Vantage point

Friday, June 06, 2003


As you can see from the right bar of this blog, currently I am reading Mein Kampf. I have been busy with finishing my project report over the past fortnight and so did not get much time to read it, except for the times when I was travelling in buses.

I have finished about half of the book and I will write a post about my overall impression about the book later. However, there is one thing that struck me which I just have to write about.

Hitler did not hold the German press in high esteem. He says their approach to propaganda was all wrong. Before the war, they kept portraying Britain as the proverbial 'Nation of shopkeepers'. The stereotype painted in German minds, through cartoons, articles etc was that your average Britisher is a "shrewd" businessman, but a "coward" when it comes to fighting. On the other hand the British press always painted an average German as some ruthless cold blooded Barbarian(!). What happened as a result was that when the first WW started, the Germans took it a bit easy, because they expected the poms to be cowards and only 'shrewd'. The poms however were prepared for an army of 'Huns'. The result is there for all to see.

Notice how this exactly fits the Indo-Pak propaganda relationship? In Pkistan, the Indian (or rather the 'Hindu') is painted in the very same light. Those exact words are used, "shrewd" and "coward". Ayub Khan said during the 1965 war that "One Pakistani is equal to 10 Indians", or something to that effect. In India however, the image of the Pakistani is that of a bearded fanatic Jihadi. This is why whenever India and Pakistan have met in the battlefield, it is the former that has come up successful.

In 1948, whatever territory was captured in kashmir was captured BEFORE Hari Singh asked the Indian army to move in. Once he did so, the march of the Pakistanis (tribals...armymen, you pick) was halted by the Indian army and we would probably have won back a lot of the territory had the whole UNSC thing not happened.

In 1965, the war was initiated by Pakistan. Ayub Khan expected a rebellion to break out in Kashmir after the Pakistani attack and he expected Kashmir to "fall into Pakistani laps". That was quite a lapse, if you ask me. The Pakistanis, already buoyed by the humiliating defeat China had inflicted on India three years back, expected a cakewalk. But they were repelled on almost every front. They lost what is regarded as the biggest tank battle since WW2. They did not gain any territory. Again, if it had not been for a ceasefire, they might have ended up losing territory. But when you start a war and don't win any territory, it is a defeat, though some may call it a "draw".

In 1971, we started the war on 22nd November. Not only was the huge inflow of Bengali refugees, numbering in millions, straining our infrastructure, but it was also a golden opportunity to neutralise one of the three hostile borders India had then. So, contrary to what most Indians believe, we started the war. And it was a well planned war, with Maneckshaw resisting Indira's pressure and delaying military action by 6 months. The arming of the Mukti Bahini at all, the whole process was an example of tactical brilliance and military superiority. In the end we inflicted a crushing defeat on Pakistan, cutting it into two.

But you know something funny. Pakistanis are still told that India won the 71 war due to its "shrewdness" rather than bravery. They don't realise that it was the might of the Indian army that forced a whopping 92,000 Pakistanis to surrender themselves as POWs. In spite of this, the stereotype painted is still "shrewd cowards" while they are said to be epitomes of bravery.

A similar mistake is being made in Kashmir, and so the sponsoring of terrorism for 2 decades. They thought that like the Soviets got sick and left Afghanistan, India would get sick and leavce Kashmir. It has been 15 years now and frankly, the Indian forces in Kashmir aren't clamouring for an exit. Yet more and more Pakistanis and PoK-Kashmiris pour into J&K for "freedom struggle". This is because the stereotype painted is that Indian army only rapes women and commits atrocities on children and old people. While these claims in itself are somewhat half-truths, no one in Pakistan reports that the Indian army has been very competent in fighting the jihadis. It has been 15 years and the terror policy has borne no fruit. Because Pakistanis live with the "shrewd coward" stereotype of the Indian army.

Which is why you have misadventures like Kargil. India could pull off Siachen. We could occupy the heights and stay there. However Pakistan could not pull off Kargil. As the first televised war in India showed, the intruders of the Pakistani army were thrown out, peak by peak, until 90% of the area had been cleared. It was then that Clinton told Sharief to withdraw the forces. Big deal, hardly any people were left.

And even now the mistake continues. Instead of being good losers and honestly accepting Kargil as a blunder and a defeat, both strategically and tactically, more propaganda is being peddled. Kargil is said to have been a victory that Nawaz "sold out" under American pressure. They don't see that the fiercely patriotic Indian army is as brave and committed as any army. They keep painting stereotypes and inventing excuses.

You know, despite all this racial hogwash that Hitler has written, I believe that there is no difference between races in terms of their fighting skills. It is not something genetic, but something that is a result of training and dedication. This stereotype of "Brave strong Punjabis and Pathans" vs "Short skinny Hindus" is a stereotype, which very frankly, is beneficial for India. In military terms, it is always better to overestimate the enemy than underestimate them.

So as long as this egoistic propaganda is kept up, India will continue to get the better of any encounters in the battlefield. Which is why if any Pakistani newspaper or leader (read 'General') wants to keep calling me and my countrymen "shrewd cowards", I will smile and accept it as a compliment, because in the long run, it hurts them more. :-)