Held after 14 years, the meeting between the Indian Army and Pakistani Army Director Generals of Military Operations at Wagah on 24 December 2013 naturally made media headlines.
The discussions were reportedly related mostly to the Line of Control (LoC). The last such meeting was held in 1999 after the Kargil conflict. As per media reports, the atmosphere was cordial, positive and constructive.
The Indian side reportedly took a forceful stand against the killing and beheading of our soldiers and repeated border violations that had soured relations.
Both DGsMO are said have displayed commitment to maintain the sanctity and ceasefire on the LoC and agreed to re-energize the existing mechanisms; making the hotline between the two DGsMO more effective and result oriented, informing each other if any innocent civilian inadvertently crosses the LoC ensuring his / her early return etc.
The bit about making the hotline between the two DGsMO “more effective” was somewhat intriguing because the periodicity of the two DGsMO to talk is fixed and more importantly, the provision of additional contact over and above the fixed periodicity on any occurrence (s) warranting activation of this hotline too exists – with complete conversation recorded on both ends.
A week after the above meeting, on 1st January 2014, was the bi-annual exchange of prisoners' lists between India and Pakistan under the 2008 Agreement on Consular Access. The Ministry of Foreign Affairs, Pakistan handed over a list of 281
Indian prisoners (49 civilian and 232 fishermen) in Pakistan while our MEA also handed over the list of Pakistani prisoners in Indian jails (257 civilian and 139 fishermen).
But what has always been denied by Pakistan is the 54 Indian Armed Forces personnel believed to be in Pakistani jails; 29 from the Army (including 15 officers) and 25 pilots from the Air Force and Navy – all officers (24 Air Force and one Naval pilot).
Though these personnel were reported missing in action, denial by Pakistan that none out of the 54 are in Pakistani custody exposes the lies and treachery. This despite the fact that 93,000 Pakistani military Prisoners of War (POW) were returned by India post the 1971 Indo-Pak War.
All this despite clear evidence of Indian POWs in Pakistani jails like:
Major AK Suri, 5 ASSAM – his name was announced in Punjab Durbar program of Radio Lahore on 6th – 7th January 1972. His father received handwritten notes from Major Suri dated 7th December 1974 and 14, 15, 16 June 1975 – last three from Karachi disclosing that there were there were 20 more Indian officers detained on charges of spying. Indian national Mukhtiar Singh, repatriated from Pakistan on 5th July, 1988, confirmed Major Ashok Suri was in Kot Lakhpat jail at that time.
Flight Lieutenant V Tambay, 32 Squadron Air Force - Pakistan Observer, dated December 5, 1971 carried news ex Rawalpindi datelined December 4, 1971, that five Indian pilots had been captured alive. One of the names published was that of Flight Lieutenant VV Tambay.
Major AK Ghosh, 15 Rajput – Time magazine dated December 27, 1971, carried a photograph of an Indian prisoner behind bars in Pakistan – identified as Major A.K. Ghosh. He has not been returned by Pakistan.
Captain Ravinder Kaura, 39 Medium Regiment – his name was announced as Pakistani prisoner on 7th December 1991. Indian national Mukhtiar Singh repatriated on 5th July 1988 confirmed Captain Kaura was in Kot Lakhpat jail.
Captain Giri Raj Singh, 5 Assam – Pakistan Radio mentioned his name as POW in August 1972. Indian national Bhaskar repatriated in 1988 confirmed he met Captain Giri Raj Singh in Kot Lakhpat jail.
Major Kanwaljit Singh Sandhu, 15 Punjab – wrote to Prime Minister Indira Gandhi in 1980 condoling death of Sanjay Gandhi and pleaded he and his colleagues be released by Pakistan.
These are just few examples.
What does Gen Raheel Sharif, the new Pakistani Army Chief and his DGMO, Aamer Riaz have to say about the above.
Naturally, Pakistan continuous to feign they have no POWs from India while these poor souls are being held as 'spies' with perhaps their Indian nationality changed in official records – akin to hoodwinking the world on many fronts like being the frontline ally of America against terrorism and simultaneously breeding millions of terrorists.
What is worse are reports of some of the Indian POWs being shifted to foreign jails including to Oman, which again is possible only by branding them as spies, concealing their Indian identity and perhaps convincing the country concerned that the said spying activity was targeting their national interest.
Why else would a country like Oman that is so friendly to India and eyes Pakistan suspiciously accommodate Indian POWs in their jails. Of course, a country like Saudi Arabia that funds terrorism globally would welcome such a Pakistani move.
The rapid institutionalized radicalization in Pakistan left little doubt that Indian national Sarabjit Singh, branded as spy by Pakistan, would have been willfully murdered. Following the uproar, the drama of attributing the blame to two prisoners already on death sentence was enacted.
If Pakistani national Sanaullah was later attacked in an Indian jail, it is after the prisoners learned how Pakistanis did Sarabjit Singh to death.
It is not known what the Pakistani response was during the DGsMO meeting against the Indian protests about the killing and beheading of our soldiers and repeated border violations. But if this was not disclosed, it is not hard to guess. The usual game of denying all knowledge about the incident and passing the blame to non-state actors or so called freedom fighters would have been resorted to.
What is well known is that jaundiced mullah Hafiz Saeed (now chief adviser to the ISI-Paki Militay for Pakistan's India policy) announced a reward of Rupees five lakh to the person bringing the head of an Indian soldier.
So what is different from the last DGsMO meeting in 1999 post the Kargil Conflict? Pakistan then too was feigning the massive intrusions were the handiwork of non-state actors and so called freedom fighters.
Despite the heinous torture and killing of Captain Saurabh Kalia and his patrol and also Squadron Leader Ajay Ahuja, Pakistan was feigning innocence.
When the mutilated bodies of Captain Saurabh Kalia and his patrol were handed back by Pakistan, the postmortem revealed that the Pakistan army had indulged in the most heinous acts of burning them with cigarettes, piercing ear-drums with hot rods, puncturing eyes before removing them, breaking most of the teeth and bones, chopping off various limbs and private organs of these soldiers besides inflicting all sorts of physical and mental tortures before shooting them dead, as evidenced by the bullet wound to the temple.
Squadron Leader Ajay Ahuja, whose MiG was shot down over Indian soil on May 27, 1999, was used for target practice by Pakistani soldiers after he bailed out and opened his parachute across the LoC. Musharraf would have perhaps decorated his creeps for these barbaric acts.
Haven't we witnessed Pakistani Naik Sule Khan gloating over how Captain Saurabh Kalia and his patrol were done to death and the audience clapping to glory?
Don't we know that in February 2000, Ilyas Kashmiri, backed by Pakistani army, undertook a cross-border raid, carrying back the head of an Indian soldier which was later paraded before senior officials of Pakistan army – much to the glee of Musharraf who rewarded Ilyas Kashmiri with Rupees one lakh – all reported in Pakistani media?
Prior to the DGsMO meeting on 24th December last year, Pakistan had already violated the year 2003 ceasefire hundreds of times, mostly to assist infiltration and cross-border raids. During the calendar year 2013 alone, Pakistan had violated the ceasefire more than 250 times. Despite the assurances of Aamer Riaz, Pakistani DGMO during the above meeting, Pakistan continues to violate the ceasefire. Two such violations took place on 26th January and 29th January this year in Uri and Poonch Sectors of J&K using small arms and RPG rockets.
Would Gen Raheel Sharif, Pakistani Army Chief and his DGMO, Aamer Riaz say that the Pakistani army does not listen to their orders even if Pakistani army officials unofficially admit that the Brigadier and below level have been affected by radicalization?
So how can you trust Pakistan under such conditions - with 40 anti-India terrorist camps running full swing in Pakistan with full military support, Hafiz Saeed advising the ISI and holding open rallies professing balkanization of India, plus collection of funds and recruitment of jihadis against India under the very nose of the administration and with open support of military veterans in connivance the ISI and Pakistani military ?