Friday, December 19, 2014

Lesson that Pakistan should learn from Peshawar

Think of Pakistan today, and this is the image that comes immediately to mind.

A Country that harboured and bred terrorists of all kinds in the last many decades. And by Country, I mean those who matter - the politicians, and the military. 

The 35 terror camps that exist today, do so, because the intent was to cause harm through 'low intensity' and 'proxy' war against India - an campaign that commenced as a consequence of the vision of General Zia-ul-Haq when he was President and Chief Matrial Law Administrator of Pakistan. 
India was made out to be, and is still perceived as Pakistan's enemy No.1

Pakistani's were generally unfazed and not bothered till the time the terrorists kept attacking and killing thousands of innocents in Kashmir. The terror game was extended to other parts of India. Then 26/11 happened, perhaps the most bold and audacious attempt, that left 160 people dead. 
All concrete evidence pointed towards terrorists sitting inside Pakistan, who masterminded and directed the entire operation for three days. Six years later, not only has Pakistan not arrested or prosecuted these terrorists, they have shown no intention of doing so, not even at the risk of losing opportunities to build bi lateral relations with India by addressing the latter's concerns. Pakistan till date remains in a state of denial.

Then 16/12 happened in Peshawar

In the worst carnage in recent times in that country, seven terrorists entered  the Army Public School in Peshawar, a school run by the Pakistan Army, situated quite close to some Army formations in the City. Completely focused with a cold blooded approach typical of the most hardened terrorists, they went from classroom to classroom, and sprayed bullets on innocent small children and their teachers. Before the Army eliminated these seven men, more than 150 people died in the School, most of them children. 

This was the worst tragedy Pakistan ever saw, in supposedly peace time. India, till now the biggest victim of Pakistan sponsored terrorism, responded with huge gestures of compassion and empathy. Prime Minister Modi called on his counter part and offered condolences. Schools in India, and the Indian Parliament now in session, observed two minutes silence as a mark of respect. Candle light vigils were organised in Delhi, to express solidarity with the victims' families. 

India's symbolic gestures moved the Pakistani civil society. Thousands of messages went back and forth across the border on the social media, expressing solidarity with each other, and recognising that terrorism has not nationality, and that this was a war against humanity.

It is time the average Pakistani learns some key lessons based on these recent incidents and tragedies.

Lesson 1 : India is not your enemy. Neither does India bear any ill will towards Pakistan. India want to live in a peaceful environment with all its neighbours. 
Look at your neighbour as your friend. Many common problems that both Countries face today, can be solved through cooperation and sharing or resources. Recognise this. 

Lesson 2: Terrorism should be completely eliminated from the basic fabric of Pakistan. People like Haafiz Saeed and Lakhvi exist because they manage to garner support of anti India campaigns. Their existence is in no way going to benefit your Country in the long run. As they say, there is strength in unity. Unite together to pressurise the State to book these people for the crimes they have committed against Indians and Pakistani alike. The power behind an awakening and an uprising is only underestimated. 

Lesson 3 : Support India from within, in bringing the perpetrators of the Mumbai attack to book. If this happens, this would be the singularly most significant, sincere act of friendship by Pakistan, towards India. And this in turn would benefit Pakistan the most.
There is no greater power of influence than the peoples of the two Countries uniting for a cause. 
Wouldn't you want less hostility and hawkish stands between the two people?

And more friends across the border?

Monday, December 01, 2014


Wing Commander KK (Jumbo) Majumdar was one of India's first decorated air warriors. 
After completing his training at the RAF's flying school at Cranwell (UK, 'Jumbo' was posted to the No. 1 Squadron, in the mid 30s.

While commanding No 1 squadron as Squadron Leader, Jumbo saw action in the Burma campaign. For his personal acts of bravery, Jumbo was awarded the Distinguished Flying Cross. During the Allied campaign in Europe, Jumbo volunteered to fly with the No. 268 Squadron in Europe. For his acts of valor in the European theatre, Jumbo was awarded a 'Bar' to his DFC.
Jumbo was the only Indian Air Force Pilot to have been awarded the DFC twice. 
In 1945, while flying a Hawker Hurricane in an air display, Jumbo's aircraft crashed and he was killed. If he had survived then, there is little doubt that Jumbo would have moved on to the very top position in the Indian Air Force.

The story is not so much about highlighting Jumbo's exploits in the 2nd World War. It's about how we as a Nation treat its brave soldiers.

Some personal property of Jumbo, particularly his medals and flying log books were put up for auction in England recently by Jumbo's son. It's a different matter that the medals failed to get a bid even for the reserve price of GBP 20,000 (Rs 20 lacs approximately). The point is - these medals should have been the property of the Indian Air Force who should have even gone all the way to spend this money to buy the medals.

The sad part is - the Air Force has cited some 'policy' related reason why it cannot bring these medals to its rightful owner - the Nation. It's  commendable that an ex Air Force officer - Air MArshal (Retd) Anil Chopra, also from the same No.1 squadron, has offered
to pay the required sum of money from his personal resources, to get the medals back. While this is commendable, it's also a sad commentary.

What does this exemplify ? This story is  another pointer towards the fact that we as a Nation not only don't have any respect our brave soldiers, but are simply apathetic to their contributions to the Nation, and the sacrifices they made while they were in uniform.

The present Air Force Chief should own this responsibility and present a case to the Government to spend this money - not a big sum, in the larger scheme of things, to get Jumbo's medals to the right place. The political leadership of India - be it the Defence Minister or even the Prime Minister should intervene to break all bureaucratic entangles created by the 'Babus' in the Defence Ministry and ensure what is correct is done - which is to bring back Jumbo's decorations to their rightful place - which is India. 

Wednesday, October 29, 2014

Back to School !

School mates.....

People who grew up with, since you were less than 10 years old. Boys with whom you sat in class, played hockey, cricket and soccer in the school play field. Friends - with whom you teamed up to play pranks in class, and remained firmly united in not letting out who the culprits were.

Imagine being connected to most of them, even after three decades have passed since you left school!

This is the Class of '79 of Mt. St. Mary's School, Delhi Cantt, where I spent 11 of the most enjoyable yet significant years of my life.

I belong to that lucky group of friends who have remained connected all these years. Better still, this group of friends meet regularly - now with spouses, every once in a while.

For those few hours when we meet, each one of us goes back to that day and age, when we were 15, 16 years old. With the old bonds firmly in place, we connect to each others' present lives, and the trials and tribulations each one of us is passing through. We lean on each other's shoulder secure in the belief that each one will stand behind a class mate when he is in need of help.

Since this was an 'all boys' class, all spouses are women, who through this extended family, have connected to and befriended each other in many ways.

We look forward to every get together, and various excuses and occasions to organize one. The countdown starts a fortnight before. Till the final day arrives. We meet once in two or three months, but we meet like long lost friends. What follows is much laughter and joy, leg pulling, back slapping and 'what have you' - till the wee hours of the morning, when it is time to part. 

Then, we wait for the next opportunity to meet.