality of imparting skills, ways to motivate students and enhancing knowledge. A tug of war contest was also organised on the occasion.Col Ashwani Kumar, Commanding Officer of the battalion, said, “It is a maiden effort to bring people together from the NCC to one platform. Our aim is to achieve great results.”


“Civil-Military Relations: Let’s Not Weaken the Corporate Character of Our Forces by *Lt Gen (Retd) DS Hooda*

Two groups are today dominating discussions about civil-military relations in India. The first group is the veterans who continue to protest over the definition of OROP. Recent images of soldiers and their wives being pushed and shoved into police vans has again brought into focus their long-standing demand. The second is a group of junior officers from the services who think that their career interests have been ignored and have gone to the Supreme Court. Grant of NFU to the military is another case pending in the same court.
There is also considerable consternation in the military leadership over the issue of status parity. And this leadership is not the few Generals, Admirals and Marshals but the approximately 50,000 officers, a vast majority of whom are middle and young level officers. They directly lead men on land, sea and air and put themselves at maximum risk. The whole issue of the military being a Group A or Group B service is bewildering to them. And justifications about the military being neither Group A nor B, being advanced by some of our own senior officers, are inexplicable.
It is often argued that it is only a handful of veterans and serving officers who are actually complaining, and that their demands are unreasonable. Both these statements could be true but it does not naturally follow that these will not have any impact on the character of the military ethic. This is what should worry us all.
One of the cornerstones of the military ethic is its Corporateness. Members share a strong group identity based on common values and pride in their very critical responsibility towards the nation. Within this corporate structure is a strict hierarchy of ranks. If today members of the military prefer to take to the streets or the courts of law, rather than relying on their senior leaders, it could weaken the corporate character of the military.
The military is a unique profession. No other profession demands that your primary role is to lay down your life in the pursuit of your duty. General John Hackett, in his book The Profession of Arms, called it the concept of “unlimited liability”. In Jammu and Kashmir alone we lose more than 200 soldiers each year, not only battling terrorists but also to the brutal terrain and weather.
To get men and women to accept this huge sacrifice requires a forging of character where the best of values come to fore. Hackett wrote that qualities such as courage, fortitude and loyalty are deliberately fostered, not because they are desirable, but because they are “essential to military efficiency.”
What is the current civil-military dispute about? Is it about more pay, privileges or a better lifestyle? There can be no comparison in lifestyle because no individual in any other profession earning an equivalent salary lives in a 10 x 10 foot bunker where you are snowed under for six months. The soot from the 1945-style heater, which is fired by kerosene oil, is an all pervading presence, from your hair to the fingernails to the choked nostrils. The privilege is nothing more than a bunch of great comrades who are suffering the same privations.
The real fight is about honour. Honour or ‘Izzat’ is the edifice on which the ethical and moral foundation of any military rests. Traditionally, the Indian military has given great value to the concept of honour — the honour of the unit which must always be protected and personal honour which drives a man even in the face of certain death. If officers and men feel unwanted and under-privileged it could weaken this edifice. Unfortunately, this fact is not given enough attention. Putting out tweets and spending time with soldiers during festivals is a great gesture but is not enough to assuage the angst.
There are two different models in the structure of civil-military relations. In The Soldier and the State, Huntington recommends ‘‘objective civilian control’’ that ensures civilian control and maximizes professionalism at the same time. He argues that a highly professional military seeks to distance itself from politics, thus strengthening civilian control. In contrast to Huntington, Morris Janowitz, in The Professional Soldier, argued that the military will invariably come to resemble a political pressure group, and that this is not necessarily a problem as long as it remains ‘‘responsible, circumscribed, and responsive to civilian authority’’. He recommends the military’s ‘‘meaningful integration with civilian values’’.
There are supporters of both models but in India, objective control has been followed and has stood the military in good stead. There is no real need for change, and political parties need to be sensitive to this. Constantly evoking the sacrifice of the Indian Army in every political debate is harmful. It could politically influence soldiers. The loyalty of a soldier is to the military ideal, which is a constant, and not to a political ideology. This is the correct democratic way.
Surely it is nobody’s case that the military is completely losing its professionalism. But problems, however small, if not tackled in time can blindside you. If some cracks are visible, they need to be quickly repaired and not papered over. The government practice of forming of one more committee has now lost its credibility. Decisions will have to come from the political executive.
Minor changes in OROP, grant of NFU (non-functional upgrade), an improvement in career progression, and an honourable status to military personnel are a very small price to pay for ensuring that the character of the military ethic is not diluted. Political leaders, the bureaucracy and senior military leadership must join hands and work towards that goal. This will ultimately not only empower the military but also the nation.
I close with a quote from Huntington, “If the civilians permit the soldiers to adhere to the military standard, the nations themselves may eventually find redemption and security in making that standard their own”.
(The author is former Northern Commander, Indian Army, under whose leadership India carried out surgical strikes against Pakistan in 2016. Views are personal.)

Let’s not play with India’s heritage

Instead of respecting the sanctity of our past, why are we bent on destroying it?

Why is there such an outcry over a film about Padmavati that has not even released? For some time last week I broke free from answering this question as I walked through my beloved city Allahabad. This city, while being rebellious by nature, has become a victim of destruction by destiny.

It is not possible that you walk the city’s streets and history doesn’t knock on the windows of your mind. I remembered this when I reached the place where Hindu Hostel used to be located. This was where Chandra Shekhar Azad emerged from and went to Company Bagh before the police surrounded him. After a long and fierce encounter when he realised he was running out of bullets, he shot the last one through his own temple so that the British could not capture him alive. Even today, the statue of Azad twirling his moustache appears to be challenging the British colonialists.

What an incredible setting! Located next to each other, the Hindu Hostel, Company Bagh, Indian Press and Mayor College together recount innumerable stories of education, culture, colonialism, protests and repression.

For the uninitiated, Mayor College is now better known as the Science Faculty of Allahabad University and Indian Press shut down more than half a century ago. This is the place from where Saraswati, the monthly magazine edited by Pandit Mahavir Prasad Dwivedi, was brought out and played an important role in helping Indians get conversant with literature, culture and values. Some distance away from Indian Press are located the Anand Bhavan and Swaraj Bhavan. Motilal Nehru played his part to strengthen the Congress’s nationalistic character from here. This is where young Jawaharlal Nehru learned the alphabet of politics and Indira Gandhi opened her eyes. As a young journalist, it is here that I met a grief-stricken Rajiv Gandhi after the assassination of Indira Gandhi. On the first floor, Rajiv couldn’t hold back his tears looking at the childhood toys of ‘Priyadarshini’.

At that time the multicultural character of Allahabad was still alive.

In one part of the city stayed Firaq Gorakhpuri and in another Mahadevi Verma. Naresh Mehta, Bhairav Prasad Gupt, Jagdish Gupt, Shailesh Matiyani stayed in different parts of the city but all of them strived towards reaching a common destination: Allahabadiyat.

During my Allahabad trip, I also discovered that very few people knew about Captain Mahendra Nath Mulla. During the 1971 war, the Pakistanis had sunk our warship Khukri. Mulla was its captain. In true naval tradition he went down along with the vessel he was commanding. At one time he was a hero for our generation, but today few people remember him. Compared to him, many more people are aware of the family associated with Anand Bhavan. But these days through the university of WhatsApp, an assortment of ridiculous stories are is being spread about them. This is the misfortune of every Indian city. In order to create a new identity, we’ve destroyed the old, but couldn’t create anything that future generations can be proud of.

It is true Indians don’t know how to keep the sanctity of their history intact. If we knew how to do that, so much outrage wouldn’t have been unleashed over Padmavati. Till now six state governments have already said that they won’t allow the film’s release. Before I left for Allahabad, I remembered watching an interview with Arvind Singh Mewar, a descendent of Rana Kumbha, on YouTube. Sitting in his palace, in an interview given to a magazine, he conceded that he doesn’t have any photograph of Padmavati in his possession. The reason? There was no convention of clicking photographs at that time. We are fighting over what happened more than 700 years ago since we don’t have any documentary proof about it. However, the memories of the leading lights of Allahabad and many other Indian cities are still fresh in people’s minds. Why rake up controversies over them?

The reason is clear. Rather than nurture what history has given us, we want to kill it. Why do we forget that humans cannot obliterate history? We should nurture it with care so that we can receive wisdom from it when the need arises. But the exact opposite is taking place. For petty gains, our politicians are ready to change the names of cities, roads and memorials. Going a step further, some of them even talk about demolishing the Taj Mahal. Irrespective of which party gains from this, the common man gets caught in an intellectual morass. This is akin to playing with the nation’s heritage.

Why can’t we Indians understand such a simple fact?

 

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When Subedar Major Taught NDA Cadets a Good Lesson About Nishan

NDA Cadets from the early to mid eighties will remember the imposing frame of SM Darbara Singh. During the rehearsal for the Passing out Parade in 1985, the cadets were in a particularly rebellious mood. The noise did not die down even when the Nishan (Presidential Colours awarded to NDA) was brought into the QM fort, and this was a serious matter indeed, for the Nishan is held in high esteem by the cadet community.

The insult to the Nishan did not go down well with Subedar Major Darbara Singh. With his measured steps he stepped up to the podium and with a voice heavy with anger and gruff with emotions, he asked the cadets to lend him their ears.


Mules carrying ammunition over a mountain pass during 1962 War.

Subedar Major Darbara Singh “Cadets, I have served in the Indian Army for 23 years. I have seen the 1962 operations, the 1965 and 1971 wars as a combatant. The Nishan that you have not acknowledged today, stands for me and countless others who have taken up the profession of arms and given their youth and lives for the honour of being given an opportunity to salute the Nishan, as the symbol of the supreme sacrifice made by our martyrs.

I will tell you a story that might indicate to you the feelings that we soldiers have for the Nishan. The SM drew a deep breath and continued, In this very academy we have a hut of remembrance,where the names of all the former alumni of this institution who have fallen in action are inscribed on the wall, I have been in this academy for the past three years and I have been able to enter that hut only once.

Because written on the wall is one name, Lt Palta of the 4th Battalion the Sikh regiment.

During the 1962 China War, my Paltan was posted in the Tawang sector. I was deployed right on the border, and my section commander was the same Lt Palta whose name is there on the wall in the hut of remembrance.

On the fateful day of 15 Nov 1962, the Chinese attacked our post and we were told to fight back to the last man, last bullet. Lt Palta was personally leading the fight back. It was a harrowing time, we were outnumbered, out gunned and desperately short of ammunition.

Yet we soldiered on , because Lt Palta did not know any other way.

I will carry this blood to my funeral pyre.” The SM’s voice became gruffer with verbalized emotion, “When I entered the hut of remembrance the first time, I saw Lt Palta’s name and picture on the wall.

In an instance I was transported back in time to 1962 and felt his cold stiff body on top of mine and his blood congealing on my face. Till date I haven’t been able to enter the hut again.

” Cadets, its for officers like these that the academy has been given the Nishan. It has been won by the blood of ex NDAofficers and it stands for all that is good and pure in these horrible times; I will not permit you to insult the Nishan and Lt Palta as long as I have breath.”

So saying the SM stepped off the dais and strode out of the QM fort in fragile silence. The silence of the QM fort was shattered only by the echoing word of of command of the parade commander some eight minutes later, ordering the passing out parade to coil its sinuous way out of the QM fort in to the drill square.

The Nishan is nothing but a piece of cloth for those who see it as such, but for Subedar Major Darbara Singh of the Ninth Battalion of the Sikh Regiment of the Indian Army, and countless others like him, it stood for Lt Palta and a cold winter night when a young Lieutenant died trying to protect and lead his men in to battle and to supreme honour.

It stood for a quintessential Indian army officer, who, even when dead, continued to shield a young frightened soldier who was out of ammunition and at the end of his wits.

A breed of officers who gave these grizzled old men the self-esteem and sense of honour, of belonging to a family, of mattering, of esprit-de-corps, and in the end, a way of life. And that, in my opinion is true leadership.


Another militant gives up arms, returns home

Suhail A Shah

Anantnag, November 20

Three days after a footballer-turned-militant shunned the gun, another youth from south Kashmir has renounced violence and given up arms to return to his family.The police have been tightlipped about the identity of the militant who gave up the gun today.Soon after the police announced that a militant in south Kashmir had returned home, paying heed to the pleas of his family, Deputy Inspector General, South Kashmir, SP Pani, confirmed the news.“Yes, a boy has returned to his family,” Pani said, but maintained that the police wouldn’t give out any details about the boy.“We will not disclose his identity for now, given the involvement of various issues in the process,” Pani said, remaining non-committal on whether the identity will be disclosed at all.Sources, however, revealed that the militant has been identified as Nasir Ahmad Dar, a 16-year-old from Czimmer village in the DH Pora area of Kulgam district.Dar had been missing from his home since September 27 this year. Meanwhile, Director General of Police SP Vaid took to Twitter and expressed happiness over the development.“On my visit to Kulgam, I was told another local militant has come back home in response to the appeal of his mother and other family members. Great news!” Vaid posted.


Renaming legacy Dyal Singh College should retain its name

Renaming legacy

A low-hanging fruit for any regime is renaming public institutions to advertise its ideological priorities. The rechristening of Delhi University’s Dyal Singh Evening College to Vande Mataram Mahavidyalaya falls in this category. Dyal Singh Trust, established in Lahore, founded and ran a college and library in that city. Both retain the name of their founder. After Partition, the trust set up Dyal Singh Library and Dyal Singh College in Delhi. Dyal Singh Evening College was founded in 1958, and Dyal Singh College a year later. Both share the campus and the governing body, headed by a BJP member, but have separate staff members, including the principals.Delhi University has managed both colleges since 1978 and a few months ago it decided to convert the evening college into a morning one, prompting the name change, and raising other issues. It is easily conceded that both the colleges have not been beacons of academic excellence and are facing many infrastructural problems as they seek to accommodate students on a relatively small campus in the Capital. The governing body would be well advised to concentrate more on providing such facilities and improving the lot of the students and staff members of one of Delhi’s older colleges. Educational institutions need academic recapitalisation, and it is only natural to expect the governing body to take appropriate measures, rather than to embark on a frivolous renaming venture.India has a long history of philanthropists donating for worthy causes, including educational institutions and hospitals. They have often been named after the benefactors. This is only right and proper. Changing such legacies smacks of pettiness. Besides colleges in Lahore and Delhi, there are Dyal Singh educational institutions in other cities, and they too bear the name of their founder proudly. A man who donated his fortune to establishing trusts focused on public good, Dyal Singh Majithia deserves wider recognition rather than obliteration. His name should continue to adorn the institution that was founded by his trust.