India and the World chapter 6: Big win of the Little man ( The Man of Peace)
“He was a little great man whose education and background were completely Indian. And yet destiny cast him in a mould which has few parallels in our modern times.” (Late Indian President Dr. Zakir Hussain’s tribute to Lal Bahadur Shastri)
One has to be happy when something good happens. A matter of joy is meant to be enjoyed.
A day of achievement normally drives out thoughts of negativity from one’s mind – at least temporarily. A moment of fulfillment, in general, makes one to be helpful and generous – forgetting the ignominies of the past. India displayed this quality in great style; Pakistan behaved very differently.
Independence had taken away a significant portion of its land from India. It was in fact a moment of loss to India rather than one of victory. It was the opposite for Pakistan.
They had a Nation, with the Sovereignty and Statehood fully of its own. Their freedom was in fact fought for and secured by unmatchable sacrifices of millions of Gandian workers all over India. Pakistan owed so much to India for their independence. This blatant truth is, till date, not acknowledged by any Pakistani – from their rulers to commanders to scholars to activists unto the common man.
Can Pakistan identify a single nation in the world, apart from India and of course England, for their independent Nationhood? Mahatma Gandhi and other leaders did oppose the partition but they never uttered a word against ‘Pakistanis’! Not a word; never once.
On 15th August 1947, there was not a hint of disappointment over the division to be seen in India. It was all a feel of euphoria and a sense of emancipation all over the country. If it was ecstasy in India, it should have been elation, exultation and much more in Pakistan. Was it so? NO.
The new born country Pakistan missed a historic moment of feeling elated at its birth and taking a message of universal brotherhood to the world. A little more beholden attitude and a lot more sensible approach would have served much greater purpose to the new nation.
Pakistan not only lost out but also got lost in a self inflicted disgrace – fostered by its own leaders who refused to look beyond their political gains. They decided to chase a horse which was never there; nurtured an ambition which was never to be achieved.
Pakistan’s aggressive postures resulted in tussles, conflicts and unprovoked attacks that led to Wars that brought defeats and defamation and labeled it as a war mongering country. Kashmir War of 1947 was only a beginning of a disgraceful journey for Pakistan.
Pakistan made an unsuccessful attempt in October 1947 for a forceful accession of Kashmir region. It encouraged, supported and joined the ‘Pashtun’ tribals in their illegal infiltration. This in a way helped precipitate an early decision by the Maharaja of Jammu and Kashmir on the question of accession of the region. Following the assurances given by India, the Maharaja settled the issue in favour of India.
On the request of Maharaja, India air-lifted its troops to Kashmir; fought against the Pakistani forces; evicted them from their posts and won decisively against Pakistan in its first encounter which was more a sporadic quarrel and fight than a war.
Respecting the conventions of international relations, India did not immediately forced the Pakistani troops out of the areas it occupied illegally. This remains a point of disapproval in Indian political circles till date as they contend that Nehru squandered the chance to instantly drive Pakistan out of what is called today ‘Pakistan Occupied Kashmir’ (POK)
The mater did not end there. It escalated into a more grievous war in 1965. The absence of Jawaharlal Nehru and in his place, a ‘ low profile’ Prime Minister in office, might have perhaps triggered Pakistan to engage in a War with India. It was a gross miscalculation by Pakistan to have underestimated the class and caliber of one of India’s finest leaders.
Lal Bahadur Shastri, an out and out ‘indigenous’ leader, displayed the captaincy of an exemplary quality and gave a fitting reply to Pakistan’s aggression.
On the other side, the Pakistani President General Ayub Khan went ahead with his ill conceived plan and met with an inevitable defeat at the hands of the skilful Indian army.
The war was fought severely in Punjab and Rajasthan. While Pakistan ‘managed’ to occupy a few miles in the desert of Rajasthan, India captured fertile lands of Pakistan’s Punjab and registered handsome gains all over.
The desperation of Pakistan was so evident that it really cried for a ceasefire at the United Nations.
The “conflict commenced on the 5th August 1965 and as demanded by the Security Council a ceasefire was to be ordered at 12;30 pm IST on 22nd September 1965.”
Lal Bahadur Shastri, in his statement in Parliament on Sep 22 1965 said – “Government of India, in letters of September 14 and 15, 1965 to the Secretary General, stated in detail and without any ambiguity that India would order a ceasefire without any pre-conditions on being informed that Pakistan had agreed to do the same”.
“Throughout yesterday, there was no further message from the Secretary General but in early hours of this morning we received a message from him advising us to order a unilateral ceasefire in compliance with the relevant portions of the Security Council resolution, with the proviso that our troops could fire back if they were attacked. This, of course, was entirely impossible. In a battle which is continuing, it is just not possible for one side to ask its soldiers to stop firing, leaving the other side free to continue its operations. Our representative at the United Nations was, therefore, instructed to inform the Secretary General accordingly.”
The firm stand taken by Lal Bahadur Shastri in defiance of the Security Council had its impact. Within minutes of the decision conveyed to the U.N.O., the Foreign Minister of Pakistan requested an emergency meeting of the Security Council. It was held and Pakistan made announcement therein that it would issue orders for a ceasefire and cessation of hostilities. Only on receiving an officially communication in this regard from the United Nations did India issue requisite orders to be effective from 3:30 am of 23rd September 1965.
Later, Shastri put it in his speech thus: “by their valour and heroism, our armed forces have given a new confidence to the people of India.”
Why was Pakistan so scared of continuation of the war?
The neutral, foreign correspondents were unanimous in their assessment that India had a clear upper hand scoring a near total victory and that Pakistan suffered a heavy damage that would have led to total annihilation.
In the first week of September, Indian army had penetrated deep into the Pakistan territory that they were a just a few kilometers from the Lahore Airport. Ironically, if not ridiculously, Pakistan ‘celebrates’ September 6 as ‘Defence Day’ for having ‘successfully’ defended the Lahore city from the Indian onslaught!!!
Many Pakistanis blamed Gen. Ayub Khan for the shameful defeat not ready to accept the fact that an Indian victory in any case would have been the logical result – whomsoever had led the Pakistani troops.
Pakistan army, naturally, could not digest the fitting response (‘asal uttar’) of the Indian forces in the war of 1965. But they did not know then a much worse defeat was very much in the offing for them.
It came in another 6 years – in 1971. This time, India had a ‘Durga’ to take Pakistan for a ride.
Author – Baskaran Krishnamurthy, Writer, Columnist & Income Tax officer