Event ReportsPublished on Sep 25, 2015
The 1857 revolt was not a mutiny for self-rule, instead it was staged with the aim of restoring Mughal rule in Delhi. Once the revolt was suppressed, princes loyal to the Company were allotted lands that were taken from previously annexed kingdoms, according to Rear-Admiral Mohan Raman (Retd).
Radcliff Line, not Hind Kush, the centre of conflict now

Pakistan is not a South Asian country as it perceives itself to be, but a Central and West Asian country, claimed Rear-Admiral Mohan Raman (retd), while initiating a discussion titled "Fifty years after '65" at ORF Chennai. Tracing the deeper roots of India-Pakistan conflicts beyond the Kashmir issue, he said that Pakistan was based on the 'Two-Nation theory,' and is here to stay, whether one believes in it or not.

Raman said that the expensive military campaigns by the Mughals led to an unstable situation after the death of Aurangzeb, which eventually contributed to the East India Company becoming a 'land-holder' from being a mere trading company. He also noted that the 1857 revolt was not a mutiny for self-rule, but was staged with the aim of restoring Mughal rule in Delhi. Once the revolt was suppressed, princes loyal to the Company were allotted lands that were taken from previously annexed kingdoms.

While touching upon the history immediately preceding Partition, Raman also spoke about the establishment of Aligarh Muslim University (AMU) by Sir Syed Ahmed Khan. It was established with the view that young Muslims would be capable of running the Government of India once the British left the country. However, the reality was that it was the Hindus who enrolled in the university in large numbers.

It was because of the emotional distance that Muslims were reluctant to take up an education based on western philosophy. A similar attempt was made when the Osmania University by the Nizams of Hyderabad in South India was established, but the medium of instruction was Persian. The result, however,  was still the same - Muslims were reluctant to join English-medium universities for higher education.

Such a thought process and psychology led to Partition and the creation of Pakistan, and the focus was/is not Kashmir but Delhi. Thus, India-Pakistan conflicts of the 1965 kind might not end even if there is a 'mutually-acceptable' solution to the Kashmir issue. Thus also the meaninglessness of such an exercise, the speaker said. Throughout his talk and the discussions that followed, Raman emphasised that "Hind Khush is no longer a centre of conflict, it is now the Radcliff Line."

The speaker also noted that the major contention in the process was not one of religion but of class. He said that the elites were afraid of losing their position in the society due to the democratic process. It was also noted that though several Islamic nations in the world have either Arabian or Persian as their official language, Pakistan chose Urdu, a language evolved from Persian, as their official language.

An interesting point noted during the discussion was that the Indian Navy was not used at all during the 1965 war. There had been an explicit order from the Indian Defence Secretary to not engage the Navy in the war, which could escalate the confrontation. This should also go on to back the argument that India was not the 'aggressor' but the 'defender' of territory in the 1965 war, and the Indian armed forces did well on that count, the speaker pointed out.

Citing numerous speculations on the outcome of the war with some claiming that it was a stalemate, Raman pointed out that in war, victory is contextualised by the role each nation played. Where one is the aggressor, that nation has to acquire territory to call itself a winner. A nation defending its territory/sovereignty becomes the winner, when it has achieved the goals set for its military. Though there were several setbacks in 1965, India was not the aggressor but only the defender, and had defended its territories, thereby making India the winner, he said.

The speaker discussed extensively the reason for Pakistan starting the war in 1965. Then Pakistan ruler, self-proclaimed Field Marshal Ayub Khan's popularity in his country was dwindling mainly because of his sons having kidnapping the daughter of the Inspector-General, who resigned. While this swayed the public mood against Ayub Khan, one of his sons opening fire at an election rally being held by Fatima Jinnah, who was contesting against Ayub Khan in the presidential elections, also became a major embarrassment. In order to regain his image, Khan decided to launch a war on India, as a diversionary tactic.

It was thus that he initiated 'Operation Gibraltar,' and sent Pakistani troops to infiltrate the borders, with the aim of fuelling rebellion against India in Jammu and Kashmir. India had a significant upper hand during the war and had even reached the outskirts of Lahore, but the Indian Army did not capture Lahore, owing to strategic and logistical reasons.

Report prepared by Ramalingam, Va, I Year, Tamil Nadu School of Excellence in Law, Chennai.

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