India and the World Chapter 5 : The ‘Rann’dom aggression!
“The attack on the Kutch border is a clear case of aggression by Pakistan. She has shown an utter lack of responsibility and displayed amazing recklessness.” (Lal Bahadur Sasthri)
To govern a country is a pretty serious business. It requires skill, vision, acumen and certain commitment to doing good to the people. This theory has been made a thing of mockery by successive rulers of Pakistan over the past seven decades.
Pakistan planted a problem, watered it to grow into a conflict, strengthened it to become a tussle and is now guarding it to shape into a war. Pakistan is exhibiting an exemplary talent of pampering a trouble. The rulers are only too happy to supply to the trouble makers all they need and what they do not need too.
Pakistan’s readiness to support the miscreant elements is all too evident by its words; by its deeds. A country riddled with so much of illiteracy, religious fundamentalism and overall economic backwardness could have spared all its efforts in tackling any of these problems. But it prefers not to.
Accession of Kashmir with India, as far as the leaders of Pakistan were concerned, was a thorn in their heart. They believed that they would be able to access the Indian State with them by resorting to all the pressure tactics. While the desire by itself was utterly wrong and unjust, the ways they adopted went against all the rules of international relations.
In the broad day light, before everyone’s eyes, without anything to hide, Pakistan openly encouraged every attempt of the infiltrators and its army on its part directly perpetrated and indulged in outrageous activities too. India – Pakistan boundary is the one in the world which is being used as an ‘official’ trespass by the insurgents of Pakistan day in and day out.
In the early years of the doctored and state sponsored confrontation, Pakistan kept ‘shifting its claims with conflicting statements’ coming out with new found theories and arguments with none of them being supported by anything real and acceptable.
Lal Bahadur Shastri said in the Rajya Sabha on May 3, 1965: “”The pattern of Pakistani activity is this. First raise a claim to a neighbour’s territory; suddenly mount an attack taking the neighbour by surprise; launch an ingenious propaganda campaign to suggest that the action is only of a defensive character”.
One such false claim by Pakistan was on the Rann of Kutch.
“Under the Independence Act, the territories of Pakistan were enumerated and these included the Province of Sind. The official Gazetteer of the Province of Sind published in Karachi in 1907, the Gazateer of India of the Bombay Presidency published in 1909, and the Imperial Gazateer of India published by the British Secretary f State for India in 1908 are all categorical about the Rann of Kutch being outside the Province of Sind. In all the documents of the Political Department of the then British Government of India, of 1937, 1939 and 1942, defining the political charges of various officers, the Rann of Kutch was invariably shown as falling within the Western India States Agency and NEVER as falling within the Province of Sind. The totality of evidence leaves no basis whatsoever for any dispute regarding the border between the Sind Province and Kutch.”
And hence, “Pakistani armed action is an act of naked aggression.” (L B Shastri in the Lok Sabha on April 28, 1965)
International polity has seen many dubious claims and has witnessed many bogus attacks by various countries over the other. But the utter disregard for truth and the magnitude of falsehood employed by Pakistan remains sort of a ‘record’ in the international arena.
In 1960, an agreement was reached between Swaran Singh (India) and Col. Sheikh (Pakistan) for a clear demarcation of the boundaries that is to say ‘exact boundary line would be drawn on the ground’. It by no stretch of imagination spoke of any ‘disputed lands’ or unsettled areas. The discussions were to be to ‘draw a line’ and nothing else.
The Pakistani claim for the Rann of Kutch was therefore never in the agenda for talks. But Pakistan persisted that it should be discussed too. Worse, it opted to take it by force – attacking the unarmed Indian posts and inflicting massive damages.
The British Prime Minister Harold Wilson took initiative of his own and brought about a temporary truce and an ‘unilateral’ peace – naturally from the Indian side was offered on the condition that Pakistan should withdraw its forces from positions and the principle of restoration of ‘status quo ante’ was agreed to.
India made it very clear to the U.K. Prime Minister’s proposal that “Pakistan had no option but to vacate the Rann of Kutch, that is, they could not remain in any of the posts they had established, Kanjarkot, Biarbet or Point 84.” (LBShastri at the State Home Ministers’ Conference in New Delhi on June 6, 1965)
During the same period i.e. in June 1965, the Commonwealth Prime Ministers’ Conference in London paved the way for the Indian Prime Minister Lal Bahadur Shastri visiting several countries including the USSR, England and Canada – stopping for a day in Cairo as well.
In all these countries there was “goodwill for India in abundance”. “They were all our friends and our mutual relations were bound to get strengthened”. Relations with United Arab Republic were “close, friendly and binding”.
Naturally there was great anxiety and also apprehension about a possible escalation of the border conflict.
As Shastri puts it – “I explained to them our point of view and stated that despite the gravest possible provocation, we had acted with great self-restraint and that we were still willing to walk along the path of peace provided aggression was immediately vacated.”
“In all these countries, there was sincere appreciation of the peaceful policies which India has pursued ever since the attainment of Independence”.
The aim was achieved; the purpose was so effectively served. International community could understand and appreciate India’s stand. There was an overwhelming support to India’s cause of regional peace and co-operation. Pakistan stood isolated thoroughly exposed.
This has been the strength of India – always capable of galvanizing the support of the world in its struggle for peace. This is where Pakistan fails so miserably every time it comes out with a sinister plan to disturb normalcy.
The isolation must have made leaders of Pakistan to self interrogation. But sadly, they and turned desperate and frustratingly chose the other option – of intensifying their disinformation campaign and solidly backing the hardcore elements in the Government, in the Army, in the political set-up of Pakistan.
The issue started taking dangerous dimensions within Pakistan with the fundamentalists vying for echelons of power too. They eyed on the possibility of becoming a force to reckon with. Pakistani society offered them a fertile ground to grow. And, they did grow.
That was the time the political leaders of Pakistan gave away their rightful place in governance to the might of their military commanders and to the fancies of religious fundamentalists. Many power centres within Pakistan started emerging strongly – relegating the legitimate authorities of the government to a near non existence.
The next few decades pronounced the worst decay in the relations between two neighbours – with one solidly marching ahead on the strength of unshakeable institutions of democracy and the other placing all its political options at the altar of the Army and the Fundamentalism.
Let us now move on to the most excruciating period in Indo Pakistan relations – the Wars!
Let us start with the India – Pakistan War of 1965!
Author – Baskaran Krishnamurthy, Writer, Columnist & Income Tax officer