Pakistan army’s penchant for mutilation and how to deal with it

It is either a serious breach of discipline, or it is implementation of a considered policy by the Pakistan army High Command. In either case, it reflects poorly on the Pakistan Army that, until Partition in 1947, was part of the Indian Army that has exalted personal ‘honour’ above all other virtues. It seems to be a deliberate policy because there’s a discernible pattern to the beheadings, the gouging out of eyes, the cutting off of genitals dating from the Kargil skirmish, which evidenced the extreme brutality visited upon Captain Kalia, by the Northern Light Infantry intruders, revealing a regression to primitive warfare.  In the latest incident in the Sona Gali area of Poonch, variously the 22 Baloch, the 29 Baloch, and the Special Service Group commando, have been held responsible for the barbarity. (There is even talk of the terrorist LeT being part of the raiding party working under Pakistan Army aegis that actually committed the atrocity, though this story seems to be a belated Pakistani attempt to distance the army from this heinous act.) That several different regiments are talked of as having engaged in such inhumane practices suggests that a policy of mutilation was carried out by Pakistan Army soldiers  under orders. May be, the Pakistan Army action was in retaliation for one of its jawans killed in the Uri sector two days previous. But that does not justify the post-death horrors inflicted on the bodies of the slain Indian troopeers.

Islamabad certainly jumped on the opportunity to get the UN involved in a Kasmir-related issue, setting a trap by getting India to agree to the UN Military Obesrver Group for India and Pakistan (UNMOGIP)  investigating and judging the veracity of what Pakistan claims are mere allegations of mutilation. Fortunately, GOI did not fall for this ruse. India has paid a heavy price for involving the UN in 1948 when it could easily have taken back all of J&K, including the Northern Areas (Gilgit and Baltistan) under Pakistni occupation, but Nehru sought UN intervention instead in the expectation of a fair verdict requiring Pakistan to vacate all the areas previously part of the erstwhile princely state of J&K that had acceded to the Indian Union. That didn’t happen, and India has been discommoded ever since.

That leaves the Indian Army to mete out condign punishment in any manner it chooses below the bilateral relations-diplomatic radar. This the Indian Army, hopefully, will do. After all, what is the Special Forces commando, penny-packeted as force reserve with the GOC-in-C, Northern Command meant for other than to mount, among other things,  severe punitive missions on such occasions? Meanwhile, Indian TV comperes frothing at the mouth should wipe the foam of their lips, calm down, and the GOI get back to the normalization talks. This is an issue between the armies — a bit of intra-mural blood sport the two forces have been indulging in since the Line of Control came into being in J&K. The Indian Army will do whatever it has in mind to do, in its own time, to exact a heavy enough cost on its Pakistani counterpart for the latter to rethink its policy of excess.

About Bharat Karnad

Senior Fellow in National Security Studies at the Centre for Policy Research, New Delhi, he was Member of the (1st) National Security Advisory Board and the Nuclear Doctrine-drafting Group, and author, among other books of, 'Nuclear Weapons and Indian Security: The Realist Foundations of Strategy', 'India's Nuclear Policy' and most recently, 'Why India is Not a Great Power (Yet)'. Educated at the University of California (undergrad and grad), he was Visiting Scholar at Princeton University, University of Pennsylvania, the Shanghai Institutes of International Studies, and Henry L. Stimson Center, Washington, DC.
This entry was posted in Asian geopolitics, India's Pakistan Policy, Indian Army, Pakistan, Pakistan military, Special Forces, Terrorism. Bookmark the permalink.

15 Responses to Pakistan army’s penchant for mutilation and how to deal with it

  1. RV says:

    The only way to stop this barbarism by the Pakistani army would be for the Indian Army to retaliate with equal or worse brutality towards Pakistani soldiers. One cannot fight these people using Marquis of Queensbury rules or the Geneva Convention! The Punjabi mussalman is basically a bully, who will inflict extreme cruelty on another person till he is walloped over the head, at which point all his bravado ceases and he becomes a boot licker. The martial race theory of the Punjabi mussalman is bunk, and nobody knows that better than the Sikh, the Afghan, and of course, the British who created the myth.

    Perhaps the Pentagon and the CIA are the only two outfits that tenaciously cling onto the myth of the martial characteristics of the Pakistani army and the Punjabi mussalman. This link interestingly in a Pakistani news forum, accurately rips apart the misconception of the “martial prowess” of the Punjabi mussalman controlled Pakistani Army, and is worth reading:

    http://tribune.com.pk/story/444417/is-the-pakistan-army-martial/

    INSURANCE SHOULD THE ARTICLE BE REMOVED
    __________________________________________
    Is the Pakistan army martial?

    By Aakar Patel Published: September 29, 2012

    Are Punjabi Muslims martial? Do they have a history of war and conquest or at least of resistance to conquest? I ask because there’s no evidence of their martial character in our history. No general, no subedar, no thanedar, no wazir, no bakhshi of the Mughal empire was a Punjabi Muslim so far as I know.

    I might be wrong about this but there are only two Punjabi Muslims named in Mughal texts. The first is Kamaal Khan Gakkhar, who submitted (without fighting) to Akbar in 1576, according to Akbarnama. The second is Jalal Khan Gakkhar, an old man named among the victims by Jahangir in a skirmish with Afghans in 1620. A third reference is indirect, the name of the author of Shah Jahan’s Padishahnama is Shaikh Abdul Hamid “Lahori”. The Ain-e-Akbari has one joint reference to Janjuas and Awans, calling them tribes conquered by Afghans. There are of course Punjabi Hindus (mainly Khatris) who fought for the Mughals with distinction. Like Todar Mal, who led the sapping at the siege of Chittorgarh against the Sisodiya Rajputs, and also settled the revenue system for Akbar. Maathir ul Umara says Todar Mal was born in Lahore, though British scholars thought this was Laharpur in Awadh.

    Where are the Punjabi Muslims? The fact is that the Punjabi Muslim is a convert mainly from the peasantry (Jat) which is not martial. General Ashfaq Parvez Kayani is Gakkhar, a caste that claims Rajput ancestry. The second Rohtas fort was built by Sher Khan Suri to pacify the Gakkhars. In his Tuzuk, Jahangir makes the remark in passing that the Gakkhars are warlike, but adds that they only fight among themselves. Meanwhile Rajput, Afghan, Maratha, Sikh, Jat (Hindu) and tribal Hindu generals all fought for and against Mughal armies. Rajputs had to be continually submitted by force, except for the loyal Kachwahas of Ambar (Jaipur). Right down to Aurangzeb, according to Maasir-e-Alamgiri, Mewar’s Sisodiyas and Marwar’s Rathors resisted the emperor. I clarify here that Muslims other than Punjabis fought the Mughals, and some very well.

    Uttar Pradesh’s Rohilla Afghans were enemies of the Mughals and one of them (Najibud Daulah) ruled from Mughal Delhi for 10 years. Turkish-speaking Turani Sunnis and Farsi-speaking Irani Shias were the most important parties in the Mughal court. The former ranked as better fighters than the latter, who were better administrators. The fiercest Indian-origin Muslims were Shias, the Syeds of Barha (in Uttar Pradesh). The Maratha light cavalry was devastating and ended Muslim rule over India. The Sikhs captured Punjab and raided west up to Kabul and east up to the Doab. The Jats south of Delhi made life miserable for the later Mughals. Even the Baniya general Hemu showed martial character, almost ending Mughal rule before falling at the second battle of Panipat.

    What exactly did the Punjabi Muslim do? Invaders who got past Peshawar could then only be stopped at Karnal or Panipat because they went through Punjab undisturbed. It is true that the armies of both Nadir Shah and Ahmed Shah Abdali were harassed in Punjab on their return with Mughal booty, but their attackers were Sikhs, not Muslims. Punjab was a quiet state. Punjabi Muslims neither rebelled against Mughal Delhi nor fought any invader whether Afghan or Persian. Was this because the Punjabi did not want to fight other Muslims? Not really, because he did not even resist being conquered easily by Sikhs.

    It is the Englishman who 150 years ago gave the Punjabi Muslim a rifle and taught him how to use it. But this did not require any martial background. The British Bengal army was full of UP Brahmins (like Mangal Pandey). It is only after this formation of the modern regiments, that Punjabi Muslims are called martial by writers like GF MacMunn. After the English left, the record of Punjabi Muslims at war under their own generals is not sterling. I count one draw and one loss and I’m being charitable. Against the Pashtun Talib the record is not encouraging, despite the thousands of martyrs. Nadir Shah said of Indian Muslims after the battle of Karnal that they “know how to die, but not how to fight”.

    This is fine and many states of India are not martial. Few soldiers were produced by Bengal’s Hindus for instance, and not many by Gujarat even today. But they don’t have the militant bombast of the Punjabi Muslim (who apparently equals 10 Hindus). I’m just wondering what this bombast is based on because I cannot figure it out.

    Published in The Express Tribune, September 30th, 2012.

  2. Shaurya says:

    The above article is not true and is biased. While it may be good psy-ops, it is not true. Try to trace the various jatis in Sindh and Punjab and see what patterns you find. Also traverse through the ganga valley and the converts there and again, see the patterns that emerge.

    On the beheadings, Arun Shourie has put it best, a jaw for a broken tooth is the answer.

    • RV says:

      Which portions do you claim are untrue or biased and why? Since it is a trifle difficult to trace for some unknown/unspecified patterns which you state are hidden in the various jatis in Sindh and Punjab, though it is certainly exciting and most pertinent since the Punjabi mussalman is indeed a curious creature, could you please expand on your statement and share some of your invaluable experience and wisdom with us? Thanks!

      • Shaurya says:

        RV: There is no one piece that will prove this. One will have to wade through a lot of material and come to a certain judgment, no who converted, when and how. My only point is “many” of the first converts were kshatriyas and with good reason. Also, before you read too much into it, it was not because of lack of valor. The condition was primarily to do with the socio-economic order of hindu society. Read folks like KS Lal, Dilip Karenth, Ghaus Ansare, the first british census of India in 1871, understanding the socio-economic conditions of medieval India, documented sources of islamic chronicles, Hindu manuscripts of the times. You may well come to a different conclusion than mine. There is also recent work by Chrisitine Fair on the recruitments made into the PA by district and it is interesting to note some patterns there. Anyways good luck.

  3. Shaurya says:

    Also, there was no need for sarcasm, by way of comments such as “invaluable experience” et al. We are all here to learn and be informed.

    • RV says:

      What else is there for one to resort to other than sarcasm when something is called biased and untrue, but no explicit reasons given as to why it is denigrated? You’ve still not given an explicit reason as to why the said article is biased and untrue and what are the “patterns” one needs to go through! Even in the “reading list” you’ve cited above, you have not tacitly described as to what findings in the literature shows which particular portion of the said article to be biased and untrue.

      • Shaurya says:

        The problem is folks like you refuse to read and be informed but are quick to resort to sarcasm. Here is one more time, with some details.

        Almost 60% of the population of the Pakistani Punjab comprises of Rajputs and Jats and the various branches of their race such as Awans, Khokhars, Ghakkars, Khattars, Janjuas, Arains, Gujjars, etc.

        The main (Muslim) Rajput tribes of the Punjab are: Bhatti, Punwar, Chauhan, Minhas, Tiwana, Noon, Ranghar, Khokhar, Ghakkar, Meo, Chib, Gheba, Jodhra, Janjua, Sial and Wattu etc.

        Ranghars and Meos are described to be of Rajput/Jat origin who were converted to Islam during the time of Qutbuddin Aibak. Kahutas are a mixed Mughal and Rajput tribe.
        Khokhars are sometimes returned as Jats and sometimes as Rajputs.

        In Pakistan, Rajput and Jat tribes are so mixed up that it is difficult to distinguish one from the other at many places and in several cases. Some of the Rajput tribes are probably of Jat origin and vice versa.

        The question is not whether Jats are Rajputs are not. In Sindh the Sumro and Sooma clans, ruled for 600 years from 10th century onwards.

        There was lateral and vertical movement in Jatis and individuals. The ossification of castes did strengthen during muslim rule but did not get concrete till British rule.

        The question is not about the martial character of the punjabi muslims, but the question is do a significant portion of Punjabi muslims and especially those serving in the Pakistan military consider themselves and are likely to have a kshatriya ancestry and the answer is a resounding yes.

        If you read KS Lal, it would be more clear to you, why and who converted.

        The article seeks to mock at the supposed marital character by taking examples from history to prove a point but misses the elephant in the room – which is the traces of a good portion of punjabi muslims to kshatriya jatis.

  4. RV says:

    Shaurya: Now you make sense, and thanks for the info. It’s not that I don’t want to read, but its an issue of giving logical reasons to knock down the article. I have a counter-point to your above explanation. Can the examples from history given in the article be entirely ignored?

  5. Shaurya says:

    The correct lessons will have to be gleaned from history. Which is the muslims of India are as good or as bad in their martial characteristics as the Hindus of the land. Conversion did not provide to them mythical capabilities.

    For our times, it is important to note that Islamic theology is incompatible with a pluralistic and diverse society, which is what the land mass always was and is. It is this theology, which is deeply political at its core masquerading as a religion that should not be provided space to exist in the lands we live in.

    For India it means, its muslims should be assimilated, which is not happening under the guise of secularism. For Pakistan, it means India should do everything in its power to temper the effects of Islamic theology in Pakistan and seek to co-opt the state and its peoples, which can happen only through engagement.

    One can make hate a foundation of policy only so far. Greater India has 500+ million muslims to deal with and surrounded by muslim states in the NW and SE.

    • arunks says:

      Why dont you permanently relocate to pakistan to make your dreams of greater India a reality? As a south-NE Indian, i dont give a damn for you and your greater india dreams and your megalamoniac aspirations of co-opting 500m muslims. Seems to me, your agenda is not in line with those of ordinary indians, who just want to live in peace and dont give a fig about partition era nonsense and dreams of reclaiming territory or akhand bharat or greater india or whatever. If these are what get your hopes up, relocate to pakistan, live there and preach. Instead of constantly trying to suborn indian interests by negotiating away land and territory which you dont own, all in the guise of your personal agenda of somehow making the pakistanis accept your cockeyed plans.

      • arunks says:

        Furthermore, it deeply incenses me & many more like me, that India has to pay the price for your unresolved mental issues of making nice with your beloved Pakistanis, your former friends/neighbours whatever, by having to bend over for Pakistan, at every opportunity.

        First, you are on an quasi-religious ego trip where you think that by patronizing or preaching to 500m muslims, they will somehow magically understand how they are not pluralistic enough as they should have been in glorious Sindh or Pakistani punjab or wherever you claim origin from, never mind it was likely a prison for minorities as it currently is..and they will then convert to whatever kool-aid you provide. They are more likely to kill you. But that you won’t do. Instead you will eat off India and then make a hole in the very plate that you eat from.

        Second, instead of defending your new home, you and your other sidekicks want to negotiate away the rare bits of territory India currently holds in the guise of buying peace.

        Third, you seem to have a curious affinity towards these very Pakistanis who kicked you out, quick as you are to defend their pretensions to martial valour on the basis of specious ethnological studies and the like! In reality, most of these Pakistanis rolled over and served various masters, whether they be Afghan, Mughal or Sikh.

        If you truly had an iota of sense or self respect, you would relocate to Pakistan yourself and try your whimsical ideas for yourself. Instead, you would rather have India give up Siachen and other areas it purchased with the blood of soldiers, while offering up as support sarkari think tank soldiers (including one who was shunted out for non performance at Kargil) who like you, have only pelft to gain, and nothing personal to lose if these territories have to be regained at the point of a sword.

  6. Rohan says:

    Mr. Karnad, have you seen the way the Indian and Pakistani border guards glower at each other at the gate closing ceremony at Wagah? The animosity is almost medieval, which is why I’m not surprised that the Pakistanis resort to things like beheading and mutilation. For a lot of the soldiers on the other side, and for some on our side as well, this is a medieval ethnic conflict going back a thousand years.

  7. Shaurya says:

    arunks: Abuse is a poor excuse for a discussion. You abuse because you have no arguments, except for fear, uncertainty and doubt. Hating of peoples and a myopic vision counts for national strategy, not. Do not expect a response. There is nothing to respond, to your slander and lies.

  8. sid says:

    I think historically we have failed to manifest as a homogenous entity more so when it comes to dealing with Pakistan. Even the holocaust pales in front of what our POWs (vintage ’65 & ’71) have to undergo even till this very day in the decrepit dungeons of the Mad Republic of Pakistan. Why Pakistan, haven’t we seen solid evidence of our uniformed men being distributed as bonded slaves across the Arab world? (For the uninitiated, google Sepoy Jaspal Singh – Masirah Prison, Oman).

    The fact that they will keep on innovating on brutality is a foregone conclusion. What remains to be seen is whether a race that traces its origins to the primordial sound can show that it can pack a telling punch when pushed to the limits or has the time for final capitulation arrived.

    The difference between Israel and us is one of aligning with national identity – which in their case is religion – the love for which generates unflinching loyalty. Out here, years of secularism (I really dont know what that means anymore) has ensured that we work overtime to sink our glorious ‘Sanatanite’ past and slip further into the quagmire of confusion every time the clock ticks.

    And the clock wont stop!!

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