Chivalry, a foreign concept

Published: February 20, 2015
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The writer is a columnist, a former major of the Pakistan Army and served as press secretary to Benazir Bhutto 
kamran.shafi@tribune.com.pk

The writer is a columnist, a former major of the Pakistan Army and served as press secretary to Benazir Bhutto kamran.shafi@tribune.com.pk

In early January of 2013, India levelled allegations against Pakistan of beheading one of two of their border policemen killed in an encounter on the LoC. Later that month, the Indian media let out that 12 of their troops had so been beheaded by Pakistani soldiers since 1998.

Not a scrap of evidence was offered by the Indians substantiating those claims: let alone the United Nations Military Observer Group in India and Pakistan (UNMOGIP) being allowed anywhere near the LoC by the Indians (whilst they are given complete freedom on our side of it); the two countries did not even have the good grace to form a joint commission of officers from both sides to hold a joint court of inquiry and investigate the matter. And, if indeed the horrid crime, for it was nothing else, was committed, for the criminal to be punished most severely.

Of course, none of that happened: the usual plethora of loud accusations followed from both sides, their retired generals, some wearing their regimental side-caps shouting for India to ‘be more aggressive’ towards Pakistan; our admirals and air marshals sticking their tongues out at them with the usual: ‘just you try it’, and so on and so forth.

The unseemly tamasha goes on ad nauseum. Just the other day, this newspaper of record informed us that DIG Indian Coast Guard, B K Loshali, was quoted as saying that the Pakistani fishing boat, which was alleged by the Indians to have been blown up by its own crew when hailed by the Indian Coast Guard because it was smuggling ‘illicit goods’, was actually ‘blown off’ by the Indian Coast Guard at his orders.

The Indian Express report stated that the DIG ordered that the boat should be blown up as it had entered the sea to carry out an illicit transaction. ‘Let me tell you. I hope you remember 31st December night … We blew off that Pakistan … We have blown them off … I was there at Gandhinagar and I told at night, blow the boat off. We don’t want to serve them biryani … .” the Express quoted DIG BK Loshali, who is also chief of staff (northwest Region), as saying.”

Whilst I have myself heard and seen the DIG say this: Full Story here

He now says: “I do not subscribe to the report. I have not made this statement. The operation was not being handled by me. I was not privy to it completely. I reiterate the boat set herself on fire and was not sunk by coast guard.” What he means by ‘I was not privy to it completely’ only he can tell us. Was he half-privy to it? It is to be noted that DIG Loshali’s claims are “contradicted by the (Indian) defence ministry which maintained that the people in the boat blew up the vessel”.

So there we have it, us two sub-continental neighbours socking it out on a weekly basis and showing ourselves to the world for what we are.

Now, whilst much cruelty and barbarity has been seen recently elsewhere, there are instances of extreme valour and honour also. Such as the one about 2/Lt Charlie Brown of the United States Army Air Force, and his stricken B-197 Flying Fortress; and German Ace Franz Stigler and his fast and deadly Messerschmitt Bf 109 G6.

According to a report in the Daily Mail of December 9, 2012, “the bombing mission targeting a German munitions factory had been a success, but … pilot Charlie Brown’s attempts to get home safely seemed doomed to failure.

“His B-17F bomber had been attacked by no fewer than 15 planes — leaving one of his crew dead and six wounded; 2/ Lt Brown himself had been knocked out and regained consciousness just in time to right his plane after it went into a dangerous nose dive.

“But as he tried to return from the raid on Bremen to the safety of Allied territory after the mission on December 20, 1943, the danger was not over. Brown soon had another major concern: a German plane was flying directly next to his own — so close that the pilot was looking him directly in the eyes and making big gestures with his hands that only scared Brown.

“The pilot in question was Franz Stigler, a 26-year-old ace who had 22 victories to his name — needing just one more to be awarded the Knight’s Cross. But on that day, as his Messerschmitt Bf 109 G-6 Bf-109 closed in on the US plane, he sensed something was wrong — the enemy plane was not engaging with him; in fact, unbeknown even to Brown, the plane had lost its tail-gun compartment and one wing was badly damaged.

“As Stigler drew closer he saw the gunner covered in blood, and how part of the plane’s outside had been ripped off. And he saw the wounded, terrified US airmen inside, trying to help one another tend to their injuries. It was then he remembered the words of his commanding officer Lt Gustav Roedel. ‘Honour is everything here,’ he had told a young Stigler before his first mission. ‘Remember, you are fighter pilots first, last, always. If I ever hear of any of you shooting at someone in a parachute, I’ll shoot you myself.” Stigler later commented, ‘To me, it was just like they were in a parachute. I saw them and I couldn’t shoot them down.’” Stigler saluted Brown and peeled away, allowing the bomber to limp its way to its base in England.

I have suggested it before, let me do so again. In matters such as the beheading/firing allegations, let the Indians accept neutral observers such as the UNMOGIP. If they feel (I do not, incidentally) that these words of the Simla Agreement take away the right of either country to ask Third Parties to mediate: “That the two countries are resolved to settle their differences by peaceful means through bilateral negotiations or by any other peaceful means mutually agreed upon between them” then let them agree to form Joint Inquiry Boards made up of officers from both sides. They could even investigate instances of ‘blowing off’.

The point is just this: will India and Pakistan go on living like perpetual enemies, at each other’s throats all of the time? Won’t help.

Published in The Express Tribune, February 20th,  2015.

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Reader Comments (13)

  • wb
    Feb 20, 2015 - 4:18AM

    “Not a scrap of evidence was offered by the Indians substantiating those claims”

    What kind of evidence can India provide in this case? Seriously, please enlighten us.

    Do you want India to hand over severed heads to Pakistan?

    Let’s for a second assume that India only makes false allegations. Mumbai was a false flag operation to kill Hemant Karkare. Parliament attacks were done by indigenous people. Kargil was all Mujahideen, 1971 was a result of Hindu Baniya Sazish.

    Fine. You’re welcome to internationalize these also.

    Fine. Don’t do anything about it.

    Now, I ask you: who are suffering from all these today? India or Pakistan? Good luck with your decadence.Recommend

  • Vakil
    Feb 20, 2015 - 6:24AM

    Dear Kamran sir, with such rants, I am indeed surprised that you have not gone for the ‘jugular’ and demanded that Zaki-ur-Rehman Lakhvi should be set free, not to mention the others like Zahrar Shah as well! After all, what is the use of so-called ‘evidence’ provided by Indians? While you are at it, why not decorate Hafiz Saeed ‘sahab’ with something like Nishan-e-Haider or whatever? That sure will teach your ‘enemies’ a thing or two for messing with your Boys on the Border…right?Recommend

  • John B
    Feb 20, 2015 - 7:20AM

    On the beheading and we all know who has that propensity. It had happened before many times across the LoC. Expecting Indians to display the beheaded soldier is barbarity. While I am inclined to believe that PAK army personnel did not per se do the beheading, (Indians did not claim that either ), nothing across the border can happen without the proxies getting the approval from PAK army and that is what the Indians wanted to stop. Asking for a third party to intervene in a mess created by PAK is the MO of PAK in all affairs, like the recent cry for China and Russian role in Afg, and GoI is not going to yield to that like any sovereign nation. That is what any mature nation will do, and PAK has to live by that rule.

    On the boat issue, What PAK should be asking is what were those guys doing in the sea and why did they not stop even after a chase. Whether they are smuggler or terrorists, no coast guard is going to take the risk. It is a fact indian coat guard fired at the boat, and the boat blew as the result of fire or was self- blown following the fire.

    Instead, giving them the glory of fighter plane pilot, PAK is actually taking the chivalrous route and honoring the alleged smuggler (as proclaimed by PAK ) or the alleged terrorists ( as said by India) and dishonoring the two WWII pilots. India has the right of self defense against the threat coming through established routes.

    Here is a video showing how India army personnel treated the PAK soldiers in Kargil war.
    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=IS8cKBgNsOI&feature=youtubegdataplayerRecommend

  • marco
    Feb 20, 2015 - 9:38AM

    We have no more intention of providing any more proof. The world knows now that every word uttered from Pakistan is a lie. The tide has turned. So enjoy the suffering at the hands of your creation. Don’t expect any sympathy from the world for any acts of terrorism in Pakistan. Recommend

  • Rambo
    Feb 20, 2015 - 10:08AM

    There was no shred of evidence that Osama lived in Abbotabd! It is a story made up by Hollywood. Recommend

  • darvesh
    Feb 20, 2015 - 10:30AM

    Baniya doesn’t understands polite ways as is evident from comments coming from across the border. Treat them the way they are used to be and it will be all okay at least in Pakistan’s perspective.It looks to me as if establishment of Pakistan is dragging Modi to the point of extreme embarrassment.He needs some special treatment.
    Kudos to the writer.Recommend

  • Feb 20, 2015 - 12:42PM

    I respect your writing but recognize that the LOC and kashmir are blind spots for you like for so many other reasonable pakistanis.

    The question you should ask of your government is to demand a response from the Indian government for blowing up a boat that belonged to Pakistan.

    Ask yourself why this demand is not coming through – or why your government is not asking…no – it is not out of kindness or incompetence – the pakistani government has something to hide. Recommend

  • Parvez
    Feb 20, 2015 - 1:25PM

    That not only read well……… it read sensibly as well.Recommend

  • Sexton Blake
    Feb 20, 2015 - 10:54PM

    Once again, Pakistan and India indulging in tantrums like spoiled children. But then, why should they be different from the US/UK/EU/Israel? Recommend

  • Sexton Blake
    Feb 20, 2015 - 11:54PM

    Kamran Shafi should read up on WWII history. Mr Winston Churchill in conjunction with Bomber Harris and the US military organized thousand bomber raids on 169 German cities, and literally burnt hundreds of thousands of children alive. Hardly a good example of chivalry. I think I would prefer to stick with the Pakistan and Indian concept of chivalry..Recommend

  • Rex Minor
    Feb 21, 2015 - 4:11PM

    The author has very good knowledge of military history of WW2! But is it not a bit of a stretch to quote the encounter between the anglo saxon with the German Pilot, as a standard for Indian General. whose culture is based on differentvalues?

    Rex Minor Recommend

  • Rex Minor
    Feb 22, 2015 - 8:16PM

    @Sexton Blake:
    Sir, the author was referring to the code of honour which the German pilot followed and not what the anglo saxons exercised?

    Rex MinorRecommend

  • Sexton Blake
    Feb 22, 2015 - 9:57PM

    @Rex Minor:
    Dear Rex,
    You are quite correct in that Kamran Shafi was referring to a German pilot’s code of honour, which would be hard to beat,and I realized that. However, I was making the point that chivalry in the Indian/Pakistan military existed to a greater extent than many others and Britain in particular. Sorry for any confusion created. Also, after 80 years of allied propaganda putdowns of Germany it is pleasing to see that someone has noticed that the German military was chivalrous. Recommend

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