Pakistan versus Indian Armed Forces-Ideologies and Morale By *Atta Rasool Malik
The British Indian Army was the principal army of the British Indian Empire before its dismantling in 1947. It was responsible for the defence of both British India and the princely states, although princely states were also maintaining their own armies. The armies of the East India Company were recruited mainly from Muslims from northwestern province (present-day KPK), Punjab, Bengal, Bihar and Uttar Pradesh, and high caste Hindus recruited primarily from the rural plains of Oudh.
As a result of the Partition of India in 1947, the formations, units, assets, and indigenous personnel of the Indian Army were divided. It was agreed that two-thirds of the assets will be retained by Bharat [Hindu India], and one third going to the new state of Pakistan [Muslim India]. However, no worthwhile army equipment was handed over to Pakistan but many Muslim soldiers joined the newly formed Pakistan Army.
I see the ideological origin of the Pakistan Army in the ‘Revolt of 1857’, often called the Indian Mutiny in British histories. It was aimed to reinstate the Mughal Emperor Bahadur Shah Zafar at Delhi. It is also called the India’s First War of Independence largely fought by Muslims. It was a major but unsuccessful uprising in India in 1857–58 against the rule of the British East India Company. Many Hindu troops also took part in the “Mutiny” partly as a result of insensitive treatment by their British officers.
For a very long time, both armies of Bharat and Pakistan retained British legacy in their outlook (secular policies). However, over a period of time both armies changed with varying degrees. Under Gen Zia ul Haque rule (1978-1988) many Islamic traditions and values were added to custom of service of Pak Armed Forces but it altogether did not change the traditional outlook of Pak Army.
Coincidently in the same period in India, revival of Hinduism started under the banner of Hindutva (“Hinduness”). The Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) adopted it as its official ideology in 1989. The movement was vigorously championed by the Hindu nationalist volunteer organisation Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh (RSS) and its affiliate organizations, notably the Vishva Hindu Parishad. The Indian Army was critically affected. However, when the BJP won 2014 general election and Narendra Modi was sworn in as the 15th Prime Minister of India, Indian army totally lost its original secular outlook.
Today, the followers of Hindutva desire Hindu domination by hook or by crook. They wish a uniform (Hindu) culture for all its citizens irrespective of religious affiliations. They aspire to crush all freedom movements in India with brutal force including Jammu and Kashmir and northeastern states. They are using Indian Army as their major instrument of policy. This has pushed Indian Army to adopt inhuman and brutal policies against religious minorities all over India and subsequently bear the psychological cost of occupational army.
Deccan heralds reports that as many as 425 Indian soldiers from the Army, Air Force and Navy committed suicide in the last four years, in yet another demonstration of an unfortunate trend that dogs the armed forces for years.
The maximum number of suicide cases were reported from nearly 12 lakh strong Army where 9 officers and 326 soldiers took their lives. This is followed by the Indian Air Force which reported suicide of 5 officers and 67 airmen since 2014.
The Indian Navy which is probably not deployed against own citizens is the least affected service with 2 officers and 16 sailors committing suicides in the last four years, the Minister of State for Defence Subhash Bhamre said in a written reply in the Lok Sabha on Wednesday.
Bhamre further told the Indian Parliamentarians that nearly 42,000 soldiers took premature retirement from the three services since 2014. The maximum number of the premature retirement, reported from the Army with 803 officers and 38,150 soldiers (up to March 2017) opted for severing their ties with the military.
Despite numerous casualties of Pak army officers and men in ongoing war against different proxies, the morale of Pak armed forces is high. It is still an elite service and dream of many young men and women. It is because unlike India, the Pak armed forces are struggling for a just cause in professional manner.
*The author, Atta Rasool Malik, hails from semi-tribal areas of Pakistan. He is a veteran and holds M Phil degree in ‘International Relations’ from National Defence University, Islamabad. His interest includes politics of South Asia and Islamic & Jewish theology.