Monday, October 08, 2007

Lal Masjid: Musharraf's Political Response

The disasterous seige of Lal Masjid created an explosive rift between the Army and the Mullahs. Specifically it broke an unwritten contract between the Deobandi religious elite and the Army and publicly humiliated the Mullahs. What made matters unimaginably worse was the murder of hundreds of children in the seige. This caused the Mullahs' grasp on their jazbati followers to weaken and violence in the NWFP spiralled towards a total free for all. At the present time the Pakistan Army as a whole is at war with the tribals in NWFP and chunks of the Pakistan Army are falling off - armymen are either being murdered like cattle or units are defecting to the tribals' side. The spread of violence in NWFP is causing the rift to widen immeasurably.

Musharraf's political maneuvering is aimed at containing this rift.

The first step in this process of containment was to acknowledge that Musharraf no longer had the right to rule the Pakistan. Given the praetorian nature of society, the only way to do this was to create an artificial barrier between Musharraf and the Armed forces. This is where the drama over "shedding his uniform" comes in. The most important thing in this is to ensure that despite what everyone can see with their eyes, Musharraf never make it seem that he has lost. The likely impact of that kind of a surrender would be severe fissures within the Army structure itself. Whatever happens the "unity of command" concept has to hold in the Army otherwise no one will be able to control anything. Another vital point is to make sure pliable persons sit on posts in the Army that Musharraf has hand-picked and that any replacement for Musharraf does not undermine him personally. To this end "a quiet man" or a "loyalist" or a "go-to guy" is being given a leg up.

The second step is to create a barrier - composed mainly of "secular" feudals like Benazir and Nawaz etc... between the Mullahs and their march to power in the National Assembly and Senate. The key factor here is to bring the feudals back with enough money that they can seize control of a substantial fraction of the electoral resources - i.e. pay off enough nazims to get the electoral outcomes of their choice. A fact that some may forget is that as long as Musharraf decides who becomes a nazim, he can influence which feudal gets what in the political arena. Feudals probably believe their "friends" in the western media will able to drum up adequate international support for their claims to Pakistani leadership. To this end the "Chief Justice Chaudhary" drama is being enacted. In my opinion, these feudals are being led like lambs to the slaughter, and understandably so, as neither the Army nor the Islamists, with their belief in "meritocracy" care much for the feudals. Also as the days when the feudals dominated the economy of Pakistan are gone, the "friendship" of western media houses is hardly something that should be seen as permanent.

The third step - perhaps the final step - is to create an incentive package for NWFP, i.e. an effective system of bribes. Such a package will serve two purposes, firstly it will act as "blood money" to the families of those killed in the Lal Masjid seige and secondly it will engage elements of the NWFP political class that will somehow paper over the divisions within NWFP society and restore the Pakistan Army's claim to leadership in the region. At the present time the Islamist political alliance, the MMA holds NWFP. As long as the MMA's grip on the province is unquestioned, there is no way such a political initiative will get off the ground. A key element of this step may be a reworking of the streams of the narco-economy in the region. Pakistan may even have to cooperate with Afghanistan to contain opium production.

This three step process is extremely delicate and painfully difficult under the best of circumstances. Carrying this out while struggling to maintain escalatory controls on violence levels inside NWFP is indescribably hard. Frankly speaking, I would be very surprised if this works, especially given the near complete unpredictability that surrounds Pakistan's urban populations and Pakistan's tribal belt. Such a plan would naturally garner support when presented with tea and biscuits on fine china in Islamabad, but will it fly in Orangi? will it fly in Nazimabad? in Wana? That is difficult to say and only time will tell on that.

Despite what idiots are saying about mangoes on forums that are losing their credibility, sensible people in India do not see any gain in interfering in a very complicated internal affair of Pakistan.


At 8:50 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

hi m,
i have replied to your earlier thread.

At 12:42 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

hi m,
1)Will the powers to be in Delhi delighted with the fact that two of there men will be in power i.e Mush & BB?

2)BB is nothing but a sacrificial lamb.God only knows that why she jumped into the arena?

3) BB, Mush & Kiyani will be formidable combine for India. Remember that Mush & BB were the persons who were responsible for creation of Taliban. At that time ,during there regime kashmir burnt the maximum. We have allowed them to escape from the dragnet that BJP had laid for them.
4) All good work done by BJP during there tenure has been undone within two years of MMS govt all for a piece of paper!!!

At 6:45 AM, Blogger maverick said...

Hello Anonymous,

I think the powers that be in Delhi will be happiest when the situation in NWFP settles down. Currently we are witnessing another hamfisted mess by the PA.
This is not going to make anyone comfortable in Delhi. The longer such messes persist, the greater the possibility that the grand plan will fail spectacularly.

Benazir has jumped in because she is convinced that this is her fifteen minutes of fame. In some sense this is feudalism last big stand in Pakistan. After this is over the feudals will pass into the pages of history.

Musharraf, Kiyani and Benazir are known quantities from an Indian point of view. What they do in Afghanistan is not India's concern. That is more America's problem right now. India only wants friendly relations between Afghanistan, Pakistan and India.

Good work done by BJP?

I am not sure I follow you, could you please elaborate that point.

In my opinion, the BJP suffered a negative image with Muslims in general for its role in the Babri Masjid issue. Muslims across the world saw the BJP as a group of people that were keen to wipe Islam from India.

With regards to Pakistan, this perception created unique problems - it make the Pakistanis antsy and unpredictable. In order to restore the predictability that the "secular" non-BJP political groups enjoyed with Pakistan, the BJP strategists concieved a strategy of confrontation.

This policy of confrontation had few fans in India, and barring a handful of people on the disreputable forum, no one completely endorsed it. Most of the disreputables and party loyalists wanted to see Pakistan slapped down, and to their disappointment the BJP did nothing of the sort.

The remaining disreputables knew that the BJP would never actually do anything to Pakistan, and wanted to see the whole posturing issue go away.

Only a handful of truly disreputable people understood the dire need for posturing at the time and supported the government. Even most retired security intelligence types distanced themselves from it because they felt it amounted to publicly overbidding and under performing.

As someone who defended this strategy at the time, I do not know if I can say that India as a whole came out on top.

I agree Parakram was necessary, however Parakram also completely exhausted a majority of the military posturing options we had vis-a-vis Pakistan. I am glad that the public posturing over Masood Azhar did not spiral to a point where something potentially damaging to India's relationship with Pakistani Deobandis had to be done.

At 6:47 AM, Blogger maverick said...


Another point that some miss lately.

The BJP's strategy of putting pressure on the Pakistan Army worked because the Army was still effective in coordinating the Jihadis groups. Now that effectiveness no longer exists as the conflict in NWFP clear demonstrates.

Pressing the PA at this point will most likely cause the entire house of cards to come crashing down.

At 9:51 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Hullo folks:

A point to note: Lt Gen Kidwai has been *re-appointed* to the pak nuke-command. This is, IMO, significant. I'm not aware of to many other cases where someone at Kidwais level would continue to serve a "junior", which Kiyani the new VCOAS is to Kidwai, after being superseded.

The cover that "Kidwai was already on extension and couldn't become VCOAS" is one thing, but it doesn't change the fact he's answering to a junior. . .

Therefore, it's quite likely he *won't* be answering to a junior. Meaning, he'll answer to Mush.

That's okay now. But if Mush gives up the COAS position and Kidwai is still there answering to Mush and not Kiyani, the new "junior" COAS, then the whole "unity of command" thing collapses into a heap.

Power rests with those nukes.

At the risk of being a tad presumptions, a word to the wise: Keep a *very* close an eye on what happens to Kidwais position.

The current power struggle is going to live and die on what happens to the nuke control structures, and who ends up in control.

Pakistan will live and die if the wrong set of fools try to be tactically brilliant with respect to the nukes.

So it would be nice if folks would keep an eye out there . . .

BTW: Yes, its quite sad whats happening to the desreputable forums :(

At 10:55 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...


You have missed a key detail about Kidwai's reappointment to the SPD.

After he was superseded by Kiyani for the position of VCOAS, Kidwai resigned his commission. He was reappointed by Musharaff as a *civilian*.

And as a civilian, Kidwai is now no longer answerable to anyone in the military hierarchy, including his junior Kiyani. Musharaff has made sure that Kidwai answers to him and him alone after he steps down as COAS and Kiyani takes over.

How the regular PA officers will react to taking orders from a civilian outside the military hierarchy is something that I don't know. Maybe Maverick can shed some light on it.

The unity of command has already collapsed into a heap.

P.S. - I must also register my disappointment at what the hot air part of the disreputable forum has become. I blame the admins for this. Too much nonsense is being tolerated.

At 1:41 PM, Blogger maverick said...


The Kidwai drama though a classic is part of the "shedding uniform" saga. An extension of the illusion that Musharraf has separated himself from the Army power structure.

Ultimately Musharraf and Kidwai are going to be "retired" army wallahs, just like all those other SSG people that "retired" only to turn up in the service of the Taliban and Al Qaida. The SSG has a long tradition of "retirement".

Armymen will not have problems taking orders from a "retired" people.

See, in Pakistan, "retired" Army wallahs are everywhere. Ultimately every Army wallah that lives, has to really retire, and all that counts is the sifarish you get with your retirement parade. The sifarish is the key to getting that plot of land or that petrol pump that is awarded to you after retirement. So there is a lot more respect for "retired" people in Pakistan than there is in India.

I am quite concerned about the situation in NWFP. These casualty figures are running into the hundreds. I suspect another loyalist unit has been wiped out, I don't see Musharraf ordering airstrikes for some general purpose cannon fodder.

I don't see this "political" solution working if the violence levels in NWFP continue to spiral like this.

At 3:08 PM, Anonymous Cyclone Nation said...

Hi m,

It is interesting to note that these militants (and their uniformed sympathizers) have been operationally confined to NWFP/Waziristan and either have'nt been allowed to carry out their disruption in other (urban) areas or they simply do not wish to do so at this point in time. (of course, barring the bomb attacks in Islamabad and dera ghazi)

If the case is former, then it seems that Mush's political maneuvering has been fairly successful in maintaining his power structure against the Islamists. In this sense, predictions of "pitched battles" on the streets of ISM have proved wrong.

However, if the case is latter, then one can deduce that Mullah sympathizers and their foot-soldiers are simply "sitting tight",waiting for the right moment to "up the ante". When that happens
i.e. streets become battlegrounds, it is my opinion that, New Delhi should start seriously worrying about split/swinging chains of command regardless of which general controls SFC or is VCOAS.

I say this because I do not see how
nuke command chain can be seriously manipulated without disrupting or controlling the complex and varied human and technical assets involved in mounting a credible nuclear threat. Remember, the all important X corps still seems to be in Mushy's control.

In any case it is more likely that chain of command will most likely split at middle or lower levels connecting the various nodes of nuclear setup in Pakistan. Hence, laymen like myself hope that GoI has enough assets monitoring the "atmosphere" in Pakistan.

I would appreciate your thoughts on all this....

Also, what outwardly visible events (not necessarily causes) do you see as an indicator of an immidiate disruption in in SFC. I think that deliberate targeting/disappearance of certain key officers and scientists in the chain would indicate that something is wrong.


PS : the continuous references to mangoes, raisins and the faux barelvi accent is really irritating me on the disreputable forum.

At 3:12 PM, Anonymous Cyclone nation said...

In the above post I mean SPD when I say SFC.

At 3:35 PM, Anonymous cyclone nation said...

PPS : If all this didn't have grave implications for India, it would be actually funny to an netral observer. Mush is basically saying to Uncle Sam, "Don't bomb my people in FATA/NWFP. I'll do it myself." And he is doing it. Amazing how this world works.

At 4:08 PM, Blogger maverick said...

Hi CN,

I think you are correct, it appears to be confined, that is ... if you exclude data points like the mysterious crash of the escort helicopter, a few hours ahead of the airstrikes in NWFP. Who carried out the airstrikes? and who knew the approximate flight plan?

No, I completely believe the five yokels who came before the media and swore that they heard the rotor sounds change due to a helicopter malfunction. I mean who better than a villager in POK to know how a helo malfunction sounds!

But really why is there a curfew in the town where the crash occured if it was just a technical snag?

Things will remain "confined" in the fashion discussed above as long as people do not lose their head. Ordering air strikes on villages, killing women and children can only qualify as "losing ones' head".

I feel this is unnecessary savegery and the collateral is too high for this strategy to remain viable. Nowhere in the world has a power been able to use aerial bombing of villages and secure any claim to leadership. This looks very much like that Linebacker mess that preceeded the US withdrawl from Vietnam.

This kind of behaviour will amplify the decline into the "Stage 2" described in my earlier post. The leadership of the SPD, the SSG and all the other alphabets in the soup will not matter if a "Stage 2" style free for all erupts.

At 4:13 PM, Blogger maverick said...


In this mess of high intensity operations the PA is being shaken up badly. Combat is something the PA was not really designed for - I mean for Allah's sake lets be honest, the PA was designed to rape and loot its own country, they are not a professional combat capable force.

Between all the "loyalty" based promotions and the fog of war, the real power centers are already shifting inside the PA to the point where the formal rank system has little or no meaning.

We see this kind of change at the top level, officers superceded, officers resigning, and being reappointed.

Pretty soon no one will know who is really running the show. A lt. Col. somewhere will give an order and people will think it came from the COAS.

At 8:55 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

hi m ,
you outbeat every one, all the time. Excellent posts. Keep it up.

1)The appearance of motley groups of army men who effectively will become clan leaders may degenerate pakistan into a somalia like country. This will cause its own sets of problems for India.
2)But between the two i.e a cohesive PA unit designed to spread mayhem in India(remember the days of BB when she said Jagmohan ko jag-jag mo-mo han-han kar denge, days of chare-sharief, mast gul, bombay blasts, countless acts of terror performed on Indian soil, count the fatalities in kashmir , punjab) or a somali stlye disintegration of PA into numerous clan men(in that case India will find hard to talk to one man who will represent pakistan) which one do you choose, vote for. From your posts it looks as if you prefer the former where a cohesive PA will relentlessly puruse the agenda of thousand cuts.
3) Let them cook there own goose. Why show sympathy for such people?

At 1:32 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

hi m,
[QUOTE]Despite what idiots are saying about mangoes on forums [QUOTE]
Any particular reason why you called him an idiot?

At 7:18 AM, Blogger Subramanyam said...


The problem with the purported 'barrier-effect' of BB or NS or both is that they have been away from the ground scene for quite sometime now, especially BB who seems closest to be the real barrier. Since the society has far too radically changed, BB may not be able to exercise the calming-the-nerves act even if she wishes to. In fact, the radicals just don't want her in the first place and there may not be even Fazlur Rehman (of JuI-F)to bail her out a second time as he did in the first. In fact, one fears for her life. Distrusting the Army and the Police, she is getting her own foreign security cover and that itself may anrage and challenge the terrorists to do the unthinkable. As for NS, the less said the better. He is the bitterest enemy of the General, whether in uniform or not, so long as he stays within the country. NS will therefore do anything to get Musharraf fixed and in true Pakistani tactical brilliance, without thinking about consequences. Musharraf can be expected to behave the same way towards NS. So, the two true representatives of the landed gentry will not be able to stem the tide of spreading Talibanism.

Added to the already difficult scenario is the way the judiciary responds. There are too many tripwires for Musharraf with the spate of cases filed against him. This adds another dimension to the chaos.

The next uncertainty is the upcoming election itself. It is going to be next to impossible this time to the normal practice of stuffing the ballot boxes with the help of ISI and IB. So, there is no guarantee that PPPP will sweep the elections. The PML-Q is extremely unhappy with the 'deal' between Musharraf and BB. What if there is a fractured verdict and how does President Musharraf expect to resolve the issue ? If one remembers, last time in 2002, when Musharraf was at his peak, it still took him time to resolve the issues and convene the National Assembly.

IMO, all these will only embolden the terrorists more and their writ is going to run in larger areas of Pakistan, whatever happens in the political front now and whatever half-hearted attempts Musharraf makes.

At 8:56 AM, Blogger maverick said...

Hi Anonymous,

I didn't not call anyone specific an idiot.

I think this talk of mangoes is for idiots.

There is a very large number of younger indians taking to the internet who do not know what they are talking about. These people believe tripe about India being a soft state and then they latch on to words like Mangoes and all that rubbish about India in Balochistan to overcome their own artificially generated despair.

This is just not right and frankly I feel it is up to responsible people should discourage that sort of behaviour.

At 8:58 AM, Blogger maverick said...


Very good points.

The feudals are really not cut out to govern Pakistan anymore.

Pakistan has outgrown the feudals.

At 9:14 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

hi m,
in my previous post where I asked you to choose between the two, did i write something unmentionable/unpardonable/foolish?

At 5:26 AM, Blogger doubtinggaurav said...

All right maverick even though I no longer qualify for young, I take the bait.

If someone says that India is a soft nation state, then they day it for reason. Our post independence history is full of instance where ideological delusions and personal glory has led to decision which has hurt Indian interest and humiliated India. The most stark example being terrorism which continues unabated at present. We all know who is behind this. But is anything being done to curb this menace. Besides hand wringing and stale speeches, I don't think so. So yes there are reasons. But have you offered anything substantial? Not much besides your "trust me" stand.
Your intrigue laden posts make for interesting read, but rumours and intrigues are not verifiable. So please bring something which can be verified.

I don't know, nor particularly care what value you place on Indian lives, but this generation does place a lot of value.

Oh, that and refrain of Muslims being victims of world wide kaffir conspiracy is getting irksome.

This generation may be misguided but what about your generation ! Turned out to be utter waste isn't it !

At 6:42 AM, Blogger maverick said...

Hi Anonymous,

I am now genuinely confused, which post are you referring to?

At 7:07 AM, Blogger maverick said...

Dear doubtinggaurav,

I confess I am at a loss to understand how the value structure of young people in India works.

I feel they don't really have a stable thinking structure here and anything they say is a reactive measure to older audiences asking them questions.

Would you care to be the simulated young person on my blog? You seem to have a much better grip on it than I do. I would greatly appreciate your insights. Alternatively I am happy to be the "evil senile old man" on any blog of your choosing. My lack of insight into the world of young minds remains my greatest handicap.

For example you seem to understand that younger audience place great emphasis in their public speaking on this "value of Indian life" concept. Ofcourse it all sounds incredible nice until you consider that these very youngsters represent the most polluting generation in history - a walk through India's cities will tell you that in an instant. I have never seen so much non biodegradable garbage piled on the streets in my life! The number of youngsters eating high calorie foods wrapped up in plastic container is staggering. This is the makings of a serious national health crisis.

When I see things like that, I feel that these young people don't care about "value of life" - all they want is to have fun right now and not have think about the consequences. It is much more fun to say India is impotent and then chase that with a lie "RAW is doing this and this in Pakistan" - than to actually take the trouble understand why neither is true.

Expediency has always been a part of our culture, it is just that we have never had to deal with so many short-sighted expediency craving idiots - which is my main cause of worry - the *sheer number* of utter brain dead morons that count themselves as "young people".

I also feel their "value of life" spiel is merely an imitation of the Americans they seem to admire so much. This admiration often causes them to miss a crucial detail - in the American foreign policy case this "value of life" argument is a very cynical psywar ploy. The US only pretends to value American life so that they can dress flushing the toilet as an act of "saving American lives". It is a deliberate lie that the American government tells its own people to keep the emotionally overactive types out of policy making and allow a more pragmatic instinct to guide real policymaking.

How does one go about convincing young Indians that this "value of life" is not something to that you actually try and implement at the policy structure level?

That "lives" are in some sense the currency of the policy world, any policy you seek to implement however noble its premises will always cost "lives".

How does one get it across to younger audiences that one deliberately keeps this "value of lives" stuff out of the policy making structure because one wants to avoid choices that amount to being penny-wise and pound-foolish?

To All,

It used to be on the disreputable forum, references (veiled or otherwise) to assasinations of heads of state by Indian agencies were dealt with in the strongest possible way. It seems this adminstrative policy is no longer popular.

It may simply be an oversight on part of the admin team. Or it could be in response to a percieved shift in popular expression. I don't know which it is, I am uncomfortably shocked that at a time when Pakistan is serious flux something like this would be allowed to slide on the disreputable forum.

At 9:03 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

hi m,
on the contrary hasn't US govt introduced new toys amongst the US defence to keep casualties down in Iraq? Look at the amount of robotics involved. I had a link which detailed that, but it is truly mind boggling.

At 9:14 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

hi m,
of late the disreputable forum has turned saffron!! Have you noticed the increasing amount of bile that is dished out everday directed against some particular religion. Is it my own observation or also it is yours too? This something not have happpened.

At 11:09 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

the so called bile against islam at the disreputable forum is based on solid facts.. given the daily anti-hindu crap we are fed in the media, it serves as a nice balancing pivot.. unfortunately, no criticism of Christianity is allowed since one of the moderators is christian.. so even though missionaries backed by billions of dollars are a real threat to this country, nothing substantial is discussed about them.. for that, i have turned to

At 12:07 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

hi all,
In what way will militant hinduism help hindus? There are sufficient number of downtrodden amongst hindus themselves on whom we should expend our energies on rather than wasting our energies on practising aggressive hinduism.

At 6:30 AM, Blogger maverick said...

Hi Anonymous,

The USG does whatever helps its primary economic interests regardless of the cost in American lives like sending an army unprepared for COIN into Iraq.

This "robots to deal with IEDs" bullshit is another example of the USG "flushing-the-toilet" and claiming to "save American lives".
If robots were such an instant hit, why are there still a dozen American losses a day to IEDs. The robots are far too underdeveloped a solution to be effective in the Iraq theatre.

At 7:26 AM, Anonymous s.venkat said...

I have some questions.If possible,please answer them.
1)Were you a soldier?
2)Are you a hindu
3)What do you think of hindutva?
4)what do you feel about the discrimination faced by dalits
5)what is your viewpoint on reservation
6)It is whispered there is nepotism and corruption in the army.How widespread is it
7)The army's roots are in civil society.Do you have any social ideal?
8)I am a math tutor by profession and a south indian brahmana by birth.I have an open mind on these issues.
9)What is the disreputable forum and what does the allusion to mangoes mean
10)If possible,at least try to answer some of the above questions

At 11:39 AM, Blogger maverick said...


>> were you a soldier?

No I was not a soldier.

>> are you a hindu?

I do not easily fit any description other than "hindu".

>> What do you think of hindutva?

It could be a good idea! (with apologies to Mahatma Gandhi).

>> what do you feel about the discrimination faced by dalits

Negative discrimination is a very harmful thing.

>> what is your viewpoint on reservation

Positive discrimination has been demonstrated to achieve empowerment in India.

>> It is whispered there is nepotism and corruption in the army.How widespread is it?

I have no idea, I have not come across it in my interactions with the armed forces. I have heard rumours to the effect that certain individuals were misusing their posts but nothing that made me worry.

>> 7)The army's roots are in civil society.Do you have any social ideal?

I do not have a social ideal. The Army has a function to perform in the Republic - so far the Indian Army has performed its functions admirably despite severe resource constraints.

>>I am a math tutor by profession and a south indian brahmana by birth.I have an open mind on these issues.

I don't understand how that is a question for me to answer.

>>What is the disreputable forum and what does the allusion to mangoes mean

The disreputable forum is a place on the internet I used spend a lot of time. Many disreputable people came to the place and gave it its name.

A crate of mangoes found its way on to the airplane that Gen. Zia ul Haq took to meet Allah. Per Pakistani fiction, India was responsible for putting the crate of mangoes in the airplane and causing its crash. Only fools in India believe this fiction.

>> If possible,at least try to answer some of the above questions

I hope my answers are to your satisfaction.

However, I have one question for you

Where are you going with this line of questioning?

At 9:51 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

hi mavericks
""A crate of mangoes found its way on to the airplane that Gen. Zia ul Haq took to meet Allah. Per Pakistani fiction, India was responsible for putting the crate of mangoes in the airplane and causing its crash. Only fools in India believe this fiction.
Some of us were unaware of the fact that in Pakistani fiction, India was responsible for the act!!! No wonder you dismissed such talk as lunacy!!!

At 4:10 AM, Anonymous s.venkat said...

Thanks for answering.I wanted to know whether you were a soldier.Because i wanted to know a soldier's viewpoint on society.

At 9:09 AM, Blogger maverick said...

Hi Venkat,

I think you are trying to probe the Army's view of religio-political movements like "Hindutva".

I think you may want to read Gen. J. J. Singh's interview to Shekhar Gupta. It answers some of your questions quite directly.

When reading his interview, you **have** to keep in mind that at Gen. Singh was a Sikh army officer who stood by the oath he took as a gentleman cadet to the Republic and the President even during the darkest days of the Indian Army.

I am speaking ofcourse of the terrible events of Operation Bluestar when the Army was forced to attack the holiest of holy shrines in Sikhism - the Golden Temple.

Those of us who were alive in that time remember vividly how many Sikh soldiers began to question their faith *in* *the* **Republic**. And we are eternally grateful to the bold souls who chose to stay with the Republic when several of their comrades deserted the Army's ranks at the time.

I think this speaks directly to the crux of your questions on the Armed Forces and Religion.

Years ago on the disreputable forum, a disreputable friend wrote this sketch of a soldier for a thread on military fiction on the disreputable forum, you may also want to read this.

look for the post by Y I Patel, that begins with the words

"Captain Shivinder Singh Randhava's world was being rocked to its foundations."

This is a fictional but accurate simulation of what a Sikh officer like Gen. J. J. Singh would have endured in that most trying of times and the sheer strength of character it would have taken to place professionalism and tolerance above narrow minded religious sentiments.

I feel people like Gen. Singh have set the standard of exceptional leadership for the generations of Army officers to come.


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