Wednesday, October 29, 2014

A soldiers review of Film Haider

Lt Gen Vijay Oberoi's take on 'Haider'. Long but worth a read till last word


A Soldier Reviews ‘Haider’ movie

October 19, 2014 By Agniveer

 I am an ex-armyman. I was stationed in Kashmir in mid-nineties. This was the same period when hordes of militants from across the border infiltrated in Kashmir to spread terror. Lashkar-e-Taiba, Harkat-ul-Mujahideen, Hizb-ul-Mujahideen and scores of other terrorist groups were having a free-for-all rampage in Kashmir. They would infiltrate from Pakistan, recruit cadre, take them to Pakistan for training, bring them back and perform heinous acts of terror.

This was the same period when half a million Kashmiri Hindus and Sikhs were massacred and forced to flee the valley.

This was the same period when Kashmir burnt under fundamentalism. It was next to impossible to differentiate between a peaceful nationalist and a killing-machine.

Whenever a cricket match would happen between India and Pakistan, Pakistani flags would wave across the valley as if we were sitting in heart of Pakistan. Any minority voice who dared to wave the Indian flag would be silenced immediately by militants.

It was during such a reign of terror, that Indian Army had to douse the fire in Kashmir with their own blood.

If someone suffered most severe human-rights violation in history of mankind, it was the Indian Army in Kashmir. We left our families in different parts of India and survived under harshest of conditions. For days we would sleep over guns in harsh climate and remotest locations just to keep tab on infiltrating militants. Anyone of us could be bombed away in a sudden attack of fundamentalism. Innumerable among us lost our lives. I lost my hand like so many others who lost their limbs or eyes. To die in a bomb blast was considered lucky. Because if you chanced to be captured by the militants, you would be slowly and mercilessly tortured to death. Militants and their supporters took pride in this gruesome ‘halal’ ritual.

Remember Saurabh Kalia? He is definitely not as popular as Vishal Bharadwaj or Shahid Kapoor. Because he was not a film star who made money by exploiting national interests. He was a humble Indian soldier who gave his life for motherland. He was captured by fundamentalists along with 5 more soldiers. They were taken across Line of Control and tortured as a religious ritual.

Pakistan army tortured their prisoners by burning their bodies with cigarettes, piercing ear-drums with hot rods, puncturing eyes before removing them, breaking most of the teeth and bones, fracturing the skull, cutting the lips, chipping the nose, chopping off limbs and private organs of these soldiers besides inflicting all sorts of physical and mental tortures and finally shooting them dead after twenty-two days, as evidenced by the bullet wound to the temple.

This made the killers “Ghazi” – who as per these fundamentalists gets highest number of most beautiful virgins in Heaven. All you need to do to be a Ghazi is to celebrate killing of a non-believer.

These five soldiers were after all the worst of creatures in world in eyes of jihadis. They were Indians, soldiers and idol-worshippers. What could be greater sin!

I was lucky because I could have been in Saurav’s place. Had I not lost my hand, instead of Saurav Kalia, I would have been ‘halal’ed to make someone Ghazi.

This was the same period when Indian Army made greatest sacrifice to save India and humanity from reign of death and blood.

And it is the same period around which the film “Haider” by Vishal Bharadwaj, Shahid Kapoor and anti-India jihadi writer Basharat Peer has been made and adored by “critics”.

No struggle for liberation in Kashmir

Everyone on ground knows that there is no struggle for liberation of Kashmiris in Kashmir. If that had been so, why native Kashmiri Pandits would have been massacred?

You need to spend just a few days in the valley to understand the true nature of struggle that lies hidden under this garb of Kashmiriyat.

It is simply a ploy to extend the reaches of Islamic fundamentalism. The same fundamentalism of Al-Qaeda and ISIS that is shaking the entire world.

Kashmiri militants are brainwashed to believe that they will go to Paradise only after India is conquered by an army of Jihadis. Listen to speeches of Masood Azhar, founder of Jaish-e-Muhammad. He talks of Ghazwa-e-Hind prophecy where Prophet made conquest of India a precondition for opening doors of Heaven.

In name of religion, the same poison is spread in minds of Kashmiri youth to make them militants.

Enemy within and outside

Yet Indian Army continues to face bullets from enemies and abuses from family. Today, on one side Pakistan is targeting Indian Army and minority locations in Kashmir with bullets. And around the same time, our own country-men create a film like “Haider” that paints Indian Army a villain.

On one hand, flags of ISIS are waved in Kashmir, and at same time, “critics” laud anti-nationalism of Haider as marvel of art.

Such co-incidences give ample evidence that somehow our enemies and certain elements from within our country consistently orchestrate great timing and coordination among each other that it is hard to believe that it was just a mere coincidence.

In Army, we are trained to observe such remarkable coincidences, understand what goes behind, and yet silently sacrifice ourselves for the mission of nation.

Haider shook me to core

I have myself faced irrepairable loss in saving motherland from anti-national militants. And my fellow armymen have made much larger sacrifices for the same cause. Thus the film Haider shook me to core.

It made me question for the first time – Whom are we fighting for? Whom are we defending? The same people who could make this film because of Army’s protection collude with an anti-national Jihadi writer to make a villain of Indian Army?

Is this the reward of our sacrifices that we continue to make? Are commercial gains and so-called artistic expression more important than motherland and humanity?

What if we had not fought terrorism by tooth and nail in nineties? What if we had not arrested the spread of terror to other parts of country through our own lives?

With friends like this, who needs enemies?

This is not a film-critics review. This is a review from perspective of an armyman, a lover of humanity and a son of India. A true secular who refuses to believe that God hates idol-worshippers so much that they will go to Hell. And aspires to fight against ideology that directly or indirectly nurtures such fundamentalist elements.

This is not rhetoric in jingoism

Unlike Haider, which is an experiment in fundamentalism, don’t consider the article to be a rhetoric in jingoism.

Yes, I love my country. I love my country more than I love anything else in life. I love my country not because I was born here or I am a native of this nation. It is not because I love the design of the map of India. It is because its timeless cultural and philosophical heritage that is built on core foundations of tolerance, acceptance and justice. So jingoism has no place for a nationalist and son of soil.

My nationalism does not make me aspire to conquer the whole world. It inspires me to enlighten the whole world. It inspires me to promote brotherhood across the globe and strive for “One World, One Family.” It inspires me to make India lighthouse of the world. I joined Indian Army not to conquer the world, but nurture and protect Peace that defines foundation of India.

I am not a movie-watcher. My mission never allowed me the luxury to fit movies or serials in my priority-list. But I made an exception for Haider.

Summary Review of Haider

While I will provide details later, let me state upfront – I find “Haider” to be a shameless commercialization of anti-nationalism.

No its not a rhetoric. This is the most “polite” way in which I can summarize the review of this film.

The more “practical” review summary is already being demonstrated by my Indian Army by appropriate retaliation to Pakistani misadventure of cross-border firing. Salutes to my Army for this. Am proud to lose my arm for you. And regret that I could not gift my life for you.

Wednesday, October 22, 2014

Critical Review: Speech of Indian National Security Advisor; Mr Ajit Doval at Core Group Meeting of Munich Conference 14 in New Delhi By Colonel Ashok Kumar Singh

Critical Review
Speech of Indian National Security Advisor; Mr Ajit Doval
at Core Group Meeting of Munich Conference 14 in New Delhi
By Colonel Ashok Kumar Singh

I take this liberty to write my critical review on the key note opening speech given by Mr Ajit Doval; National Security Advisor of Indian Republic at core group meeting of Munich Security Conference 14 held in New Delhi.

Core Group Meeting of Munich Security Conference is an important event to brain storm various issues of security facing the world. It is an event which is closely watched and analyzed by defense and security experts across the globe. Key note address of Mr Doval naturally carried a significant importance specially so as it was delivered by him in his capacity of National Security Advisor of new govt of Indian Republic.

Expectations from Key Note Speech

Mr Ajit Doval was expected to deliver his key note speech focusing on regional and global security issues with special emphasis on Indian foreign and security policy. Speech was expected to focus on global and regional security challenges such as the conflicts in the Middle East and the situation in Afghanistan after the 2014 NATO withdrawal, questions of maritime security in the Indo-Pacific, cyber security, Euro-Atlantic and Asian regional security architectures as well as global governance and the role of emerging powers.

Brief of Speech Delivered

Mr Ajit Doval started his speech highlighting changing dynamics of security challenges wherein he identified three key factors. First; changes in relativity of state power and power differentials therein, second; changes in nature of conflict and concept of 4th Generation war and third; uncertainty in state response diluting doctrines, concepts and strategies.

In his speech NSA, taking further lead from concept of 4th generation war, focused on terrorism as a main threat to peace and spoke about prevailing disorganized global response to it. He further highlighted a need to have UN convention on terrorism and Indian efforts to reach on a consensus. He then took a snapshot on Pakistan for having not agreed on the definition of terrorism and killing of Osama bin laden in Pakistan. NSA laid importance on the role of USA and lauded their contribution. NSA though expressed his general concern on the conflict situation in West Asia but did not elaborate its impact in the region especially so on Indian interests till he was questioned in question answer session.

Mr Ajit Doval also highlighted importance of cyber, maritime and space security and then identified four key approaches or solutions to bring a stable peaceful situation. These four key approaches or solutions  being first; strengthening the democracy, second; empowerment of people by bringing development, third developing good neighborhood relations and fourth technical integration like Indian digitations program for good governance.

In last he switched over to a military message by highlighting Indian stand of an effective and credible deterrence as an instrument to achieve stability and prevent conflicts.
Mr Ajit Doval at last took three questions concerning, first on Pakistan’s stand on freedom fighter versus terrorists stand, second Indian policy towards China in backdrop of solutions of democracy and developing good relations with neighbors and third significance of threat as posed by ISIS and Al Qaeda.

Critical Review

I went through the speech of Mr Ajit Doval as uploaded on Munich Security Conference website and present my critical review herein as an independent defense analyst.

Though Mr Ajit Doval delivered his speech off the script with help of notes confidently with a set pace in a vibrant tone but showed signs of restlessness wherein he shifted water glass without reasons, tempered with position of mike making his speech inaudible, made avoidable jerking and tilted actions of his head and laid avoidable extra but frequent intervening emphasis in sentences which he spoke. Though some of his actions may be attributed to his style but surely some did not convey a good body language as expected from a National Security Advisor.  I do not wish to get into in depth over issue of body language except saying that such body languages are studied in detail by experts to get deep into the minds of such important speaker. He has to further strengthen the art of deception when he speaks.

If seen in the backdrop of expectation of Munich Security Conference as given above, Mr Ajit Doval failed to meet the same. He touched upon the subject in a hush hush manner even missing out certain key subjects. He had a right opportunity and forum to convey certain assuring messages to the worried world community of experts. Somehow he missed the opportunity. Whether it was by design or he took the opportunity lightly cannot be said with certainty.  It could be that he avoided deliberately making any in-depth comments to keep people guessing and confused which in fact has become USP of Indian foreign and security policy.

Mr Doval laid the pace of his speech on certain accepted and un-debatable security challenges facing the world but lost direction when he focused on 4th Generation war as his accepted concept and went to extent of making prevailing military or security doctrines, concepts and strategies redundant in light of such war. Concept of 4th generation war was presented by Mr William S Lind, Colonel Keith, Captain Jhon, Colonel Joseph and Lt Col Gary in their article “Changing Face of War into Fourth Generation’ published in 1989 in Marine Corp Gazette. It was further explained by Colonel Thomas in his book “The Sling and The Stone” in 2006.

The concept of 4th generation war as only possible war has not been validated and accepted by any military including Indian army as it addresses a very narrow span/band of entire spectrum of war or conflict. Indian army classifies 4th Generation war as low intensity conflict but it doesn’t mean that possibility of high intensity or mid intensity wars/ conflicts can be totally ruled out. Doctrine, concepts and strategies of other wars still remain relevant. Why did Mr Ajit Doval emphasized only on 4th generation war or low intensity conflict making other doctrine, concepts and strategies redundant is beyond comprehension. I fail to understand that man of his stature will have no in-depth understanding of entire spectrum of conflict then why did he allow his police intelligence mind to dominate military thoughts?

Issue of non state actors as dominant and potent security threat is not the way Mr Doval has placed it in his speech. In fact behind every non state powerful group there is a recognized state sponsoring it?   In military terms non state groups in fact are advance guard to the interest of state sponsoring it. They are created and sponsored by state with certain politico military objectives in mind as low cost option of proxy wars. US military in fact has a known policy of sponsoring such non state actors if it meets US interests.  Same is the case with many other states like Russia, Pakistan etc including India. It is an accepted military practice to further national interests if possible by low cost option of proxy wars. Problem only arises when such groups in some cases become rogues and fail to deliver what they are expected to by asserting their independence. Like in case of Al Qaeda, LTTE or even Bhinderwale.  Yes I do understand the compulsion of Mr Ajit Doval to be diplomatic but totally misrepresenting or ignoring fact is surely not in Indian interest. If India has dropped the option of non state actors meeting national interests then it should state so openly and demand same from others without naming them and in a diplomatic manner. It will strengthen India’s standing among world community.

Mr Doval said that terrorism is a tool in hands of vested interests and rightly so he emphasized it. I think Mr Doval or India should be realistic on the issue of UN convention over it. It will never materialize as it is not practical simply because terrorism is not only the tool of non state actors but also that of military. Indian air force’s air strike in Dhaka terrorized Gen Niazi in 1971 thereby forcing him to surrender early. Terrorism as tool targets mind. As brought out above if non state actors are sponsored by state actors then it will just not be possible for UN convention on the subject specially so when the word security scenario is increasing becoming fragile and volatile. In fact many of the powerful countries are re-arming or replacing/ modernizing their old arsenals including nuclear and new and new non state actors are getting sponsored as low cost option of proxy wars.  Unfortunately world and India has to face it and it is just not possible to bring UN conventions for terror acts or any other military act only by non state rogue groups? So why to waste time on it? Keep your options open specially so when Indian army is asking govt about policy to bring formidable or unbearable cost on the sponsors of non state actors in neighborhood as response to their proxy wars.

Though Mr Doval talked about need for a global response to terrorism but failed to define Indian commitment to it except mentioning certain discussions in international forum.  Just bringing UN convention will not eliminate terrorism; it will require discernible actions on ground. What are Indian commitments, NSA failed to clarify same though he talked about a collective global response.
Solution to security challenges which Mr Doval talked about are way off then available security solutions per se. Democracy is a political form of government. I really don’t know how and when Indian govt has assumed that world over democracy has been accepted as an established norm of governance. US which are a vibrant democracy does not support or promote democracy as the only option when it comes to promoting their interests. If India thinks that true democracy in China or Pakistan will bring solution to Kashmir or bring peace in region otherwise then I am sorry the given thought process is wrong. Indian may have to wait for next 50 years or so to get a settlement. India keeps cribbing about Pak army calling the shots in foreign policy and maintains a distance. Well Indian diplomatic army cannot and shall not treat Pak army as untouchable. That is not good diplomacy. Better would be bringing your military at par with Pak military structurally and open a new military diplomatic channel. Indian concerns should only be that whosoever signs any agreement with India, shall bring all stake holders in Pakistan on board and repeat of Shimla agreement shall not happen. So NSA bringing democracy to settle political or military disputes is beyond comprehension. Well it may be Indian point of view but world doesn’t behave like that. Just too bad but India has to accept it.

Yes issues of democracy, developing relations with neighborhood, development, empowerment, good governance and technical integration will have preventive impact on internal insurgencies. India may like to play a leading role in the region to bring peace and stability and she should do so. It would have been better if Mr Ajit doval had spoken more on foreign policy. India at one time had foreign policy of Panchsheel I think it is still relevant today. May be it is time to crystallize it in some form and name it. It will then become much easier for Indian diplomats to refer or mention it.  
In the question answer session Mr Ajit Dowal stated that ISIS or Al Qaeda presently do not pose threat to India and as and when it happens India will take steps. Well that was a shocking answer. These groups are posing danger to world peace and tranquilities and that is beyond doubt. Indian NSA did not even consider them as a threat when the whole world is crying? Well I leave it there as to none of defense expert who listened to him will be convinced.  

NSA did make a strong statement of an effective and credible deterrence as an instrument for regional stability but looks it was more targeted towards Pakistan.

In my view, Mr Ajit Doval NSA should have made right use of Munich Security Conference 14, to convey Indian stand on certain key security issues. The world is expecting India to make certain commitments to global war against terrorism.  Somehow Mr Ajit Doval missed this right opportunity to make Indian stand clear. He did not even speak about subjects like Ukraine, South China Sea, Nato withdrawal from Pakistan. After hearing his speech I am left more confused about Indian security Policy then before. I expect Indian govt to bring some clarity on Indian defense and security policy and NSA has a big role in its framing.