“I had to look three times to make sure I was seeing right. Balanced on one knee, in a tiny alley behind the army’s administrative offices, I was peering through a hole in a corrugated tin sheet. At first glance, all I could see were some leaves. I looked harder and amidst all the green, there was a hint of black—it looked like a moustache.
“‘Look again,’ said the army colonel, in a tone that betrayed suppressed excitement. This time, I finally saw. It was a head, the disembodied face of a slain soldier nailed onto a tree. ‘The boys got it as a gift for the brigade,’ said the colonel, softly, but proudly.”
This was how one of India’s ace TV anchors described a scene from the Indian side of the Kargil war. The article was published in Himal magazine [archived at the Hoot] in June 2001. The trophy she described may be assumed to be the head of a Pakistani soldier. Had this narrative been shared with the TV audiences during the ongoing description of Pakistani cruelty against Indian soldiers, and recast as what surely seems like a gory practice indulged in by not just the Indian army, but possibly all armies everywhere (the Americans urinating on the corpses in Afghanistan, for example), my guess is that the television debate on the tensions on the LoC would be less one-sided.
We don’t need Akira Kurosawa to show how there are usually several sides to a story, as happens to be the case in the narrative between the militaries of India and Pakistan. There are at least two rival claims and many more denials in New Delhi about how one alleged incident on the LoC led to another. There was the Pakistani version to begin with, on January 6. It claimed that Indian troops broke the ceasefire in the Hajipir sector of the LoC and killed one of their troops.
Then of course there was the January 8 episode, in which the Pakistanis are supposed to have entered Indian-controlled territory in the Mendhar sector. Two Indian jawans were killed and at least one of them was beheaded. The Pakistanis took away the head, it is alleged. This may be true. After all, if Pakistani troops could rape and murder thousands of their erstwhile citizens in the former East Pakistan in 1971, decapitating an Indian soldier must be small beer.
However, if you look closely and with a degree of honesty, you could find a vast multitude of Pakistanis who are themselves bitter critics of the perfidy of their army, not just in Bangladesh but also closer home, in their daily lives that the generals are always poised to disrupt. Faiz Ahmed Faiz even wrote an evocative poem about the blood-soaked separation from his Bengali comrades.
On the other hand, there are those too who swear by the Pakistani army, which they see as the spine of their nationalist pride. They mirror the Indians who see their military as spotless and pure, who prefer to remain blind to the army’s shenanigans, say, in Manipur or in Kashmir, under the cover of a dubious law that gives the soldiers protection from criminal prosecution. And quite a few Indian TV channels, like several of their Pakistani counterparts, love their military, often blindly.
Earlier it was erroneously mentioned that Jawed Naqvi is the New Delhi representative of the Dawn. We regret the error in representation. Jawed Naqvi is a freelance Indian correspondent who writes for the Karachi newspaper Dawn from New Delhi. Email your columnist: jawednaqvi AT gmail.com
Jawed Naqvi, whose comment Do Look Before You Lunge appeared in the Jan 28 issue, is a freelance Indian correspondent who writes for the Dawn from New Delhi, and not its Delhi representative, as published. We regret the error in representation.
Apropos Jawed Naqvi’s piece, Do Look Before You Lunge, just a query. When was the last time Dawn published a serious piece of journalism demanding that Pakistan turn secular?
Thanks for standing up for the isi and the Pak army, and that too with unverifiable, anonymous stories and anecdotes.
Bhagat Singh, Bangalore
All through history, truth has been a casualty in wars. The victors control the truth and the people go with it. Indian atrocities are not shown to our public and Pakistani atrocities are never shown to theirs.
Nasar Ahmed, Karaikkudi
The problem is no one knows who to deal with and who to blame in Pakistan. Everyone there is a king in his own sphere, be it the jehadis, the army, the isi, the geek hackers or the hawk diplomats. And only one agenda acts as glue: that of hurting India.
E.M. Peror, New York
@ Rohit Bhalla
Jawed does not foment crap... he is pure crap itself.
He even made fun of 26/11 trial. He is pure communal TURD right till his toenail, masquerading his evil designs in psuedo leftist liberalism. The correcct place for him is as a teacher in Hafeez Saeed's seminary
1234bharat ..... Pakistan couldn't officially protest as they did not recognize Kargil was their soldiers to begin with. As to whether this incident Barkha Dutt describes is true or not ... I hope outside the public gaze the army at least investigated it and took some tough actions if true. That would be expected to be called disciplined and professionals. The Americans never shied to taking those resposnible to task including if appropriate officers too to ensure these remain exceptions. Army comes with a lot of power inherently. It is easy to misuse/abuse - the chain of command has to keep a tight leash and discipline and make examples of exceptions.
If what Barkha Dutt has written is really true, it baffles me why Pakistan did not make an issue of it earlier especially when Pakistan is a country that will go hammer and tongs at the slightest opportunity they can get agianst India. Can Barkha Dutt prove she is not lying by mentioning the exact location where it occurred and the name of the colonel
FOR THE BENEFIT OF ANYONE WHO DOESNT KNOW.......jawed naqvi is an indian WHO............REGULARLY FROTHS CRAP IN PAKISTANI PAPERS
" Or we'll have to assume that Prem Shankar Jha , Praveen Swami and Saikat Datta are all Pakistani stooges."
They are not Pakistani stooges. They are just deaf-mutes.
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