Pakistani act of returning captured Indian pilot is certainly not the result of any foreign pressure but reflects the valour of Islamic principles of armed engagement. The first full-scale conflagration between Islam and Christendom occurred during the celebrated Crusades spanning over a considerable length of time and involving disparate peoples from multiple lands. The armed struggle gave rise to many legends that still form part of the historical legacy of the Muslim and Christian worlds. If the Christians revered Richard the Lion Heart, the Muslim world was all praise for the exploits of Sultan Salahuddin Ayubi popularly known as ‘Saladin’ in the western world.
Sultan Salahuddin Ayubi was an ethnic Kurd and has risen to the heights of royal authority by the dint of his abilities of head and heart. He was the proverbial bastion that the Christian forces failed to conquer though they tried desperately. He kept the Muslim world together during the turbulent times and succeeded in conquering the holy city of Jerusalem and incorporating it in the Islamic world where it remained for centuries.
The legend goes that during the campaign, Richard the Lion Heart fell ill and Sultan sent his trusted mendicant to treat him. The apprehensions of the Christian king and his cohorts as to the intention of the Sultan to send his mendicant to harm him were laid to rest when he conveyed the message of the Sultan that he wants Richard to get back his health so that he can fight him and kill him in battle! This is the actual spirit of valour entertained by the Islamic faith that believes in facing the odds squarely and to strive to overcome them.
Viewed in this backdrop the criticism taking place about Pakistan’s action to hand the humbled Indian air force pilot back to India is difficult to understand. The pilot was made to cross the Pakistani border in a secret attack but the vigilance of the Pakistani air force frustrated the designs of communal Modi government and shot down the Indian plane. The pilot was captured and brought to safety following high Pakistani spirit of treating war prisoners with kindness. He was given medical treatment and the exceptionally honourable treatment meted out to him made him to condemn the atrocity of the Indian media opinion that is brewing with anti-Pakistan enmity.
Wing Commander Abhinandan was sent back to India without delay as Pakistani spirit of valour was conveying to the enemy a message that we are prepared to face you head-on and do not believe in holding your pilot to exchange him for a deal. It also conveyed that we fought off your aggression with success and will do again even if you come back and, this time, with full strength.
Pakistani spirit is unconquerable and believes in confronting adverse situations with verve and determination. Pakistan has not provoked India as it is Indian ferocious crackdown against hapless civilians in occupied Kashmir that has alienated unarmed Kashmiris who are waging a struggle against Indian tyranny and had taken the extreme step of suicide bombing in Pulawama. It was the chicanery of the Modi administration that tried to exploit an indigenous act of Kashmiri resistance for gaining electoral support in the forthcoming Indian elections.
Modi regime was confident that a divergent attack on Pakistan on the pretext of taking action against terrorist groups will gain it huge advantage in the election campaign. It is the opacity of the Indian political perception that it still uses Pakistan-bashing as an electoral prop whereas Pakistani electoral process is singularly free of this petty nuisance. Modi was under the impression that Pakistan will show restraint in case of an aggressive action despite Pakistan making it very clear that it will correspondingly respond and without delay.
The deftness of Pakistani military response unnerved the Modi regime and elicited world-wide condemnation of Indian aggression. The local Indian opposition reflected worry over his selfish policy that was based on the realisation of the horrid fact that it had opened doors of serious armed escalation in the region. Modi has certainly suffered a set-back, both in terms of electoral prospects and strategic failure. The lukewarm action of Indian military points out that Modi did not even succeed in convincing it for taking senseless aggression.
The swift return of the Indian prisoner merits applause as it reflects the calm and collected attitude of Pakistan in respect of a jittery enemy who is completely out of depth with reality. Pakistani defence capability is measured knowing how to respond. It is perfectly capable of facing Indian aggression and the return of the Indian pilot shows that it is imbued with the spirit of exceptional bravery. Pakistan is not afraid of Indian designs and is fully equipped to defend itself with full force. Pakistani action of returning the Indian prisoner should be viewed in the larger aspect of valorous intention and magnanimous spirit and should be appreciated. TW
Brigadier S Shujah H Khwarizmi (Retd) had a distinguished career in law enforcement and now is a social activist