Manmohan or Subservient Singh
03 May, 2010
By Akhsay Kumar
Last year, when Pakistan’s Prime Minister Syed Yousuf Raza Gilani met Indian Prime Minister Manmohan Singh on the sidelines of the Non-Aligned Movement (NAM) summit at Sharm el-Sheikh in Egypt, a joint communique was issued, stating that both the neighbouring countries would resume their suspended dialogue, talking on all the issues including the thorny dispute of Kashmir. After his return, PM Gilani had also endorsed it.
Quite contrary to his positive statement, PM Singh backed out from the joint communiqué. In this respect on July 21, 2009 Indian Foreign Secretary Shiv Shankar Menon ruled out talking to Pakistan on any issue including Kashmir other than terrorism. He further explained, “We demand the perpetrators of terrorist crimes be brought to justice and end infrastructure of terrorism on Pakistan’s soil.”
Indian Prime Minister Singh had remarked on January 6 this year that Pakistan was using terrorism as state policy and the Mumbai attacks must have had its official support. On the one hand, this self-contradiction displays that Singh has been acting upon the same game of allegations against Islamabad, which it started in the aftermath of Mumbai terror-events of November 26, while on the other; it clearly shows that the fundamentalist parties, especially the BJP have always put pressure on Singh.
Notably, on July 18, 2009, Prime Minister Gilani had stated that at Sharm El-Sheikh, he also raised the issue of Indian interference in Balochistan. In this regard, Indian opposition parties, particularly the BJP made much hue and cry in the Lok Sabha, embarrassing Singh as to why he did not respond to Gilani’s allegation in relation to Indian interference in Balochistan.
Politicians may deny their statements, but it is not the job of statesmen to eat their own words. It is quite true in case of the Indian Prime Minister Manmohan Singh who has been playing a subservient role before the BJP and other religious extremist parties of India.
It is notable that Indian Minority Affairs Minister Abdul Rahman Antulay clearly remarked in the Lok Sabha that during the Mumbai terror attacks, Anti-Terrorism Squad Chief Karkare was murdered due to his leading role in the investigation against Hindus regarding the 2006 Malegaon bombings. Afterwards Antulay had to deny his recorded statement after pressure from the Prime Minister Manmohan Singh who was himself under the duress of the fundamentalist parties.
Singh is so under pressure from the opposition parties and extremist groups that he has been compelled to follow an ambivalent approach, and is never clear about what he says. And his statements are full of paradoxes. In this respect, last year, prior to his visit to the US, Indian Prime Minister Manmohan Singh already exposed his illogical approach during his interview to the Washington Post and Newsweek. He said that India “wants to resolve all outstanding issues with Pakistan”, while accusing the latter of “sponsoring terrorism…planning another Mumbai-type attack in India.” This contradictory statement indicates that it is due to the influence of the opposition parties on Singh that he is wavering between fact and skepticism.
Indian PM Singh was frustrated when on November 25, 2009, President Obama in the joint press conference made it clear that “our core goal is to achieve peace and security for all the peoples in the region, not just one country or the other.”
However, Manmohan Singh who repeatedly indicated that Pakistan has nothing to fear from India created a sense of fear for Americans in order to ensure presence of their troops in Afghanistan. He urged the needs of greater American pressure on Pakistan to curb terrorism. Nevertheless, under duress of the fundamentalist political parties, Singh was frustrated in his propaganda campaign and could not win the heart of Americans against Pakistan.
It is because of the undue pressure; especially of the BJP that from time to time, sometimes Indian Prime Minster Singh says that only non-state actors are responsible for the Mumbai carnage, sometimes he states the official involvement of Pakistan in that catastrophe. Similarly, sometimes, he has stated that Pakistan has taken enough action against the culprits of Mumbai terror attacks, and India believes in dialogue with Islamabad on the all related issues, while sometimes he insists the latter to do more against terrorism.
It is mentionable that in the aftermath of Mumbai-terror attacks, hopes for early normalisation of bilateral ties between Pakistan and India were dashed on February 25, 2009 as the countries’ foreign secretaries failed to agree on a timetable to revive the stalled peace process.
The secretary-level talks have given weight to the notion that the meeting was managed by India to highlight its concerns over “cross-border terrorism” by sidelining the Kashmir dispute. Addressing a press conference, Indian Foreign Secretary Nirupma Rao had said that the time is “not right” yet to resume the composite dialogue process between India and Pakistan. Rao further pointed out that terrorism was discussed for most of the time.
In this regard, a few days before, the Indian opposition critcised saying that New Delhi has softened its stance on terrorism. But quite contrarily, it was owing to the pressure of the opposition that Indian External Affairs Minister SM Krishna had pointed out that it was conveyed to Pakistan that the steps taken to bring the perpetrators of the Mumbai terror attacks “in an expeditious and transparent manner” to justice had not gone far enough”. On the other side, on February 25, 2009 Pakistan’s Foreign Secretary Salman Bashir expressed disappointment at India’s narrow focus to combat insurgents in Pakistan. Bashir complained that India’s focus on the Mumbai attacks was ‘unfair’ and ‘unrealistic.’ Nevertheless, before those talks, it was expected that New Delhi will discuss all the issues of the composite dialogue with Islamabad in light of Singh’s statement that India wants to normalize its ties with Pakistan.
However, India conducted the February dialogue in order to fulfill the formality as Manmohan Singh bowed before the US pressure—the fact which was also endorsed by the BJP leadership. Despite it, Indian obduracy regarding terrorism as the single agenda of dialogue shows Singh’s irresponsible approach.
The fact of the matter is that Islamabad wants result-oriented and meaningful dialogue, discussing all outstanding issues including terrorism, while New Delhi wants to use Mumbai-related terrorism as a pretext to hold talk hostage in accordance with the anti-Pakistan agenda of the Indian fundamentalist parties which have compelled PM Singh to deny his own statements towards Islamabad by playing a subservient role to the Indian opposition.
To what extent, Singh is under influence of the fundamentalist-opposition parties could also be judged from some latest development. On April 29 this year, Pakistan’s Prime Minister Gilani and his Indian counterpart Singh met on the sidelines of the Summit of the South Asian Association for Regional Cooperation (SAARC) which took place in Thimpu, Bhutan. Both the leaders agreed to revive the dialogue which was stalled following the November 2008 Mumbai terror attacks. While briefing the media, Pakistan’s Foreign Minister Shah Mehmood Quereshi said that during the talks both the prime ministers discussed all the issues and agreed to re-initiate dialogue in the near future, which will include Kashmir, Siachen, Sir Creek and security. While on the other side, Indian Foreign Secretary Nirupama Rao indicated that the Pakistani prime minister was serious about India’s concerns over terrorism and assured a speedy trial for the suspects of the Mumbai attacks. She also said that the lack of mutual trust should be eliminated. Although it is hoped that in the near future, New Delhi will include all the related issues in the coming dialogue, yet fact remains that Indian prime minister who is under the continuous duress of the opposition, could again put terrorism as a pre-condition to talk on all the issues or could use delaying tactics to resolve these disputes—especially Kashmir and water.
Interestingly, the matter is not confined to Pakistan; Indian Prime Minister Manmohan Singh is also helpless before the vandalism of Shiv Sina BJP, RSS, VHP, and Bajrang Dal which have communalised national politics of India even under the Congress rule which claims to be a secular party. With the backing of Indian officials, these parties have intensified anti-Christian and anti-Muslim bloodshed coupled with the dissemination of Hindutva (Hindu nationalism).
Now, question arises that either Prime Minister Singh represents the Congress party or Indian fundamentalist parties. The fact of the matter is that he is implementing the agenda of the Indian opposition parties, particularly the BJP. So instead of Manmohan Singh we can rightly call him ‘subservient Singh.’