July 21, 2010

Find our own Shiloh

Last week, I was in Bangalore to speak at TEDxGardenCity. It was an interesting day, listening to some thought-provoking lectures and meeting stimulating people. Add a short chat about things tennis with Rohan Bopanna, and what else could a tennis nut like me ask for? (This: later in the week I played some doubles, dragging my respective partners to set losses of 6-0 and 6-4).

Anyway, below is the text of my talk. Some of this may be familiar to all two of you who have read my Roadrunner, it's adapted from a section in there.

Comments welcome.

***

Here's a picture to hold in your mind for a few minutes. I'm up in the hills somewhere in Jammu and Kashmir. There are flowers and birds all around me. It's a beautiful July day, the sun is out but is isn't too warm. In front of me, mounted on elegant stands, are several panels of black granite.

Keep that image, as I said, in your mind.

Three years ago, I visited the Shiloh Military Park in Tennessee in the USA. This is a peaceful, pretty spot on the banks of the Tennessee River, so peaceful and quiet that I found it hard to imagine what had once happened here. Had I been in the same spot a century-and-a-half earlier, one day in April 1862, all around me would have been guns firing and smoke, blood and death.

The idea, in 2007 when I visit, seems almost mad.

There was a battle fought here during the American Civil War, when the states of the South tried to secede from the Union and form what they called the "Confederacy". Thousands of young men fought here, the Southern Armies came close to defeating the Northern or Union Army but were finally defeated, and 24000 men were lost on both sides. It was an important and venerated battle, but only because of the bloodshed. Nothing of any strategic importance was won or lost. All it was, was the bloodiest battle in American history, but only until later battles in the same Civil War.

And the Shiloh Park remembers those fallen men.

There's a monument to the men who came from the state of Iowa to fight on the Union side. It has an elegant lady writing words to commemorate the "loyalty, patriotism and bravery of Iowa's sons who fought to perpetuate the sacred Union of the United States."

Scattered across these fields are several more monuments like this, one for each sate that sent men here. Tennessee, Ohio, Pennsylvania -- every state that fought in this battle, whether for the North or the South.

So here's where I begin to feel just slightly uneasy. In this Park, in this memorial, are monuments from States on *both* sides of this war, North and South. In one memorial Park, remembrances of patriotism of both sides.

The South lost the war, and so there's a melancholy monument representing a "Defeated Victory", the phrase itself a puzzle. It carries these words: "The States of the South sent to Shiloh 79 organizations of infantry and 10 organizations of cavalry. How bravely and how well they fought, let the tablets on this field tell. Let us remember those whose sacrifices hallow this field. Let us stand for patriotism, principle and conviction as they did even unto death."

Who do these words refer to? The South? Well, there are tablets on this field that tell how bravely the Northerners fought too (example: Iowa). They remember patriotism and sacrifice too. And if Iowa's men fought to "perpetuate the sacred Union", why, these men of the South were fighting to secede, to destroy that sacred Union: the very antithesis of patriotism. Yet if the Southerners stood for patriotism, the North must have stamped on it. So I've heard about patriotism.

What's a visitor like me to think? What does this do for my ideas of patriotism?

But then I walked up to the Missouri monument. Listed on it are the Missouri regiments that fought on the Union side. Listed below those are the Missouri regiments that fought on the Confederate side. The same monument. In fact, there's even a "1st Missouri" regiment that fought for the Union, and another "1st Missouri" regiment that fought for the Confederate side.

What happened here? Was Missouri hedging its bets? Being equivocal in its loyalties? Did one 1st Missouri fight the other 1st Missouri?

I mean, here's one monument, one stone face with words on it, that celebrates the patriotism of both sides, of mutual enemies, in this war.

Again, what's a visitor like me to think? What does this do for my ideas of patriotism?

It eventually made sense to me this way: this memorial to these two sides in a brutal fratricidal war may have been the only way a country could rebuild and move on. That could not have happened if the North had refused to pay attention to the emotions of the defeated South. There had to be a rethinking of the idea of the *United* States, to treat vanquished and victor alike.

And yet, wars are for demonizing the enemy, and that must have happened in this war as it does in wars closer to our homes. During the Kargil war in 1999, an AM Sethna wrote this in an article in the Times of India: "We are dealing with a country capable of extreme cruelty. In such hands officers and men may be skinned alive or horribly mutilated before being killed."

I have no doubt Pakistani writers were equally effusive and eloquent about India and Indians. It's what happens during wars. It's as if patriotism demands such rhetoric.

And yet there's Shiloh.

Still, the US reunited and reconstructed after the Civil War, while India and Pakistan remained partitioned after 1947. That's a big difference, right?

Yet you know, there's this similarity: we have war memorials too.

Some years ago, I travelled a long way to see one, somewhere near the Line of Control in J&K. It's called the "Hall of Fame", and there are plenty of monuments there too.

One tower is called "Padinale Po Munnale" (Tamil for "Go Forward, Fourteenth"). It remembers S Shabiyullah and K Balaiah. Another remembers Surjit Singh, Gurprit Singh and Badridan Bharat. I'm telling you their names because I believe all of us should know of these countrymen of ours, from all over India, who die in J&K. There are plenty of these monuments at the Hall of Fame, remembering soldiers killed in our wars of 1999, 1965, 1971 and more.

And there are flowers and birds and -- remember what I asked you to keep in mind? -- several large black granite panels. Each has a year chiselled at the top. Below it, rows of neatly carved names -- the soldiers from this area who were killed in that year. Panels like that for every year till the year before I visited, each with a few dozen names.

And there are several more panels. Empty panels, with no names chiselled on them. Empty panels, waiting to be filled. Waiting for death.

I ask you to think about the implications of that.

As I stood there comprehending it myself, my soldier escort said to me in Tamil: "My name's not there." I could find nothing to say.

We must have been only a few km from the border with Pakistan. I wondered, is there a Hall of Fame on that side, with similar monuments, similar granite panels, similar blank granite panels? It's possible, but being Indian, think of how hard it would be to get there to find out for myself.

But Shiloh made me wonder about something I had never before even imagined. What if there was a joint India-Pakistan memorial here where India remembers Shabiyullah and Surjit and the 14th? What would it mean to our countries that have fought and killed for so long?

Especially in our early wars, it's certain that many soldiers on both sides came from the same roots, likely the same villages. What would it do to us to build a memorial that reminds us that in these parts, neighbour has fought neighbour, maybe even brother has fought brother?

What would it do, to find our own Shiloh?

42 comments:

Amitz said...

Dear Mr. D'Souza

Nice Article. However i would like to point out the treatment to Lt.Saurabh Kalia - 4th Jat- might have prompted Mr. Sethna to write the quote.

Dilip D'Souza said...

Thanks Amitz, glad you liked it.

There are plenty of questions to ask about what happened to Saurabh Kalia. (Here's something I wrote that raises some of them).

But even if there were no questions, is it reasonable to characterize an entire country of 100M+ with what a few rogue brutal men in uniform did? After all, Sethna wrote "we are dealing with a country capable of extreme cruelty."

Chandru K said...

It's natural and normal to mention 'country' when fighting a war, and that too, a war preceded by terrorist infiltration, which actually did kill Saurabh Kalia. And no, there is no evidence of any Indian equivalent or even tit-for-tat.

Chandru K said...

The last message WAS definitely by me, not the impersonator. Continuing.. During WW2, do you think the Americans and the Brits were saying things like "Certain individuals within certain units of the Japanese and German armed forces, are committing acts unworthy of men in uniform, and are bringing disrepute to the institution of the military, as well as to their countries". Give me a break. The war imagery of the Japanese painted them as dwarfish, buck-toothed savages, while the Germans were seen as tall, stern, ruthless with an eye-patch.

Ketan said...

Dilip,

I'd read in passing, your suggestion of common war memorial for India & Pakistan in the past.

In all honesty, I'd dismissed the idea as very superficially thought one. But today, reading your post, I see it in an entirely new light. My knowledge of history is very less, and much more so of American history. So, I'm not able to make out if integration of the 'North' & the South 'blocks' happened because of building war memorials or war memorials were built because such integration occurred?

But whatever of the either two be the case, what had acutely struck me reading this piece was that there indeed was something very different about that society - possibly a sense of common goal (of peace & prosperity) that made them forget the past as quickly as possible. Perhaps that society had it in them to be focused for a common & consequent individual good, something that's sadly missing in societies of the Indian subcontinent.

It's also possible that their struggle was on ideological grounds unlike between India & Pakistan. In our side (subcontinent) hardly any violence is as severe as one based on religion. I can't be sure, but possibly Pakistanis view wars between the two nations as one between a Muslim state & a Hindu-majority state. Also, many Indians also view it the same way. It's easy to respect someone else for differences in ideology, but religious bigotry mostly doesn't allow that.

So, returning to my original predicament, will such common war memorial be an indicator of peace between & integration of the two countries' citizens, OR will it be a harbinger of such change?

One cannot doubt the validity of the former (common memorial, if built by popular mandate being an indicator of prospective peace), but I'm very doubtful if you're suggesting it would be the latter. This, because opinions on both the sides are so polarized (owing to various reasons - including both genuine causes & media+government-driven propaganda), that any such forced upon attempts at peace, ironically have the opposite effect! Case is point is Shahrukh Khan's "Can we just say Pakistan is a great neighbor to have?". I was myself quite angry with that statement, because of what I perceived to be the intent (to create controversy prior to his upcoming movie)....

Ketan said...

...But effect on others had another element to it - further intensification of hatred towards Pakistanis despite the fact that they'd no role in what SRK said! That statement had grated on peoples' nerves. Will a war memorial without popular mandate on both the sides do the same? Will its effects be counterproductive? Such grating of nerves could be an effective approach to shake people out of comfort of daily lives when it comes to domestic matters, but in case of Pakistan, effect would be quite dramatic and opposite (of course, that's my guess).

Personally to me, though I remain greatly indebted to those who'd fought to protect me, somehow I can't get out of my mind that any war or instance of violence represents human silliness. Those dying in wars (even riots) did not really have. Such commemorations (at least in India) have certain celebratory note to them, which I can't bear. Those deaths did not have to take place! When will we realize this?

Let me type here something very sentimental & silly, yet sincere - can we have a day when we won't require army & police, so that one person does not put bullets in another, and so that one person does not have to take bullets for others, and all that in turn so that, we all can go about the business of our life, i.e., searching happiness?

It's very rare I write on such sentimental note, and I hope if I happen to read this comment again some time in future, I won't regret it. :)

Anyway, returning to the topic, Chandru K also has a point - Indians are likely to perceive Pakistani actions as treachery rather than bravery, because those acts are intimately also connected with clandestine ones like planting bombs (both in terms of organizational back up & their final goal). Pakistanis might also be thinking the same about India!

I also read the article you had linked in above comment. It's very convincing. Yes, 'patriotism' is brought up too much by Indians despite meaning too little by it. It's used as an ultimate emotional blackmail tactic. Pointing out any weaknesses of India's seen as unpatriotic!

To end this comment, I really liked reading this blog post. There was a lot of profundity in small things you mentioned (e.g., peaceful environs of the site despite bloody war a century back & how it could be something for Indians & Pakistanis to emulate).

I value a lot getting to see anything in an entirely new perspective, so for writing this post, I'll remain grateful to you.

Play Proper Tennis said...

Did you ask Bopanna to stop playing Davis Cup and concentrate ATP and on strengthening his backhand? His backhand is such a joke that even my left handed forehand, despite me being a right handed person, is better.

Dilip D'Souza said...

even my left handed forehand, despite me being a right handed person, is better.

At doing what?

Chandru K said...

I think this will work: like I've done above, I will start each comment by saying, if necessary, that the previous comment was by me. That will put paid to the impersonator's silly efforts. Wish I had thought of it before.

So yes, the previous comment was also definitely also by me. Continuing some more ... The same goes for any war. It is important to refer to the country that opposes you, as opposed to individual soldiers who commit war crimes and torture. Or how else are we supposed to inculcate an idea of patriotism in the youth? You have to rouse them against the entire enemy country. This is why Sethna's words were necessary and good. In fact there should have been more.

Dilip D'Souza said...

So yes, the previous comment was also definitely also by me.

So now you're claiming my comments as yours as well?

Chandru K said...

Dont be silly. I referred to my own previous comment above, 1240am.

Jai_C said...

Dilip,

re. Saurabh Kalia:
Canada characterized, it would appear, an entire force for the depredations of a few officers while denying a visa, and you had no problems there.

Mr.Sethna should maybe have left it at the "Pakistan armed forces" but if he was speaking in the immediate time-frame of Kargil I quite understand his sentiment. He took it to the next level that looks unwarranted in cold light from several years away.

I didnt get the questions you raised though in the Tehelka article:

a) I believe they tortured our guys for troop position or other info. Even otherwise quite a few Pakistanis who fought that war went public with their joy at getting to kill so many "Hindus".

c) They may have considered handing back tortured bodies a good demoralizing tactic. It is I think accepted strategy in primitive wars. It happened early at a time they expected to win.

d)The recognition, in official communications/ visits is as good as a medal to me. Its a slight puzzle how there were no awards, maybe the bureaucracy got stuck or something.

e) The parents actively campaigned to have this regd as a war crime in the UN? Maybe this "rocks the boat" for peace with Pakistan and is one reason why the Govt hasnt engaged much with them afterwards.

f) I completely missed the connection to MiG safety which is a very valid concern in itself.

g) Backlit from 26/11, its not very surprising.

With 26/11 one point that is being proved and sought to be proved is that Pakistani civil society is
fairly powerless to act against those who will strike India.

Whoever does this wishes us to understand and acknowledge that we pretty much cant touch them.

A tortured Indian soldier's body coming back in 1999 was then just a herald of worse things to come.

thanks,
Jai

Dilip D'Souza said...

Canada chose, for its own reasons, to deny a BSF guy a visa. That's what I have no problems with. I may feel sorry for the guy, but given the visa regime countries have instituted, that's the way things go. And if they mention excesses by his force in doing so, I see nothing wrong in giving some thought ourselves to those excesses and how we should react to them.

In exactly the same way, I would suggest that any other armed forces -- Pakistani, American, Israeli, Indian, Burmese, Rwandan -- that commit unwarranted atrocities should be paying some kind of penalty.

There's a difference between that, it seems to me, and asserting that the people of an entire country are capable of skinning people alive. Would such a characterization of India not bother you? It would bother me. Sethna's remarks looked unwarranted to me at the time, which is why I remember them.

There are a lot of questions about the whole Saurabh Kalia tragedy. Most of them are questions that his family themselves have, which they told me about when I travelled to HP to meet them. They are apparent to anyone who puts together all that happened that I wrote about in that article: post mortem, letters from Jaswant, your mention of a "slight puzzle", etc. More of us should be wondering about those questions.

I have a copy of a letter from someone who knows about this whole episode, which explains a lot. Unfortunately, that's all I can say about it. I wish I didn't have to seem mysterious about it, but that's our agreement.

The connection is not to MiG safety, but to the idea that patriotism is being equated to not asking questions.

Finally, is Indian civil society able to strike against Indians who strike India? Or should we understand and acknowledge that we pretty much cannot touch them?

Dilip D'Souza said...

Incidentally, I'm not saying any more here about Sethna, Saurabh Kalia or the Canada visa episode. I think such discussion only detracts from what I'm trying to get at in this talk, the idea of a joint memorial. If you have thoughts on that score, I'll gladly respond. (Ketan, I will reply to you shortly).

Chandru K said...

To continue in the vein of my previous comments to defeat the impostor: yes, the previous comment was by me. (Don't try to be clever, Dcubed, you know I dont mean yours).

I just want to repeat, because I think for the record it needs to be repeated - how else are we supposed to inculcate an idea of patriotism in the youth of India except by raising hostility against Pakistan? You have to rouse their anger against that country if you want them to feel loyalty to ours.

This is why Sethna wrote what he did and I applaud him for it. He should have written again and again in the same way.

Chandru K said...

"There's a difference between that, it seems to me, and asserting that the people of an entire country are capable of skinning people alive. Would such a characterization of India not bother you?"

One is a very understandable emotional outburst in the midst of a war, over a heinous atrocity. The other, the Canadian intended policy, is a characterisation of an entire several hundred thousand strong outfit, as being human rights abusers. So yes, there is a difference.

Chandru K said...

"Even otherwise quite a few Pakistanis who fought that war went public with their joy at getting to kill so many "Hindus"."

Bastards.

Chandru K said...

Yes, the previous comment is by me. There is no way now that the imposter can get the better of me. Raising hostility, preferably against neighbours, is the best way to get the youth to be patriotic. By definition, patriotism is a destructive feeling, never a constructive one. I applaud Sethna and destructive patriotism.

Nikhil said...

pAs usual Dilip does the usual emotional bit expecting stony hearts to melt and cry out and embrace Pakistanis
Sorry but I am a heartless SOB. A few points to note:
US remained a united country after the civil war. Assuming a scenario when the North and South were partitioned, would there have been such monuments?
Surely there is a difference between a country that fought a civil war and wants to heal wounds that were caused and 2 sovereign nations that go to war.

If US wants to bridge gaps with countries with whom it was at war, why does it nor have memorials for the people who perished in Hiroshima, Nagasaki or Vietnam.
There has been peace between the US and these countries for quite some time now. But the US has not built or even considered a joint war memorial. Why in the Hiroshima peace park, there is no sculpture or anything similar from America?.

Dilip D'Souza said...

There is a difference between a country that fought a civil war and wants to heal wounds that were caused and 2 sovereign nations that go to war.

So you're now saying, let me infer, that the 2 sovereign nations that go to war have no reason to want to heal wounds?

I have no idea about you, but I am sick of losing soldiers every day on our borders.

As for what the US does/has done/will do in Hiroshima/Vietnam/wherever -- it's utterly irrelevant. The point is they built Shiloh. There are analogies and lessons to be learned there, provided you want to.

Anonymous said...

which chandru k is responsible for the last several comments that bear his name? he or himself?

Anonymous said...

which anonymous is responsible for the above comment, he or someone else?

Suresh said...

Dilip,

I remember the Israeli writer A. B. Yehoshua being asked about the possibility of a unitary state as a solution to the middle east problem. He responded that Israelis and Palestinians must first learn to live separately but peacefully. The same applies to us. Simply put, we don't trust one another. We have to first learn, as Yehoshua puts it, to live separately but peacefully. We can talk about joint war memorials after that.

Let alone a joint war memorial, we don't even have a memorial, as many have noted, to the Partition dead -- neither in Pakistan nor in India. I believe there was a proposal from the Indian side to have a memorial at Wagah but it has come to nothing.

We also have to remember that in other contexts -- for instance, Europe, it is only recently that joint commemorations are being held for those who lost their lives in the two brutal European wars. Otherwise, the ceremonies involved only the "victors." For one account of German participation in commemorating one the most brutal battles in World War I, the Battle of the Somme, see this BBC article.

Finally, let me add this, while bracing myself for the inevitable backlash from infuriated psuedo-patriots. We also don't have any memorials for those of our fellow citizens who lost their lives at the hands of their fellow citizens with the active connivance of the state. That number is certainly not small.

as said...

Until there is some semblance of peace between India and Pakistan, a memorial makes no sense. The North defeated the South once and for all, and only then did any kind of memorial emerge. What will the endgame between India and Pakistan look like, only the devil knows.

Anonymous said...

- a few Pakistanis who fought that
- war went public with their joy at
- getting to kill so many "Hindus".

Who were these, pl cn u tell me? any reprts u cn give me linx?

Dilip D'Souza said...

Anon above beat me to asking the same question. Will you give us some links, please? thanks.

Dilip D'Souza said...

as: As ever, it doesn't need to be an exact parallel. My essay asks, what would it do for us to have such a memorial? My feeling is, it might just remind us of the futility and tragedy -- the human cost -- of the hostility between India and Pakistan, evidence of which you need not even leave this page to see. That might itself spur us towards peace.

Suresh, as you know -- we've discussed Yehoshua before, or am I mistaken? -- I fully agree with his thought: India and Pakistan have not learned much in 60 years about living separately in peace. Still, I think there's no particular bad time to talk about remembering men who died. I'm suggesting that if we can remember, in death, their once-shared humanity, it might just teach us some lessons.

You're right: we have no memorials to Indians killed by Indians. It beats me. The Taj and VT have plaques to people killed by Kasab and his murderer pals; why have we shied away from plaques to people killed in 2002, or 1992-93, or 1984? Were those hundreds of slaughtered Indians any less innocent, or less worthy of being remembered, than the victims of Nov 26 2008? What prevents us from putting up a memorial to them?

(Hmm: maybe another essay on those lines ...)

as said...

It will take peace, either by victory or dialogue before any memorial is built. No peace, no memorial.

Nikhil said...

why have we shied away from plaques to people killed in 2002, or 1992-93, or 1984?

Actually I support the idea completely. But here too you have been selective. Why not go all the way and start from Direct action day and include J & K 1990, People killed in Maoist massacres (all in the past year - Dantewada, the train derailments) etc and others who do not show up in your radar?

Dilip D'Souza said...

Not selective in the least. I would like to see memorials for the Pandits killed in Kashmir, people killed in Partition, folks killed by Maoists and by Salwa Judum, the caste massacres in Bihar, the dishonour killings that crop up so much ... I will support memorials to all of these. Thank you for remembering them too. It may be one way to remind ourselves of too many brutalities that we try to forget.

Anonymous said...

But are any of these issues resolved? Are they history? Or are they still living issues? Memorials are for the dear departed. Not for the living. The progress has not happened.

Jai_C said...

Hi Dilip, anon,

1. happy Pakistani fighters:

There were interviews in TV and I remember one press article, with pix, the title of which went "By god, we will fight again" in some Indian paper or newsmag. IIRC it was a cover story or lead.

The print report had an interview with a "militant" who was overjoyed at getting the oppty to kill so many "hindus" (his term for Indian soldiers)- IIRC he said his arms ached from holding his gun vertically down picking off our climbing soldiers.

There were a couple of others from that period, I dont remember them all.

That was the happy. sorry I dont have any links.

At another level, a lady (I think) that Khushwant Singh spoke to told him "we thought we'd kick your ass"
when he asked her why they had seemed, to him, to be all aboard for the war effort in Kargil- he was surprised since they had been OK with the Lahore bus diplomacy before that.

I dont necessarily imply that this second example was "happy" or that she had mislabelled us as "all Hindus" but Khushwant recorded, IIRC some surprise. The lady however seemed to consider war as approx a cricket match or something, rooting, cheering and "kick-ass". It is more likely that she was happy than that she was unhappy.

2. re. the memorials:

Broadly agree with Suresh, who I think has raised this before.

thanks,
Jai
PS: BTW is this very surprising? Do you expect Pakistanis fighting a war to be unhappy, or not be happy, when Indian soldiers are killed?

Jai_C said...

Some googling and reminscing about Kargil didnt bring back anything more link-wise, other than:
- some jingoistic articles by the normally not-unreasonable Ayaz Amir

- the memory of pain and betrayal I felt then coming back slowly.

The Lahore bus and poori-halwa between the PMs was so happening, I'd never been more upbeat about India-Pak (another small high was Musharraf @ agra before they collapsed).

Whose bright idea was it to bring Kargil in on this thread...

rgds,
Jai

Jai_C said...

1. US-Japan joint war memorial:

While appreciating the Shiloh analogy, I didnt quite catch why the lack of a US-Japan memorial is "utterly irrelevant" to the topic.

The US and Japan are closely allied today and a lot better than Ind-Pak.

IF there is no talk of any joint memorial there, its an indicator that these memorials dont matter where there is a common will and a genuine desire to move away from the past.

I think in Japan's case, they went thru a deep revulsion of their militaristic expansionist phase that led to WWII in that theater.

Its not so clear-cut with Ind-Pak in Kashmir. Peace in Kashmir will be the biggest monument of an understanding we have.

I actually think we have too many memorials not too few and the existing ones catching pigeon-shit dont inspire any deep desire to add to the clutter.

2.Kargil
Now that we are onto this, I will try and revisit some archives from those times.

I seem to remember being jolted at how quite a few people in Pakistan seemed quite okay with the kargil war who were (I thought) pro-bus diplomacy. I hope this is a "fog of war" effect. Back then I mainly read Dawn and a few message boards.Will recheck.

I will report back in a week or so.

Here is a link to an article by Beena Sarwar on Kargil that would seem to work against my theory.

http://www.manaskriti.com/interactinn/21069902.html

It is very, very positive but does say India maybe "overreacting to what it calls infiltrators" [at Kargil].

She also wants us to question why we focused on the war dead from this fresh incursion at Kargil while ignoring

"several thousand Indian solidiers
have died in the low-intensity warfare inside Kashmir, far from the border,over these last years"

BTW it mentions the use of torture and handing over mutilated bodies as a demoralizing tactic. IIRC the forces from the Pakistan side were mixed- there were regulars and also "militants".

thanks,
Jai

Jai_C said...

Dilip,

Just to close the loop on this:
Lahore-bus to Kargil

I couldnt find Ayaz A's articles pre-July1999, for the ABV Lahore trip or any other record of sites I used to read back then.

IIRC, Ayaz was moderately "onboard" for the bus diplomacy. While calling Kargil a blunder, he went to complimenting the mujahideen and extolling the "blood of the martyrs" which seemed pretty unhelpful to me.

I found fresh material at chowk and other places that tell me there was an *expectation problem* from my side, back in 1999. It looks like Pakistanis ranged from skeptical to moderately welcoming, for the bus tour.

I remember now a small interview with Jane Doe on the Pakistani street. Smart young lady on two-wheeler replying to our TV journo in impeccable English:

"Why is he [ABV] coming down? If its to talk about Kashmir, he's welcome. Otherwise he could just stay home"

Some chowk records suggest Nawaz Sharif had some blowback for being friendly to India. He was projected as a trader types ready to "sell his country" if the price was right.

The Lahore declaration is projected as a "sellout" of Kashmir or Pakistan it is not very clear which- the binding of these two into a single item was impressive.

Pakistani national interest is twined with this even among the mango public, I think ( 72% of whom reportedly want peace with India now).

With the bus trip, they expected more from us on Kashmir and quicker.

For Kargil, they may have expected, at least initially, to get away with it or have a quiet pullback- not have us "overreact".

In closing, many in India I think soared after Lahore (poori! halwa! minar-e-pakistan! urdu shaayri!) and went into the dumps after Kargil. It is possible fewer Pakistanis were with us on either trip, and their excursions were of lower amplitude.

Closing with an article on the 'upcoming' ABV visit of 1999 by (who else?) Beena:

http://www.chowk.com/articles/4487

Thanks,
Jai

Anonymous said...

Jai's postings just show how despicable and detestable the educated, seemingly sophisticated Pakistanis/Moslems are. These comments are not made by illiterate, fanatic Moslems or mullahs, but by supposedly modern Moslems. Perhaps we shouldn't be surprised. One of the most fanatic, demagogic, conniving Moslems of the last century was the father of Pakistan. An educated, English speaking lawyer.

Jai_C said...

Eh? My postings reflect WHAT?

OTOH I have 4-5 comments running and no interest in keeping this up.

Dilip if you've replied to Ketan elsewhere could you pls point me to it.

thanks,
Jai

Dilip D'Souza said...

Sorry, I've been ill for a week and unable to keep up with email and work and comments. I didn't reply to Ketan, tho I wanted to (Thank you, K). Maybe I will try. I'll also try to get to some other comments here when I can.

Ketan said...

Dilip,

I can guess what the reason you offer would be. And that is: such memorials will remind us of the blood & the gore - all of which were avoidable. And ironically, same is the reason I don't want them (as indicated in my first comment)!

[I'm not trying to preempt your response; I mention this only because you're not keeping well. If your reason's exactly same as what I've guessed, then you need not put in comments to that effect.]

My attitude on this stems from a personal philosophy of: why should I be proud/ashamed of something in which I was personally not involved?

One might feel that that's an escapist attitude only to evade a sense of guilt, but I felt the same way when Saina Nehwal had become world number 2. I felt happy for her for what she achieved, but I was very uncomfortable with the idea of being proud for her simply for being an Indian. What role did *I* as an Indian play in her success? None. So, why should I be proud of her achievements merely for being born in the same country as hers? While, many I guess, might find my stance silly, I feel such group-based pride (irrespective of how positive a feeling it is), shame & bigotry are psychologically & philosophically interlinked. All involve having an emotional stake in situations where no personal volition is involved. Though commonplace, how absurd is that!

Another issue I had wondered about is: were Japanese angry with the Americans for Hiroshima-Nagasaki? Are they still angry? Did those events inculcate in them an eternal feeling of victimhood?

I know nothing about all that, yet somehow Jai's reasoning above in that regard does not 'sound' convincing to me. Is it a case that Japanese ambition as seen in WW-2 never had popular public mandate?

But whatever be the case, we nowadays tend to look at Japan as a very disciplined high-tech country, with the highest lifespan in the world. And that certainly is something to draw inspiration from, especially considering they had been subjected to the only nuclear bombings in human history.

I brought in the Japanese angle only because most wars are fought based on a sense of victimhood. If Japanese could avoid it, how, & can other countries do the same?

Jai_C said...

Ketan,

General:
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I'm thinking the *silent majority* cares less for an issue- ANY issue- than we may give it credit or debit for, if it doesnt affect them directly.

WWII and Japanese mandate:
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(a dimlight tour of my perceptions of events there)

Against this backdrop, for Japan at least upto WWII, they had IMO, a devout admiration for the Emperor- a God on Earth stature. Probably a feudal society with high regard for military prowess and 'honor'. To die in battle for the emperor must have been worth something like 72 raisins.

They had aggressively militarized from early 1900s defeating the Russians in a naval battle at 1905. They had ongoing wrangles and later war with China which spilled over into WWII. There were interceptions and naval maneouvring ongoing between US and Japanese forces even *before* Pearl harbor.

Maybe there were enough pacifists but they didnt have a say? As long as the troops were winning, they likely werent heard either. By the time they were losing badly there may have been lots of ppl who wished for the Emperor to surrender but they were stuck in a different climate of honor and national ego.

They changed after their defeat, and perhaps there was more demo-cratization there, the Emperor lost face and role.

Change happens. In the US apparently within a generation, 2 max, from racial segregation to uniform civil rights, to prez.Obama within 60 yrs or so.

Relevance to Pakistan-India:
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Needs more thinking to come up with a more cogent and not-too-long answer. will come back later.

Thanks,
Jai
PS: I browsed your post on ethics and even the responses to Dilip but they are 1 and 3km long respectively. I couldnt engage :-)

Jai_C said...

In summary, I think there was some mandate for Japanese military action including and predating WWII, I am not sure it was fully cloaked in victimhood, it was probably not a true representation of Japanese peoples majority wishes.

In Pakistan I think there *is* significant mandate for the Kashmir *cause* to the extent that popular elected governments cannot ignore it- its not entirely an MJC project.

Coming to *method* Extremism to enhance the Pakistani position on K, and keep it alive, is very much a Pak MJC project.

How many mango Pakistanis are behind this project is *unknown*

There is a Pew poll out with numbers different from Beena's in terms of support for LeT etc.

My guess: larger percentages than Beena S thinks and smaller percentages than Indian rightwing blogs think, are quite okay with extremism and violence, especially if its happening elsewhere.

They view it thru the K victimhood prism and the "re" mirror- retaliation /revenge.

Thanks for reading,
Jai

Ketan said...

Jai,

Sorry for not having replied to your comment.

It so happens that I got an opportunity to put forth the same question (about Japanese people's current attitude towards the US) in one of my comments (click) to an American person residing in Hiroshima!

Obviously, the response largely answers our doubt.

I must say Jai was pretty close in his guess.

Thanks!