The birth of Pakistan saw the 1948 Kashmir conflict and since then, the country has been in a state of no-war-no-peace with India – not to mention a permanent environment of mutual hatred and enmity. After Kashmir we have seen many skirmishes including the full-scale wars of 1965 and 1971, and also armed clashes such as those at the Rann of Kutch and the Kargil conflict. Scholars and researchers of military history have always been denied access to original documents related to our conflicts with India and the proliferation of non-state actors, especially the Islamist organisations in conflict with the state of Pakistan. This book by Tariq Rehman is like a breath of fresh air in our polluted intellectual sphere. It offers very comprehensive analyses of wars fought from 1947 onwards, and it pays the greatest attention to the wars of 1965 and 1971, including the senseless Kargil border skirmish in 1999.
During the last 75 years of its existence, Pakistan has been actively involved in wars, conflicts and border skirmishes with India and many non-state actors such as the Tehreek-i-Taliban Pakistan, Al-Qaeda and the Islamic State group (Da’esh). Many books and articles have been written to analyse and explore the causes and consequences of these conflicts but still there is a great dearth of well researched and documented books or articles to expose the process of decision-making and the social, economic and political consequences of conflicts of our own making.
This book is not a propaganda exercise, nor is it based on nationalist rhetoric or Islamic fervour. It is a well-researched account of what actually happened and of how decisions were made based on narrow personal and political objectives, in complete disregard of national interests
Tariq Rehman has dared to challenge the officially established reasons for risk taking and reckless behavior of our rulers’ military commanders and the powers that be. The book is a great collection of the horrific effects of conflict on common citizens, war widows, orphans, children, refugees, internally displaced persons and civilians living near the international boundary. It has an extensive collection of interviews to understand and document the experiences of many social classes and common citizens. This effort by Tariq Rehman is a treasure trove for students, scholars, researchers and all those interested in military history and the study of conflict between nations. It will be of immense help for students of defense and strategic studies, international relations, political science and war studies.
Pakistan’s Wars is a title that goes beyond the established official story, which is normally not based on facts and reality. This book is not a propaganda exercise, nor is it based on nationalist rhetoric or Islamic fervour. It is a well-researched account of what actually happened and of how decisions were made based on narrow personal and political objectives, in complete disregard of national interests. The book explores the Kashmir conflict, the 1965 war, Operation Gibraltar and Operation Grand Slam, the emergence of Bangladesh, the Siachen dispute, etc. – and goes on the analyse the Kashmir conflict after 1990 and the operations against the Islamist militants and their supporters. It is definitely an alternative history of Pakistan – very different from the official version being taught to our students in the form of Pakistan Studies.
The author has very comprehensively made use of the ‘Gambling Model’ and delved into the risk-taking attitude and clannish mentality of the rulers, whereby monumental risks were taken by a small clique of individuals. An example is Operation Gibraltar, when only three individuals – Z. A. Bhutto, Aziz Ahmed and Gen. Akhtar Hussein Malik – were calling the shots, and they managed to plunge the country into the disastrous war of 1965.
This book has finally lifted the veil from the open secret that merely a few individuals in this country have managed to precipitate major wars and national disasters, while civilian control over the armed forces has always been a pipe dream of the elected governments. Dr. Rehman has managed to highlight the fact that while civilians and military leaders have been involved in taking decisions about conflict, there has always been a lack of civilian control over the armed forces and this has led to the accepted practice that decisions are not questioned or even debated to arrive at some sort of a consensus before implementation.
For the very first time in our history, Tariq Rehman has managed to focus his research and analyses on the personal experiences of those who were involved in these conflicts, their families and those civilians who lived through the experience of war. Dr. Rehman has taken great pains to conduct extensive interviews to dig deeper into the truth, avoiding a situation where the official version of the incident is being reproduced again and again.
Pakistan’s conflicts with India – 1948, 1965, 1971 and 1999 – have all been of a short duration but of a high level of violence and bloodshed. Meanwhile, the low-intensity conflict with the Islamist militants goes on without any sign of an end in the near future. All that has been written so far appears to be based on the official version of the government of the day. There is a great dearth of seriously researched work by scholars and military historians. In this monumental work.
Chapters 2 to 8 are dedicated to wars, low-intensity conflicts or border conflicts and the role of the Islamic militants. Chapters 9 and 10 focus on the aftermath or consequences of war and conflict. Dr. Tariq Rehman has also made extensive use of secondary resources such as speeches, memoirs and books to write this account.
This book is a must-read for military and civilian leaders, and all those with an interest in the political and human factors involved in conflict – especially for a country like Pakistan.