Pakistan Army mutilates bodies of soldiers: Islamabad has lost control of its armed forces

It is just not done. Perhaps terrorists have no such compunctions and get their jollies by mutilating bodies but professional soldiers always show the enemy respect. Professional soldiers find nothing admirable about such heinous acts.

 Pakistan Army mutilates bodies of soldiers: Islamabad has lost control of its armed forces

Representational photo. Reuters

The mutilation of bodies after capture or during combat is unacceptable. A good soldier would find it against his moral fiber to engage in such a dastardly act.

Even war has rules. And technically, this is a time of peace between India and Pakistan. The dead are supposed to be returned with honour. If that is not possible, then they are to be buried or cremated with proper ceremony.

In 1971, in Shakargarh, a Pakistani infantry platoon charged an Indian position through the minefield. The brave Lt Col who led the charge was shot dead by Indian troops. After the battle, a white flag was flown. The war was halted so that the Indians could return his body to the Pakistan Army on a stretcher.

Compare that to the latest ghoulish report: Two Indian jawans being killed and torn apart. It's enough to make one ill. It seems clear that such an incident is indicative of the Pakistani Army losing its values and no longer obeying the basic tenets of warfare.

Article 34(1) of the 1977 Additional Protocol I provides: “The remains of persons who have died for reasons related to occupation or in detention resulting from occupation or hostilities … shall be respected” Article 16, second paragraph, of the 1949 Geneva Convention IV provides: “As far as military considerations allow, each Party to the conflict shall facilitate the steps taken … to protect [the killed] against … ill-treatment.”

There is nothing ambiguous about this. What part of this does the Pakistani Army not understand as it engages in such savagery? Such atrocities call for global condemnation. One can appreciate the sense of outrage that the Northern Command and all of India feels.

What possible advantage can one get from mutilating a dead soldier in uniform? These BSF men were on border patrol. These soldiers often pass one another at a ‘pass the cigarette’ distance. Even if there was an exchange of fire, a certain sanctity must be maintained.

Writing in Crimes of War, author Wayne Elliot says, “The main obligation to the dead is now found in Article 15 of the First Geneva Convention. The thrust of that article is the need to aid the wounded. However, it also provides that the parties must “at all times, and particularly after an engagement… search for the dead and prevent their being despoiled.” The article also says that “whenever circumstances permit,” an armistice should be concluded so as to facilitate the search for the wounded. Of course, while searching for the wounded, the dead would also be found. The International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) Commentary to the Geneva Convention says that the dead must be brought back with the wounded. One reason for this is that on the highly charged atmosphere of the battlefield, it might not always be possible to determine who is really dead and who is seriously wounded.”

What India has to understand is that there are no limits to the provocation that Pakistan will engage in to harass its foe. If they can do this in a time of peace, one can only imagine their actions during the white hot heat of battle.

Coming so soon after the Jadhav mockery, it is patently obvious that these acts of aggression will continue even as we nurse a fond but misplaced hope that somewhere within Pakistan is an intent to live in peace.

The sooner we rid ourselves of this notion, the better.

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Updated Date: May 02, 2017 08:50:59 IST

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