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The Raj and the Concept of an officer and a Gentleman

November 17, 2011  by: Madan G Singh  Points: 12   Category: Others    Views: 469

An officer is supposed to follow a code of honor even with his enemies

         

Many officers have spent years and years in the Indian Armed forces. All of them will vouchsafe that the one principle which was sacrosanct to the Raj's army was that a military officer was somehow a gentleman, too. And it was in line with that concept that the Army Act as amended in 1950 laid down penalties for "an act prejudicial to good Army order and discipline".


The Army is the oldest of the Arms and was called 'The Indian Army' during British days. But after India gained independence it came to be referred to as the British Indian Army. After 1947 when the sub continent was divided and became two separate countries: India and Pakistan, the Indian army was also divided. Many sometimes wonder that did the officer class in this split-up army continue to live up to the principle that they were also gentlemen. As is well known, within 60 days of their being split; the two armies were at each other's throats. It was the start of the first Indo-Pak war where the Pakistan Army badly failed in its objective of wresting the state of Kashmir from India. The contention that men who wore the uniform ask well it is O.K. We are now bitter military enemies. But are we gentlemen still?
Concept of an Enemy Officer
The concept of an enemy officer also conforming to the ideals of his class and showing the attributes of gentlemanliness - fair play, honor, and respect for human values is not something utopian. It was a fact of life in the ethos of the British Indian Army. How has the Pakistani army lived up to it since those days? Perhaps one should explain right at the outset that no judgment can be passed, except that the evidence can be brought forward and the reader must make his own judgment.
Baramulla
We do not have to go far but only a few decades back. To be precise October 1947. The scene: the picturesque riverside holiday resort called Baramulla, in Kashmir. The Pakistan raiders moved in and started burning and looting and more abominable -raping the young girls - not even sparing the Muslims. The sad part was that they were led by officers of the regular Pakistan Army who only a few months back were part of the Indian army under the Raj. They even attacked the missionary hospital and murdered the pregnant women. Dr Barrette in charge of the hospital and the nuns including the mother superior were summarily shot. The leaders were the Pakistan Officer class.
Indian POW's
Come 1965 and the second Indo Pak war took place, followed by the 1971 war that led to the vivisection of Pakistan. In the erstwhile state of East Pakistan some 93000 Pakistan soldiers surrendered and Gen Niazi signed the instrument of surrender. In the west the battle was a stalemate and both sides took some hundreds of prisoners. The cease fire and exchange of prisoners took place-but the Pakistan army never returned some of the prisoners. Now 40 years have elapsed and Pakistan still holds some of the Indian soldiers and Airmen in their jails. There have been letters smuggled out from the jails and the relatives of the missing soldiers are sure that the POW is still languishing in Pakistan. General Mushraff the President of Pakistan was approached. An appeal was made to his honor as a soldier. But the official denial continues for can a nation admit that it keeps POWs for over 40 years when the war is over? The officer corps of the Pakistan Army has a lot of explanation to do for this act.
The Pakistan occupation of Bangladesh is also a nightmare. The troops under officers of the Pakistan army stormed the Dacca University and abducted tens of Muslim girls. They were first raped and some were later bayoneted.
Honor
The code of conduct for an officer is a matter of honor. Fight and kill- yes that is what he is trained for but underneath, the concept of the Raj of fair play and going by the rules is paramount. Do not kill innocents and follow the Geneva conventions. You have to be a gentleman as well. All who read this article can form a judgment. Is that concept, of an unwritten code of behavior for the officer class, still alive - in the Pakistani army? One will have to think deep to arrive at an answer.




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