Indian army and Pakistan army have fought several wars with a proxy war going in Kashmir since 1990. We can think whatever we want to, but we actually don’t know how soldiers behave when they get to interact with each other. An Indian soldier posted at United Nations Stabilisation Mission in the Democratic Republic of Congo shares how it feels to be on a similar mission with Pakistan army and what soldiers feel in each other companies is truly interesting to understand.
They can fight over a hundred reasons, but they are friendly and share similar things of entertainment. Like talking about Bollywood or Narendra Modi or Sachin Tendulkar or discussing about similar cultures. Someone with a same curiosity as us asked on Quora what Pakistan army thinks about the Indian army. One Indian army soldier took this opportunity to answer it beautifully and explained various things which we might never get to know.
I interact with both Indian as well as Pakistani Army officers on a daily basis. (Edit: Because I work for the United Nations Stabilisation Mission in the Democratic Republic of Congo, where both Pakistani and Indian Army contingents are deployed together). So I will answer from my personal experience. I can tell you honestly what the Pak Army thinks about the Indian Army and vice versa.
First of all, both armies are modern Professional Armies which share very cordial relations in international environments like on UN missions where they serve shoulder to shoulder. In case of Pakistan, Bangladesh, Indian and Nepalese Army contingents this is particularly easy since they all speak and understand each other’s languages easily.
Coming to your question, both Pakistani and Indian Army officers respect each other’s capabilities and nobody thinks the other to be inferior in any manner.
I am privy to many a dinner time conversations between the two. The topics range from Sachin Tendulkar to Narendra Modi to Indian TV serials (very popular in Pakistan). It was surprising to see how much Pakistani officers knew about India, whereas Indian officers knowledge of Pakistan was somewhat lacking! (According to Indian officers, this because Pakistanis are obsessed with India while Indians don’t really care much about Pakistan, I don’t agree with this statement because to me, Pakistanis seem to be far more obsessed with Arabs than Indians!).
Mostly, both sides steer clear of controversial topics like Kashmir. But it does come up once in a while. But I am yet to come across any feathers ruffled.
Once I sat through a conversation that revolved around the syllabus taught in Pakistan Army Staff College at Quetta (Pakistan) and Defence Service Staff College in Wellington (India). It was quite an interesting evening with the Pakistani officers claiming that the staff college at Quetta is the ‘original’ staff college while DSSC, Wellington was established much later! (True statement). Other topics revolved around the modern warfare topics which were remarkably similarly taught at both institutions.
Another time, there was a discussion on PMA (Pakistan Military Academy), Kakul and IMA (Indian Military Academy), Dehradun. Now it was the time of Indian officers to point out that one of their Army Chiefs General Muhammad Musa Khan Hazara passed out from the Indian Military Academy!
(The Pakistani officer who was part of this discussion had been an instructor at PMA, so I couldn’t help but ask him about the popular belief that all Pakistani officers take an oath to avenge the defeat of 1971 before passing out. He assured me that this is ridiculous and certainly not the case.)
I’ve seen several such brownie points scored by either side over the years that I’ve been working here in MONUSCO. But never have I come across any disparaging comments about the capability of each other.
The bottom line is that contrary to populist opinions on both sides of the border, both Armies have their task cut out. No professional army will ever underestimate their adversary. Modern warfare is not just about military hardware. Its all about tactics and manoeuvre. Its about Operational Art, and Operational Logistics (Thanksfor pointing that out). It is about the application of forces at the right time, in the right manner at the point of decision.
Those who say they think nothing of their adversary are amateurs. Professionals respect each other’s capabilities.
Edit 1: Thank you all for the bouquets as well as the brickbats. I’ve answered here from my personal experiences. I really don’t know anything more. I have no personal experience of the negative aspects of Pak Army highlighted in some comments. That’s why I have left them out. If anyone else knows more about these things, please do answer this question separately.
I do wish to highlight my reply to one of the comments by:-
“In my interactions, there seemed to be no noticeable difference between Pakistani and Indian Army officers. Professionally, both are hardworking and dedicated. They are equally sought after as staff officers by UN. Primarily because the level of incompetence/ lack of commitment of officers from western armies is astounding.
When I visited the contingent locations, I did see an important difference. The Indian Army officers seemed to interact much more with their troops. playing games, ‘mixing up’ more often. They remembered the names of each of their men and seemed to know each and every one of them personally. Whereas the Pakistani officers interacted very little with their men. Mostly passed orders through their immediate juniors. Most of them had a ‘feudal’ air about themselves. I’ve heard that they are treated like princes within their units. But the Pakistani troops didn’t seem to mind and readily executed their orders. Overall Pakistani troops seemed more subservient to their officers.
It’s a common joke here in the UN that a combination of Indian officers and Pakistani troops will be unbeatable. I don’t really know what is the reason behind this assumption but I guess it has to do with the manner of interaction between the Officers and their troops in respective armies.
Anyway, I do feel that Indian Army officers are better leaders. But that may be because I’m biased (being an Indian).”
Edit 2: A lot of people who have commented on my answer saying that the Pakistani Army isn’t professional enough have probably NEVER even seen a Pakistani Army Officer let alone interact with one. I meet them on a daily basis. I think I deserve to give my observations. The caveat is that maybe Pakistani Army sends it’s best officers on UN missions and hence I’m seeing only the best face of Pakistani Army here, but the same could be true of Indian Army as well. Anyway, the question wasn’t about which Army is good or evil, the question is what does the Pakistani Army ‘think’ about the Indian Army. In other words, the question is about perceptions NOT actual capabilities. We ALL know who will the winner of that argument.
However, the point that I’m trying to make is that contrary to what civilians might think, professional soldiers do not think less of their adversaries. It’s a fair point and the ONLY one I’m trying to make. Beheadings and others misdemeanours notwithstanding.