The Indian political leadership is without a doubt one of the world’s most respected ones. India’s democratic political system in a country of 1.2 billion plus population is an example in itself. India’s socialist ideals and principles are praised the world over. But praise for being a democratic, socialist republic is one thing, praise for being the most powerful is another.
And the praise for being the latter is far better than the praise for being the former. Why? To understand this, we have to go back in time to 3rd century BC and move ourselves from India to Italy, where the Roman Republic has cemented itself as the superpower of the time.
The period from 218 to 201 BC of Roman history witnessed the Second Punic Wars, when the Roman Republic was invaded and almost conquered by one of antiquity’s greatest military commanders Hannibal Barca from Carthage in North Africa.
A bust of Hannibal Barca. He remains to this day one of the greatest military strategists of all time.
During the course of 17 years after having crossed the Mediterranean Sea into Spain, Hannibal conquered Roman cities and made alliances with Rome’s enemies. His army crossed the Alps at a time when crossing it in itself could be counted as the greatest achievement of man. That half his army died while crossing it should give an estimate of how herculean the task was.
Despite the numbers, Hannibal attacked Rome with whatever he had, conquering city after city using a military strategy which is respected and emulated till date.
This is the route Hannibal took to invade Rome. Note that his goes past Rome itself without attacking it. Wikimedia Commons
He would return to Carthage to face an equally great Roman general, Scipio Africanus, who invaded his country in his absence from a different route. He would be defeated and then, after some period of exile, would commit suicide in Roman captivity. Eventually Roman Republic would transform into a far stronger Roman Empire.
So why did Hannibal not invade Rome and destroy the Republic itself when he had the chances – not one but two? The answer to this has a link to India’s current problems with Pakistan.
His Carthaginian belief was that an enemy would come to terms under such circumstances and the enemy need to be fully defeated. But Romans were Romans. They refused negotiations. Instead, they mounted numerous guerrilla attacks on Hannibal’s slowly depleting force. Eventually Hannibal lost many of his brave men, including his brother. The final nail was when Scipio invaded Carthage.
“Hannibal Crossing the Alps on an Elephant”, a painting by Nicolas Poussin, is seen in this undated handout picture provided by Christie’s in London. REUTERS/Christie’s Images/Handout
India, too, had at least one great opportunity – 1971 – to end the Pakistan problem once and for all. And unlike Hannibal, who had misplaced his understanding of negotiations with Romans, the then Indian military commanders had no second thoughts about the enemy. They were ready, yet the political establishment couldn’t trust its Generals.
In the end, Pakistan got back the territory Indian armed forces captured and Islamabad remained intact.
Lt Gen W.A.G. Pinto, GoC of 54 Infantry Division posing beside a board erected by Indian Army inside a location in Pakistan. The Hindu
Defenders of the political establishment of 1971 argue that India was forced to return the land and come to the negotiating table because of the international pressure it was coming under and a possible threat from China.
International laws are more stringent now yet they simply invaded, destroyed everything, killed whosoever they didn’t like, established a puppet government and left. Have they been held accountable? No. And this is why praise for being the most powerful matters.
There is no doubt that the terrorists are Pakistan’s own. In case you didn’t notice, attacks on the army personnel have increased and the common people have gone down since 26/11. It is because the Mumbai terror attacks earned Pakistan international disrepute, which forced the ISI to change its strategy. Terrorists are now targeting armed forces on the directions of their masters who know that such attacks attract a relatively lesser degree of condemnation than attacks on civilians.
Indian soldiers were this close in Lahore district of Pakistan during 1965 war. MoD
What is clear, however, is that Indian political brass’ Hannibal-like understanding of the enemy’s nature that has brought upon Indians a situation where Pakistan sponsored terror attacks are costing the lives of brave men in uniforms. What is even more dismal is the fact that Pakistan is far more inferior to the Roman Republic by all accounts. The only thing that Pakistan and Roman Republic perhaps have in common is their desire to completely destroy their enemy.
Yet India is a country where socialist beliefs have dominated much of the period since Independence. This socialist belief led to Jawaharlal Nehru signing the Indus Water Treaty with Pakistan in 1960. This socialist belief (and personal hatred) of Morarji Desai ended India’s hopes of destroying Pakistan’s nuclear plans and led to the deaths of India’s own intelligence officers.
Jawaharlal Nehru with Pakistani President Ayub Khan in 1960. Nehru signed the Indus Water Treaty which many say heavily favours Pakistan. The Hindu
A war is never a good option to settle a feud but if two nations go to war, one nation must fully annihilate or subdue the other to solve the problem permanently. Given the nature of Pakistan’s leadership (which is basically led by its army), Islamabad will definitely try to end India completely if the two countries go to war, unless forced otherwise by fear of international sanctions.
Unlike India, Pakistan won’t take into consideration socialistic values and humanitarian concerns for the enemy. And it definitely won’t return what it might lay hands on, like Pak-occupied Kashmir, because though the US and everyone who once loved them have turned away their faces, the Sharifs in Islamabad now have China – the superpower at the gate and India’s biggest enemy in Asia.