We can all pretend to be uppity about Pakistan’s repeated breach of the Geneva Convention but the point is, to expect a nation that uses terrorism as a state policy to uphold the sanctity of law is illusory and self-defeating. The mutilation of Manjeet Singh’s body is a grim reminder that unless India substantially raises the cost of Pakistan’s delinquent behaviour, the rogue republic will continue to unleash atrocities against us.
There is a sad sense of déjà vu in India’s handling of Pakistan. It doesn’t matter if the government at the Centre is leftist, rightist or centrist. Each head of Indian state suffers from an illusory notion, aided by an army of entitled influencers with deep ties to the enemy state, that relationship with Pakistan can be and should be stabilized and the onus of doing it lies with us.
Therefore, every act of atrocity that the unstable, terror-sponsoring nation inflicts on us is followed by a predictable pattern. We outrage, foam at the mouth, try some maneuvers which have long exhausted their sell-by date and then eventually settle into a prolonged ennui followed by renewed attempts at restoring ties.
And we are doomed to repeat this fallacious cycle as long as we do not realize that Pakistan is not a modern Westphalian nation-state. It is the original Islamic State that seeks to spread Islamism as a politico-religious-cultural movement with the stated goal of establishing a Caliphate. This explains its lust for Kashmir and why it shall remain congenitally opposed to the pluralistic, multicultural, heterogeneous, secular idea of India and consider the fight against ‘Hindustan’ a holy war, or jihad.
And because the existence of Pakistan as an idea depends on continuing this perpetual jihad against India (a point author C Christine Fair elaborated in her seminal work Fighting To the Finish), any Indian overtures for peaceful relationship is bound to fail. If we as a nation do not understand it, the fault the lies with us, not history.
We only have to turn over the pages to recall that soon after Atal Bihari Vajpayee took a bus-full of goodwill and Bollywood stardust to Lahore in 1999, he was answered with Kargil and a hijacked Air India flight. And few would forget the bestiality of Pakistan Army in treating our war heroes during Kargil. In gross violation of Geneva Convention, the barbarians subjected Captain Saurabh Kalia and his unit to horrendous torture.
As a News18 report recalls, Captain Kalia and his sepoys’ “ear drums were pierced with hot iron rods, eyes punctured and genitals cut off. The autopsy of the bodies also revealed that they were burned with cigarettes butts. Their limbs were also chopped off, teeth broken and skull fractured during the torture. Even their nose and lips were cut off.”
Pakistan still maintains that the bodies of these Indian soldiers were found in a pit where they ostensibly died due to “inclement weather”.
Treatment of PoWs or showing respect to the dead in war is accorded the highest importance under Geneva Convention. In an article on crimes of war, H Wayne Elliott writes: “The treatment of the battlefield dead can be divided into two aspects. First, there is a prohibition on deliberate mistreatment of the body, either through failure to treat it with appropriate respect or through mutilation. Second, there is a prohibition on pillaging the dead. These mandates concerning the dead are as much derived from the customary laws of war as from the Geneva Conventions.
To understand why Pakistan’s BAT (Border Action Team, an amalgam of its army and pet terrorists) killed and then apparently beheaded Manjeet Singh of 17 Sikh Light Infantry, we must recognise that the situation has to come to such a pass because for far too often the Pindi Khakis have been rewarded for their bad behaviour. If a criminal is paid handsomely for crimes what else can we expect except a recurring nightmare?
As The Times of India had reported back in January 2013, bodies of Lance-Naiks Hemraj and Sudhakar Singh of the 13 Rajputana Rifles were found in the Mendhar sector of Jammu & Kashmir in a badly mutilated state.
“Although the Indian Army did not give more details of the barbarism, sources said the retreating Pakistani soldiers had chopped off the head of one of the Indian soldiers and taken it back with them.”
This is why the surgical strikes on 29 September and its public acknowledgment by the Narendra Modi government were crucial. It broke the template and introduced an element of unpredictability in Indian response. The Army has already reiterated that Pakistan Army will get “an appropriate response” for their bestiality and callous disregard for all norms. But we must not stop there. The punishment from India should be brutal and swift because barbarians only understand the language of violence.
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