I must explain my unprecedented long absence from blogging. I was not well for more than the past month. It started with an attack of pharyngitis and laryngitis which later became a urinary bladder infection. The need for prostate surgery soon followed. I am resting and recuperating at home since I was discharged from the hospital on Sept 26, 2015. I have kept myself busy by catching up with my book reviews, which you will find in my website, “Prem Rao, Stories From A Story Teller,” and on my reading.
I would like to share a few of the articles that I enjoyed reading. The first is a very seasoned and distinguished Foreign Service Officer, K. Shankar Bajpai’s take on the 50 years since the War against Pakistan ended in 1965. He was the Ambassador to Pakistan, China, and the United States so he presumably writes with a great deal of authority in this piece in The Hindu, titled,“Fifty Years And None The Wiser.”
Many experts felt that we failed to press home the advantage in the ’65 War. That we were too hasty in succumbing to international pressure in accepting a cease-fire, and giving up hard-fought victories like the Haji Pir Pass. What made the Chief of Army Staff, Gen. Chaudhuri say that we had spent most of our ammunition when that apparently was not the case is astounding, to say the least!
Was the lack of decisive leadership something we have inherited from the past? Was it a consequence of Nehru’s lack of decisive leadership when it mattered the most? We know what happened when the Indo-China conflict took place in 1962. Many have called it the most humiliating defeat in the history of India’s armed forces. Brigadier John Dalvi’s book, “The Himalayan Blunder” written by a survivor of the battles who commanded the ill-fated 7th Infantry Brigade, describes the chaos and lack of planning that resulted in such a defeat.
We may have got things wrong even before then, perhaps way back when India had just become independent and had to fight off Pakistani raiders. Sanjay Dixit has this very interesting article, “The Original Himalyan Blunder” on how we seemed to have given up the province of Gilgit Wazarat, part of the kingdom of the Maharaja of Kashmir, without a fight. Whether this Muslim-dominated area had to retained by India or given up as part of a negotiated strategy is another matter but it seems to have been pretty much snatched away by Pakistan before India could react meaningfully.
Decades have passed since then and the Pakistanis continue to send infiltrators into the Indian State of Jammu & Kashmir. Would things have been different if we had acted differently in 1947-48? And, again in 1965? No one can say for sure, but it certainly appears we threw away many advantages we had in those days.