Dealing with an 'arrogant' neighbor
11 October, 2006
By Riaz Missen
Mumbai Police Commissioner pronounced last week that there had been found credible evidence of the involvement of Pakistan's spy agency in planning and executing the train blasts in the city. It prompted Foreign Secretary of India on Wednesday to state that his country would share the investigations with Pakistan to "judge its sincerity in countering terrorism by action on the ground, and not words."
The best advice the US ambassador in Islamabad could give to Shanker Menon was that India should stick to the policy of bilateralism and talk the other party directly before going public. His advice has not gone well with Delhi. "Coming from a democracy like the US, one would have expected Ambassador Crocker to understand that democratic governments have a primary responsibility to keep their own people fully informed [about important issues]," said Navtej Sarna, the spokesman of External Affairs Ministry, next day.
Richard Boucher, the US Assistant Secretary for South Asian and Central Asian Affairs had suggested India the same three months back when it had not heeded to the proposal of General Musharraf that the intelligence communities of the two countries should cooperate with each other to ascertain facts regarding Mumbai blasts.
Boucher's remarks, like that of Crocker, had disappointed Delhi, for his uttering came few days after US had committed at G-8 (the grouping of Industrialized nations) St. Petersburg Summit that it was willing to fight terrorism along with the other member nations.
The foreign secretaries of India and Pakistan are scheduled to meet next month to discuss the modalities of the anti-terror mechanism agreed between Manmohan and Musharraf during the NAM Summit in Havana. The evidence of Mumbai blasts will be handed over to Pakistan on this occasion. So far India has not only made Mumbai Police report public but also shared the evidence with the US authorities in Delhi on Saturday.
Moreover, Manmohan Singh is going to raise the issue with the European leaders at India-EU summit scheduled this week amidst the reports that the NATO commanders of five countries, a day after taking over charge from the US-led coalition, have urged on their respective governments to stop Pakistan from helping Taliban. The Indians want that is diametrically opposed to the interest of the neighbour — a military action of the sorts taken against Taliban.
Earlier this attempt was made by Vajpayee regime. Rebuffed by the US and Britain, India mobilized its own forces on Pakistan's borders and kept them stationing there for ten months. Finally, Vajpayee extended his hand of friendship towards Pakistan. He also visited Islamabad to attend the long-delayed SAARC Summit announcing that India was willing to share its financial and technical resources with neighbours to put the region on the path of prosperity. His party would be defeated in the upcoming general elections.
India and Pakistan have fought three wars, the last resulting into the dismemberment of the later — Congress ruled the roost in India each time. The Simla Agreement followed but the parties have respected the same only to the extent that their regular armies have stayed away from the international border. The cold peace has lasted for three and half decade. The dividends have been have not been less than 8% GDP growth in the two countries.
Wisdom requires India being careful while dealing with the issue of terrorism, particularly when it occurs on its own soil. Blaming a certain community prematurely, that too at official level, is dangerous. Too, India is fast growing economy and thriving democracy. The interplay of the both sometimes generates unmanageable violence due to the collision of powerful interests. Given India's vastness and diversity in terms of cast, color, language and religion, it requires little to fan violence in the polity. Communalism is one problems Indian polity is confronting, ethnicity the other.
Pakistan should not take Indian diplomatic manoeuvres lightly. The experience of Cold War era should guide its decision-makers in this regard. Pakistan has done a thankless job by upholding the British policy of 'Forward Defence' to keep Red Army away from the warm waters of the Arabian Sea. India prospered in the backyard and showed only its miserable face in the hours of need. From closing canals and holding back three rivers of Pakistan to the tragedy of 1971, all stands witness to this reality.
Taliban are not the responsibility of Pakistan after the incidents of 9/11. Their fate remains in the hands of the NATO after US-led coalition has retired. The problems related with the student militia are complicated. They are poor and hopeless; when Pakistan can't feed and clothe them, how it can prevent them from walking a suicidal path? Why it should put its own peace at risk when they are ready for dialogue?
The eastern borders, too, are not manageable without the help of India. How can Pakistan guard LoC, which India can't despite stationing such a large army in the valley? Those who had used Pakistan as a base camp to liberate Afghanistan are now cooperating with it to dismantle the jihadi network. Why not India? Should it not wait till Pakistan returns on the normal course? Why should Pakistan bear the burden of defending long porous borders alone? To what extent it is responsible for the problems of its neighbors who are not ready to bear the cost of their own defense?
Congress has a tradition of embracing communal politics while in power. As far as India remains under its rule, it will keep on throwing its garbage on neighbor's doorsteps. How long Nehruvianism will keep on guiding the affairs of Indian polity? When Indian strategic community will recognize the utility of Mahatma Gandhi's thoughts in regard to realizing peace at home and the regional level.
"We are making no impression in international field because of our arrogance," writes an Indian parliamentarian and veteran journalist, Kuldip Nayar while reacting to India's failure to withstand the competition for the top UN slot. India's best asset, to him, is humility that once helped it to win freedom from mighty British even without firing a single shot. "When we have lost this asset, we need to come out from the superiority complex that has guided our relations with neighbours since 1947," is his suggestion to the 'Manmohan-Sonia nexus'.