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LAHORE: The history of the Indian military hysteria and its hegemonic designs is basically as old as its birth in 1947 and since then, this largest world democracy has not only fought five wars with its neighbours — China and Pakistan, but has also invaded the territories of Hyderabad and Goa, besides brutally crushing the Sikhs, meddling in the affairs of Maldives and intervening in the 1987 Sri Lankan Civil War to allegedly support the rebellious Tamil Tigers.
Therefore, the continuing Indian skirmishes and unprovoked killing spree of its soldiers along the Sialkot Working Boundary should not be a surprise for anyone who knows a bit of history. Here follows the chronology of the Indian military adventurism in this context:
The Indo-Pak War of 1947/1948 was fought over Kashmir. After Independence, all princely states were asked whether they wanted to join India or Pakistan and Kashmir was among those territories. This war had lasted one year, two months, one week and three days to be more precise.
While India had lost 1,500 of its men and had later treated 3,500 of its wounded personnel, some 6,000 Pakistani soldiers were killed in action and 14,000 had received injuries in the line of duty. A formal ceasefire was declared at 23:59 on the night of 1/2 January 1949
The Pakistani side was led by Major General Akbar Khan (also known as General Tariq), who was the key figure behind the unsuccessful March 9, 1951 Soviet-backed coup against the government of Liaquat Ali Khan, the first Prime Minister of Pakistan.
At that time, General Akbar was the chief of general staff of the Pakistani Army. Leading Pakistani poet Faiz Ahmed Faiz was also allegedly one of the civilian conspirators. The army commander-in-chief, General Ayub Khan, and the then Defence Secretary Major General Iskander Mirza had both remained loyal to the government.
After an 18-month trial conducted in secrecy, General Akbar and Faiz Ahmed Faiz were both convicted and sentenced to
long terms of imprisonment. Their defence lawyer was the eminent Bengali Muslim politician Huseyn Shaheed Suhrawardy.
When Suhrawardy became the Prime Minister of Pakistan in 1957, he had gone on to obtain a reprieve for most of the 15 conspirators. In 1971, Zulfikar Ali Bhutto had appointed Major General Akbar Khan as his chief of national security and Faiz Ahmed Faiz was appointed the head of the National Council for Arts.
In 1947, General Akbar was the most senior Muslim General. He had also served as the first ADC of Quaid-i-Azam Muhammed Ali Jinnah. One of his brothers General Iftikhar Khan was supposed to be the army chief, but he died in an air crash, making way for Ayub Khan, who was a brigadier during the 1947-48 War.
General Akbar’s illustrious brothers included General Anwar Khan, Brigadier Muhammad Zafar Khan, Brigadier Afzal and Brigadier Yousaf. Basically, the family had three generals and as many brigadiers — a unique distinction.
1. Hasan Zaheer’s book “The times and trial of the Rawalpindi conspiracy 1951: the first coup attempt in Pakistan,”
2. S.M. Ahmad’s book “A Lucky Pilot: Memoirs of Retired Wing Commander Lanky Ahmad” and
3. Robert Wirsing’s book “Kashmir in the shadow of war: regional rivalries in a nuclear age”]
It was also in 1948 that the Indian Army had undertaken “Operation Polo,” annexing the State of Hyderabad.
Hyderabad’s Nizam Sir Mir Osman Ali Khan Siddiqi Asaf Jah VII (1886-1967) was overthrown, ultimately making the state part of the Indian Union.
The Nizam had amicably ruled Hyderabad between 1911 and 1948, before falling victim to the raging Indian armed forces.
In its report, the Sunderlal Commission appointed by then Indian premier Jawaharlal Nehru had concluded that between 27,000 and 40,000 people had lost their lives during and after this police action in Hyderabad.
Other estimates have put this figure at 200,000, or even higher.
[References: A September 24, 2013 BBC Report]
In December 1961, the Indian armed forces ended 451 years of Portuguese colonial rule in Goa by invading this port city, leading to its annexation. This operation called “Operation Vijay,” which involved air, sea and land strikes for over 36 hours, had resulted in 22 Indian and 30 Portuguese deaths.
During the India-China war of October-November 1962, China had attacked India with the objective to take Arunachal Pradesh. A disputed 3,225-kilometre-long Himalayan border was the main pretext for the war, but other issues played a role. The war had ended when the Chinese declared a ceasefire on November 20, 1962 and had simultaneously announced its withdrawal from the disputed area. This combat, in which the Indian forces had received a lot of battering at the hands of their Chinese counterparts, was even fought at altitudes of over 4,000 metres (14,000 feet).
While not less than 1,383 Indian soldiers were killed, 1,047 were wounded, 1,696 had gone missing and 3,968 were captured, China had lost 722 of its men and 1,697 were wounded.
[Reference: The 1965 report of Indian Defence Ministry and estimates of the US Army]
In September 1965, India again fought with Pakistan, primarily over the Kashmir issue. This war had ended in a United Nations-mandated ceasefire and the subsequent signing of the Tashkent Declaration.
Neutral estimates suggested India had lost over 3,000 men, between 150 and 190 tanks and between 60 and 75 aircraft. Pakistan claimed it killed 8,200 Indian troops, capturing or destroying over 50 tanks and gaining 2,600 sq km plus territory.
Pakistan, on the other hand, had lost 3,800 soldiers, between 200 and 300 tanks and some 20 aircraft. Indians said they killed 5,259 Pakistani soldiers, destroying 471 tanks and capturing around 2,000 sq km of territory.
1. Lon O’ Nordeen’s book “Air Warfare in the Missile Age,”
2. Robert Johnson’s boom “A region in turmoil: South Asian conflicts since 1947” and
3. Leonard Thomas’s book “Encyclopedia of the developing world]
The 13-day December 1971 India-Pakistan war had led to the creation of Bangladesh. Between 90,000 and 93,000 members of the Pakistan armed forces, including paramilitary personnel, were taken as prisoners of war by the Indian Army.
A Washington DC-based think tank “Global Security.org” and historian Leonard Thomas’s book “Encyclopedia of the developing world” claim 97,368 Pakistani soldiers were captured by their Indian counterparts in East Pakistan.
It is estimated that between 2,000,000 and 3,000,000 civilians were also killed in Bangladesh.
1. Hussain Haqqani’s book “Between the Mosque and Military,”
2. Samuel Martin Burke’s book “Mainsprings of Indian and Pakistani foreign policies” and
3. Senator Edward Kennedy’s 1971 report submitted to the US Senate Judiciary Committee]
India had lost 843 of its men and 9,851 were wounded, while the Pakistan Army had lost 9,000 of its soldiers and another 4,350 troops donning the Khaki uniform were wounded.
Pakistan claimed it had also damaged a good number of western Indian airfields and had made 130 Indian Air Force aircraft bite the dust. India said it had lost only 45 aircraft though.
Similarly, while India said it had made 94 Pakistani planes hit the ground, Pakistan asserted the number had actually stood at 42 only.
[The Parliament of India Website, Indian Air Chief Marshal P. C. Lal’s book “My days with the Indian Air Force” and the official website of Pakistan Air Force]
In June 1984, Premier Indira Gandhi had ordered the invasion of Harmandir Sahib Complex or the Golden Temple in Amritsar to fight and nail down Jarnail Singh Bhinderanwale and his comrades.
According to the official estimates presented by the Indian government, 492 civilians were killed in “Operation Blue Star,” though some independent claims run to 5,000 or higher. The Indian Army said it had lost 136 of its men in the process too.
It was again in 1984 that the Indian armed forces had launched an operation to capture the Siachen Glacier in the disputed Kashmir region.
In September 1984, an Indian helicopter piloted by Wing Commander Naqvi and Co-pilot Squadron Leader Suvendu Mohan Sam Gupta, was allegedly shot down at a high-altitude, leading to one of the first few casualties of the Indian Air Force in the “Operation Meghdoot”.
A large number of soldiers from both sides had suffered frostbite and high altitude sickness, or were lost to avalanches or crevasses during patrols.
During the 1987 Sri Lankan civil war, India had deployed its peacekeeping force in Sri Lanka to assist in restoring the law and order. However, after a few months, the Indian peace keeping force engaged the rebellious Tamil Tigers in a series of battles.
But surprisingly on June 5, 1987, the Indian Air Force had airdropped food parcels in Jaffna, while it was under siege by the Sri Lankan forces.
[Reference: A June 5, 1987 report authored by Steven Weisman for The New York Times]
At a time when the Sri Lankan government stated they were close to defeating the Tamil Tigers, India had dropped 25 tonnes of food and medicines by parachute into the areas held by the Tamil Tigers in a direct move of support toward the rebels. However, some 214 Indian soldiers had lost lives in this battle.
In November 1998, India claimed it had prevented a coup in the Maldives. During its “Operation Cactus,” the Indian Army said it had foiled an attempt by a group of Maldivians, led by a rebel Abdullah Luthufi, whose men had quickly gained control of the capital, including the major government buildings, airport, port and television and radio stations.
However, they failed to capture President Gayoom, who fled the scene and had asked for military intervention from India, the United States, and the United Kingdom. Indian Prime Minister Rajiv Gandhi had immediately dispatched 1,600 troops by air to restore order in Male.
[Reference: Institute of Peace and Conflict Studies]
During the Kargil war of 1999, Pakistan had captured a few important peaks which overlooked the Kashmir-Ladakh highways. India officially said 527 of its soldiers were killed, 1,363 were wounded, only one was made to surrender and taken as a prisoner of war and just one of its fighter jet had crashed in the conflict.
Instead, Pakistan said it had killed 1,600 Indians carrying guns. Pakistan claimed between 357 and 453 of its men had laid down lives during this war, some 665 had sustained injuries and eight of its soldiers had gone into the Indian hands as prisoners of war. India said it killed over 700 Pakistani soldiers. The war is one of the most recent examples of high altitude warfare in mountainous terrain, which had caused significant logistical problems for the combating sides.