By Neeraj Mahajan
Many people from different walks of life and work experience- are trying to mount pressure on the government to start a war with Pakistan. They have been saying things like, ‘my blood is boiling’ or ‘let’s teach Pakistan a lesson, once for all’. If everything is so simple, they should be given a gun, ammunition, passport-visa, and sent-off to Pakistan to launch a Rambo-style commando operation.
Do these people who have never fired or faced a single bullet know what it means to go to war? Every war, irrespective of whether it is short or long term war — has a price tag attached — human lives are lost and properties damaged. And the worst part of this story is that someone has to pay this price.
It may seem quite romantic, but one of the most tragic realities is that far too many families lose their sole bread-winner and the person who can protect and provide shelter to them, take care of them, make them feel safe and secure and take important decisions on their behalf.
Today many people are coming forward to offer sums of Rs. 5-10 lakh or above to the families of soldiers killed in Pulwama. But is this amount going to last forever? No. So who is going to take care of the family — when they are medically unfit, illiterate and jobless 10-20 years later?
We swell-up with pride to see roads and bridges in Dhamupur a non-descript village in Ghazipur district of UP, named after CQHM Abdul Hamid who was posthumously awarded Param Veer Chakra, the highest gallantry award in the 1965 war. How many of us know what happened to his wife or children who lost their support structure at an early age? Had Abdul Hamid been alive, with or without the Param Veer Chakra, maybe he could have advised and ensured that his sons studied at least a few more classes in school and landed up in decent jobs as per their worth and educational qualifications. However as a classic case of hanging between the devil and the deep sea– Abdul Hamid’s sons didn’t study hard enough, while the family couldn’t afford the dowry for the daughter’s marriage. Even the fact that they were Param Veer Chakra awardees – next of kin didn’t help much.
This is the rudest reality in India. People like Abdul Hamid are draped in the national flag, decorated with gallantry awards, worshiped as heroes and given a 21 gun salute. Flags may fly half-mast, memorials erected and wreaths placed on them on ceremonial occasions but a few months or years later, even the closest friends and well-wishers may forget their name and the cause for which they sacrificed their lives.
Try discussing this aspect with the families of soldiers who lost their lives. Going to war is not a joke.
Do these people know what happened when Indira Gandhi initially asked General Manikshaw to lead the army to Dhaka? Well, Sam asked her to give him nine months to move the troops to strategic positions and arrange the logistics, transportation and other tactical needs — for the wartime army.
Indira Gandhi was furious at the Army Chief for not obeying her orders. That’s when Sam Manikshaw explained to her why the time-frame she was suggesting was too short for him to guarantee the result she was asking, and she agreed. (Field Marshal SJF Manikshaw told this to me in-course of an interview, shortly before his death). Finally, Indira Gandhi granted Manikshaw nine months’ time to prepare the army and backup support. He, in turn, ensured her the victory in the 1971 war.
War, even today is no different.
Even if Imran Khan is your best friend, you don’t call him on Friday and ask if it would be ok to join him for a cup of tea or coffee on Saturday. And on the way back, casually bump off a few ISI operatives or Hijbul Mujahiddin activists who happen to be crossing the road.
You need a whole lot of secrecy, strategic planning and shuffling of available resources before you go to war. The main issue to be kept in mind is that – this is not a battle of Panipat version 1-2 or 3 where you may start the war anytime you wake up and expect more or less the same result each time for the army with the biggest guns, heaviest elephants, fastest horses or the best archers.
Alright, we may be a position to liberate Baluchistan and isolate Sindh or Karachi — but are we prepared to do so at the cost of Amritsar or Jammu being disseminated like Hiroshima and Nagasaki?
Moral of the story: let sanity prevail over stupidity. Let’s mind our own business and let the army do its job, when and how– it knows best.