Sunday, August 1, 2010

Require a Large Domestic Constituency for Peace with Pakistan

This is in response to Peace cannot be built on Pak’s lies in the Hindustan Times Dated July 31st 2010.

The subject of India-Pakistan relationship cannot be addressed in piecemeal or fragmented manner. We are dealing with a hostile neighbor whose raison d’ĂȘtre is our destruction. We must review this subject keeping in mind the complete history of last 63 years. It bears testimony to our complete lack of policy towards this nation, we more often than not suffer cerebral seizure; Two events standout where we could have resolved the outstanding issues conclusively with Pakistan.

1. 1971 when we held more than 90,000 Prisoners of War.

2. 1999 Bus ride to Lahore by Mr. Vajpayee.

Unfortunately documents pertaining to 1971 need to be de-classified before a final judgment can be passed on what went wrong and why we missed that opportunity? 1999 is something which unfolded before our eyes, is comparatively recent, betrayal or should one say the reciprocal action from Pakistan of foisting Kargil on us has scarred our psyche to a great extent. Public hostility was limited even after this, since our well trained and capable Men in Uniform reclaimed the areas that were surreptitiously occupied by infiltrators from Pakistan.

Attack on Parliament, mobilization of troops a long stand off, followed by bomb blasts on a regular basis across India, routine statements of condemnation, usual suspects we accepted from the authorities in India, were treated with the skepticism that they deserved. The scope for improving relations with Pakistan was still very highly and the public support was there for this exercise.

Post 26/11 all this has changed decisively. The phantom of numerous bomb blasts, were visible in flesh and blood to all in India and overseas for the first time and over a period of nearly 72hours when not just Mumbai, the whole country was held hostage. Denials of Pakistan have been blown away with a firm finality. Relations with Pakistan will be bench marked henceforth with the severity of punishment, the time taken by that country to punish the culprits in its custody, as also those who remain free.

Disconnect between the people and UPA Government headed by Congress is self inflicted, this is not restricted to just the educated class. Congress took a very strident stance towards Pakistan and Terror during the general elections 2009, tough on terror and no dialogue without cession of terror from Pakistan, coercive diplomacy, paid due dividends and ensured victory at the hustings, yet it also engendered an extremely rigid public opinion, absence of retribution has further hardened the sentiments of the Indian public.
The other faux pas committed by the Government of Indian are.

1. Alacrity displayed for acceptance of Non State Actors nomenclature for the participants of 26/11.

2. Joint Terror mechanism.

3. Victim of terror tag for Pakistan is the result of generosity from our UPA Government.

4. Fiasco at Sharm-el-Shaik.

5. Introduction of Baluchistan.

6. Dialogue only way forward.

7. The latest discourse of inability to attain great power status due to hostile relationship with a small nation.

The above stated reasons are sufficient for sustaining the disconnect between the people and the Government of India.

Wikileaks have not come as a surprise to us, have we not been shouting this ad nauseum, at best it reveals the murky dealing of USA and Pakistan in Afghanistan. The latest incident in Islamabad cannot be pushed aside by either pointing a finger at Pakistan or at Mr. G.K. Pillai, this exercise in futility should never have been initiated.
UPA government has not till date come up with any confident and complete response as to what they hope to achieve thru these dialogues with Pakistan.

Terror cannot be contained by a dialogue process. Great Power status cannot be held hostage to relationship with a neighbor, it flies in the face of logic, our progress so far has not been because of assistance rendered by Pakistan. The umbilical cord was cut in 1947 or as your colleague in HT says we were “Separated at Birth” Great Power status is not defined solely in terms of economic growth, there is Military might which contributes significantly, the ability and will to exercise this might judiciously, finally the political will to propagate and view all relations thru the prism of Supreme National interest.

Improving relations with Pakistan will have to wait; in the meantime we will need to devise a comprehensive policy for this. Unfortunately this cannot come from the serving bureaucrats as most are subservient to the governing dispensation. The Political class in our perception is not equipped to formulate the foreign policy given the levels of education that they have. We need a group of individual well versed in foreign relations they could be superannuated diplomats who somehow seem to find their voice once free of the Government control to name a few Mr. Kanwar Sibal, Mr.K.C Singh, Mr.G. Parthasarthy and Mr. Lalit Manshing. In conjunction with defence analysts like Mr. Raja Mohan, Mr. Bramha Chellany, Mr. Maruf Raza and a few retired Generals and High Rank officers from Indian Air Force and Navy could come up with a policy document which could be implemented by this government, foreign policy is a continuous process and not something that can be changed by the future Governments, they may change tack or focus the substance cannot change.

Finally the domestic political discourse also must be moderated; the shrillness, the viciousness and the Secular Vs Communal debate must end for it does not contribute to our unity at all. To become a great power we require Rule of Law, higher level rating on Human development indices, eradicate corruption, education, health and infrastructure. GDP growth alone will not be the correct measure of Great Power we have 500 million Indians whose status is below the poorest of the poor on the African continent.

Entry to Parliament and Primer Minster’s post is possible sans popular support; peace with Pakistan would require that ingredient in a very wholesome measure. Hoping for a pragmatic rather, than a dogmatic approach from the UPA and its media brigade!