Gripping story of two army families, ‘orphaned in the subcontinent’

By I. Ramamohan Rao

New Delhi, Feb. 22 (ANI): The book tells the story of India and Pakistan as seen through the eyes of two brothers separated at Partition.

The brother who remains in Pakistan joins the Army, rises in the hierarchy and becomes the chief of the ISI and has a close look at the developments in the country as well as its neighbours; the other who grows up in India is involved in undergoing the travails of being a refugee, and has a close look at the developments in the country, including internal disturbances, wars, and corruption indulged in by political leaders.

The families meet during various episodes, at wars, post-war meetings and at concerts.

The book combines history as well as fiction, and covers the major developments in both the countries since Partition. The Indian side of the story depicts the assassination of Mahatma Gandhi, the war fought in Jammu and Kashmir in 1947-48, against the Chinese in 1962, the India Pakistan wars of 1965 and 1971, and finally the Kargil conflict.

It also gives us a glimpse of the Khalistan conflict, how it was promoted by Pakistan, the 1984 Blue Star operations and the assassination of Indira Gandhi.

The Pakistan side of the story also presents how the military assumed power and tried to control of the affairs of the country. How General Ayub Khan became an ally of the Western Powers, tried to capture Kashmir and failed. How the charismatic leader Zulfiqar Ali Bhutto assumed power after the disastrous adventure in East Pakistan and fell a victim himself.

How Zia -ul-Haq -promoted a proxy war against India in Punjab and in Jammu and Kashmir. The book also gives us a brief picture of Pakistan’s involvement in the psychological warfare against the Soviets in Afghanistan. His death in a mysterious plane crash was followed by Pakistan itself becoming target of the forces it had generated in Afghanistan.

Major incidents like the attack on the New York Trade Centre and the Taj Mahal in Mumbai form part of the story.

In all the major developments in the subcontinent, the two families separated at Partition play a role and give us a close personal look.

A gripping novel, it gives us a close look at major developments in the subcontinent, including the efforts by Prime Minister Rajiv Gandhi to assist Sri Lanka in establishing peace in the country by sending Indian peacekeeping force there with the aim of securing autonomy for the Tamils in Sri Lanka.

The book also depicts the common traditions of India and Pakistan and the futile efforts to promote Aman ki Asha,

As far as Pakistan is concerned, the message is that Jihad will go on; it was first fought against the Soviets in Afghanistan, against India in Punjab and Jammu and Kashmir, and now within Pakistan itself .

India is also deeply in morass because of political corruption, which has become a part of the elections.

The author finally asks: will India regain its success story; and will Pakistan win its war within. The intriguing look in the eyes of the orphaned girl on the cover and in the beginning of each chapter is haunting.

Book Review: Through Orphaned Eyes: A story of two people, two countries by Ajay Singh, Pentagon ; pages 278. price Rs 565.

Mr. I. Ramamohan Rao is a former Principal Information Officer of the Government of India. He can be reached at (ANI)

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